There is something about those faint sounds of wind chimes and bells resonating in the distance, as you approach temples and pagodas in Myanmar. Those peaceful tunes of melodies have been echoing in the air of Myanmar for more than a thousand years. They have survived the rise and fall of kingdoms, ups and downs of dynasties, and shared the happiness and sorrow of generations of people. We will follow those timeless melodies to their source as old as the music itself.
The music you are about to hear is very, very old. Let us take you to the source of those timeless melodies.
Day 01: Bangkok - Yangon (Arrival)
As the plane decents Yangon airport, you maybe wondering whether the plane has taken the wrong turn and about to land in the middle of the green paddy fields. And then, you start to see airport buildings with structures and shapes that you have never seen before. You are about to begin your journey in a land unlike any other place on earth. Welcome to Myanmar!
This is a country diverse in culture and rich in natural resources. It's people are naturally friendly towards visitors. The country somehow took the wrong turn for the last 60 years. Time seems to have stopped ticking in Myanmar, while the rest of the World moves on. But, the path that Myanmar has taken is slowly changing now, with each small steps towards full democracy that was unthinkable just a few years ago.
Remember, this land has a long history with great kingdoms that had built impressive temples, and produced World-Class Wonders like the Mingun Bell, which ranks among the World's largest ringing bells for two centuries.
For the next ten days, we will be following the timeless melodies of Myanmar past, including the Mingun Bell. As for today, we will take you to your hotel about 50 minutes drive from the airport for a good rest. Depending on your flight schedule and your energy level, you may want to spend the rest of the day exploring Yangon on your own.
Day 02 : Yangon Sight-seeing
After breakfast at the hotel, we will begin our tour of Yangon with a visit to 75 meter long colossal reclining Buddha Image at Chaukhtatgyi. Myanmar is home to several of those huge reclining Buddha Images. On day four, we will be visiting another one in Bago.
Our next stop will be Kandawgyi Lake, also known as the Royal Lake. Kandawgyi Lake is a natural body of water located in the city center, and is a perfect place for an evening stroll or late afternoon picnicking. You may wish to come back to this lake again on your own later in the evening to experience the feel of tranquility and peace, as you watch Karaweik floating restaurant in the lake, and Shwdagon Pagoda at a distance from a vantage point.
We will then head towards Botataung Pagoda in downtown area. The main feature in Botataung pagoda is a hair relic of the Buddha. If time permits, we will walk around Sule Pagoda at Yangon city center, and surrounding streets that are bustling with life. Most of the building are more than one hundred years old, and some majestic looking structures are now considered as National Heritage Sites to be preserved. Downtown Yangon is not short of places to have a good lunch with very reasonable price, so go ahead and enjoy your meal.
After lunch, visit National Museum to observe the display of lion throne of King Mindon, and a number of other historical and cultural display. Visit Bogyoke Aung Sun Market, a historic shopping center previously known as the Scott's Market, to shop or just browse around the display of Myanmar handicrafts, jewelry, and other products.
We will spend our early evening at Shwedagon Pagoda. If you are refreshed by the peaceful melodies of bells or wind chimes in the air, you are not alone. Shwedagon, for generations, has been giving hope to the hopeless, calm to the restless souls, comfort to the weary, and perfection to the imperfect World. In late February and early March 2012, Shwedagon had festivities to commemorate the 2,600 years anniversary of its foundation.
Enjoy a fantastic sunset view from the hilltop. Overnight at Summit Park View hotel. (B)
Day 03 : Yangon - Kyaikhtiyo
After breakfast at the hotel, we will be on the road for 5 hour trip to Kyaikhtiyo, the Golden Rock about 190 km (120 miles) away from Yangon. When we reach Kim Pun base Camp, we will take a ride on a truck, which is more suitable to climb up a 11 km (7 miles) long steep slope for 45 minutes. The truck will go up to the upper staging point by the name of Ya-thaid-taung Camp.
We will then walk the rest of the way up to the renowned Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda located 1,180 meters above the sea level. The Golden Rock is about 4 km (2.5 miles) up, or about 45 minutes walk from the camp. If you prefer to be more comfortable, four porters at an extra cost can carry you on a sedan chair.
The Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is 7.3 meters high, and built on a gold-gilded boulder 25 meters in circumference. This strange piece of rock has been sitting at the edge of the ridge for ages; nobody knows for sure how it got to be in this precarious position in the first place.
The Golden Rock seems to defy the law of impermanence (Anicca) taught by the Buddha, because it has existed unchanged for eternity, and it seems to defy the law of physics, because it does not roll off from the initial momentum from which it got to be in this position in the first place. It will be a thrilling experience to witness this timeless piece of gift from the heavens that has existed before the recorded history.
Overnight at Mountain Top hotel. (B)
Day 04: Kyaikhtiyo - Bago - Yangon
Return to the base camp after breakfast at the hotel . We will drive to Bago on our way back to Yangon. Bago is an ancient Capital of Mon, known as Hansavati. The main attractions in Bago are Kyaikpun Phaya with four Buddha images sitting back-to-back, Shwethalyaung, the World's second largest reclining Buddha Image, and 144 meter high Shwemawdaw Pagoda, the tallest in Myanmar. We might as well visit Hinthagone Pagoda, located just a walking distance from Shwemawdaw Pagoda.
There are plenty of places in Bago for lunch serving Chinese food.
We will have time to drop by Bago market, and end the day in Bago with a visit to the excavated ground of Hanthawadi Palace, surrounded by 1.8 km long walls on each side. King Bayinnaung (1553-1599 AD) had build a palace there called "Kambawzathadi".
Return to Yangon. Overnight at Summit Park View hotel.(B)
Day 05 : Yangon - Mandalay - Mingun sightseeing
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your Mandalay-bound flight.
We will pick you up at Mandalay airport and head to Kyawzun Jetty. In this region, water buffaloes are still being used to transport teak wood. This is the timeless scene of Myanmar unchanged for decades, just like the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River that gives life to the region. Board on a private boat at the jetty. We will be visiting Mingun on the west bank of Ayeyarwaddy river about 11km (7 miles) north of Mandalay.
We will drop by the old-age home for the poor in Mingun for awhile. The two main attractions in Mingun are the Mingun Bell and the unfinished temple known as Pahtodawgyi.
Those two timeless monuments are the ambitions of King Bodawpaya. He had envisioned the World's Largest Bell weighing almost 90 tons to be proudly displayed on a huge temple of an equal status. The Bell, after two centuries, still ranks among the World's Largest Functional Bells, and it was a remarkable engineering feat of the time.
As for the temple, it was never completed for a good reason. Just like the Taj Mahal in India built by Shah Jahan, Pahtodawgyi of Bodawpaya's plan was draining too much time and resources of the country. Finally, an astrologer and the advisor to the king (who probably saw the vanity of the King's over-zealous ambition) warned that the kingdom would fall the day the temple was completed. And so, the massive foundation of bricks and unfinished structure is the rest of the story.
Other tour highlights are Settawya Pagoda with a marble foot print of the Buddha, Mingun Village and Shinbume (Hsinbume) Pagoda.
Return to Mandalay and head towards the foot of the Mandalay hill to observe "the World's Largest Book" at Kuthodaw Pagoda where an entire Buddhist canon is recorded on 729 stone tablets.
Visit Shwekyaungdaw "Golden Palace Monastery" to observe the classic Myanmar wooden architecture. Reward yourself with a fantastic sunset view from the hill after a challenging walk up the Mandalay Hill.
Overnight at Mandalay City hotel. (B)
Day 06: Amarapura - Ava - Sagaing
Breakfast at the hotel. visit Phayagyi to pay homage to the Mahamuni Buddha Image. This huge Buddha statue is covered with gold 6-inch in thickness, and its inner core is made of bronze casting. This cherished object of devotion by the Buddhists all over the country was originally located at Mahamuni Temple in Rakhine State. (See our Mrauk U itinerary.)
We will drive to the ancient capital of Amarapura, which means "the city of immortality". This old city has indeed stood the test of time. This is where Mahagandayon Monastery, the largest in the country, is located.
Observe the daily lunch offering to hundreds of Buddhist monks in Mahagandayon Monastery as they are being photographed by almost equal number of tourists.
We will then proceed to Ava (Inwa), an ancient capital of successive kingdoms from the 14th century to 19th century, now a popular tourist destination as a day-trip tour from Mandalay. Observe numerous monasteries and monuments including 88 foot high watchtower and Bargaya teak monastery built with 267 teak pillars. Visit the remains of Royal Palace and the fort.
Proceed to Sagaing, covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries. This city is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar, and is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centers.
Back to Amarapura just in time to watch a fantastic sunset from scenic 200 years old U Bein bridge--- the longest teak bridge in the world. Return to Mandalay. Overnight at Mandalay City hotel. (B)
Day 07: Mandalay - Bagan sightseeing
After breakfast, head to the airport to catch your Bagan-bound flight. Our driver will pick you up at Nyaung U airport, and take you to the hotel in Bagan for check-in. Today's line-ups are Shwezigon, the prototype of the later Myanmar stupas; Ananda, the best preserved master-piece of Myanmar architecture; Ananda Oakkyaung, one of a few surviving brick monasteries located nearby; Thatbyinnyu, the tallest monument in Bagan; and Gawdawpalin, the second tallest temple in Bagan.
Visit one of the traditional Lacquerware workshops to observe the process of making those unique Myanmar handicrafts. Enjoy breath-taking sunset view of Bagan from one of the ruins. You may have a chance to explore part of the ruins on a horse cart just like in the old days. This will be your timeless moment in Bagan. Overnight in Bagan. (B)
Day 08: Mt Popa- Bagan
After breakfast, depart for Mt. Popa 45 km (28 miles) south of Bagan. It will be a 1 1/2 hour jounney. The core of this extinct volcano is considered the abode for the "Nat" (Spirits). It is an important Nat worship center and a major pilgrimage destination for the local Myanmar people.
Mount Popa is the highest landmark in the central dry zone, and rises 1,518 meter above the sea level. Established as a National Park, the Popa Mountain Park is now verdant and green with rich flora and medical plants. The shrine of the Mahagiri Bats is the center for spirit worship, which co-exists with the mainstream Buddhism. For the energetic, it's time to climb the 777 steps leading to the shrine on top of Taung Kalat adjacent to the volcano.
Explore parts of Bagan less frequented and few visitors have gone before. Your visit also includes one of the local villages to observe local daily life-style.(B)
Day 09: Bagan - Heho - Pindaya - Inle Lake
After breakfast at the hotel, head to Nyaung U airport for flight to Heho. We will arrange for transport from Heho airport to Pindaya for about 3 1/2 hours drive due North West. Pindaya is a charming, quiet village with paper umbrella cottage industry.
Visit Pindaya Caves, a popular tourist destination known for its countless Buddha images placed by the pilgrims over many centuries.
After excursion, drive to the west bank of the Inle lake and transfer to your hotel. Overnight at Khaung Daing Resort Hotel. (B)
Day 10: Inle sightseeing
After breakfast, we will begin our sightseeing tour of the lake on a long motorized boat. Life goes on at a relaxing pace on the Inle Lake. Capture your timeless moment in Inle by taking photos of unique one-legged-boat-rowers of Inle and floating farms on the surface of the water built out of weeds from the bottom of the lake anchored with bamboo poles. Those farms rise and fall with the level of water in the lake, which can increase by as much as 5 feet (1.5 meter) during the rainy season.
Observe houses and monasteries on stilts above the lake, which is about 7 feet (2.1 meter) deep on the average.
Visit Indein to explore the ruins of pagodas and stupas built in the 8th century. The journey will take about 45 minutes. Those are timeless monuments, but sorry, no bells and melodies this time. Enjoy rows of shops along the corridor up the hill.
Return to Inle in the afternoon. Visit Phaungdaw Oo pagoda housing five sacred and almost shapeless Buddha images, and cottage industries. In the afternoon, visit floating village of Ywama, the floating market, the weaving villages of Inpawkhon, and Ngaphechaung, a museum-like monastery popularly known as Jumping Cats Monastery on the Internet. Overnight at Khaung Daing Resort. (B)
Day 11: Inle - Heho - Yangon - Bangkok
Breakfast at the hotel and transfer to Heho airport for your flight to Yangon. As you leave Myanmar on your International flight, may the timeless melodies of Myanmar bless you on your journey back home. (B)
There will be hotel discounts if you visit between April and end of September, however due to heavy rains and potential landslides during the rainy season, a trip to Kyaikhtiyo will not be available during most of those months. Contact us for low season rates without Kyaikhtiyo trip.Economy Hotels
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