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Burma & Irrawaddy River

Single Supplement: FREE.
Please note: This extension may not be available on all departures. Ask our TopAsiaTravel Specialists for details.



Arrive in Bangkok, Thailand


Arrive in Bangkok late in the evening. You are met at the airport by your TAT representative and escorted to your hotel

Bangkok/Fly to Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar)


After breakfast, we depart for the airport to catch a flight to Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar). Lunch will be on our own today.

Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.


Explore Rangoon/Optional Rangoon: Past & Present tour


After breakfast, we will set out to explore the city. We'll start at Shwedagon Pagoda, often called the Golden Pagoda. Shwedagon is the most sacred pagoda in Burma, housing relics of the past four Buddhas—namely the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Konagamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight hairs of Gautama. The pagoda dominates the city’s skyline with its grandeur.

We'll continue to the city center, where we'll disembark to enjoy a walking tour around the area of Sule Pagoda, the City Hall, and the Independence Monument in Mahabandoola Park. We'll walk along Strand Road, where we'll find remnants of old colonial-era buildings as well as modern architecture.

Then we’ll visit the Kalaywa Tawya Monastery, where more than 1,000 novices and nuns examine the purity of Buddhist scripture and also conduct modern academic studies.

After lunch on your own, you have free time at leisure, or you can join an optional Rangoon: Past & Present tour. We'll visit The National Museum, a five-story building on Pyay Road that displays Burma’s history, culture, literature, and people. We'll witness the splendid Lion Throne of Burma’s last monarch, King Thibaw, on the ground floor.

Then we'll depart for Rangoon’s busy waterfront, walk along the jetty, and see the local people going about their daily lives. We'll continue to Chinatown, walking along its bustling market and exploring side alleyways while taking in local culture and discovering new surprises at every turn.

Tonight, we'll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, included in this optional tour.


Rangoon/Fly to Bagan, Burma


After an early breakfast this morning, we transfer to the airport for a flight of less than 1.5 hours to Bagan, known as Burma’s “City of Four Million Pagodas.”

Many of the pagodas and temples are small and simple—it is the staggering number of them that is striking. Although Bagan’s shrines, pagodas, and stupas are not actually numbered in the millions, there are thousands of them scattered over this remote plain—making this one of the most important archaeological areas in Asia. Please note: You must remove your shoes and socks to enter Bagan’s ancient temples, and it is respectful to wear modest dress.

On an included city tour, we'll visit Toyokpyi Pagoda, and then Nyang-U market, where locals sell fresh produce and crops they have grown themselves. Then we visit Shwe Zi Gon Pagoda, a beautiful gold-domed pagoda, followed by a stop at Ananda, the largest and most significant temple. It stands out from the other pagodas, having more ornate trappings and graceful spires recently coated with gold leaf. Inside its whitewashed walls are four large statues of Buddha, each displaying a different facial expression.

We stop to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and then enter the Gubyaukgyi Pagoda in Myingaba town (rather than a conventional town, Bagan is actually a loose collection of villages), where we see some of Bagan’s finest and most detailed murals. This small temple also offers some of the best-preserved stucco sculptures on its exterior. Afterwards, we also see the Sulamani Temple, a twelfth-century cave pagoda and an impressive work of architecture.

In the late afternoon, we experience an archaeological site up close by riding a horse cart amidst the pagodas and shrines. Most of these structures are red brick and date back a thousand years to the Bagan era.

We dine as a group at a local restaurant this evening.


Bagan/Optional hot-air balloon ride/Optional Mount Popa tour/Boat ride on Irrawaddy River


Before breakfast this morning, we have the option to join a hot-air balloon ride over Bagan. We'll rise early to enjoy a bird's-eye view of ancient Bagan and its pagodas at sunrise. Then we'll have breakfast at our hotel.

You can spend the afternoon at leisure and enjoy lunch on your own. Or, come along with us on an optional tour to visit Mount Popa, the “Mountain of Flowers,” and for a look at a uniquely Burmese spiritual tradition: nats. Like gods or saints, nats are powerful spirits who can punish or protect, but their stories are much more human; some of the 37 major nats include a suffering brother and sister, an opium smoker, and the king’s hunchback maid.

Our tour takes us to the temple of the nats, perched high on a volcanic outcrop of Mount Popa. To reach the temple, we drive through fertile farmlands growing sugar palms, nuts, sesame, and rice. We pause for lunch and a visit to the Medicinal Museum & Plantation to learn about the plants used by the mountain herbalists for cures and as offerings. Then we tour Taung Kalat Temple, home of an extensive collection of nat statues (plus a resident colony of Macaque monkeys). We finish with a walk through a local market before returning to Bagan

By late afternoon, we board a boat at a local jetty to view the locale from another vantage, from the waters of the Irrawadddy River. The people and country’s economy depend on this natural resource, as you can see by the barges, bamboo rafts, and fishing boats that ply the waters of this river. From onboard, you can observe the local people going about their daily chores along the riverbanks.

Dinner is on your own again this evening.


Bagan/Fly to Mandalay, Burma


We have an early breakfast this morning and transfer to the airport for a half-hour flight to Mandalay. When we arrive, we’ll visit the longest wooden bridge in Burma. The U Bein footbridge stretches almost three-quarters of a mile over the shallow Thaung Thaman Lake. It is constructed of teak planks and has withstood the elements for more than two centuries.

Continuing on our route to Mandalay, we’ll visit the Mahamuni Buddha, the most sacred shrine in upper Burma, covered with so much gold leaf that its body has lost all proportion. Then we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

As Mandalay is a major crafts center—and the best place in the country to find traditional puppets, tapestries and wood carvings—we’ll visit the Aung Nan Shop to see how its crafts are made on-site.

In the afternoon, we explore more of Mandalay, including Kuthodaw Pagoda and Shwenandaw Monastery. Time permitting, we’ll also visit Mandalay Hill for a panoramic sunset view.

We return to our hotel, and dinner this evening is on your own.


Mandalay/Explore Former Royal Capital of Inwa/Boat ride to Mingun


This morning after breakfast, we will go to see a gold leaf workshop where sheets of gold are beaten into gossamer-thin pieces. Placing gold leaf on a Buddha image brings great merit to the faithful, so there is a steady growth of gold leaf on Buddha images throughout Burma. Then we visit Inwa, which was founded in 1364 and lasted nearly 400 years as a royal capital. Highlights include the “leaning tower of Ava,” Maha Aungmye Bonzan (a brick-and-stucco monastery), and the elegant teakwood monastery Bagaya Kyaung. We return to Mandalay for lunch in a local restaurant.

In the afternoon, we board a boat for a ride upriver to the village of Mingun. Here we get a glimpse of the local culture and stop to see the world’s largest ringing bell, still without a crack and weighing in at 90 tons. Bells are a common feature used in many of Burma’s religious rituals. It is said that people ring this bell after performing a good deed so they can share with others the merit they earned. It is considered one of the world’s sweetest sounds to the ears of a Burmese Buddhist.

We return to our hotel, and dinner is on your own again this evening.


Mandalay/Fly to Bangkok, Thailand via Rangoon


This morning, we fly to Rangoon, where we’ll enjoy a visit to Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda—which houses an enormous reclining Buddha, extending more than 225 feet—followed by lunch in a local restaurant. After lunch, we'll browse the Scott Market.

Late this afternoon, we’ll fly to Bangkok to begin our Ancient Kingdoms adventure.



It's Included

  • Roundtrip airfare from Bangkok, plus 3 internal flights
  • Accommodations for 2 nights in Rangoon, 2 nights in Bagan, 2 nights in Mandalay, and 1 night in Bangkok
  • 13 meals—7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 2 dinners
  • 7 small group activities
  • Services of our own resident TAT Trip Leader, who speaks English and the native language
  • All transfers

Optional Tours

Rangoon: Past & Present ($60 per person); Hot-Air Balloon Ride ($310 per person); Mount Popa ($60 per person)


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