The Best Luxury Tours of Myanmar 2021
If there is one destination that you should visit soon, it is Myanmar. Since the lifting of sanctions and the opening of tourism a few years ago, the nation is growing rapidly. Yangon (Rangoon) appears to have doubled in size in just the last 5 years!
There are many must see places in Myanmar, but nothing matches Bagan for history, architecture, and archaeology enthusiasts, and its landscape is otherworldly. Inle Lake is both a visual delight and a socio-cultural experience that is unmatched. The Imperial City of Mandalay is a treasure trove of attractions not found elsewhere.
We offer small group and private tours in Myanmar, including tours that include neighboring countries like Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Myanmar can easily be combined with India. Guests traveling at our Premium Level can also ask for a tour that is customized to their preferences. + Read More
The passion and knowledge of our staff and the extreme attention to detail that we put into every aspect of your Myanmar tour is what separates us from the rest. We only offer mid-level to ultra-luxury travel, and so we never compromise on our level of service so as to compete with budget Myanmar travel agents that focus solely on price. Over a third of our guests are repeat customers and referrals because they recognize that we have the best values for the level of travel and service we provide.
The following sample itineraries exemplify our commitment to creating unique, luxurious Myanmar holidays. Travelers can use our interactive tour design tools or consult with a Myanmar Specialist to create a customized itinerary. + Read More
Our Favorites in Myanmar
Explorers love to share discoveries from their travels around the globe. From awe-inspiring excursions to beautiful vistas, these are a few of our favorite experiences in Myanmar that we recommend to our discerning guests.
A ferry ride across the Irrawaddy River from Yangon to Dallah Village is all it takes to find a piece of Myanmar that's overlooked by most travelers. The bucolic pace of life, friendly open-air markets, and smiling villagers are unforgettable, and exploring this area in a trishaw is must-do.
This extinct volcano features prominently in Myanmar's animist-infused flavor of Buddhism as the home of a pantheon of nature spirits. Watching the sunset over Bagan from the Mount Popa Resort is one of the most breathtaking experiences Myanmar has to offer.
Min Kun is a tiny rural community across the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay. Home to pair of beautiful pagodas, and one of the largest bronze bells in the world, this idyllic area is easily overlooked. A quick ferry ride is all that's keeping you from exploring this often missed treasure.
Though Myanmar is modernizing at a brisk rate, many of its citizens still lead the simple lives of their ancestors. A slow cruise along the Irrawaddy offers a window into the simple lifestyles of the river's numerous fishermen and craftsmen. With some luck, you might even see the rare Irrawaddy River Dolphin.
More than 1,000 Buddhist monks in-training inhabit the Mahar Gandaryone Monastery in the city of Amarapura. Each day at 10 a.m. lunch is served during a carefully orchestrated and nearly silent procession that lasts several hours. This rare glimpse into the lives of young monks should not be missed.
The sprawling countryside around the ruins of Bagan has been largely untouched by modern development. The few roads that run through the area are virtually traffic free, and taking extra time to explore the seemingly endless temple ruins on bicycle or foot is something we recommend to all of our guests.
This beautifully placid body of water is one of Myanmar's best loved destinations. A long-tail boat cruise is the perfect way to explore the lake's beautiful scenery as the locals go about their daily duties.
Inle Lake's floating villages are home to a large number of traditional artists and craftspeople. Goods ranging from handwoven silk garments to hand-made paper umbrellas are sold in arts and crafts collectives in the townships that dot the lake, and these beautifully crafted items make wonderful keepsakes.
The majority of Inle Lake's inhabitants live in the floating villages that line the shore. Most of the fresh produce in these villages is farmed from floating gardens that are painstakingly created using sediment and weeds pulled from the bottom of the lake. The villages and their floating gardens make for excellent photo opportunities.
Buddhist monks and nuns are forbidden from working, and must subsist entirely off alms donated by the communities they preside over. Every morning in cities like Mandalay and Amarapura, the local monks and nuns rise before dawn to collect the simple portions of rice, fish, meat, and vegetables that will nourish them through the day.
The year-round warm weather in Myanmar makes it an inviting destination regardless of the season. The region's busiest travel season is between December and February during the driest months.
Temperate year-round, Lower Myanmar sees heavy traffic regardless of the seasons because of the diverse activities and excursions available. The area typically sees the most travelers between December and February.
Best Things to See in Myanmar
Myanmar is a thrilling country with a diverse range of excursions, activities, and ancient monuments to explore, and the sheer number of choices available can make planning your luxury Myanmar vacation daunting. This short Myanmar travel guide lists some of the most popular destinations, sites, and accommodations in the country.
One of the best preserved temples in Bagan, the cross-shaped Ananda Temple is one of the most revered Buddhist monuments in Myanmar.
Htilominlo Temple represents the height of temple building on the Bagan Plains. The three story structure offers excellent views of the plain.
The pyramid-like Sulamani Temple is one of the most architecturally unique structures on the Bagan Plains.
Mahar Gandaryone is one of Myanmar's largest monasteries, and arguably the city of Amarapura's most visited site. Each day local families prepare and serve lunch for the monks in an ancient merit-making ritual believed to bring good fortune.
Shwedagon is the most iconic monument in Yangon, and the ancient structure is thought to hold several strands of hair and bone relics left from the funeral pyre of Gautama Buddha.
U Bein Bridge spans Taungthaman Lake near the city of Amarapura. More than 150 years old, the bridge was built from teakwood reclaimed from a royal palace in the city of Inwa that was destroyed by an earthquake.
The last home of the kings of Burma was incinerated during the Battle of Mandalay in 1945. The structure that stands on the spot today is a faithful recreation of the original teakwood structure built in 1859.
This holy hillock is one of the most important pilgrimage points in Mandalay. The paths to summit are strewn with numerous Buddhist temples, shrines, and monuments.
The more than 700 stone tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures that dot this complex are often referred to as “The World's Largest Book.” Each scripture carving is encased in a small shrine capped with golden ornamentation.
Located in the eastern Shan State of Myanmar, Inle Lake is arguably the country's best known body of water. Numerous ethnic groups inhabit the lake area, many of which live in traditional stilt-houses along the lake's shores.
Shwenandaw Monastery was originally the king's apartments in Mandalay Palace. After the death of King Mindon Min, his successor became convinced the building was haunted, and had the entire structure dismantled, moved, and rebuilt as a monastery for Buddhist monks not far from palace.
The Mahamuni Pagoda enshrines a 13-foot-tall gold statue of the Buddha believed by some to be one of only a handful of statues created during the lifetime of Gautama Buddha. The temple is one of Mandalay's most sacred sites.
The cuisine in Myanmar incorporates dishes from a number of distinct cultures and ethnic groups into a culinary tradition that stands apart from its Southeast Asian neighbors. The country's cuisine varies between regions, but most dishes combine savory and salty flavors into unique preparations. Mohinga - rice noodles in a fish broth - is a perfect example of Myanmar's distinct culinary tradition.
Myanmar Travel Tips
Myanmar's people are reverent and modest. The country's social fabric is tightly stitched together by many ancient Buddhist traditions that have shaped Myanmar's culture for centuries, and Buddhist monks occupy a particularly revered place within the culture. Follow these simple guidelines and you will certainly do well on your immersive journey into Myanmar.
1. Head and Feet: The body is seen as a manifestation of the spirit in Myanmar. The head is the highest and most sacred point of the body, and the feet are the lowest. While traveling in Myanmar, it is best to refrain from touching anyone else's head, and your feet should never be used to point at or touch anything considered sacred or of value.
2. Voice and Veneer: As with most Buddhist cultures, Myanmar's people take care to remain “cool, calm, and collected” at all times, and travelers who do the same will find their vacation much more rewarding.
1. Buddha: Buddha images are highly revered in Myanmar. Travelers should refrain from climbing on statues, and should never sit in front of a Buddha figure unless you can curl your legs to avoid pointing your feet toward the sacred image.
2. Monks: Buddhist monks in Myanmar occupy a highly venerated position in society, and are given the utmost respect. Local customs forbid the monks from touching or accepting gifts directly from women. Monks are also forbidden from shaking hands with anyone. It is important to note these customs are observed both on and off temple grounds throughout the country.
1. Beachwear: Myanmar's culture is conservative, and even during the hottest weather men and women tend to wear pants and shirts with long sleeves. To avoid attracting unwanted attention, refrain from wearing beachwear when in public areas outside of swimming pools or beach destinations.
2. Temples: Though Buddhist temples in Myanmar do not enforce dress codes as strictly as temples in other Southeast Asian destinations, it's best to dress in modest clothing when visiting religious structures in Myanmar.
3. Shoes: Please remove your shoes before entering homes, offices, or temples in Myanmar.
1. The Kyat is Myanmar's official currency. Kyat banknotes are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 5,000, and 10,000. Coins are available in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, and 100.
2. U.S. Dollars maybe accepted at a number of establishments, but we always recommend using local currency for any transactions in Myanmar.
3. Credit cards are accepted in most high-end hotels and restaurants in larger cities like Yangon, but smaller establishments, businesses, and markets will likely be cash only.
Transportation in Myanmar
Our tours are designed to maximize our guests’ time spent exploring Myanmar's treasure trove of ancient art, architecture, and culture; not traveling between destinations. As such, we typically recommend using air travel for any destination that would take more than four hours to reach overland. Though Myanmar offers a plethora of ways to travel cheaply, discerning travelers are more concerned with timely arrivals and departures, and hassle free transit. Our expert knowledge of Myanmar's ever changing roadways and airways allows us to efficiently and economically route you to anywhere in the country.
Myanmar's affordable and reliable air companies allow us to quickly and effectively route our guests between destinations. We typically recommend booking a flight for any destination that would require more than four hours spent driving over land to reach.
For land travel in Myanmar, we provide all of our guests with a private, luxury vehicle. Individuals or couples traveling with us are chauffeured in a high-end sedan, while large groups traveling together reach their destinations in a luxury coach.
Myanmar Travel FAQ
We typically recommend that our guests choose air-travel to reach destinations that would take more than a few hours to reach in a vehicle. Reliable and safe regional flights are an efficient and cost-effective manner of travel in Myanmar.
That being said, land travel experiences in Myanmar are some of the country's most unique adventures, and for the right guest a road-trip through Myanmar's largely undeveloped countryside is a must-do.
Baggage rules typically vary between international and domestic airlines. Your Travel Specialist can help you determine appropriate sizes and weights for checked and carry-on luggage for your Myanmar trip.
We do not recommend that our guests eat street food in any country, but many of our guests choose to selectively indulge in the local street cuisine without any issues.
When traveling abroad, it's best to only drink bottled water.
SIM enabled cellular phones can be connected to local networks by purchasing a local SIM card, which requires photocopies of your passport photo and visa pages, and a passport photo. An increasing amount of western mobile networks are offering international roaming in the country. Check with your mobile provider for more information.
Wi-Fi access is available in many locations, but connection speeds typically vary greatly.
Most hotels in Myanmar use a semi-universal A/C - type wall socket that will accept the most common plugs from the U.S. and Europe. Purchasing a plug adapter kit will ensure you have everything you need while traveling in Myanmar.
Yes. Modern bathrooms are typical throughout Myanmar.
Western goods are fairly easy to find across the country.
Travel Insurance FAQ
Travel insurance is recommended for all our guests traveling to Myanmar.
Travel insurance premiums are determined by the age of travelers, and the total cost of the booked tour.
Travel insurance can be purchased up to the day before your departure; however, if you wish to have preexisting conditions insured, you must purchase the insurance package within 14 days of booking the tour.
Your travel insurance premiums include coverage for every person listed.
International flight costs can be covered, and we recommend you do so.
Travel insurance premiums cannot be customized.
No. Claims must be filed by the claimant.
Most of Myanmar’s cities are a vibrant combination of traditional indigenous architecture, colonial British structures, ancient Buddhist temples and ruins, and modern construction. Each step down the broad, shady lanes of Myanmar’s cities seems to propel travelers through time and back as they stroll between ancient Buddhist temples and European-style structures dating back to the mid-19th century.
Myanmar’s larger cities are usually combinations European grid designed streets created by British colonial architects in the 18th century punctuated by the living remains of much older cities and civilizations. Modern development in recent decades has seen an increase in Western style building construction, and the addition of skyscrapers to the skylines of many of Myanmar’s larger population centers.
We have only listed cities that are included in the itineraries of our tours, and many major cities and potential places of tourist interest have been left out. For guests building their own tours and needing information on cities not listed here, please mention that in the comments section of your tour inquiry form.
Yangon Luxury Travel Information
Originally a city called Dagon founded in the 11th century by the Mon ethnic group of peoples, Yangon would rise to prominence as the capital of Myanmar (then Burma) under British colonial administration in the 19th century. The colonial architecture and wide boulevards left behind by the British are well intact, and the spacious parks and man-made lakes in town ad considerable charm to the city.
Of the seemingly endless number of Buddhist monuments within in Yangon, Shwedagon Paya is the city’s most iconic shrine and landmark. With the shrine’s golden stupa reaching more than 300 feet into the air, the Shwedagon Paya is visible from almost anywhere in the city. The stupa is wrapped in 27 tons of gold leaf, and the ancient shrine that predates the founding of the city in the 11th century is believed to house eight hairs from Lord Buddha’s head.
Other excellent stops in the city include the Chaukhtatgyi Paya, which houses a 200-feet-long golden reclining Buddha image, and the Botataung Paya that has a unique stupa with a golden corridor that visitors can walkthrough to see the holy relics enshrined inside the ancient Buddhist monument.
Best Time to Visit Yangon: The best weather to visit the city of Yangon falls between November and May during the cooler dry season in Myanmar. In June warmer weather comes to the region, and the hotter weather lasts into October along with higher chances of rain.
How to get to Yangon: The thrilling mix of British Colonial architecture, massive Buddhist monuments wrapped in gold, and scenic parks and man-made lakes make Yangon one of the most memorable and unique cities in Southeast Asia.
Yangon Highlights: Yangon is located in the southern portion of Myanmar. Our guests typically reach the city via a direct flight to Yangon International Airport.
Appropriate Attire: While Yangon is a fairly modern city with a diverse population, the majority of its historic sites and monuments are sacred Buddhist enclaves and shrines. As such, it’s important for travelers to dress modestly while exploring these ancient religious monuments. Clothing options that cover at least your shoulders, arms, and knees are recommended for most excursions within the city.
Bagan Luxury Travel Information
Some 2,000 Buddhist shrines and temples rise from the broad, flat plains around the former royal capital of the Pagan Kingdom like ancient skyscrapers. The Pagan Kingdom rose to prominence under King Anawrahta during the 11th century. Over the next two hundred years the kingdom would continue to grow and consolidate the region into the country that British would later call Burma, and is now known as Myanmar. By the 13th century the Pagan Empire would rival the Khmer Empire in Cambodia.
At the height of the Pagan Empire’s influence and power, an estimated 13,000 structures populated the plains. Today, 2,000 mostly intact temples and shrines are all that remains of the once glorious empire.
Of the surviving structures in the former city of Bagan, Ananda Pahto is the most revered and active Buddhist temple in the area. Four massive golden Buddha images facing the cardinal directions are enshrined in the center of the temple.
Dhammayangyi Pahto is the largest of the intact temples on the Bagan Plains. Its unfished murals, and hallways stuffed with ruble indicate the entire project was abounded, or maybe purposely desecrated after King Narathu’s assassination in 1170. It’s believed the king commissioned the temple to atone for murdering his father and brother to seize the throne, and then later butchering one of his wives in a fit of rage.
Best Time to Visit Bagan: Bagan is best visited between November and May with Myanmar’s cooler dry season. Warmer weather comes through the region with June and lasts through October. The second half of the year has increased chances of rain showers, which offer a welcome relief from the higher day time heat, and bring the copses of trees on the grassy plains around the city to a lush green hue.
How to get to Bagan: The ancient temple city of Bagan is the crown jewel of travel destinations in Myanmar. No luxury tour of Myanmar would be complete without spending at least a day exploring the more than 40-squre-miles of temples that inhabit the plains.
Bagan Highlights: Bagan is located in central Myanmar. It can be accessed overland from the city of Mandalay to the south.
Appropriate Attire: Despite its age, Bagan is a thriving center of Buddhist worship in Myanmar. Guests visiting the thousands of Buddhist shrines and temples strewn through the plains should dress modestly in keeping with local traditions.
Mandalay Luxury Travel Information
Mandalay is a vibrant mix of colonial British architecture, ancient Buddhist temples, and modern construction lining a network of gridded, easy to navigate boulevards leftover from Myanmar’s British colonial era.
The city was founded in 1857 by King Mindon Min after the second Anglo-Burmese War. The second conflict with the British in less than 30 years had all but bankrupted the kingdom, and Mindon Min had the Royal Palace in Amarapura to the south of Mandalay dismantled and used as material for the construction of Mandalay Palace at the base of Mandalay Hill. Mandalay would be the final royal capital of the Kingdom of Burma, and the site of some of country’s greatest works of architecture. The Third Anglo-Burmese War of 1885 ended with the British Crown annexing the entire country, and exiling the surviving royal family members.
Mandalay Hill is the city’s most easily recognized landmark, and the mystical heart of Buddhism in the region. A holy mount where animist spirits were worshiped long before the spread of Buddhism, Mandalay Hill is riddled with Buddhist temples, shrines, and iconography, and is considered to be one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country for Buddhists. The summit of the hill can be reached from any of the four stone stairways aligned with the cardinal directions at the base of the hill. The Su Taung Pyi Pagoda that caps the hill dates back to the 11th century, and the standing Buddha Image inside the shrine is said to have been created after Lord Buddha visited the area centuries before and prophesied the founding of Mandalay. Watching the sunset from the temple’s terrace is one of the most memorable sights on our luxury tours of Myanmar.
Kuthodaw Pagoda is located near the base of Mandalay Hill. The 19th century built temple was just one of the numerous Buddhist shrines built in the city of Mandalay by King Mindon Min. The temple features a 188-feet-high golden stupa, and 729 smaller white shrines containing stone inscriptions of Buddhist scriptures. The inscriptions comprise a massive Buddhist religious text commissioned by King Mindon Min during the 5th Buddhist Council of 1871.
The Maha Muni Pagoda (Mahamuni Paya) in Mandalay contains a nearly 13-feet-high golden Buddha statue believed to be over 2,000 years old. Legends surrounding the image, which has been covered in thick layers of knobby gold leaf by centuries of Buddhist merit-makers, claim it was one of only a handful of images cast of Buddha during the his lifetime. The Maha Muni image along with a number of bronze statues and other valuable spoils of war were taken from neighboring kingdoms.
Shwenandaw Kyaung is a teakwood monastery near the grounds of Mandalay Palace. This beautiful Buddhist retreat was built in 1878. It had been King Mindon Min’s royal apartments inside Mandalay Palace, but after his death his son and heir, King Thibaw, ordered the entire building dismantled and removed from the palace grounds after becoming convinced his father’s ghost was haunting the rooms. Mandalay Palace was incinerated during World War II after suffering direct bombing, and the monastery is the only building from the original palace interior to survive into the modern era.
Best Time to Visit Mandalay: Milder temperatures and clear skies between November and May make for the best sightseeing weather in central Myanmar. The temperature begins to rise in June, and the warmer weather lasts into October along with increased chances of rain showers that can cool the atmosphere considerably.
How to get to Mandalay: Vibrant, sacred, and ancient Mandalay is the beating heart of Myanmar’s palpable Buddhist culture. Monks clad in red vestments and nuns wearing pink robes are as common a sight while exploring the ancient palaces and shrines in this ever growing city. No Myanmar tour would be complete without exploring Mandalay’s secrets.
Mandalay Highlights: Mandalay is in the center of Myanmar. Our guests typically reach the city via a flight to its international airport.
Appropriate Attire: As most of the sights in the city are thriving centers of Buddhist worship, it’s best to dress conservatively in keeping with local traditions of modesty. Dress for warm weather in light clothing that covers shoulders to knees while on holy ground, and be aware many areas within Buddhist temples will require you to remove your shoes before entering.
Inle lake Luxury Travel Information
The placid body water is home to about 70,000 people from the Intha ethnic group. Most of these local residents live in traditional stilt homes above the water near the edges of Inle Lake. The Intha practice a unique one-leg rowing technique to propel their boats between the beautiful floating gardens that dot Inle Lake.
A boat tour of the numerous floating villages and gardens of Inle Lake is a must-do excursion on our luxury tours of Myanmar. There is a lively floating market that takes place at various times and places on the still waters. Fishing is still a large part of Inle Lake’s culture, and it’s common to see fisherman rowing boats with one leg to keep both hands on their nets.
The Hpaung Daw U Pagoda (Phaung Daw Oo) is a Buddhist shrine that rests on the banks of Inle Lake. The temple is arguably the holiest Buddhist pilgrimage site in the southern portion of Myanmar’s Shan State. Five gilded Buddha images are enshrined at the heart of the temple. Generations of pilgrims have covered the five images in so many layers of gold-leaf they look like knobby snowmen made from lumps of gold.
The Nga Hpe Kyaung is a Buddhist monastery on the lake dating back to the 1850s. The monastery is famous for its collection of Buddha statues from numerous kingdoms throughout Southeast Asia.
Best Time to Visit Inle lake: Inle Lake’s best weather is typically between November and May while the skies are mostly clear, and the average temperatures are lower. Chances of daily rain showers begin in June as the temperature begins to rise. The warmer weather lasts into October.
How to get to Inle lake: Inle Lake has become Myanmar’s paramount natural attraction. The time you spend navigating the numerous villages that rest on the mirror-like surface of the Inle Lake surface are some of the most memorable experiences to be found in Myanmar. It’s a must-see for all of our guests on Myanmar tours.
Inle lake Highlights: Inle Lake is located in the eastern boundaries of Myanmar near the southern portion of the Shan State. A direct flight from Mandalay or Yangon to Heho Airport is the best way to reach the Shan State. After arriving in the area, our guests transfer to a private vehicle and reach the Inle Lake area in about a half-hour.
Appropriate Attire: Dress in cool clothing that you don’t mind getting a little wet while exploring Inle Lake. If you’re planning to visit any Buddhist shrines or temples in the area, dress modestly in clothing that covers your shoulders, arms, and knees.
Bago Luxury Travel Information
A Mongol invasion of the Kingdom of Pagan in 1287 in central Burma (now Myanmar) left a power vacuum that the Mon Kingdoms of southern Burma quickly filled. The Kingdom of Hanthawaddy in today’s city of Bago quickly rose to prominence as a regional power. Rising on a tide of trade with foreign nations, Bago became a thriving economic and religious center in Lower Burma.
The Shwemawdaw Paya is the largest and best known of the numerous Buddhist icons in the city. The shrine’s golden stupa reaches more than 300 feet in the air, and is believed to contain several Buddha relics. The Shwe Thar Lyaung Pagoda houses a nearly 200 feet long reclining Buddha image that is believed to be over 1,000 years old. The image was lost to the jungle for over a century after Bago was sacked in 1757.
The Kanbawzathadi Palace is a faithful reconstruction of the 16th century palace the kings of Hanthawaddy. There is a museum with displays showcasing ancient cultural and religious artifacts from the region inside the compound.
Due to a lack of adequate lodging facilities, Easy Tours only offers Bago as a same day excursion from Yangon. Driving time, through lush rural countryside, is usually under 2 hours each way.
Mount Popa Luxury Travel Information
Nats are animist spirits often worshiped as minor deities in Myanmar’s Buddhist culture. As King Anawrahta was consolidating the power of the Pagan Empire during the 11th century, he enshrined an official pantheon of 37 animist spirits in the newly adopted state religion of Theravada Buddhism. Mount Popa is considered to be their supernatural abode, akin to a Southeast Asian version of Mount Olympus.
Popa is a dormant volcanic mountain rising almost 5,000 feet into the air. Mount Popa’s fertile volcanic slopes are covered in lush jungles teeming with wildlife. A volcanic plug near the base of the mountain is capped by the Popa Taung Kalat Temple. Pilgrims climb 777 stone steps to the temple dedicated to the animist spirits believed to inhabit Mount Popa’s peak.
Best Time to Visit Mount Popa: The best weather to explore the Mount Popa National Park is typically between November and May during Myanmar’s cooler dry season. Higher temperatures last from June to October, and the second half of the year also sees higher chances of rainfall, but the extra precipitation makes the mountain’s forests particularly lovely.
How to get to Mount Popa: A visit to Mount Popa offers a thrilling look into the animist practices that permeate Myanmar’s Buddhist culture. It’s a unique destination rarely visited by tourists, and makes for one of the most memorable excursions on a Myanmar tour.
Mount Popa Highlights: Mount Popa is about 30 miles from the ancient temple city of Bagan. Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar typically reach the Mount Popa area in a private vehicle after exploring the numerous temples in Bagan.
Appropriate Attire: Dress for a hike in cool clothing and a good pair of shoes. If you are planning to visit the Popa Taung Kalat Temple you should wear modest attire that covers your shoulders, arms, and knees.
Amarapura Luxury Travel Information
Amarapura was founded by King Bodawpaya in 1783 after he seized the throne from his nephew, Phaungkaza Maung Maung. The royal court would transfer back and forth between Amarapura (The City of Immortals) and the city of Innwa (Ava) about 5 miles further south over the next century until King Mindon Min dismantled the Royal Palace and moved the royal court to Mandalay in 1857. The walls of the old palace can still be seen on the edge of the city.
Long known for its cottage industries, Amarapura is a city of tradition. Silk weaving workshops and bronze foundries produce many traditional garments and Buddhist religious icons using techniques passed down through the ages. Beautiful silk longyis (colorful traditional skirts worn by men and women) are common souvenirs purchased by travelers visiting the city on luxury tours of Myanmar.
There are a number of excellent historical sites to explore in the city of Amarapura. The Maha Ganayon Kyaung (Mahar Gandar Yone) monastery is home to roughly 1,000 Buddhist monks, and the site of an intriguing daily ritual where the locals gather to serve the monks food. Feeding the monks is considered one of the greatest merit making activities for the city’s inhabitants, and families wait for months to be part of the daily ceremonies.
The U Bein Bridge (U Pein Bridge) spans the Taungthaman Lake near the Maha Ganayon Kuang monastery, and this simple wooden structure has become one of Amarapura’s most photographed and visited monuments. Built in 1851 by King Mindon Min using teakwood reclaimed from Amarapura’s Royal Palace, U Bein Bridge offers spectacular views of the lake at sunrise and sunset. A boat cruise around Taungthaman Lake to watch the sunset behind U Bein Bridge is one of the most popular excursions in the city.
The Kyauktawgyi Pagoda can be reached by crossing the U Bein Bridge. The Buddhist temple, built in 1847, is thought to have been modeled after the Ananda temple in the city of Bagan. A marble Buddha image resides in the sanctuary, and paintings depicting the Buddhist zodiac frame the entrance ways.
Best Time to Visit Amarapura: Amarapura’s best weather is generally between November and May when the sky is clear, and the temperature is generally mild. June to October sees warmer weather and higher chances of rain, but the countryside around the city is the most beautiful during the wetter months.
How to get to Amarapura: Amarapura became a suburb of Mandalay as the city grew over the last few decades. Amarapura can easily be reached in a private vehicle in as little as 20 minutes from Mandalay.
Amarapura Highlights: Amarapura’s many charms are readily apparent. The ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries, and the intriguing rituals practiced on their grounds are some of the most memorable experiences on Myanmar tours. The sunset behind U Being Bridge is simply stunning; we consider it a must-see for our guests.
Appropriate Attire: For exploring the workshops, town, and Taungthaman Lake, western clothing choices are fine, but it’s important to dress modestly while exploring Buddhist temples and shrines. Clothing that covers shoulders, arms, and knees is a must while on holy ground in Myanmar, and many areas inside temples will require you to remove your shoes before entering.
The gold capped 12th century temple was just one of more than 10,000 religious structures that existed when the Kingdom of Pagan ruled the region known today as Myanmar. Some 2,000 structures remain of the once grandiose civilization.
Constructed in 1105 by King Kyanzittha, Ananda Temple is laid out in a cross pattern in line with the four cardinal directions. The four wings stretch north, south, east, and west with an entryway at the end of each corridor leading into the sanctuary. Four Buddha statues face outwards from the center point of the temple. The 31-foot-tall statues were carved from teakwood and covered with gold, but only the images in the northern and southern plinths are original carvings. The east and west facing statues are replacements installed after a fire in the 17th century.
A series of 552 terra cotta tiles adorns the hallways depicting the multiple incarnations of the Buddha in traditional reliefs known as Jatakas. About 1,500 stone sculptures line the temple’s corridors, and 80 of them depict scenes from the life of Gautama Buddha during his search for enlightenment.
Best Time to Visit Ananda Temple: Between November and May the warm, dry weather makes for the best sightseeing around the ancient structures of Bagan. Between June and October the area sees increasing levels of rainfall that restores the wide Bagan Plains to a verdant green.
How to get to Ananda Temple: The volume and complexity of religious structures rivals the sprawling Angkor Wat complex in Cambodia. While the ancient city has not been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, it’s every bit as spectacular and awe inspiring. The Bagan Plains are particularly stunning in the setting sun when the thousands of temple structures are bathed in a ruddy glow.
Ananda Temple Highlights: The Ananda Temple lies on the plains of the city of Bagan. Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar reach the city via flight from Mandalay, and then are chauffeured between the numerous temples and religious structures by a private vehicle.
Local legends say the King of Burma accepted eight strands of Buddha’s hair from a 1,000 man honor guard on the northern bank of the Yangon River 2,000 years ago. In memory of the auspicious event, he ruler had the Botataung Pagoda constructed on the approximate sight of the ceremony.
During World War II an Allied bomb shattered the shrine, and leveled the surrounding compound. The day Burma gained independence from British rule in 1948, reconstruction of the Botataung began. The reconstruction efforts uncovered a hollow cavity inside the golden stupa containing a prodigious amount of ancient artifacts including what is believed to be a strand of Buddha’s hair.
Rather than simply recreate the original structure, the architects left the stupa’s interior hollow. Visitors can walk through the maze-like corridor that runs through the interior of the shrine while admiring the ancient relics that were uncovered during the reconstruction.
Best Time to Visit Botataung Pagoda: The best sightseeing weather in Yangon is during the warm and dry months between November and May. Seasonal rainfall between June and October helps keep the city cool, and the surrounding countryside is the most verdant during these wetter months.
How to get to Botataung Pagoda: Botataung Pagoda’s standout attraction is its hollow stupa that displays a number of ancient artifacts in a maze-like corridor covered in gold leaf. We consider it a must-see for our guests.
As part of the design for colonial Yangon (Rangoon), British engineers dug two large water reservoirs on the edge of the city to supply freshwater to its citizens.
Inya Lake (Victoria Lake under British Rule in Burma) is the northern of the two freshwater reservoirs created by the British city planners. Before World War II the area around the lake was Yangon’s most prosperous colonial suburb and much of the centuries old architecture still remains.
The lake and its surrounding park are particularly popular among Yangon’s citizens who can be spotted picnicking under shady trees or strolling along the footpaths that surround the lake.
Best Time to Visit Inya Lake: Yangon’s best sightseeing weather falls between November and May when the area is temperate and dry. June to October rains cool the countryside, and make the lake and park particularly beautiful for an afternoon stroll.
How to get to Inla Lake: The calm waters of the man-made aquifer act as a natural mirror of Yangon’s beautiful skyline. Strolling along the lake’s perimeter is a beautiful way to conclude the day’s excursions in Yangon.
Inya Lake Highlights: Inya Lake is located about 6 miles north of central Yangon. Travelers enjoying one of our luxury tours of Myanmar can reach the area via our private vehicle service.
The center point of the Buddhist temple is the 188-foot-high gilded stupa. The golden shrine is modeled after the design of the Shwezigon Pagoda near the ancient city of Bagan to the north of Mandalay.
After two stunning defeats at the hands of British colonial forces during the First and Second Anglo-Burmese Wars, King Mindon Min of Burma (now Myanmar) ordered a new royal capital to be built at the foot of Mandalay Hill in 1857. Naming the city Mandalay in honor of the holy hill that dominated the northern skyline, King Mindon ordered the construction of Kuthodaw Pagoda in 1860 as a religious merit-making endeavor.
As part of the temple’s construction, King Mindon ordered the entirety of the Buddhist Pali Canon, the oldest Theravada Buddhist scripture created in 29 BC, to be inscribed in stone slabs. The inscriptions cover 729 stone tablets front and back, and are encased in 729 white-washed stupas crowned with golden ornaments split into three distinct sections within the Kuthodaw Pagoda complex. The entire work took seven years to complete, and is often referred to as “The World’s Largest Book.”
Best Time to Visit Kuthodaw Pagoda: The best weather to visit Mandalay falls between November and May during the temperate dry season. Seasonal rains sweep through the country between June and October restoring the parched land after the warm temperatures of the dry season.
How to get to Kuthodaw Pagoda: The Kuthodaw Pagoda’s location at the base of the holy Mandalay Hill means the shrine is heavily visited by both pilgrims and travelers. The marble inscriptions of the Pali Canon are a unique sight that should not be missed while exploring the former royal capital of Mandalay.
Kuthodaw Pagoda Highlights: The Kuthodaw Pagoda is at the base of Mandalay hill on the northern edge of the city of Mandalay. Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar reach Mandalay by direct flight from Yangon. Once in the city, our guests are chauffeured in a private vehicle between Mandalay’s sights.
The 13 foot-tall gold Mahamuni (Great Sage) Buddha image enshrined in the pagoda is believed to have been crafted more than 2,000 years ago when Gautama Buddha walked the earth. Legend says Gautama Buddha visited what is today Western Myanmar after attaining enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in Northern India.
The local king was so impressed by the Buddha’s teachings that he had a statue of Gautama cast in gold for his people to worship. Buddhist tradition holds that the Mahamuni image cast in Western Myanmar is one of only five statues crafted during the Buddha’s lifetime on earth that captured the religious leader’s exact features.
A conquering Burmese army snatched the Mahamuni image along with numerous other religious relics from the Mrauk U Kingdom in 1784, enshrining it in the pagoda that shelters it today. The temple compound also houses several bronze statues (including a Shiva image and a three-headed elephant) taken from the Angkor Wat Temple complex, which the local population believes have curative powers activated by rubbing the ancient images with their ailing body parts.
The Mahamuni Pagoda is one of the most active religious sites near Mandalay. Thousands flock here daily to apply votary gold leaf to the statue in a centuries old practice. With the exception of the face, which is polished in the early morning during a ritual cleaning ceremony performed by the resident monks, the entire image is has been wrapped in a six-inch layer of gold foil.
Best Time to Visit Mahamuni Pagoda: The best weather to explore Mandalay falls between November and May during the warm, dry season. Between June and October increasing levels of rainfall cool the area and restore the beautiful countryside after the hotter months.
How to get to Mahamuni Pagoda: Mandalay’s most sacred Buddha image, and possibly one of the most important on the globe, is the beating heart of Buddhism in the area. The throng of devotees, chanting of the monks, and numerous merit-making rituals alone are worth a visit, and we consider it to be a must-see sight.
Mahamuni Pagoda Highlights: The Mahamuni Pagoda is located just south of the city of Mandalay in the suburb of Amarapura. Mandalay is best reached by direct flight departing from Yangon, and once there our guests on luxury tours of Vietnam reach the pagoda using our luxury vehicle service.
A pilgrimage sight for Myanmar’s Buddhist population for more than two centuries, Mandalay Hill has a high concentration of Buddhist religious iconography, temples, and shrines along its four covered staircases that lead to the summit. The viewpoint at the summit provides a scenic vista of the Mandalay Palace and the city.
The popular southern route to the summit is guarded by two chinthes (mythical lion creatures that guard pagodas in Myanmar). The path itself is considered a merit-making journey, and pilgrims, monks, and travelers make the trek along the stone staircase barefoot.
Along the path to the summit lies the Shweyattaw Buddha image. Buddhist tradition in Myanmar holds that Gautama Buddha visited Mandalay Hill after finding enlightenment under a Bodhi tree in Northern India, and prophesized that a great capital would be built at the base of Mandalay hill. The standing Buddha image’s outstretched arm points towards the Mandalay Palace in a gesture that seems to validate the ancient prophesy.
Best Time to Visit Mandalay Hill: The best weather to climb Mandalay Hill is during the dry season between November and May when the temperatures are warm and the skies clear. The rainy season follows, June to October, restoring the parched land to a verdant green.
How to get to Mandalay Hill: The merit-making act of climbing the more than 1,700 stairs to the summit of Mandalay Hill is one of the most important pilgrimages in Myanmar, and the summit’s sweeping views of the plains of Mandalay are stunning. We consider it a must-do experience.
Mandalay Hill Highlights: Mandalay Hill rises from the flat plains of central Myanmar just north of the city of Mandalay. The city is best reached by direct flight departing from Yangon to the south. Once in Mandalay, guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar are chauffeured by a private vehicle around the city.
The summit can be reached either on foot (about a 30 minute climb), or via a paved access road that bypasses all but the last few stairs leading up the hill.
Popa Mountain National Park
Blooming like a rare blossom on the arid Bagan Plains, Mount Popa’s rare Than-dahat forests and copses of palm trees bursting with ripe coconuts shelter the scarce Dusky Leaf monkey, wild pig, barking deer, and more than 100 species of birds.
Before Buddhism swept across Myanmar, the Burmese people worshiped animist nature spirits who were believed to make their supernatural abode at the top of Mount Popa (Flower Mountain). The ancient animist traditions of the Burmese fused with the Buddhist principals and teachings that were spreading from India during the ascent of the Pagan Kingdom that built the sprawling Bagan temple city to the north. Its 5,000 foot-high summit is studded with several Buddhist shrines, and offers gorgeous views of the Bagan Plains.
To the northeast of the summit, the Popa Taung Monastery caps a volcanic cone rising from the thick forests at the edge of Mount Popa’s volcanic plain. The 11th century Buddhist structure is dedicated to the 37 animist spirits, called Nats, who aided the spread of Buddhism throughout Myanmar according to local tradition. An iconic component of the unique Burmese flavor of Theravada Buddhism, pilgrims regularly climb the 777 steps to the Popa Taung Monastery accompanied by a veritable army of monkeys that make their homes in the trees lining the ascent. .
Best Time to Visit Popa Mountain National Park:: The best time to visit the Popa Mountain National Park is during the dry season that runs between November and May. The chances for rain increase steadily in the mornings and afternoons from June to October, but the extra water causes the volcanic plain around Mount Popa to thrum with life.
How to get to Popa Mountain National Park: Popa Mountain dominates the skyline of the Bagan Plains, as well as the minds of the people who inhabit the area. The spiritually charged monastery and verdant forests on the volcanic slopes of Mount Popa are a must-see while on a Myanmar tour.
Popa Mountain National Park Highlights: Mount Popa and the Popa Taung Monastery are about 30 miles south of the ancient temple city of Bagan. Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar reach the forested volcanic slopes in a private vehicle chauffeured by one of our experienced tour guides while sightseeing in the region.
A dominating part of Yangon’s skyline, Shwedagon can easily be spotted gleaming in the sun like a holy beacon from almost anywhere in Yangon. Buddhist tradition holds that a sacred pagoda has stood on the Singuttara Hill for more than 2,600 years, but the structure that can be seen today was probably erected by Buddhists from the Mon ethnic group of peoples in the 6th century. Buddhist tradition holds that the gold covered stupa contains several relics from multiple incarnations of Buddha including strands of hair from Gautama Buddha.
Today, Shwedagon Pagoda is the thriving center of religious activity in Yangon. Visitors reach the shrine complex via four stair cases aligned with the four cardinal directions from the center of the stupa. The interior of the complex is dotted with smaller shrines, many of which are dedicated to the animist spirits called Nats that pervade Burmese Buddhism. Throughout the day, a flurry of pilgrims and monks can be seen performing a host of varying rituals. Burmese Buddhism is heavily influenced by Hindu astrology, and the day of the week a Buddhist is born is said to have a great impact on a person’s life. There are small shrines dedicated to each day of the week inside Shwedagon, as well as others pertaining to the various constellations and planets that govern the lives of the devout. Throughout the day, it’s common to see the faithful communing with monks for astrological predications, and making offerings at the numerous shrines for good fortune.
Best Time to Visit Shwedagon Pagoda: Myanmar’s best weather is between November and May during the dry season. Between June and October rain fall keeps the country cool, and countryside is simply stunning.
How to get to Shwedagon Pagoda: Shwedagon is one of the most sacred Buddhist structures in Myanmar, and its beacon-like stupa is a must-see while visiting Yangon.
Shwedagon Pagoda Highlights: The Shwedagon Pagoda is centrally located in Yangon, Myanmar. Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar can reach the ancient religious site via our private vehicle service while sightseeing in the city.
The teakwood monastery lies just outside the walls of the Mandalay Palace, and is known for its intricate wood carvings of Buddhist myths that cover the interior and exterior walls of the structure.
After the death of King Mindon Min (the penultimate king of Burma), his successor King Thibaw Min became convinced that his father’s soul was haunting the royal apartment. King Thibaw had the royal apartment dismantled piece by piece and reconstructed outside the palace walls as the Shwenandaw Monastery in 1880.
The Burmese style building’s four-tiered roof is wrapped in intricate teakwood carvings representing scenes from Buddhist scriptures and legends. The entire structure is comprised of teakwood including the 150 support pillars that hold up the roof.
An Allied bombing against a Japanese occupation force that was sheltering inside the Mandalay Palace incinerated almost the entire compound in 1945. The Shwenandaw Monastery is one of only three structures that remain of the original Mandalay Palace.
Best Time to Visit Shwenandaw Monastery: The best weather to explore the many Buddhist temples and shrines in Mandalay is during the temperate dry season that runs between November and May. The rainy season follows from June to October, which revives the region’s verdant plant life after the arid summer.
How to get to Shwenandaw Monastery: The Shwenandaw Monastery is the only intact example of a fully teakwood structure from the royal compound in the Mandalay Palace. Its royal heritage earned it the nickname “The Golden Monastery,” and the intricate carvings that festoon the building are a memorable sight that should not be missed.
Shwenandaw Monastery Highlights: The Shwenandaw Monastery is just outside the Mandalay Palace in the same compound as the Autmashi Monastery, which is a replica of a 19th century structure that was gutted by fire.
Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar reach the city of Mandalay via a direct flight from the former capital of Yangon. Once arriving in the town, guests are chauffeured between Mandalay’s numerous sights in a private luxury vehicle for the duration of their visit.
In the 11th century King Anawrahta was consolidating his hold over the increasingly powerful and militarily dominant Pagan Kingdom. Having conquered much of what would later be called the country of Burma (now Myanmar), the king wanted to unify his kingdom with a national identity that would transcend the differences of the numerous ethnicities that he ruled.
King Anawratha was converted to Theravada Buddhism by Shin Arahan, a monk from one of the Pagan Kingdom’s vassal states, and began a series of political and economic changes that would affect the region’s development for centuries.
After requesting Buddha relics from India, the king began the construction of the first Burmese stupa, naming it Shwezigon. The Kingdom of Pagan would use the Shwezigon shrine as the prototype for the innumerable Buddhist stupas constructed over the following centuries as Buddhism continued to grow and meld with local religious practices, like the worship of nature spirits called Nats.
Best Time to Visit Shwezigon Pagoda: The best weather to explore this region of Myanmar falls between November and May during the dry season. The rainy season, June to October, is often marked by showers in the mornings and afternoons, which help revive the countryside’s plant life.
How to get to Shwezigon Pagoda: The ancient Buddhist monuments and shrines found throughout Myanmar used Shwezigon as a template. Visiting the pagoda opens a window into the intriguing mix of Buddhism and animist religious practices still found in Myanmar today. We consider Shwezigon Pagoda a must-see while on a Myanmar tour.
Shwezigon Pagoda Highlights:The Shwezigon Pagoda lies about four miles north of the ancient temple city of Bagan. Guests on luxury tours of Myanmar who wish to visit this historic site are chauffeured by a private vehicle to the area from nearby Bagan.
Silk Weaving Workshops
Through much of Myanmar’s history, every household had at least one resident weaver to provide clothing for the family. This ancient tradition is continued in the numerous silk weaving workshops in the city of Amarapura just south of Mandalay.
These workshops offer a plethora of fine wares crafted by hand using techniques that have been passed down through the centuries. While some of the large workshops have incorporated some modern machinery to help with the production of garments, the majority of workshops still produce their wares entirely by hand.
Of the numerous cuts and styles of garments available within these shops, the colorful longyi is the most common. The longyi is finely embroidered sweep of cloth worn like a skirt by both sexes in Myanmar. They are made in a range of colors and patterns, and specially embroidered longyis are worn for special occasions like religious ceremonies.
Best Time to Visit Silk Weaving Workshops: From November to May the clear skies and warm temperatures make for the best weather to visit the city of Amarapura. The rainy season follows from June to October with increased chances of daily rain showers in the mornings and evenings.
How to get to Silk Weaving Workshops: The various workshops in Amarapura have some excellent wares well worth browsing for high-end souvenirs.
Silk Weaving Workshops Highlights: The best silk weaving workshops are found in the small suburb of Amarapura just south of Mandalay. Once guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar reach Mandalay via a direct flight from Yangon, they are chauffeured to the Amarapura in a private vehicle.
During the late 18th century British Colonial forces used the ancient gold-plated shrine as the central point of the grid pattern they used to design the modern city of Yangon. This ancient temple in the middle of a traffic circle in the heart of the increasingly energetic city of Yangon is stunning example of Myanmar’s peculiar blend of ancient and modern aesthetics.
Local legends say a local king consulted with an animist spirit that resided in the area while looking for locations to enshrine relics of the Buddha’s body leftover after the spiritual leader’s cremation. The friendly spirit helped the king select the other important Buddhist pilgrimage locations in Myanmar, and the local king built Sule Pagoda and enshrined one of the Buddha relics inside to honor the spirit.
Sule Pagoda’s octagonal design is relatively unique in Myanmar. While most stupas become increasingly rounded towards the top of the spire, Sule’s golden stupa retains its unique shape from top to bottom. While its exact origins are unknown, local legends and religious beliefs claim the structure dates back some 2,500 years to the era when Siddhartha Gautama, who would find enlightenment underneath a Bodhi tree near the Himalayan Foothills and become Lord Buddha, walked the earth.
Best Time to Visit Sule Pagoda: From November to May the skies are clear and the weather is warm in Yangon. Seasonal rains blow through between June and October that keep the atmosphere cool and revive the countryside’s verdant green foliage after the dry season.
How to get to Sule Pagoda: The Sule Pagoda’s central location makes for a wonderful stop while explore Yangon. We consider it a must-see while in the city.
Sule Pagoda Highlights: Sule Pagoda is the center point of Yangon, and is visible from most of the city. Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar usually reach the pagoda as part of their walking tour of Yangon.
U Bein Bridge Travel Information
The Ava Kingdom ruled much of Myanmar between the 14th and 19th centuries filling the power vacuum left by the fallen Pagan Kingdom. After an earthquake shattered the Ava Kingdom’s capital city of Inwa in 1839, King Tharrawaddy chose the city of Amarapura as his new seat of power.
U Bein Bridge was constructed sometime around 1850 as an easy path across the Taungthaman Lake for Amarapura’s population. The teakwood for the bridge was reclaimed from the ruins of the royal palace in the destroyed city of Inwa, and is comprised of some 1,000 wooden pillars pounded into the lakebed.
Though the structure is well over a century old, it’s still a busy route that sees hundreds of pilgrims, monks, and travelers cross it on a daily basis.
Best Time to Visit U Bein Bridge: The best weather for sightseeing in Myanmar falls between November and May during the temperate dry season. Rains follow from June to October, revving the country’s deep green hue after the arid summer.
How to get to U Bein Bridge: The U Being Bridge spans the Taungthaman Lake near the city of Amarapura. Guests on our luxury tours of Myanmar can reach the city after a direct flight from Yangon to Mandalay. Once arriving in the Mandalay, our guests are chauffeured to the city of Amarapura in a private vehicle accompanied by one of our experienced guides.
U Bein Bridge Highlights: This simple footbridge is one of the Mandalay’s most iconic structures. The glassy surface of the Taungthaman Lake combines with the bridge’s rustic architecture for truly splendid pictures - particularly at sunset.