Myanmar Discovery Travel

Western Impression on an Oriental Land

18 days/ 17 nights

'Big-four', Kalaw, Kyaiktiyo, Hpa-An, Mawlamyine

Senior trip

from 519 USD/ pax

This 18-day journey takes you to explore the long-lasting western imprints in the Golden Land with churches and mosques contributing to the diversified religious profile of Myanmar.

Wonder what awaits you in your coming 18 days in Myanmar?
  • Mandalay, “the cultural center” of Burma with typical stunning architectures
  • Bagan, the imposing archaeological site with over 2000 pagodas and temples
  • Kalaw, the mecca of trekking with refreshing atmosphere and scenic view
  • The hidden gems of southern part with authentic landscape & life-style


If you are keen on typical culture and architecture of the country, a tour round the cultural center of Myanmar is worth an unforgettable experience. Make the discovery of  the Royal palace, a symbol of the formerly prosperous dynasty under the reign of the last two kings. Take a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda – the largest book in the world comprising a total of 729 marble slabs and Shwenandaw monastery – one of the best religious buildings in teak wood with the stunning perfection in every detail. At last, drop by Maha Muni Pagoda, the second most revered pagoda of Burma with the famous gilded Buddha image 4 meters in height. Overnight in Mandalay.

Spend the whole day to discover famous royal ruins around Mandalay to have a deeper view of the historic values of ancient Burmese dynasties. First, visit Jade market and then board a boat to Mingun to sightsee the Pahtodawgyi ruins, the world largest bells – Mingun Bell and Hsinbyume Pagoda. Continue to Sagaing to explore the Buddha cave and the Mount on the highest hill where the Soon Oo Ponya Shin pagoda is located. From above enjoy a panoramic view over hundreds of pagodas and monasteries perched on the hills bordering the Irrawaddy. After that, transfer to Amarapura to contemplate Mahagandayon monastery and walk on the U Bein Bridge to enjoy sunset. Overnight in Mandalay.

Transfer to Bagan by car at about 8 am. On the way, you will stop at Pakokku known as the commercial center of tobacco and Thanaka in the Magway region. Visit a cheroot factory and a local market where they sell Thanaka. Cheroot is one type of Burmese handmade wrapped cigar, much preferred by the local. Thanaka is widely used as one kind of basic beauty products made from a local tree for Burmese women and children, showing the national culture’s identity. Why don’t you try applying a little thanaka on cheeks and take some photos with the locals who always show radiant smiles?  Then move down the Irrawaddy River by boat to Bagan, the stunning complex in Asia. Overnight in Bagan.

Be immersed in the most impressive archaeological site in Asia, a must – see destination when you take a Myanmar trip by horse cart for most of the day time. Over 2000 temples, pagodas and stupas of various sizes and shapes emerge here and there, out of sight. Different from the Buddhist pagodas gilded with a huge of gold, Bagan religious structures are mainly built of brick.  Visit Ananda temple, one of the most venerated temples throughout Myanmar, Dhammayangyi pagoda, the largest structure of Bagan dating back to nineteenth century and some other typical pagodas of the complex. At the end of the day, climb up Htilominlo pagoda with the stunning view from faraway. Overnight in Bagan.

Get up and greet the dawn with the refreshing air and enjoy the view over the immense place of temples. A hot air balloon ride in the early morning is highly recommended giving you the unforgettable experiences if you like. Today we begin the exploration with the colorful and lively Nyaung Oo market which remains very authentic with a wide variety of local goods. Rest for a while before transferring to visit Min Nan Thu villages and Phwa Saw village, specializing in making traditional crafts of ox-cart wheels and lacquer ware, here you can try yourself creating some products as unique souvenirs. If time permits, discover the agriculture activities of a local village nearby to have a real experience of Burmese farmers’ farming techniques. Overnight in Bagan.

In the morning, be ready to departure for Mount Popa 50 km to the southeast of Bagan.  On the way stop at a toddy palms garden where you will discover the manufacturing of sweets and alcoholic beverages from fruit. The mount is an extinct volcano founded during an earthquake in 442 BC. It is famous for the monastery named Taungkalat atop a huge rocky basement where 37 major Nats (the revered spirits) reside. Upon arrival, you could make a decision of either climbing 777 steps to the summit of the mount where the monastery is located, enjoying the panorama view over the region or stroll around the mount foot to enjoy the refreshin air and hilly landscapes. Move on the trip to Kalaw across the vast dry plains of Myanmar and gradual ascent to Shan Plateau. Overnight in Kalaw.

After breakfast, the whole day of trekking is waiting for you to discover Kalaw, a small and quiet village spreading from the bottom of a basin surrounded by green hills. The trek is soft enough to help you change the atmosphere and renew your energy, just around 3-4 hours hiking along trails round the area. From the starting point, you will hike to a village of the Palaung ethnic group who are very popular throughout the region. Visit traditional long houses, each of which is the residence of several families. Meet local people in traditional velvet dress of red and green with silver rings and belts. Sightsee the tea plantations, the specialty of Shan State in Burma and the famous terraced rice fields, citrus groves, wild rice, bananas and papayas.  What a fascinating hike!  Overnight at hotel in Kalaw.

Explore the lively local culture by a morning visit to the bustling market of Kalaw frequented by many ethnic groups of the region. They gather at the market and along the streets around, selling various kinds of goods. You would have the opportunity to see women of different tribes including Pa-o and Palaung in their colorful costumes. Then board the 4-hour train ride to Nyaung Shwe. The train seems rather outdated and slow whose simple benches are equipped, perhaps causing you a little uncomfort. However, it gives you the valuable opportunity to be immersed in the local life while passing through colorful paddy fields and successive hills with spectacular views of the impressive countryside. On arrival at Nyaung Shwe, transfer by car to Inle Lake. Overnight at hotel in Inle.

After the long journey with various activities, it is right time to take a getaway in Inle Lake, “the turquoise of Shan highland” with unique characteristics. Get up and enjoy the refreshing air with gentle breeze rustling the immense water surface and magnificent mountain ranges faraway. Morning boat trip to discover the Inle Lake with the floating stilt houses and floating gardens along the lake where original techniques of early crops namely tomatoes and lettuce is lively presented. The lake is populated by Inthas who are very famous as “one leg rowers” with the unique rowing technique. Visit the Monastery of jumping cats, housing a superb collection of typical Buddha statues of Shan region and Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the main sanctuary of the lake if you are interested in. Overnight at the hotel in Inle.

Spend the day to discover Sagar, the ancient royal city of Shan ethnic group which is considered inspirational for those fond of untouched religious complex sunk in the water. The trip is by motorized-boat (6 hours return) offers magnificent views when crossing small rivers and many lakeside villages of Shan, Pa-oh and Inthas. Most residents live in houses on stilts. On arrival at Sagar, visit the village and its “hollow” stupas with 108 stupas from 16-17th centuries which are partially in the water for a few months every year. After that, you will have the chance to explore the distillation process of local rice-wine and the manufacturing process of traditional pottery at local villages. Overnight at hotel in Inle.

Morning flight to Yangon, the biggest city of the country. Depending on the time of arrival, city tour to discover the former Burmese capital (1862-2005). Start your excursion by visiting the Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda with the largest reclining Buddhist image (70 m), the National Museum which houses an extensive collection of Burmese artifacts. Late afternoon, take an extended visit to the Shwedagon pagoda, the most splendid and revered pagoda in Myanmar covered with 60 tons of gold leaf. Stroll around the Kandawgyi Lake nearby, stop on the wooden bridge over the south of the lake’s edge to watch mesmerizing sunset. A dinner at the Karaweik Restaurant on the mythical bird-shape boat is a good chance for you to enjoy various traditional entertainments of Burmese. Overnight in Yangon.

In the morning, embark on a long ride to through Bago to the south to Mawlamyine, the city cherished as the birthplace of Rudyard Kipling’s masterpiece “The Road to Mandalay”. Upon arrival, take a pickup to visit colonial imprints in the state of Mon people: due to its being the first capital of British Burma, Mawlamyine happens to host a score of Christianity churches and Muslim mosques. Venture further to the south of the city to the town of Thanbyuzayat and pay respect to the fallen ones in the construction of the notorious Death Railway – the Empire of Japan’s bloody project which connected Thailand and Burma. The ordeal of the ones taking part in this project was romanticized in the award-winning movie “The Bridge over the River Kwai”.
Overnight at hotel in Mawlamyine. 

Visit the lively central market Zyegyi then board a typical local ferry to the island of Bilu Gyun, a fascinating independent island of Mon ethnic which consists of 64 villages connected by rutted tracks, full of adventures. After docking, depart in open truck (tuk-tuk) through lush vegetation and picturesque villages, meeting on the way smiling locals. Stop in a small monastery on the ridge that divides the island into two parts. Continue to the south through some villages specialized in the manufacture of carpets from coconut fibers, carpentry and bricks. Back to the city in the late afternoon. Overnight in Moulmein.

Departure for Hpaan which is the capital of the Karen state. The picturesque town with majestic mountain ranges, the mysterious caves full of Buddha statues and tranquil atmosphere of local life would lure you into an unforgettable spot. On the way, stop to visit a local village with thatched roofs, then explore the caves of Bayinnyi and Kaw gun, both of which are famous for the rock walls carved with hundreds of Buddha images. Free time after the arrival at the hotel in Hpaan. Good idea to take a short walk around the Kantharyar lake to enjoy the stunning scenery of Zwekabin mountain or get some beer in a riverside restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Hpaan.

Head up to Sadan cave, the most impressive site in the region. Its interior includes a huge hall with beautiful stalactites and green fluorescent vegetation, especially sumptuous frescoes narrating the previous lives of the Buddha. At the other end of the cave, a mesmerizing landscape unfolds before your eyes with a clear lake dotted with water lilies and paddy fields nearby. Then transfer to Mount Zwegabin to visit the Lumbini Garden which offers a beautiful sight with hundreds of Buddhas with golden robes at the foot of the mountain, all identical and perfectly aligned. Stop at Kyauk kalap, an unique pagoda on the top of the steep rock basement outcropping in the middle of a lake, opposite the western side of this mountain. Back to the city center. Overnight at hotel in Hpaan.

At around 8am, start the morning tour by visiting the Hpaann’s local market and then the Cultural Museum of Karen people. Departure for Kyaiktiyo, one of the most important pilgrimage sites when travelling to Burma, which is worth a look for being unique. Situated at 1000 meters above sea level, the huge rock, popularly known as the Golden Rock, gleams golden atop a cliff with a stupa on the top. A mystical legend referring the reason why the great rock has not fallen down to the foot of the cliff seems very inspirational to visitors. On arrival, it would be better for you to get on a truck for around 1 hour to 1h30 to approach the top climb to the site rather than follow a narrow and winding path used by pilgrims which is time-consuming and hard. Overnight at hotel in Kyaikhtiyo.

Departure for Yangon, on the way stop at Bago for a short break, which was the capital of the Mon kingdom for centuries witnessing ups and downs. Take time to visit the imposing Shwemawdaw Pagoda whose golden stupa is up to 114m, higher than that of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Then have a watch on the large reclining Buddha Shwethalyaung which dates back to the 10th century. Next, drop in a handicraft village and discover the workshops around with colorful souvenirs if time permits. Move on the road back to Yangon. Arrive the city in the late afternoon. Overnight in Yangon. 

Free day for relaxation and shopping. Depending on your schedule, transfer to the airport for the flight back to Yangon and your departure flight. 

budget ideas

Number of people6 pax4 pax2 pax
Price per person$519$615$810
The price is determined based on twin/ double room (2 star).

What's included

  • Domestic flights Yangon/ Heho, Heho/ Mandalay, Bagan/ Thandwe, Thandwe/ Yagon
  • 16 nights with breakfast in a double room in standard hotels. If you want to stay in superior hotels, please contact us
  • The services of an English speaking guide for each region
  • All excursions and visits mentioned (entry fees included)
  • Private transfers with driver; 2 bottles of water/person every day

What's not included

  • International airfare and taxes airport
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Visa-on-arrival
  • Tips, drinks and personal expenses
  • Services and activities not included in the program

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