An experience not to be missed: one week in Myanmar for an unforgettable trip through the country’s most illustrated ancient seats of power.
Day 01 : Arrival in Mandalay
Day 02 : Mandalay and Its Surroundings
Day 03 : Mandalay – Pakokku – Bagan
Day 04 : Bagan, visit the temples
Day 05 : Bagan, visit traditional villages
Day 06 : Flight Bagan/Yangon, city tour
Day 07 : Yangon – Departure
Itinerary day by day :
|Day 01 : Arrival in Mandalay
Your one week in Myanmar starts in Mandalay. Upon arrival at Mandalay International Airport, you will be warmly welcomed by our travel guide, then transfer to hotel. Take some napping before hitting the road to explore the genuine gems of the last Royal Citadel. Drop by the Royal Palace, the royal residence of the last two sovereigns of Myanmar and their families. Reserve your best shoes for this occasion because the Palace is a magnificent compound which spans a vast area of four kilometers. Inquire the nearby Shwenandaw Monastery which was relocated twice in its life. Transfer to explore the similarly curious Mahamuni Pagoda. Finally, be prepared for the imposing Kuthodaw Pagoda which house the biggest book of the world.
Overnight at hotel in Mandalay.
|Day 02 : Mandalay and Its Surroundings
Be braced for a trip to the local famous Jade Market in early morning and then drop by to observe the process of gold leaf production. After a morning walk, take a boat upstream to see Mingun, the ancient villages well-known for its half-completed giant structures. Drift downstream back to Mandalay and drive to the nearby Sagaing to appreciate its unique buildings and panorama of the surroundings. At dusk, be enchanted by the enigmatic view of sunset from the longest teak bridge of the world – U Bein.
Overnight at hotel in Mandalay.
|Day 03 : Mandalay – Pakokku – Bagan
Board a car to Pakokku, whose famed products include tobacco and thanaka – favorite cosmetic products of Myanmar people. Drop by a cheroot factory, observe how tobacco was manually manufactured here. Travel to a local market which specializes in selling thanaka, both in its raw form (branches of the trees) and processed form (yellowish pasted contained in small jar). From Pakokku, board on one of the most intriguing part of Mandalay to Bagan boat trip and appreciate stunning perspective on both sides of the river. Upon arrival, check in hotel and enjoy free time until the end of the day.
Overnight at hotel in Bagan.
|Day 04 : Bagan, visit the temples
Spend a whole day to explore one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Asia. Be overwhelmed by the sight of over 2000 temples, pagodas and stupas that rug the skyline. Start your sightseeing tour with the most important pagodas and temples such as the highly venerated Ananda Temple, the highest temple of Bagan – Thatbyinnyu which claims a height of 62 meters in total, the majestic red-brick Htilominlo Temple. Linger until afternoon and gasp at the magnificent sunset from the top of the Shwesandaw Temple.
Overnight at hotel in Bagan.
|Day 05 : Bagan, visit traditional villages
Get the authentic vibe through the morning visit to bustling Nyaung Oo market, full to the brim with its gorgeous selection of local specialties from fresh vegetables and fruits to handicrafts. Sail along the Irrawaddy River to reach a local village and immerse yourself in their rural lifestyle. Drop by Min Nan Thu and Phwa Saw Villages to observe their methods of producing lacquer and not mind dirtying your hands making your bespoke products.
Back to your hotel at the end of the day. Overnight at your hotel in Bagan.
|Day 06 : Flight Bagan/Yangon, city tour
Morning flight to the youngest former capital of Yangon, which boasts a cosmopolitan atmosphere. Start your trip to the renowned gilded Shwedagon Pagoda, which stands proud in the skyline of the city. Move next to the National Museum to view their comprehensive collection of historical and archaeological artifacts. Take the ‘circular train’ tour around Yangon which will introduce you to another facade of the magnificent city: very down-to-earth people in the hive of their daily activities. Get down when it reaches the station in Bogyoke Market which is full of thousand shops with the largest selection of Myanmar handicrafts and souvenirs ranging from lacquer ware.
Overnight at your hotel.
|Day 07 : Yangon – Departure
Depending on the time of your departure flight, have a morning at your leisure or stride around the downtown zone to see some impressive colonial buildings.
Take notice of your time, and leave for the airport to depart, end your one week in Myanmar.
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Fame is clearly not the decisive factor in the listing process of UNESCO Heritage Committee. And the case becomes crystal clear in Myanmar as the ones recognized by the committee maintained a surprisingly low profiles compared to the country's tourist sensations.
Pyu city-states have faded into a forgotten place in the history of Myanmar. Along with the Mon city-states, they formed the first governmental institutions of the ancient Burma. Talented and highly innovative, the Pyu people invented scripts, alphabets, minted coins and erected buildings whose symmetry continues to puzzle researchers and visitors alike.
Inhabiting along the Irrawaddy River, the Pyus had built impressive cities employing advanced math to the amazement of many. The cities remaining until today include Halin - the ancient city near Mandalay, Beikthano-Myo - the senior to Bagan by a thousand year and Sri Ksetra - the last surviving state of the Pyus by the 9th century. All of them were recognized by UNESCO Heritage Committee for their significance and contribution towards the study of human history.
These cities, curiously, lie along the track of the itinerary One Week in Myanmar: Ancient Capitals.
Located in the Mu valley, the city is one of the largest irrigated regions of precolonial Burma, is the northernmost Pyu city so far discovered. The earliest artefacts of Halin—city's wooden gates—are radiocarbon dated to 70 CE. The city was rectangular but with curved corners, and brick-walled. Excavated walls are approximately 3.2 km long on the north-south axis and 1.6 km on the east-west. At 664 hectares, the city was nearly twice the size of Beikthano. It has four main gates at the cardinal points, and a total of 12 gates, based on the zodiac. A river or canal ran through the city. Traces of a moat exist on all sides except the south, where it was probably not needed, as land was dammed there to create reservoirs. The remnants of the dam is lauded as a vessel to study the advancement of technology of the Pyus by historians. Many of the buildings were excavated later, prompting further investigation and eventually leading to the UNESCO recognition of Halin as a Heritage Site.
This architecture of the city inspired metropolitan planning of later Burmese capitals and its significance transcended the border to reach the ancient Siam. Bagan and Mandalay are among the best known example of adaptation. The city's configuration was also found at other contemporary cities such as Maingmaw and Beikthano in the Pyu realm and Danyawaddy and Wethali in Arakan as well as later cities such as Sukhothai, which emerged over a millennium later. Structural remains of temples at Halin show that the design of city's temples influenced the 11th to 13th century temples at Pagan. Excavated artefacts point to Halin's Pyu script to be the earliest writing in the Pyu realm (and in Burma). It was based on an earlier version of the Brahmi script (Mauryan and Guptan). Inscriptions at Sri Ksetra show a later version of the same script.
Known for the production of salt, a highly prized commodity in the first millennium, Halin was superseded by Sri Ksetra as the premier Pyu city-state circa 7th century. Until now, however, small scale production of salt from earth can be spotted in Halin.
Situated in the irrigated Minbu region (near present-day Taungdwingyi) with direct land access to the well-watered Kyaukse plains to its northeast, Beikthano is the oldest urban site so far discovered and scientifically excavated site. Its remains—the structures, pottery, artefacts, and human skeletons—date from 200 BCE to 100 CE. Named after the Hindu god Vishnu, the city may be the first capital of a culturally and perhaps even politically uniform state in the history of Burma. It was a large fortified settlement, measuring approximately 300 hectares inside the rectangular (3 km by 1 km) walls. The walls and fortifications along it measured six meters thick, and are radiocarbon dated to a period between 180 BCE and 610 CE. Like most subsequent cities, the main entrance of the walls led to the palace, which faced east. Stupas and monastic buildings have also been excavated within the city walls.
Located 8 km southeast of Prome (Pyay) at present-day Hmawza village, Sri Ksetra is the last and southernmost Pyu capital. The city was founded between the 5th and 7th centuries, and likely overtook Halin as the premier Pyu city by the 7th or 8th century, and retained that status until the Mranma arrived in the 9th century. The city was home to at least two dynasties, and maybe three. The first dynasty, called the Vikrama Dynasty, is believed to have launched the Pyu calendar, which later became the Burmese calendar, on 22 March 638. The second dynasty was founded by King Duttabaung on 25 March 739 (11th waxing of Tagu 101 ME).
Sri Ksetra is the largest Pyu site discovered thus far. (Only Beikthano and Sri Ksetra have been extensively excavated. Other important Pyu cities as Maingmaw and Binnaka could yield more artefacts with more extensive excavations.) It occupied a larger area than that of the 11th century Pagan or 19th century Mandalay. Circular in design, Sri Ksetra was more than 13 km in circumference and three to four km across, or about 1400 hectares of occupied area. The city's brick walls were 4.5 meters high, and had 12 gates with huge devas (deities) guarding the entrances and a pagoda at each of the four corners.
It also has curving gateways, such as those found at Halin and Beikthano. In the centre of the city was what most scholars think represented the rectangular palace site, 518 meters by 343 meters, symbolising both a mandala and a zata (horoscope), like in Maingmaw.Only the southern half of the city was taken up by the palace, monasteries and houses; the entire northern half consisted of rice fields. Together with the moats and walls, this arrangement ensured that the city could withstand a long siege by enemies.
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