Days
13
Price from
£868GBP

beautiful pagodas, astounding giant Buddhas and countless historical sites

Myanmar’s where it’s at (formerly Burma). Check out the busy streets of Yangon and some pretty awesome archaeological sites in Bagan, hang in pretty Mandalay, lap up some mountain time in Kalaw en route to the ridiculously beautiful Inle Lake.

When we talk about getting off the beaten track, we’re talking about Myanmar: hill tribes who’ve rarely seen foreigners, one-legged rowing fisherman, 2000 temples in one place. Did someone say bragging rights?


Start
Yangon, Myanmar
Finish
Yangon, Myanmar
Country
Myanmar
Code
GTBR
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
38 reviews
Ages
Min 18 , Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Start and finish your explorations of Myanmar in incredible Yangon, rapidly developing but still packed with beautiful pagodas, astounding giant Buddhas and more history than you can poke a stick at. Your leader will show you around downtown, then it's yours to explore.

  • Get to know your new travel mates over a welcome dinner at the Linkage Restaurant, a vocational training social enterprise restaurant that’s part of Friends International.

  • Tour the ancient city of Bagan by bicycle or float high above the spectacle of stupas in a hot air balloon. There are multiple magical ways to have your mind blown here at this astonishing site with its thousands of temples and pagodas.

  • There are plenty of opportunities to get in touch with the people and culture in your ample free time. Try our Urban Adventures in Yangon, Bagan or Mandalay for river tours, exploring after dark, local food and community visits.

  • Spend a full day waking through the hills and villages of Kalaw, getting up-close and personal with the culture of rural Myanmar.

  • Get lost in the floating markets of Inle Lake and encounter the many varied ethnic groups who call this place home - you will really feel you are in South East Asia here!

  • Round up your trip with a visit to perhaps most glittering stupa of them all, Shwedagon Pagoda.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Myanmar is a large country with developing infrastructure. We are attempting to cover large distances in a short amount of time, so expect some long travel days as we travel between destinations. The river trip too will take the whole day, but it's a great chance to watch life along the banks of the river.

  • Pack some card games, books or download plenty of podcasts to last you the trip.

  • While not strenuous, the full day of walking in Kalaw does you’ll need a solid level of fitness (and good shoes) to get through the day.

  • Myanmar is a hot and humid country, even in winter. If you don’t take the heat too well, you might want to avoid doing this trip in the height of summer!

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. Spend your free time getting amongst it today – maybe take an Urban Adventure on the circle train or stroll around the Kandawgyi Lake.

After your welcome meeting this evening get to know your new crew with a welcome dinner at Linkage Restaurant, a vocational training restaurant that’s part of Friends International.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yangon - Dinner at Linkage (Friends International)
Optional Activities
  • Yangon - Kandawgyi Lake - MMK300
  • Yangon - Let Yangon Take You For a Ride Urban Adventure - USD33
  • Yangon - Hands on Yangon Urban Adventure - USD67
  • Yangon - Yangon's Streets by Night Urban Adventure - USD36
  • Yangon - Yangon's Streets By Night Urban Adventure - USD40
  • Yangon - Hands-on Yangon Urban Adventure - USD81
Meals Included
  • Dinner
Depart the hotel in a private bus headed to Bagan (approximately 9 hours). There will be 2 drivers on board, and multiple rest breaks on the way. It's a good idea to pack some card games, a good book or even load up some podcasts to your phone. This is also a great opportunity to get to know your fellow travellers. Arrive in Bagan in the evening and check into your hotel. Stretch your legs after a long travel day by tracking down Bagan's top laphet (tea leaf salad) or mohinga (rice noodle broth) at a nearby restaurant.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy a full free day to explore the sites of Bagan. Stretch your legs, grab a bite to eat and go exploring. Try and close your wide-open jaw after seeing that super duper stupa-studded skyline (say that three times fast with a mouthful of pickled bitter melon!) The Nyaung U market, one of the best in the country, is a great place walk around. The archaeological museum is also a choice option. But there are 4,500 brick and gilded temples calling your name, and the fun has only just Bagan...
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bagan - Archaeological Museum - MMK5000
  • Bagan - Nyaung U Market - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Hot air ballooning is a popular optional activity for many here, and you can see why. There's time to take a sunrise flight early this morning. Be sure to book in advance, as space will be limited. If you have pre-booked this activity you will be picked up and driven to the launch site. You will then float over the hundreds of stupas and temples below, to watch as the morning glow illuminates this awesome landscape. Flights can last from anywhere between 20 minutes and 1 hour, depending on conditions. When you land, enjoy a glass of bubbly, then be transferred back to your accommodation. The whole experience takes around 2.5 or 3 hours in total. Flights operate from October to March, with Premium and Classic experience options available.
What you gonna do? Well it's up to you. If you like to get up early then check out the incredible balloon flight below. If you're looking for ideas, riding is the perfect way to take in the atmosphere of this place. You can drop by big-name sights like Ananda Pahto, Dhammayangyi Pahto and Shwesandaw Paya, as well as some of the smaller ones. There will also be plenty of chances to jump off the bike here and there so you can climb stairs to lookout points where the really awesome views are found. You can also pay a visit to the village of Kyunkalay, where you can enjoy lunch with a local family and see how ActionAid Myanmar is using responsible tourism to improve local infrastructure and living conditions. Another great option is a sunset river cruise and picnic beside the Ayeyarwady River, the country's largest river. Your leader can help you book any of these activities locally.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Bagan – Beyond Bagan Bike Tour Urban Adventure - USD59
  • Bagan – Bagan Community Experience Urban Adventure - USD86
  • Bagan – Bagan by Boat Sunset Cruise Urban Adventure - USD36
  • Bagan - Shwezigon Paya - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Rise and shine! Bound out of bed before dawn so you can catch the ferry for your cruise up the Ayeyarwady River to Mandalay. Watch the wonderful world of local life stream by while you're chilling out on the boat. It's a good idea to bring some snacks today, although there will be a cafe/bar on the upper deck with simple meals available. You'll arrive in Mandalay late afternoon, then be transferred to your hotel.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Depending on the daily schedule, the ferry departs at either 5.00, 6.30 or 7.00 am, and arrives around 5.00 pm on the same day.

The ferry from Bagan to Mandalay may be cancelled due to changing water levels on the Ayeyarwady River (usually February to May) and when there are fewer tourists travelling in low season (April to September). Cancellations may take place at the last minute and without warning. If this happens, the group will travel by road from Bagan to Mandalay (approx. 5 hours).
Join your group leader for a walking tour around Mandalay this morning, then the day is yours. Maybe head further up the Ayeyarwady River to visit Mingun, a world-class archaeological site. The main temple here was never finished, supposedly because an astrologer thought the king would die if it was finished. Harsh. But it sure is impressive. You'll also find the world's largest uncracked bell, which is possibly even cooler than the temple. And a glistening white stupa to go with it. There are plenty of things to do with your free time here. You can visit the teak Monastery Shwe In Bin Kyaung or the bigger Shwenandaw Kyaung, or check out the city by local transport (van or truck ride). Maybe make a stop at some cottage industries that make gold leaf (the sacred Buddha image of Mahamuni Paya is covered in six inches of it – and it is known to be over 2,000 years old). On the other hand, you can rest your legs and enjoy a puppetry or dance performance at the Mandalay Marionettes or Mintha Theatre.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mandalay - Walking tour
Optional Activities
  • Mandalay - Mandalay Hill - MMK1000
  • Mandalay - Shwenandaw Monastery - MMK10000
  • Mandalay - Boat trip to Mingun - MMK2000
  • Mandalay - Mahamuni Buddha Temple - ALL10000
  • Mandalay - Mandalay Marionettes - MMK10000
  • Mandalay - Mandalay in the Morning Urban Adventure - USD40
  • Mandalay - The Road to Mandalay River Tour Urban Adventure - USD62
  • Mandalay - Ancient Cities, Pagodas & Sunset Tour Urban Adventure - USD81
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a private bus to Kalaw (approximately 8 hours). Drive into the mountains of the Shan state. Keep that camera handy, because the scenery is awesome and there will be stops for photos. Your Instagram followers will be loving you for this, or maybe not loving you, just wishing they were here. Arrive in Kalaw late afternoon, with time to stretch your legs and get a feel for this beautiful spot, a former British hill station.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Head for the hills! Explore villages, farms and forests in the area outside of Kalaw. Feel that breeze? Welcome to the highlands, baby. This is the land of many ethnic minority groups, including the Palaung, Danu and Pa-O, as well as Indians and Nepalese who moved here during the British rule. This may explain why the chai is so good. Along your travels today you'll stop for lunch (which is included) at a local village.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kalaw - Full day trek
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy free time this morning in Kalaw. Take this opportunity to hit the local market and shop for some nice local handicrafts (or just some silly souvenirs for your friends back home). Or you can check out one of the beautiful Buddhist pagodas around. Stock up on snacks before your bus trip to Inle Lake in the afternoon (approximately 3 hours). Surrounded by the cool stilt houses of many ethnic communities, Inle Lake makes for fairytale kinda scene. Shimmering waters, floating gardens. Ahhh....
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Kalaw - Thein Thaung Paya - Free
  • Kalaw - Hnee Pagoda - Free
  • Kalaw - Village market - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Freedom! Well, a free couple of days at least. Spend a free day exploring the lake and the surrounding villages. Your leader can help organise the transport: motorised long-tail boat. The sights: cool waters, floating tomato plantations, floating everything! (Even floating markets, if it's the right day.) The people: local silversmiths, weavers, cigar makers... and those fisherman, rowing their boats with their legs, how do they do it?. You can grab a bike and peddle to some local villages towards the end of the day, where people will greet you with smiles and cute traditional handicrafts.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy some time to chill today. You might like to visit the Mingala morning market, or maybe Nyuang Shwe's oldest Buddhist monastery, Yadana Man Aung Paya. There's also a traditional puppet show held every night in town, and a nearby winery that has ah-mazing views over the lake (your chance to sample a wee drop of the local varieties perhaps, and to be all distinguished and cultured and civilised).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Inle Lake - Red Mountain Estate Winery Tasting - MMK3000
  • Inle Lake - Bicycle hire - MMK3000
  • Inle Lake - Mingala Market - Free
  • Inle Lake - Yadana Man Aung Paya - Free
  • Inle Lake - Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery - Free
  • Inle Lake - Nyaung Shwe Night Market - Free
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Tar tar, spectacular state of Shan. It's been real. Make your way to the airport in Heho for your flight back to the hustle and bustle of Yangon (approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes). When you touch down in town, head off to visit the serious treasure of the Shwedagon Pagoda – this 98 metre high stupa is covered with tons and tons of pure gold, along with jade, rubies, sapphires, and diamonds. This is, literally and symbolically, the jewel in the Myanmar crown. Gather together your new best buds and tuck into a farewell dinner as you all cry bye bye Burma (well, Myanmar technically).
Included Activities
  • Yangon - Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Yangon - Walking Tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This trip ends today and you are free to leave at any time. See ya!
Optional Activities
  • Yangon - Yangon's Streets By Night Urban Adventure - USD40
  • Yangon - Hands-on Yangon Urban Adventure - USD81
  • Yangon - Bogyoke Market (Scotts Market) - Free
  • Yangon - Sule Pagoda - MMK3000
  • Yangon - Yangon's Streets by Night Urban Adventure - USD36
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

12 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport

Boat, Private vehicle, Ferry, Plane, Public bus

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights)

Included Activities

  • Yangon - Dinner at Linkage (Friends International)
  • Mandalay - Walking tour
  • Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
  • Kalaw - Full day trek
  • Yangon - Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Yangon - Walking Tour

Reviews

Our Discover Myanmar trips score an average of 4.68 out of 5 based on 38 reviews in the last year.

Discover Myanmar, February 2017

Sophie Matters

Discover Myanmar, May 2017

Chloe Nutt

Dates & availability

Trips were unable to load at this time.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Discover Myanmar trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Jump to a departure month
Book this trip and make a difference to local communities. Along with carbon offsetting your trip, we’ll also contribute funds to our new social enterprise partner, Friends-International, on your behalf. Find out more

Important notes

1. Please provide passport details at time of booking with exact name as per passport, as these are essential for booking services on this trip.
2. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip.
3. The ferry from Bagan to Mandalay may be cancelled due to changing water levels on the Ayeyarwady River (usually February to May) and when there are fewer tourists travelling in low season (April to September). Cancellations may take place at the last minute and without warning. If this happens, the group will travel by road from Bagan to Mandalay (approx. 5 hours).
4. Geckos can book an optional sunrise balloon ride over the Bagan (operating October to March). Please refer to Day 4 of the Trip Notes for more information. Places are limited and we recommend advance booking with your agent.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.