Yangon, Mandalay, the Irrawaddy and Inle Lake | 18 days
This itinerary enables you to explore Myanmar’s many dimensions, from its timeless landscapes and temples to its more recent colonial past. You’ll stay in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) and Mandalay and travel out to hill stations, cruise on the mighty Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Bagan and take a train to Inle where its famous leg rowers will take you on a memorable boat ride across the spectacular lake.
Day 1:Fly London via Bangkok to Yangon
Day 2:Arrive Yangon
Day 3:Yangon sightseeing – Shwedagon Pagoda and Htauk Kyant War Memorial
Day 4:Fly to Mandalay
Day 5: Mandalay - visit Sagaing, Ava and Amapura
Day 6:Day visit by small boat to Mingun
Day 7:Overnight river cruise Mandalay to Bagan
Day 8:Arrive Bagan and tour the temples
Day 9:Temples in Bagan
Day 10:Fly to Heho and drive via Pindaya to hill station of Kalaw
Day 11:Visit hill tribes and see working elephants in Kalaw
Day 12:Local village walks
Day 13:Take the train to Heho and drive to Inle Lake
Days 14-15:Inle Lake to see the floating farms, villages, markets and leg rowers
Day 16:Fly back to Yangon
Day 17:Fly to London
Day 18Arrive London
guide price £4,695 per person
Fiona’s travel tipsTOP TIP: Wear shoes that slip on and off easily as you’ll have to remove them every time you visit a pagoda or other sacred site.
BEST KEPT SECRET: For a superb beach drop out, visit the Mergui Archipelago. This group of 800 islands is totally unspoiled and a real barefoot experience.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: October to March with December to February the coolest months.
DO READ: The River of Lost Footsteps: A personal history by Thant Myint-U; The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh; Letters From Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi; Burmese Days by George Orwell; The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason.
JOURNEY TIME: 13.5 hours (flights not direct)
“Very useful to have planning meetings before the trip. The trip itself was well organised – a very good introduction to Myanmar and Cambodia. The overall tour was excellent.”
Mr and Mrs Patrick Johnstone and Ms Susan Matthew, Burma and Cambodia, February 2016
“It worked well having one guide throughout our time in Yangon, Kalaw and Inle. He wasn't over intrusive or under informative. Just right. We loved the Amara in Kalaw and Green Hill Elephant Camp, really instructive and hands on. We had a fantastic time on the Pandaw boat including an excellent Christmas dinner and a spectacular New Year’s Eve on a vast sandy beach lit by bamboo torches, complete with ghetto blaster, retro music and dancing chefs. We loved the Raffles Grand at Siem Reap – I’ll miss the 35m pool for a long time. Our drivers throughout were excellent. Thank you for a wonderful trip!”
Mr and Mrs Graham Bell, Myanmar and Cambodia, December 2015-January 2016
“A really good and memorable trip. It worked really well having a national guide throughout Myanmar. We particularly enjoyed the elephant washing, handicraft demonstrations, cycle trip, trek and the train journey.”
Hugh and Ann Kersey, Cambodia and Myanmar, January 2016
“I have been to Burma on four previous occasions, each time on the RV Katha. I am writing to say my last trip was, arguably, the best yet. Everything was wonderful - the food, the care of the passengers, the friendliness of the crew and our informative and hard working guide. Pandaw's attention to detail was also appreciated - provision of bananas for the elephants, the lanterns for the Full Moon Festival and everything else that helped to make the trip memorable.
After we got stuck on the sandbank I even enjoyed clambering aboard the ‘speedboat’ at 3 am in order to catch my flight from Mandalay to Yangon. Incidentally I missed it but the guide found me another and then said it would be held until I arrived!
Please pass on my sincere thanks to your crew for an entertaining trip, and for their kindness in looking after me (although, perhaps the deep-fried crickets with chilli and ginger were not such a good idea!).
Marianne Spender, Pagan and Upper Irrawaddy cruise, Burma
“You provide an easy to use customisation of our itinerary – our favourite aspects of the trip were the hill tribes, train journey, elephant camp and, of course, the people. The holiday was a delight."
Nick and Ellen Maunder, Myanmar
“Thanks for doing another excellent job in arranging such a hugely enjoyable and successful trip. It’s certainly further increased our appetite for adventurous exotic travel outside the major tourist destinations and we look forward to planning our next trip with you.”
Andrew Mounstephen and Suzanne Waterer, Myanmar
“We had a wonderful week – our guide was very knowledgeable and spoke good English.”
Mr and Mrs Andrew Roberts, Myanmar
“Thanks for the welcome home – but we wish we were still on holiday as we really enjoyed it. Everything went to plan and your local partners were a brilliant company to get us from A to B. The guides were very helpful and the drivers safe and secure.”
Steven and Ruth Parker-Davidson, Myanmar
“It was an extremely well organized holiday and gave us a thorough insight into Myanmar. The visit was enhanced by an exceptionally good guide who had a good command of English.”
Mr and Mrs Chris Johnson, Myanmar
“This trip was a unique experience, particularly Burma, and your organisation was absolutely perfect.”
Mr and Mrs Urs Brugger, Myanmar
“A great trip, with a nice range and balance and things to see and do. Thanks again it was wonderful.”
Mr and Mrs George Goulding, Myanmar