Overview

Enjoy the warm climate and even warmer hospitality of Myanmar on this nearly two-week Journey that will teach you about the culture of this wonderful country. Learn about Buddhist traditions at the festival of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, try cooking a traditional Burmese meal, watch local craftsmen create beautiful works of art, and visit plenty of areas with breathtaking scenery.

Home Hospitality

Home Hospitality provided by our Friendship Force partner in Myanmar.

Live With a Local

  • Attend the annual festival of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, one of the most venerated shrines in the country. The festival draws flocks of pilgrims from all over the country and lasts more than two weeks, during which four out of the five Buddhas from the shrine tour the lake spending a night at each major village.
  • Discover the culture and food as you meet locals for home dinners and lunches.
  • Participate in an alternative cooking class, where you will go shopping with a local woman, learn how the locals cook, and enjoy the results for lunch.
  • Visit English schools, monasteries, and nunneries.
  • Learn about Buddhism.
  • Visit the villages of the Inn Thar and Taung Yoe tribes in the north eastern part of the lake, where you will get to meet and interact with the villagers.
  • Visit a craftsman’s workshop where you will get to see the making of parasols from the basic wood ingredients to the end product all created from hand-made paper and carved wood.
  • Attend a lacquerware workshop.
  • Make an offering of food to the monks at Myeceta Monastery.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • Downtown Rangoon
  • Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Kandawgyi Lake or "great royal lake", one of two major lakes in Yangon, Burma
  • Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott’s Market)
  • Sacred Pindaya Caves
  • Myasetkyar Lotus Weaving House
  • Ngehpechaung Monastery
  • Mt. Popa
  • View the sunset over the temples of Bagan
  • Archeological Museum
  • Ananda Temple
  • Ava, a royal city for centuries where the mode of transport here will be horse-drawn carts.
  • Shwesandaw Pagoda
  • U Bein Bridge
  • The unfinished Pahtodawgyi, a mammoth project which, if completed, would have claimed to be the biggest temple on earth
  • The world’s largest “uncracked” Mingon Bell
What an incredible [Journey]. To meet and get to know the people was so insightful. This is the way to travel. There were so many ways that we were able to understand their way of life, Buddhism, their food, etc. Well done. The best tour I have experienced. - 2014 Ambassador

Explore Myanmar

12 Days / 11 Nights Program and Itinerary:

October 9, 2018 – October 20, 2018
Coordinator: Ian Stanford
ians5064@gmail.com

All Friendship Force Itineraries are subject to change.

Oct. 9, 2018 - Yangon

Upon arrival at Yangon airport, you will be welcomed and transferred to your hotel.

Welcome dinner at your hotel.

Overnight stay at the Panorama Hotel or similar in Yangon.

Meals included: dinner

Oct. 10, 2018 - Yangon

This morning we will start with a stroll around downtown Rangoon with a backdrop of colonial buildings, whereby we will be able to learn not only of bits of colonial history but also of people of Yangon, their foods and habits as well as trades and dresses. It will be a distance of approximately 3 km and take 3 hours. We will be walking at a slow pace looking at things and taking pictures, culminating at the heart of the city marked with Sule Pagoda, a typical Buddhist stupa.

Next, we will get on board and drive to Feel Restaurant to lunch. Feel Restaurant is crowded with locals – expats and tourists come here as well since it serves typical Burmese dishes from across the country.

In the afternoon, we will go and visit a monastery, which runs a vocational training center offering English, computer, and accounting classes. After meeting with the monks, we will have the opportunity to interact with the students learning English (according to the time table of the monastery, there is an English class at the monastery in the afternoon).

Then it will then be time for all to go and visit the great Shwedagon Pagoda, shining like a mountain of gold enhanced by the rays of the setting sun. You will have a leisurely visit here. You will be able to observe the local devotees performing their rituals and experience the many and varied pagodas of all shapes and sizes. You will also be able to calm your mind and take in the wonderful atmosphere of peace and tranquility that Buddhism embodies.

Afterwards, you will board the coach again to go and have dinner at a local restaurant with some Yangonites.

Overnight at the Panorama Hotel in Yangon.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Oct. 11, 2018 - Yangon

Today we should have a good breakfast, as lunch may be a bit late.

After breakfast we will set off by bus first to the bank of Kandawgyi (Royal Lake) and then after a short drive, we will pay a visit to one of the biggest reclining Buddha images in the country and learn a little bit of Buddhism.

Afterwards, we will drive to visit Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott’s Market). This is a major two-story bazaar located in central Yangon. It is known for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets, having been built by the British in 1926. It contains many small antique stores, jewelers selling Burmese ruby, jade and other precious stones plus art galleries, handicraft shops, restaurants and clothes stores.

Lunch will be served at a local restaurant.

Afterwards there will be a stroll through a typical local neighborhood and a short ride on the Circular Train of Yangon.

Dinner will be on your own account to explore the options for yourself.

Overnight at Panorama Hotel in Yangon.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch

Oct. 12, 2018 - Nyaung Shwe

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight from Yangon to Heho.

Upon arrival in Heho, there is about a 2 ½ hour drive to Pindaya which will be an interesting drive, with its fantastic landscapes of rolling hills covered with colorful patchworks of seasonal vegetables and flowers with the minority tribes going about their daily chores.

Upon reaching the town of Pindaya, driving through a banyan tree grove, you will pay a visit to the sacred Pindaya Caves with thousands of Buddha images placed there by local devotees as offerings over the centuries, which will give you a sense of the people’s deep devotion. Many of the Buddha images there were created not only by locals, but also by pilgrims from all over the world.

Afterwards, you will proceed to visit a craftsman’s workshop, where you will get to see the making of parasols – from the basic wood ingredients to the end product all created from hand-made paper and carved wood.

And then, you will backtrack the same colorful road and be driven to Nyaung Shwe, the main gateway to the famed Inle Lake.

Dinner and overnight will be at the Grand Nyaung Shwe Hotel.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Oct. 13, 2018 - Nyaung Shwe

After breakfast today, we will start exploring the lake by boat cruising through the quaint villages with houses on stilts and floating gardens, to learn a bit about their farming techniques. The tour also includes visits to Myasetkyar Lotus Weaving House, where the weavers (mainly women) also produce colorful fabrics with intricate patterns; Ngehpechaung Monastery where we could see a wonderful collection of ancient Buddha images; a shop-house where the famous long-necked ladies produce their traditional cloths woven with their traditional tension looms; and a picturesque pagoda complex called Inn Dein situated on the western shore of the lake. We will then return to Nyaung Shwe.

Dinner will be on your own this evening to explore the options by yourself. Overnight at Grand Nyaung Shwe Hotel.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch

Oct. 14, 2018 - Nyaung Shwe

This morning we will get up early and leave by boat again to get to the venue in time to wait and watch the ceremonial towing of the holy barge carrying the five holy Buddha images and the boat race. This is part of the annual festival of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, one of the most venerated shrines in the country. The festival draws flocks of pilgrims from all over the country and lasts more than two weeks, during which four out of the five Buddhas from the shrine tour the lake spending a night at each major village.

After watching the festivities to our heart’s content, we will return to the hotel.

The remainder of the day at your leisure.

Overnight at the Grand Nyaung Shwe Hotel.

Dinner on your own again, as this town offers plenty of choices from Italian to Nepalese.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch

Oct. 15, 2018 - Nyaung Shwe

This morning you will be transferred by tuk-tuk to a starting point to begin a soft walk. Good walking shoes will be required, as there will be approximately 2 ½ hours of walking broken up into 20 min, 1 hour, and 1/2 hour stretches of walking, with long breaks between each leg of the journey and stops along the way to observe and interact with the locals – so it won’t be too onerous.

You will visit the villages of the Inn Thar and Taung Yoe tribes in the north eastern part of the lake.

You will get to meet and interact with the villagers. You will see them toiling in their fields, and witness the cultivation of cheroot leaves, corn and beans, and finally stop by at a natural spring for a refreshing break.

You will get the opportunity to talk to the villagers and learn about their lives, challenges, and aspirations, while enjoying a simple lunch prepared by a family in a home in one of the villages that you will pass through.

Your trekking will finish at a winery, where there will be a wine tasting while relaxing and enjoying the view overlooking the lake.

Then it’s back to Nyaung Shwe by coach.

Next will be an alternative cooking class. You will go shopping with a local woman, learn how the locals cook, and enjoy the results for lunch.

After lunch, there are optional massage sessions which are very popular, plus shopping and exploring for the rest of the afternoon.

Dinner is on your own account for you to discover the local cuisine and overnight will be at the Grand Nyaung Shwe Hotel.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch

Oct. 16, 2018 - Bagan

After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the airport for a flight to Bagan.

On arrival in Bagan, we will set out on the excursion to Mt. Popa, often referred to as the Mt. Olympus of Myanmar, as locals believe that spirits reside there.

En route, we will stop by a toddy farm where the farmer is happy to show us how he harvests the toddy sap, which is made into sugar, liqueur, and a lot of other things.

Then we continue to Mt. Popa and pay a visit to the base of Mt. Popa, which refers to the rocky outcrop, the top of which is enshrined with pagodas and spirit-houses. The top can be reached by climbing the legendary 777 steps, and offers some fantastic views. But we will give it a miss as we are going to have lunch at a resort overlooking the whole outcrop and commanding breathtaking views.

About half an hour after lunch and leaving the resort, you will visit a subsistence living village where you will see their very basic living standards. Their homes are made of palm timber and fronds with bare earth floors. All this is a far cry from the standards we enjoy. However, the village is clean, orderly, and everyone is very happy. Maybe they can teach us a thing or two.

Proceed back to Bagan, where you will arrive around sunset in time for viewing the sunset over the temples.

Dinner will be at a local restaurant and overnight at the Floral Breeze Hotel in Bagan.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Oct. 17, 2018 - Bagan

This morning is at leisure with optional tours available:

CYCLING TOUR – Cycling through the ruins of Bagan and passing farmers and their villages is indeed a memorable experience apart from being good exercise and fun. For those who are not quite so keen on the exercise, battery-powered scooters are available. You can even have your own scooter driver if you wish, which means you would just sit on the back.

This afternoon you will visit a lacquerware workshop, the Archeological Museum, Ananda Temple, and Shwesandaw Pagoda.

A home-hosted dinner with locals will be a specialty tonight, where you will have the ability to interact with and come to a better understanding of the lives of the locals living in Bagan.

Overnight back at Floral Breeze Hotel in Bagan.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Oct. 18, 2018 - Mandalay

After breakfast (once again lunch may be late today), you will be transferred to the airport for a short flight to Mandalay.

Upon arrival, if our flight lands at Mandalay airport in good time, you will be able to visit Myeceta Monastery where the monks will ready themselves for the day by partaking of their last meal of the day. You will be given the chance to make your offerings of food to be placed in their bowls as they pass by on their way to the Mess Hall for their collective meal taken in silence. You will be able to follow them in to observe the monks eating in total silence – but respect will be required of you.

Afterwards, we will drive up the Sagain Hill overlooking the Ayeyarwaddy Vally and enjoy the views from atop one of the peaks of the Sagaing Hill.

Departing the peak and on our down we may be able to visit a nunnery and talk to the nuns about their lives – please note that the nuns are very busy.

You will then travel to Ava (Innwa), one of the ancient capitals of Myanmar (approximately 45 minute drive) which is to be reached by crossing a small river on a make-shift ferry. Ava was a royal city for centuries, and yet upon arriving in Ava this time, you will feel as though you were thrown back in time by at least 200 years and hence the mode of transport here will be horse-drawn carts.
You will board your waiting horse and cart and be driven by your driver to visit a 150-year old monastery still in use called Bargayar Monastery. It is one of the oldest teak monasteries in Myanmar and provides a superb example of a traditional monastic structure from days gone by.

Continuing the tour from here, you will reach another remnant of the old royal capital of Ava in the form of a huge monastery “Maha Aung Myay Bon Zan,” built of bricks but still following the traditional wooden architectural style.

After that you will board your horse-drawn cart again to go back to the jetty to take the ferry back, board the bus, and proceed to Amarapura to enjoy the romantic atmosphere on the U Bein Bridge. This bridge is reputed to be the longest teakwood span in the world, built in 1847 with teak logs and planks dismantled from the Ava Palace, which was moved to Amarapura that year. U Bein Bridge is a very popular attraction not only with international tourists, but more so with the locals. In fact for many local visitors to Mandalay, it is one of the most visited sites.

After the sun sets, you will drive to the hotel for your overnight stay in Mandalay.

Dinner and overnight at the Yadanarpon Dynasty Hotel in Mandalay.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Oct. 19, 2018 - Mandalay

After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the jetty, where you will board a private boat to go upstream at a leisurely 11 km per hour.

You will be able to enjoy the bustling life on the riverbank from the sundeck of your boat as it wends its way to Mingun.

You will see various activities on the river such as fishermen, teak rafts and sand-diggers plus observing the lifestyles of the riverine crofters on the banks.

After one hour of leisurely cruising, you will arrive at Mingun which, despite being a small village, has a number of historical sites and some rather large edifices:

  • The unfinished Pahtodawgyi, a mammoth project which, if completed, would have claimed to be the biggest temple on earth.
  • The world’s largest “uncracked” Mingon Bell (weighing in at 90 tons) which would have accompanied the immense temple.
  • The buttocks of gigantic Chinthes, which would have served as suitably large guardians of the king of temples.
  • Hsinphyumei Pagoda, with its unique architectural design reminiscent of Mount Meru from Buddhist mythology.

You will then return to Mandalay by boat, transfer to the hotel and the rest of the day is at your leisure.

Meet back at the hotel and hop on the coach and head to the venue for the farewell dinner.

Overnight at the Yadanarpon Dynasty Hotel in Mandalay.

Meals included: breakfast, dinner

Oct. 20, 2018 - Mandalay

After breakfast you will be transferred to Mandalay International Airport for your departure flight.

Free time will be dependent on the departure time of your flight.

Meals included: breakfast

Rate:

$3000 USD

Price Includes: FFI and host fees. Private transfers and tours with English-speaking local guides in air-conditioned coaches as per the itinerary. Domestic flights, ferry, boats, and horse carts. Standard rooms at hotels with breakfasts as per the itinerary. Meals as specified. All entrance fees. Bottled water. Baggage handling.

Availability:

10Spaces Remaining

Easy

Know before you go

  • Journey Number 14439
  • Heavy rain could be experienced in Yangon but it is unlikely, as it is the end of the rainy season. Pleasant weather will be the norm.
  • Wear warm weather clothes with a light jacket for possible cooler evenings.
  • Be prepared to take off your shoes every time you enter a monastery, nunnery, or temple.
  • Internet may be unreliable at times and global roaming may not be available.
Interested in this Journey?

We would love to have you on this Journey with us.

Our Mission

Friendship Force International provides opportunities to explore new countries and cultures from the inside by bringing people together at the personal level. Through the signature program of home hospitality, local hosts welcome international visitors into their culture, sharing with them meals, conversation, and the best sights and experiences of their region.
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