Basic Tour + extension Kayah and Padaung ethnic "giraffe women"
|10 days and 9 nights|
Myanmar (Yangon, Bagan, Monywa, Mandalay, Inle Lake, Loikaw)
DAY 1 – YANGON
Arrival at Yangon International Airport - transfer to hotel ( lunch not included) - Yangon tour: it was founded in 1755 and is one of the most fascinating Asian cities. The city has 6 million people of different Burmese ethnicities who coexist peacefully with Indians and Chinese, and is a fascinating mix of buildings of different styles: Victorian English, Chinese, Burmese and Indian; bathed by rivers and with 2 lakes, shady parks and tree-lined avenues from which the pinnacles of the numerous pagodas scattered everywhere stand out. The Burmese population wears the traditional "Longji" (sarong) and the women use a whitish cream, the "thanaka" (of vegetable origin) to embellish their face. The Strand Road, the main street, runs along the Irrawaddy River, crosses the city and the busy port area, the hub of commerce and communication. The tour that will introduce you to this fascinating city includes: the gigantic reclining Buddha and the Shwedagon Pagoda. A myriad of small pagodas, temples, reliquaries, pavilions and statues frame the mighty central stupa that rise for almost a hundred meters, entirely covered with gold leaf, and embellished with gems and diamonds in the umbrella on top: when it lights up at nightfall, it will be unforgettable! The day ends in style, with dinner in a typical restaurant to taste local specialties. Overnight stay in Yangon.
Day 2- BAGAN "carriage ride among the pagodas ... the famous sunset and dinner with entertainment!"
Towards the middle of the 11th century, Bagan, under King Anawrahta (1044-1077), became a unique kingdom starting its golden age, where the Mon culture and especially its form of Theravada Buddhism exercised a dominant influence. The king became a staunch supporter of Theravada ideas and practices by starting a major construction program in support of the new religion. From the reign of Anawrahta, until the conquest by the forces of Kublai Khan in 1287, Bagan has been the vibrant center of a frenetic religious architecture.
Early in the morning transfer to the airport - Yangon / Bagan flight - arrival in about 1 hour. Take advantage of the cooler hours of the day to visit Bagan, the most fascinating place in Burma. It is thought that more than 13,000 temples, pagodas and other religious structures were probably built here, now about 2,000 remain. A unique heritage, among the most significant archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and in the world. Stop at the colorful market in Nyaung-oo, very lively in the morning hours, then visit the splendid Shwezigon pagoda, whose bell-shaped stupa has become the template for all the other pagodas in Burma, followed by a visit to other pagodas and temples among the most important and spectacular, and to the factory of the beautiful lacquer, typical of Bagan, if you like to buy a nice souvenir. Visit of the temple of Ananda, of the particular Manuha temple, you cannot miss the ride with the local horsecart in the plain of the pagodas, to conclude with an unforgettable panoramic sunset. Lunch in a local restaurant on the river, dinner in a restaurant with typical Bagan entertainment. Thus ends a memorable day in one of the most important and beautiful archaeological sites in Asia. Overnight stay at a Hotel.
Day 3 - BAGAN (overland) MONYWA / THE LOCALITY OF MYSTERY - Crossing the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers on the new long bridges,
We move away from the more touristy places and go back in time ... to the more genuine and mysterious Myanmar. Exploring the site of Po Win Daung is like savoring the atmosphere of evocative places in an open-air museum, a sacred place that leaves a moving memory of the discovery of secret treasures hidden from view.
Recommended optional: AT SUNRISE, BALLOON FLIGHT OVER THE PAGODA VALLEY, price on request.
" More than 3,000 elephants worked in the impenetrable forests of Myanmar, recently this commercial activity has been drastically reduced. The government has planned to support about 260 of the weakest elephants, in 18 fields scattered throughout the Country. A 15-minute drive from Bagan, in a pleasant area in front of the river, is the Palin Camp, with 8 elephants. Do not miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in nature near these wonderful animals !!!! With the entry fee you contribute to their maintenance.
Departure after breakfast, along the way we stop at the Elephant camp in a pleasant area in front of the river. Continue to Monywa crossing the great Irrawaddy River on the new large bridge over 3 kilometers long. Along the way you can admire the landscapes of Central Burma: crops, villages, and rural life. Arrival in Pakokku, (really genuine local market, the square of the monastery where thanakha woods are sold by the kg, and the manual production of rubber slippers ...) Arrival after about 3 hours on the road. lunch in local restaurant. We then leave for the visit of a spectacular location: Shwe Ba Thaung and Po Win Daung an extraordinary complex with more than 900 caves dug into the hills, which contain many statues of Buddha and well-preserved frescoes with Jataka (religious geometric symbols with stories of Buddha) in vivid colors dating back to the 14th or 18th century. Some scholars have indicated them as the richest collection of murals in all of Southeast Asia, but its history is still mysterious. You explore the caves freely .. here and there, some curious baboons appear. Dinner and overnight stay at the hotel in Monywa.
Day 4– MONYWAR – SAGAING - MANDALAY ... a statue of Buddha as tall as a skyscraper!
With surreal views, Monywa is a small Burmese town but has two particular places that will certainly impress us: the Thambodday pagoda with over 500,000 images of Buddha crammed between the walls and ceilings, in splendid colors and with two imposing statues of white elephants guarding it, and the Bodhi Tataung, two huge statues of Buddha with one standing 116 meters (about the height of a skyscraper; the second tallest statue in the world !!) and another reclining 95 meters with the surrounding fields and woods crowded with statues of Buddha sitting in meditation: fantastic!! We then continue to Mandalay, arrival in about 3 hours by road and lunch in a local restaurant in Sagaing.
Capital from 1857 to 1885, it is today an important cultural, religious and commercial center of central Myanmar. Here the Burmese capitals alternated after the fall of Bagan, until its fall during the English rule and the adventurous escape of the last Burmese king to India. Various buildings in the city and its surroundings testify to the ancient splendor of the last Burmese kingdom.The last capital of the Burmese kingdom, it is today the second largest city in the country with a population of around one million.
The visit to this city rich in history begins, which includes a visit to the Shwenandaw monastery, with splendid wood inlays, a wonderful example of traditional Burmese art, the only survivor of the buildings of the Royal Palace that were completely destroyed during the Second World War. Then the Kuthodaw Paya, which was the result of a great synod of 2,400 monks, called by King Mindon in 1857 to establish the definitive canon of the oldest original text of the 15 sacred books that passed down the teachings of the Buddha. The text was carved in the language poles on 729 marble slabs. It has been calculated that it would take a person at least eight hours a day for 450 days to read the entire "book". If in time, continue for the panoramic view over the whole city from Mandalay Hill (closes at 6pm). After a busy day of discovery and incredible views, check-in at the hotel, relax, dinner and overnight stay at the hotel in Mandalay.
Day 5- MANDALAY - MINGUN - MANDALAY - The procession of a thousand monks.....
After breakfast, we start the day with the visit of the fascinating Amarapura, the ancient capital, the Mahagandayon monastery begins, where you can witness the procession and the silent community meal of about a thousand monks, a daily activity of Burmese Buddhist life, which will leave you excited. Not far away is the UBein bridge, the longest all-teak bridge in the world where you can take a walk. Continue to the district where they work the marble, to visit the important Mahamuni pagoda with the large statue of the seated Buddha from the Arakhan, covered with votive gold leaves. Walk in the colorful market. Lunch in a local restaurant. Transfer to the pier and, with a local boat, navigation of the Irawaddy River towards Mingun. This river, in the Burmese language, is called the "Elephant River" due to its grandeur. Once off the boat, we will immediately meet the huge MingunPaya or PathoTawgyi. The construction commissioned by King Bodawpaya was begun in 1791 but was never completed. When the king died, everything remained unfinished and the construction stopped at the current height of 49 meters, if completed, it would have reached 150 meters. and would become the largest pagoda in the world, rivaling the great pyramids of Giza ( Cheops, is 146 mt). Another notable monument that we will visit is the MyaTheindan Pagoda. Built in 1816 by Prince Bagydaw, successor to the Bodawpaya throne, the structure is dedicated to his first wife, Princess Hsinbume, the "white elephant princess". The architectural style that develops in seven white and wavy terraces represents the seven mountain ranges that surround Mount Meru, the center of the universe in Buddhist cosmology. Return to Mandalay for dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight stay in Mandalay.
Day 6 - INLE LAKE - IN THE SHAN STATE - the magic of INLE lake, life on stilts!
Inle Lake is a shallow mirror of water, about twenty kilometers in length and about ten at its widest point. It is clear, and particularly suggestive due to various environmental factors, the serenity of the people and the amenity of the views. In this exceptional place, the 80,000 inhabitants of the Intha ethnic group, which means "Children of Water", live, work, study, pray: all on the water!
Transfer to the airport and short flight from Mandalay to Heho, in the Shan state, on the border with Thailand, known as the "Burmese Switzerland" for the beautiful mountain landscapes. Arrival and we proceed to the Inle lake via a panoramic route; arrival in about 1 hour. We embark on a motorboat and start the Tour of the Inle lake, with lunch in a restaurant on the lake: the lake is very beautiful and extremely picturesque! You meet a world of its own, of a unique population of the Inthas, who live on the lake's waters. The fishermen row with their legs and fish with a special conical net. They cultivate with the particular system of floating gardens built with mud and water hyacinths and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Visit the Nga Pha Kyaung monastery once famous for the trained cats, the Intha villages built on water, and the large Phaung Daw U Kyaung pagoda, the most important in Shan State. Dinner and overnight stay in a hotel on the lake.
Day 7 - THE MYSTERIOUS PAGODAS OF INTHEIN AND THE CAVES OF PINDAYA
Breakfast. In the morning departure by motorboat to visit the splendid hills of Inthein, in a secondary branch of the lake. Here there are more than a thousand pagodas dating back to the thirteenth century that surround an ancient monastery. You return to the pier through an incredible forest of tall bamboo. Lunch at local restaurant and then departure for Pindaya, to visit the famous caves sacred to Buddhists, in which over the centuries have been placed more than 8,000 statues of Buddha of all shapes and sizes that peep into a labyrinth of stalactites and stalagmites lit by candles. Return back to Inle for dinner and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 8 - INLE - SAGAR - PEKON –LOIKAW- trip to the remote and idyllic part of INLE lake
Departure from the hotel and cross the lake in its outermost less visited part. We travel less-visited but spectacular temples. First of all the Sagar area. The surrounding valley is cultivated and there is also a small factory where they make alcohol from rice, and in the villages the traditional production of teracotta vases in underground ovens. In addition we will visit the pagodas in the village of Tar-khaung in a magnificent commanding position facing the lake. The population here is made up mainly of Shan, Pao, Inthas and Danus. You pass through a panoramic bottleneck, the "ogre's canal". Arrival in Pekon,board on the private vehicle, and now we are in the Padaung-Kayah lan!! In about 2 hours arrival ( by land) to Loikaw, accommodation in hotel, dinner and overnight stay.
Day 9 – LOIKAW – The Padaung women and the Kayah
Full day visit to the villages of the Kayah and Padaung ethnic groups around Loikaw, the area closed to tourism since 1997 due to conflicts with the military regime, but now open to visitors. The Kayahs are an ethnic group of the Tibetan-Burmese-speaking Karen population. Among the various ethnic groups in the area the famous Padaung known as the "long-necked women"or "Swan ladies", for their ancient custom of wearing brass rings around the neck (it is said that it was a system to defend against attacks by ferocious animals while women worked in the countryside, many years ago). The countryside houses are build on stilts with the inevitable temple of the cult of the Nat, the spirits revered by tribal people. Visit the surrounding villages to learn about the interesting local customs and way of life. Also visit a village of Kayah, one of the many other ethnic groups present. Lunch and dinner in local restaurants. For those who want: short small detour for an interesting stop at the NGO project "Una Mano per i Bambini". The small school, built with donations from Italians, can be reached with a minimum detour of 15 minutes, to get to the village of Mobye and then to the school where there are 25 children who will welcome you with joy. It is located in the village of Su Paung. Next to the school, there is also the clinic.
DAY 10 - - LOIKAW / YANGON and departure
Breakfast. Transfer to Loikaw airport, and flight to Yangon. Arrival and the visit to the city of Yangon ends, compatibly with the time of the international departure flight. lunch in local restaurant.Transfer out