(Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Kalaw, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach)
As you climb to the top of the illuminated Shewdagon pagoda by night, all of Yangon is laid out before you and you are all at once overwhelmed by the magic of this mystical city.
Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar – which is also known as Burma, is an enchanting mix of crumbling colonial grandeur, bustling local markets and beautiful natural lakes that are ripe for exploration. Elsewhere in Myanmar, you’ll play with the smiling children at a local orphanage; explore the Kyauk Ohnmin cave temple by boat; and take in sunset over the expansive temple zone in Bagan. You’ll also visit Mandalay’s most spectacular temples and monasteries; take a horse cart ride through ancient ruins in Ava; encounter elephants in the jungles of Kalaw; explore the haunting ‘pagoda forest’ at Lake Inle; and relax under coconut palms on the pristine white sands of Ngapali Beach.
This extensive grand journey offers an immersive experience of Myanmar that goes far beyond the travel-guide overview of this mysterious time-locked land. From enjoying tea time with a Shan family to tasting the flavorful street food of Mandalay and exploring hidden markets usually off-limits to western tourists, your team of expert guides and private drivers will take you deeper into this complicated and thrilling country that has been protected from foreign eyes for so long.
Enjoy a personalized vacation that best suits your needs, developed by one of our experienced destination experts. Relax during your trip with our 24/7 support and expert local guidance.
Meet your driver for an airport transfer with a private vehicle.
At the end of the day many Yangonites leave work and on the way home they stop for some shopping, catch up with friends at a tea shop, visit a pagoda or go to a beer station. This is exactly what you are going to do. The highlight of the tour will be the evening visit to the illuminated Shwedagon Pagoda – a magic and mystical moment at a time that it’s not very busy on the main platform. After the pagoda visit there will be local snacks to be tasted as well as a local draft beer or a fresh lime juice. The tour includes drinks at the highest tower in Yangon, a walk over to the night market downtown, tea and snacks as well as a simple local dinner shared with some locals.
Yangon is a sprawling city with a relatively small downtown area including several markets, colonial buildings, the Yangon River, and a very green area with tree-lined streets and several lakes. During this full day tour you will be shown the different faces of Yangon from the landmarks to the hidden markets that have only seen a few westerners. During the day you will visit the Sule Pagoda, colonial downtown, the harbor, The Strand, and one of the colorful local markets. The reclining Buddha will be visited just before taking a tasteful lunch of typical dishes from tribes from all over the country like Kachin, Shan, and Rakhine. A local market will lead you to a small station where you will take the famous circular train that will bring you right behind Bogyoke Aung San market before heading back to your hotel. The tour includes a drink at the Strand Hotel and lunch at a local restaurant.
Fly from Yangon to Mandalay. Flight time is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Start your tour with the Mahamuni pagoda and have a look at this centuries old Buddha statue originating from Mrauk U. It is a very lively temple compound where men are sticking gold leaves to the Buddha statue. The Mahamuni is also an excellent place to shop around for the perfect Buddha statue (bronze or wood). Can’t find what you are looking for? Find a marble statue at the next stop which is the marble carving street. The old capital of Amarapura is a very quiet village nowadays where you only hear the sound of the weaving machines. Walk through the famous Mahagandayon monastery complex with hundreds of monks, visit one of the small weaving factories, and walk over U Bein Bridge and take a boat ride before heading back to your hotel.
Mandalay and the other former royal capitals around it have all been capital cities for one major reason: they are all situated on the Ayeyarwaddy River. Feel the breeze of the river and imagine how it must have been to arrive by boat in Mingun or at the court of Ava. From the jetty in Mandalay you will be taken upstream to Mingun and visit the Mingun Pagoda with the big crack caused by an earthquake and the giant bronze bell. Take a leisurely 3 hour boat cruise downstream to Ava. A simple lunch packed in rattan baskets will be served on the way. Arriving in Ava, horse carts are ready to take you around this magnificent site with various ancient temple ruins that used to be majestic buildings during the 400 years that Ava was the capital. Return to Mandalay by car.
Fly from Mandalay to Bagan. Flight time is approximately 30 minutes.
This is an ideal excursion in Bagan when you feel like you've seen most of the temples (or at least enough) and also want to discover a bit more of the Myanmar countryside. Go by private car to Kyauk Gu Ohnmin cave temple that rarely sees foreign visitors. Continue to Pakkoku and visit a local slipper factory, the market, and see where the famous Pakkoku blankets are made. A private boat is ready for you at the jetty in Pakkoku for a leisurely two hour trip downriver while lunch is being served on board. In the afternoon your guide and driver will take you to see local village life in the dry zone and later in the day, visit a lacquer ware workshop in Myinkaba village.
One of the many highlights when visiting Myanmar is taking a hot air balloon ride. In the early morning, before sunrise, you will be picked up at your hotel and driven to the launch site for a spectacular hot air balloon ride over the temple zone in Bagan. The mostly British balloon pilots are operating each balloon under the highest UK safety standards and the views you will get are breathtakingly spectacular. After floating in the air and following the wind you will land safely and be welcomed back on the ground by a smiling crew serving cold champagne before taking you back to your hotel. Please note, this is optional and is not included in the tour price.
A full day tour by car with an experienced guide through Bagan will show you the best known temples of the area. You will start the day climbing a pagoda to get an impressive view over the whole area. From here your guide plans his way to some of the other amazing temples that have been here for hundreds of years. Places like the Ananda, Dhammayangyi, Sulamani, and Thatbyinnyu will certainly impress you. Lunch will be taken at a local restaurant. Around 4:00PM, you will continue the tour by horse cart to Pyathagyi pagoda to catch the sunset with some refreshing drinks served.
Fly from Bagan to Inle Lake. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.
Transfer from Inle Lake to Kalaw with a private vehicle, driver, and English speaking guide. The transfer is approximately 2 hours.
Your guide who specializes in elephant conservation will take you for a rewarding day in the forest surrounding Kalaw encountering elephants, their mahouts, and people living in the surrounding area. Depending on your arrival time and how long you want to walk through the forest (walks from 30 minutes up to 4-5 hours are possible – simply let your guide know what you prefer) you will find yourself in the natural surroundings of Asian jungle. A delicious lunch with local specialties (often from Nepalese origin) will be served in a traditional village, in the jungle or in the camp. After lunch it is time to help the mahout wash and feed the elephant. Later, you will walk back to the main road and continue by car back to Kalaw town.
Enjoy a dinner of Shan and Nepalese food at the local restaurant Seven Sisters.
Transfer from Kalaw to Inle Lake with a private vehicle, driver, and English speaking guide with a stop for a tour of the Pindaya Caves.
As described in many books, the Shan culture is very interesting and rich and especially in Nyaung Shwe you still get a bit of the feeling of the former Shan kingdom of Nyaung Shwe. Begin with a visit of the Buddha museum which is housed in the former “Haw” (palace) of the last Shan prince of Nyaung Shwe (Mr. Sao Shwe Thaike, who later became the first prime minister of Myanmar after independence). Enjoy a nice Shan lunch at the Viewpoint restaurant and then continue the tour to the local market looking for some traditional Shan cotton and Shan traditional dresses. A visit to the ancient teak wooden Shwe Yan Pyay monastery with the oval windows gives the opportunity for some great pictures. You will be peddled around some small canals and pass floating gardens in a small wooden boat for about half an hour to see more of the local Shan life from the water. End the tour with a visit and some wine tasting of the excellent wines at the Red Mountain winery in Nyaung Shwe.
Inle Lake is a vast natural lake surrounded by traditional Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in villages built entirely on stilts on the lake. Today, you'll be taken by a private motorboat around the lake to discover its natural beauty, visit the floating gardens and hopefully see some of the famous leg rowers as well as enjoy tea time at a local family’s house. On and around the lake, traditional markets are held in different villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule and today you will visit a colorful market frequented by Shan and Pao people living nearby. Afterwards, visit a local cheroot factory where the Burmese cigars are made, floating tomato gardens, Intha Heritage house where the Burmese cats are bred, and if wanted, you can visit a weaving factory. Return to your hotel around 4:00 PM, in time for sunset.
In the south of the lake, the ruins of Indein are certainly worth a visit. Partly covered by vegetation, the area looks like a pagoda forest. You will walk about an hour to enjoy a fantastic view over the lake and visit a school in Tha Ley village. A homemade cooked lunch is served by a local family in their house. Continue towards the Nam Pan village like the locals, in a small canoe. Whenever you are tired peddling yourself you can continue by motorboat back to your hotel.
Fly from Inle Lake to Ngapali Beach. Flight time is approximately 1.5 hours.
Enjoy time at leisure to explore at your own pace, or relax at your hotel.
Fly from Ngapali Beach to Yangon. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.
Overlooking the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda, The Savoy Hotel is ideally located in a picturesque area of Yangon and is easily accessible from popular regional attractions. The hotel is just a ten minutes’ drive from the city center and 20 minutes to the International Airport. Each guest room is comfortably furnished with colonial-style wooden fittings, traditional Myanmar antiques and beautifully appointed bathrooms. Dine at Kipling's Restaurant where a splendid assortment of Asian flavors are served, or savor traditional Italian cuisines at Rossini. Sip a drink at the Captain's Bar and enjoy refreshments and tea specialties at the Cafe Yangon. Spend a day absorbing the aromas, sights and sensations of a different world, at The Savoy Hotel.
At the foot of Mandalay hill lays Mandalay Hill Resort. With a panoramic view of a myriad of pagodas, the resort faces the distinctive architecture of the royal palace and its beautiful moat. Situated within easy reach of many ancient monuments and historical sites, the hotel offers comfortable rooms with all modern amenities. Located just off the lobby, the hotel’s main restaurant serves both local and international cuisine. Visits to the resort will be enhanced by the fun-loving hospitable people of Myanmar, whose lives remain simple and relaxed, will become treasured with timeless memories.
Blue Bird Bagan is located in the peaceful village of New Bagan, where traditional lifestyles are still the norm. The small town, just a short walk from the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River, is also home to a colourful morning market as well as numerous laquerware shops and restaurants. Bagan’s famous temples are easily accessible from the hotel, and Nyaung Oo Airport is only a 10 minutes drive away.
The Amara Mountain Resort is located on a hill, on the outskirts of Kalaw. It takes about 15 minutes walk to reach the center of Kalaw. The Heho (Inle Lake) airport is 45 minutes drive from Kalaw. The lobby and all the rooms have genuine British colonial-style that is mixed with Asian features. All comfortable Deluxe Rooms in the Resort are equipped with an open fireplace and bathroom that is made of marble and wood. There are a saloon and a separate dining room, where the traditional Myanmar or European food is served. The Resort Restaurant is situated on the terrace, where the guests can see a wonderful view of Kalaw while enjoying the food. There are a park-like garden and a 9-hole golf course in the Resort area as well as Spa facilities.
Villa Inle Resort & Spa is located beside the cultural and natural icon that is Myanmar’s Inle Lake. Spread over more than 20 acres on the eastern fringe of the lake near the village of Maing Tauk, the property features secluded lakeside villas. All villas at Villa Inle Resort & Spa are designed to harmoniously blend in with the natural environment and feature hand-selected local paintings and antiques, high wooden ceilings, spacious living areas and well-appointed bathrooms. Rooms include king size beds, air conditioning with heating facility, LCD television, Wi-Fi access and lakefront balconies. The hotel restaurant and bar is the ideal place to unwind at the end of the day, sipping a cocktail or eating the Shan or Inle Lake traditional food as the sun sets above the lake.
Bayview Resort is located on the idyllic Ngapali Beach in Myanmar's Rakhine State - its coastline forms part of the Bay of Bengal. The resorts' Deluxe Bungalows and guestrooms including suites are all situated either directly at the beach or in a beautiful exotic garden under countless palm trees. The award winning resort offers a wide range of sport activities, a massage and beauty center.
Maynard Fossum ,
December 12, 2014
"My trip to China proved to be an outstanding experience. Each location provided excellent learning and entertainment opportunities. The country was very impressive both in its deep history and in the huge modernization that has taken place in recent decades. The tour guides at each location were well informed and able to answer questions while also offering detailed information at all sites. It was a pleasure to be so well taken care of. The guides and drivers were always helpful. The meals on the tour were delicious and varied. I was pleased with the choice of restaurants. The hotels were comfortable and well located. I will recommend Kensington Tours. "
December 12, 2014
"I was a bit nervous about visiting Myanmar. Thanks to the outstanding help and planning via Kensington Tours, everything went off without a hitch!! It was a fantastic experience, that I would recommend to anyone with a spirit of adventure. "
Craig Gelman ,
December 12, 2014
"Fabulous trip. Every aspect from the planning to execution was excellent. "
Ruth Reinhard ,
December 12, 2014
"The trip was fantastic!!!Each guide and driver gave us so much information and were so helpful. They made sure that they took good care of our well being and requests. My husband, who we all call "the reluctant traveler" said, halfway through the trip, where are we going next? He said if he can go with Kensington then he will go anyplace. Thanks for making our trip to China a memorable experience."
SixtoCastenada Jr. ,
December 12, 2014
"100% satisfied! We had a wonderful trip. Our travel adviser, Tony Newman put together a tour that included everywhere we wanted to visit and within our very limited time frame. Conrad, who booked our transportation was very professional. The tour guides, hotel accommodations and transportation arrangements were all excellent. We will be using Kensington Tours again!"
December 12, 2014
"We were so impressed with all aspects of the trip that Kensington arranged for us - even at short notice. The itinerary was perfectly planned, full of extra activities like riding an elephant and a water buffalo cart ride. The guides were wonderful in all the places we went and the travel was easy between locations. Vietnam is a wonderful destination and Angkor Wat is amazing too. We loved the overnight on the boat in Halong Bay and the train ride to Sapa. The day we spent trekking between indigenous villages in the mountains of Sapa was one of the most interesting days of my life! We have travelled a lot and this was one of the best trips we have ever taken."
Olive Ramchand ,
June 03, 2014
"I have to admit, this was the BEST vacation I ever had. The tour was nothing less than Fantastic! The hotels were great, the guides were great, the transportation was great, the places were great, the people were great, the food was great and last but not least China, itself was out of this world. I'm so glad I booked this tour and would recommend this to anyone. Thanks so much for all your help, your interest and your recommendations. Steve in China was so attentive, he called constantly to make sure everything was fine. We really had a fabulous time and even my jaded husband who normally only seems to care about where the nearest golf course is, was impressed and had a wonderful time.
Thanks again, and unto the next vacation (although I don't know how we would top this one!!)
Jeanne Tarvin ,
April 21, 2014
"The tour was absolutely fabulous. It all started with the planning. Kathryn graciously accommodated our tight schedule and multiple needs, including a mid-trip change in plans. The tour guides and drivers were all great and extremely knowledgeable. The accommodations and meals were fantastic. I was apprehensive about going to China not knowing the language but it worked out great!"
January 15, 2014
"We just returned on Monday from our wonderful trip to South Korea, Bangkok and Phuket. I wanted to thank you for all of your hard work in planning our tours and adventures. Everything was spot on, from our arrivals at the airports, to the guides and the tours. I would not hesitate to recommend you and your company. It was truly a wonderful vacation. Thank you again.
Bob Feldman ,
November 19, 2013
"I wanted to let you know that our trip to China was great! Everybody enjoyed themselves. When planning a trip I am always concerned about the itinerary, the vehicles and the guides. All 3 of these were great. The guides were particularly good and in this case really made the trip a pleasure. Overall a great trip. Thanks for all you did."
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