Day 1 Yangon Arrival
Upon arrival in Yangon you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
SUMMIT PARK VIEW – Superior room
Accommodation: Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon or similar
Day 2 Yangon (B)
Yangon lies in the fertile delta of southern Myanmar, on the wide Yangon River. The city is filled with tree-shaded boulevards, while shimmering stupas float above the treetops. The city became the capital only in 1885, when the British completed the conquest of Upper Myanmar and Mandalay’s brief period as capital of the last Burmese kingdom ended. Visit Sule Pagoda, a 48 meter high golden dome used by the British as the nucleus of their grid development plan for the city when it was rebuilt in the 1880s. The pagoda’s peculiarity is its octagonal-shaped stupa, which retains its shape as it tapers to the spire. Visit Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake, a natural body of water located in the city centre and a good place for strolling and picnics. The lake is attractive at sunset when the glittering Shwedagon pagoda is reflected in its calm waters. The reclining Buddha at Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda in Yangon which is almost as large as the enormous figure of Shwethalyaung Buddha in Bago. It’s housed in a large metal-roofed shed on Shwegondaing Lan, only a short distance north-east beyond the Shwedagon Paya. Surprisingly, this huge figure is little known and hardly publicised at all- if the chance to go to Bago to see the Shwethalyaung was missed, then don’t pass on this opportunity to witness this colossal image. Visit Shwedagon Pagoda, dating back about 2500 years and was built to house eight sacred hairs of the Buddha. Its original shape has changed beyond all recognition over the centuries. Its bell-shaped superstructure, resting on a terraced base, is covered in about 60 tons of gold-leaf, which is continuously being replaced.
Overnight in Yangon.
Day 3 Yangon – Bagan (B)
Fly from Yangon to Bagan.
Upon arrival, met by an English speaking representative and start your tour in Bagan.
Discover the Beauty of Bagan (Shwezigon Pagoda renovation will be finished in coming October and Ananda Temple is still renovation until further notice but they can be visited as usual)
Explore the vast and fascinating area of Bagan, and discover temples with unique stories, features and architecture. The spectacular plain of Bagan stretches away from the Ayeyarwaddy River and is dotted with over 2,000 temple structures dating back over 800 years. After breakfast the driver and guide will collect you from your hotel. Spend the day exploring the temples and hearing the fascinating history and stories behind these imposing structures. Have a chance to visit a lacquerware workshop to learn about the intricate process of lacquerware making and decoration. At the end of the tour enjoy a panoramic view of the sun setting over the plain of Bagan from one of the ancient pagodas. A selection of temples will be visited including: Shwezigon Paya, a beautiful golden pagoda containing relics of Buddha. The site was started by Anawrahta but not completed until the reign of Kyanzittha between 1086 and1090. The pagoda’s graceful bell shape served as a prototype for later stupas built throughout the country. Gubyaukhyi Temple at Wetkyi-Inn, an early 13th century temple with an Indian-style spire. The ceiling is covered with paintings depicting the previous life of Buddha. Ananda Pahto, one of the largest, most beautiful and best preserved of the Bagan temples. It was built around 1105 by King Kyanzittha who was inspired by Indian architecture. During the 1975 earthquake Ananda suffered considerable damage but has been totally restored. Gubyaukhyi Temple at Myinkaba, a 12th century Buddhist temple famous for its well-preserved frescoes, considered to be the oldest original paintings to be found in Bagan. Manuha Temple, which was built, according to inscriptions, by the captive Mon King Manuha in 1067. It contains three seated Buddha images along with an image of Buddha entering Nirvana. Shwesandaw Paya, a graceful white pyramid-style pagoda dating back to 1057. This 328-foot-high imposing structure is visible from far away rising from the plains of Bagan.
Finish your day by enjoying a panoramic view of the sun setting over the plain of Bagan from one of the pagoda platforms.
Accommodation: Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Bagan or similar
Day 4 Bagan – Mandalay (B)
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Mandalay.
Upon arrival, head to Amarapura former royal capital, and the Mahagandayon Monastery to observe monks and novices as they line up to receive their daily offering of alms and food from faithful Buddhists. Afterwards, visit the nineteenth century Pahtodawgyi Paya and the reconstructed Bagaya Kyaung, a close cousin to the monastery of the same name in Inwa (Ava). Pause to enjoy the atmosphere of U Bein Bridge, a picturesque teak bridge which extends over one kilometre across Taungthaman Lake, and the highlight of any visit to Amarapura. Continue to Sagaing, another former royal capital and the spiritual centre of Myanmar. Hundreds of stupas, monasteries, temples and nunneries are to be found in Sagaing Hill, sometimes known as a living Bagan. Thousands of monks and nuns retreat here for meditation and contemplation. Stop at some of the most famous temples such as Sun U Ponya Shin Paya, U Min Thonsei paya and Kaung Hmu Daw Paya.
In the city of Mandalay, Visit Mandalay Palace (Myanansankyaw Golden Palace or Hmannandawgyi (Glass Palace)). Mahamuni Paya was originally built by King Bodawpaya in 1784 when a road paved with bricks was constructed from his palace to the paya’s eastern gate. The centrepiece of the shrine is the highly venerated Mahamuni image that was transported to Myanmar from Mrauk U in Rakhaing in 1784. Visit Shwe Inn Bin Monastery. Shwe Inn Bin Monastery: A Chinese merchant, U Set Shwin, married a local Burmese lady and with his newly acquired fortune built a monastery for his religious wife. It is built of teak, has Burmese carved doors and paintings depicting General Prendergast negotiating with court ministers prior to King Thibaw’s exile.
Visit Mandalay Hill at sunset. Take an easy climb up sheltered steps to experience panoramic views over the palace, Mandalay and the paya-studded countryside. The famous hermit monk, U Khanti, is credited with inspiring the construction of many of the buildings on and around the hill in the years after the founding of the city.
Overnight in Mandalay.
Accommodation: Mandalay Hill Resort or similar
Day 5 Mandalay – Chiang Mai (B)
Your day is free at leisure until time to the airport for your flight to Chiang Mai.
Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, met and transfer to your hotel.
Accommodation: Puripunn Baby Grand Boutiqueor similar
Day 6 Chiang Mai (B/D)
Start your day with a half-day Doi Suthep and Temples tour. Visit the most sacred temple in the North of Thailand: Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is the most sacred temple in Chiang Mai and contains a holy relic of the Lord Buddha. Tucked away in the mountains at an elevation of 1,056 meters (3,520 feet), the temple can be reached by the carved mythical Naga Serpent Staircase. The temple offers an exhilarating view of Chiang Mai city and its surrounding countryside. Drive back down to the city centre to visit some of the other impressive temples of Chiang Mai. Wat Suan Dok is one of them, and dates back to the 14th century when the Thai monarchy was taking leisure walks in its gardens.Nowadays, it houses several white Chedis, all containing the ashes of Chiang Mai’s former Royal family, and features one of the most famous Monk Schools in the whole locality of Chiang Mai. We will also visit Wat Jedyod, also known as The Temple of Seven Spires. Return to the hotel after the trip and this afternoon is free at leisure.
Evening Kantoke Dinner
One of the most famous Northern traditions in Chiang Mai is the Kanthoke dinner. Diners will sit on the floor and share a succession of tasty dishes, accompanied with sticky rice. While enjoying this superb Northern Thai Dinner, all guests will be entertained by local dancers, dressed in traditional clothing, and performing Sword dances, Candle dances, Fingernail dances and the traditional Ramwong where guests are generally invited to participate. After dinner, there will be a special hill tribe show giving an excellent opportunity to see a number of tribes in rotation and to note differences in appearance and costumes.
Day 7 Chiang Mai (B/L)
Full Day Long Neck Karen Thaton and Boat Trip (with lunch)
This trip begins with a 3.5 hour ride from Chiang Mai to Thaton, but this long journey is worth every minute. We will first stop at the Hmong hill-tribe village, where we will have lunch at a local restaurant. You will then embark in a 30-minute boat trip along the Mae Kok River to Baan Mai before continuing by mini-van to visit three more hill-tribe villages: Akha, Palong and Long Neck Karen.
This last tribe is particularly fascinating as women of this tribe wear brass rings on their necks and limbs. The number of the rings increases according to their age and as a consequence, their shoulder blades are pressed lower and lower while their necks seem to be longer and longer. Upon returning to Thaton, you will visit Wat Thaton, which is situated on the top of the hill and offers beautiful panoramic views of local villages, of the river and the forests standing on the surrounding mountains. If time permits, a stop at a local market will be proposed on the return trip to the hotel.
Day 8 Chiang Mai – Luang Prabang (B)
Your day is free at leisure until time for your transfer to the airport.
You may choose to take an optional excursion to visit a local elephant training centre and orchid farm.
In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Luang Prabang.
Upon arrival in Luang Prabang, an English speaking local representative will take you to the hotel and rest of the day is free at leisure.
Accommodation: Vila Santi Hotel or similar
Day 9 Luang Prabang (B)
Start the day at Wat Visoun (Wat Wisunalat), the oldest living temple in Luang Prabang, Wat dating back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddhas. Visit the nearby Wat Aham before continuing to Wat Xieng Thong, the crowning jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city. Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stencilled murals. From there, stroll down the main street of Luang Prabang, stopping at some of the many temples that line its sides, including Wat Sibounheuang, Wat Si Moungkhoun, Wat Sop and Wat Sene.
Continue to the National Museum (Royal Palace), a modest but graceful building which combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs. This turn-of-the century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived here and provides unique insights into the history of Laos. Then, visit Hor Phrabang. In the right front corner room of the Palace which opens to the outside, is a collection of the palace’s most prized art, including the Phrabang, cast of a gold, silver and bronze alloy. This Buddha stands at 83 cm tall and weighs around 50 kg. Afterwards, visit Wat Mai.Visit Mount Phousi for sunset
Climb 328 steps starting from the entrance on the opposite side of National Museum, or 410 steps on the other side of Khan River to the small temples atop Phou Si. The hill is 150m high and sits in the middle of the town, offering beautiful views over the temples and river.
Day 10 Luang Prabang (B)
Excursion by boat to Tham Pak Ou Caves. Travel up the Mekong River to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, home to the Tham Pak Ou Caves. These extraordinary caves are filled with Buddha images, of every style and material imaginable. On the way to Pak Ou Cave, stop at Ban Xang Hai Village (If time permits, open 6.00 am – 15.00 pm and closed every major Buddhist holiday), a local village famous for the production of lao lao, the local rice wine whisky.
Visit the weaving village of Ban Xang Khong, a village near Luang Prabang well known for its traditional handwoven cotton and silk, as well as production of the local sa (mulberry) paper.
Day 11 Luang Prabang – Siem Reap(B)
Today’s journey start with giving alms to the monks (early morning). An early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession.
Return to the hotel for breakfast and rest of morning at leisure. Check out from your hotel and take a leisure walk at the local market before transfer to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap.
Upon arrival, if time permits, Visit Angkor Thom.
The fortified city of Angkor Thom covers an area of 10 square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats; the city includes many of Angkor’s most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs. Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In this temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down from every angle.
Finish you day by watching the sun set over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple.
Sokha Siem Reap Resort & Convention Center or similar
Day 12 Siem Reap(B)
Sightseeing in Angkor starts with a visit to Angkor Wat. As the crown jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. Upon entering the main structure, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface of the temple, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted from the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones.
Then visit Ta Prohm temple, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them. Ta Som was built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII for his teacher, Som. Ta Som means old Som. Visit Neak Pean Temple, built by King Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181 to 1201), it is a Buddhist temple consisting of a square pool with four smaller square pools arranged on each axis. In the centre of the large central pool is a circular island encircled by two nagas with intertwined tails. Visit Preah Khan, a temple built by King Jayavarman VII with towering enclosures and shoulder-hugging corridors in a jungle setting. Preah Khan covers a very large area but the temple itself is enclosed within a rectangular wall of around 700 by 800 metres.
Day 13 Siem Reap (B)
Start your day with a visit to Roluos Group Temples. The Roluos Group of monuments mark the beginning of Khmer classical art, and they represent some of the earliest great temples built by the Khmer. They served as the capital of Indravarman (who reigned from 877 to 889). Lolei was built on an islet by Yasovarman I (who ruled from 889 to 910), the founder of the first city of Angkor. The sandstone carvings in the niches of the temples are notable as are the Sanskrit inscriptions on the doorposts. Preah Ko was erected by Indravarman I in the late 9th century in dedication to his defied ancestors in 880. There are inscriptions in Sanskrit on the doorsteps of each temple. Bakong was built and dedicated to Shiva by Indravarman I, and is the largest and most interesting of the Roluos Group of temples and still has an active Buddhist monastery. Visit Banteay Srei Temple. Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, Banteay Srei is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy. Because of its small size, wondrous atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favourite with visitors. Visit Banteay Samre, a mid-12th century temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. And visit Pre Rup Temple, built by Rajendravarman II (ruled 944 to 968), it consists of a pyramid shaped temple with the upper-most of the three tiers carrying five square shrines arranged as a quincunx. The name means turning the body and refers to the traditional method of cremation.
Day 14 Siem Reap– Home (B)
Today, you are transferred to the airport for your flight home.