(Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake)
Board your hot air balloon at dawn and silently float high above Bagan as the morning light illuminates the city’s ancient temples.
Welcome to the wonders of Myanmar. Formerly known as Burma, this is a place forgotten by time where you can get a real sense of the South East Asia of the last century. Be among the first western tourists to visit this land of timeless spirituality where you’ll interact with the local Shan people in their stilt villages; explore the overgrown ruins of a lost pagoda; visit an authentic monastery constructed centuries ago from ancient teak; taste the wine of Nyaung Shwe; take a horse-cart tour of the majestic temple ruins at Ava; sample the flavorful local delicacies and beer on offer at Yadnar night market; and explore the rich colonial history of Yangon.
From visiting a primary school in Sae Ma village and enjoying tea time in the home of a local family to sampling a Burmese-made cigar, your experienced local guides will take you well beyond the guide book to deliver a genuinely authentic Myanmar experience. You’ll stay at a collection of impeccable five-star hotels, lakeside villas and natural sanctuaries where the local staff will move mountains to ensure your comfort.
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. Paukan is the ancient name of Bagan, the old city of two thousand temples on the bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. This ancient capital, seat of the First Myanmar Empire, is a treasure to the people of Myanmar. Throughout the century of their existence, the temples remain a place of living worship, maintained by donations from royalty and the public.
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.
It’s not just the former capital cities around Mandalay that are interesting to visit. During this half day tour you will be taken to the most famous monuments of Mandalay starting with the top of Mandalay hill for a great view over the Mandalay fort. Continue to Atumashi and the Shwenandaw monasteries which are excellent examples of the architecture and crafts work of this region. End with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda with the white marble slabs. The rest of the day the car and guide are available for additional visits till 6 pm if wanted – we suggest you to visit Yankin Hill.
This is a fun tour to get to know the real Mandalay, starting with a visit to a viewpoint near the Ayeyarwaddy River for a cold Mandalay beer during sunset. Continue to the busy Yadanar night market to have some traditional snacks and a walk around before heading to one of the most famous beer stations and BBQ restaurants in Mandalay. Your guide will order the food and make sure you’re satisfied. Continue before 8:30 PM to the excellent Mandalay marionettes theater for a show performed by a mix of traditional dancers, musicians, and puppeteers.
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.
Embark from the Gawein jetty at 12:00 pm. You will enjoy a Welcome Cocktail in the Saloon before departing.
The RV Paukan will continue sailing upstream for approximately 2 hours to Mingun. You will have the opportunity to visit Mingun Pagoda Complex and be assisted by an English speaking private guide during your visit.
After dinner, you will enjoy a Dance and Drama performance by the Mandalay Arts School on the sundeck. Afterwards, you will overnight at a sandbank mid-stream in Mingun.
In the early morning, RV Paukan will cruise downstream to Sagaing. You will enjoy the natural beauty of the river and the life of its banks as well as the sunrise over Sagaing Hill while relaxing on the sundeck or just sitting outside your cabin.
After breakfast, you can go ashore to visit Sagaing with the assistance of the Ship Manager or with your own private guide.
Cast off time 11:15 am at Sagaing and continue cruising downstream to Bagan.
In the late afternoon, cruise will stop enroute to visit Yandabo, a village that specializes in Pot-Making. This was also the place where the peace treaty of the First Anglo-Burmese war was signed on Feb. 24, 1826. Cruise all day, your vessel will overnight near a river village Shwe Nann Tint.
In the early morning, cruise downriver to Bagan. After breakfast you might visit another typical river village if time permits.
You will disembark the cruise at 10:15 am in Aye jetty. Enjoy the sunrise near Bagan.
Minnanthu is probably the most favorite temple area amongst frequent Bagan visitors and you know why? It’s quiet, it’s a beautiful area, and the temples here are often completely deserted. Your guide will bring you by car to this forgotten part of Bagan and will spread out a blanket and serve you a great picnic lunch in this historical setting before or after visiting 2 or 3 ancient temples ruins in this area.
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.
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.
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.
Stay at least 2 nights in Bagan, one to see the sun go down from the top of an ancient temple, the other one to take a boat ride on the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River and have some sundowners on a sandbank in the middle of the river (if the river is not too high). A private boat tour on the river during sunset time will hopefully show you a spectacular sunset while your guide will be serving cocktails and some snacks.
Fly from Bagan to Inle Lake. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.
The Red Mountain Estate has been producing quality Myanmar wine like Shiraz, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay since 2006. You will have a tasting of the different wines while enjoying great views over Inle Lake. After, you will continue by car to the wine cellar of the Inle Princess Resort for an exclusive dinner including wine.
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.
Fly from Inle Lake to Yangon. Flight time is approximately 1 hour.
Built in 1901 the Strand Hotel endures as a Myanmar landmark with its three-stories of Victorian colonnaded charms. This luxury resort offers large suites with lazily whirring ceiling fans, teak floors, and luxurious bathrooms. All rooms are tastefully furnished with a touch of colonial style and are equipped with up to date amenities. Adding to the splendid old-world ambience is a valuable private collection of local art and antiques. From the famous Strand Bar, move on to The Café that peers onto the street or to the famous Strand Grill with its elegant Bagan prints, chandeliers, and glass roof. Take pleasure in an afternoon tea or enjoy Burmese music in the Lobby Lounge.
The Rupar Mandalar Resort is a romantic boutique hotel in an exotic atmosphere surrounded by nature. The hotel has 16 rooms with modern facilities, swimming pool, tennis court, and a health and beauty spa.
RV Paukan was built in 2007 at the Myanmar Shipyards in Yangon for Ayrata Cruises. The Yangon River and its dockyards were commented upon over two hundred years ago as "the most favourable river in the world for naval architecture" by the first British envoy to Myanmar Captain Michael Symes of His Britannic Majesty's 7th Regiment who arrived in Yangon in February of 1795. The lovely Paukan is a boutique hotel on the river, beautifully furnished with a unique combination of modern and traditional motifs. The timber-walled cabins are furnished with colonial style cupboards, dresser and doors while the ceiling is traditional Myanmar. The single or double beds are proper and comfortable ones and not mere bunks, enough room for 55 passengers who will be looked after by a 30-member crew.
Perched on the edge of an archaeological wonderland, Bagan Lodge is gateway to some of the world's most magnificent temples and pagodas. The rooms and suites evoke the romance of a storied expedition, albeit in posh, air-conditioned comfort. Their restaurant and bars are fuel to the fire of local adventure, and the swimming pool and spa are an oasis any time of day. The spa features eight private treatment rooms to provide guests with an extensive range of massage and beauty treatments - the perfect way to unwind after a day of discovery.
Inle Lake is stunning and to appreciate the extensive natural waterways from the lake shores of Aureum Resort and Spa it offers unsurpassed luxury accommodation of villas built over the waters and shores of one of Myanmar's most stunning natural and cultural wonders, Inle Lake. Each expansive villa is elegantly decorated with generous space for bathroom and lotus ponds and lavishly equipped with amenities. With private outdoor terrace for viewing a spectacular sunset over the lake and hills beyond, Aureum Resort is the perfect location in which to explore the wonders of this unique destination.
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."
Gloria DeWeese ,
October 10, 2013
"A wonderful trip and everything went like clockwork. Thank you so very much for all your assistance. I hope I will have a chance to work with you again."
Wayne Gavioli ,
September 04, 2013
"We just returned from our thailand/cambodia trip. It was fantastic. You did a great job. The guides were excellent as was the drivers. We loved the Victoria Hotel you selected in Siem. Wish we had more time. Thailand met our expectations but our expectations for Cambodia were low and they exceeded them. Loved the places selected for the included lunches. Certainly would use Kensington again"
Santo Filice ,
August 30, 2013
"Thank you for arranging our guided trip to Thailand - Vietnam. It was a memorable, and pleasant trip - a 1st for us with Kensington tours and a most enjoyable one. We found that we were able to maximize our visit of the the area without the concern of booking hotels, airline, finding parking and understanding the local language. "
Tim Mesarch ,
August 02, 2013
"Alexis helped us fit in all of the sites we wanted to see on our trip to Thailand and Cambodia, and suggested some more. It was valuable talking with someone who had been there and done that. The planning went pretty smoothly, and so did the trip. The local guides were all top-notch! "
July 25, 2013
"I highly recommend Kesington Tours. The planning of our trip to Cambodia was outstanding. Our advisor Alexis Mayer was unbelievably patient, knowledgeable and responsive. We planned the trip in every possible detail and Alexis was extraordinary during the whole process. Once we were in Cambodia, we had a tiny issue with the car. I was able to get in contact with Alexis right away and the problem was instantly solved. The trip itself was fantastic. Everything was very well planned and perfectly organized. The local guides and drivers were great. The hotels were very well chosen.
Great trip. I would definitely travel again with Kensington Tours."
Pennie Quintana ,
August 07, 2013
"Thank you so much for the amazing trip we enjoyed!! All our guides were fantasy. Joseph in Jakarta, July in Jojakarta and Deon in Borneo!! Wow!! Bless you for all your attention to detail and the outstanding communication to all my questions. You made me feel so taken care of and tended too!! "
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