This off the beaten track tour to Burma is dedicated to glorify the hidden charm of the country’s far-flung southern strip within an abbreviated period of 8 days.
Day 01 : Arrival in Yangon, half day city tour
Day 02 : Yangon, city tour
Day 03 : Yangon – Mawlamyine
Day 04 : Mawlamyine, city tour
Day 05 : Mawlamyine, boat tour to Bilu Gyun island
Day 06 : Mawlamyine – Hpa An, city tour and the surroundings
Day 07 : Hpa An – Golden Rock
Day 08 : Golden Rock – Bago – Yangon
|Day 01 : Arrival in Yangon, half day city tour
Start your 8-day tour to Burma in Yangon.
Yangon, the biggest city and the main economic center of the country, mainly is the first destination for any holiday to Burma. Arrive at the airport in Yangon, welcome by our English – speaking guide and transfer to hotel. Depending on arrival time, we will arrange a city tour to discover the former Burmese capital (1862-2005). Visit the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda which is covered in 60 tons of gold leaf; the 70-meter-long Reclining Buddha. At the end of the day, turn to beautiful park of Kandawgyi Lake, stop on the wooden bridge over the South of lake edge to enjoy sunset view. Overnight at hotel in Yangon.
|Day 02 : Yangon, city tour
In the morning, visit Bogyoke market (Scott market) which is full of thousand shops with the largest selection of Myanmar handicrafts and souvenirs ranging from lacquer ware, Shan shoulder bags to puppets and jewellery. Then take local “circular train” ride through the city and its surrounding areas , a great opportunity to observe the vibrant and colorful life of Yangonnais. Back to your hotel.
Afternoon, transfer to Dalah, a small village on the other side of the Yangon River, take a rickshaw ride and visit a candle factory. Back to Yangon, take a stroll around the colonial complex in the downtown. It is surprising to contemplate the large shaded alleys where the houses are decorated in the unique style of the Burmese colonial times – the bygone era.
Street food around the city is highly recommended. Overnight in Yangon.
|Day 03 : Yangon – Mawlamyine
Enjoy delightful breakfast at hotel, then our guide will pick you up and drive to Mawlamyine (also called Moulmein)– the charming capital of Mon State, which is considered one of the biggest port cities for teak wood cargo to the north. The scenic journey takes you through typical Burmese villages. It is an ideal place to avoid crowded tourists in other tourist attractions in Myanmar.
Upon arrival, transfer to hotel, and take a stroll along the riverside which is lined with old colonial buildings. Overnight in Mawlamyine.
|Day 04 : Mawlamyine, city tour
Start our tour around the city by a visit to First Baptist Church, Kyaikthanlan Pagoda. Venture further to the south of the city to the town of Thanbyuzayat and pay respect to the fallen ones in the construction of the notorious Death Railway – the Empire of Japan’s bloody project which connected Thailand and Burma. At the end of the day, stroll along the Strand road to enjoy the sunset over the Thanlyin River.
Overnight at hotel in Mawlamyine.
|Day 05 : Mawlamyine, boat tour to Bilu Gyun island
Visit the lively central market Zyegyi then board a typical local ferry to the island of Bilu Gyun, a fascinating independent island of Mon ethnic which consists of 64 villages connected by rutted tracks, full of adventures. After docking, depart in open truck (tuk-tuk) through lush vegetation and picturesque villages, meeting on the way smiling locals. Stop in a small monastery on the ridge that divides the island into two parts. Continue to the south through some villages specialized in the manufacture of carpets from coconut fibers, carpentry and bricks. Back to the city in the late afternoon. Overnight in Mawlamyine.
|Day 06 : Mawlamyine – Hpa An, city tour and the surroundings
Departure for Hpa Ann which is the capital of the Karen state. The picturesque town with majestic mountain ranges, the mysterious caves full of Buddha statues and tranquil atmosphere of local life would lure visitors into an unforgettable spot. Transfer to Zwegabin Mountain whose foot is full of Buddha statues. Climb up to the top of the mountain if you like. Then visit Kyauk Kalap Pagoda nearby, the unique pagoda located on the top of a rock basement in the middle of an artificial lake. Take a short break before travelling to Sadan Cave which is famous for the rock walls carved with hundreds of Buddha images dating back from centuries ago. Back to the city center in the late afternoon. Good idea to take a short walk around the Kantharyar Lake to enjoy the stunning scenery of Zwekabin Mountain or get some beer in a riverside restaurant. Overnight in Hpa An.
|Day 07 : Hpa An – Golden Rock
Refreshing this morning by a visit to Hpa An’s local market and the Cultural Museum of Karen people. Then departure for Kyaiktiyo by car, which is located 150 km to the northwest of Hpa An in Mon state. Arrive at Kyaikhtiyo base camp- Kinpun in the late morning, we take one hour and a half drive by a small open-truck, then start a smooth walk to the Golden Rock. Situated at 1000 meters above sea level, the rock standing 7.6 meters tall covered by gold leaf and the gilded temple sitting on the top of it. A mystical legend referring the reason why the great rock has not fallen down to the foot of the cliff seems very inspirational to visitors. Overnight in Kyaikhtiyo,
|Day 08 : Golden Rock – Bago – Yangon
Departure for Yangon, on the way stop at Bago for a short break, which was the capital of the Mon Kingdom for centuries and has witnessed many vicissitudes. Take time to visit the imposing Shwemawdaw Pagoda whose golden stupa is up to 114m, highest pagoda in Myanmar. Then have a watch on the large reclining Buddha Shwethalyaung which dates back to the 10th century. Next, drop in a handicraft village and discover the workshops around if time permits.
Arrive Yangon in the late afternoon. Overnight at hotel in Yangon. End of the 8-day tour to Burma.
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The Southern Trail of Myanmar bridges myth to reality, antiquity to modernity, Eastern charm to Western imprints and worldly existences to the last heaven on the earth.
The southern territory of Myanmar once came under a single name of Tanintharyi. Back in the antiquity, Tanintharyi suffered under chronic wars and conflicts raged by the Bamar and the Siam to control the naval base and the marine trade route. The region's strategic location was recognized by the Western explorers as well. By the end of the last Burmese royal dynasty, the battle between the British, the French and the Portuguese to control this significant transportation hub had concluded with the British victory. The British certainly devoted efforts into constructing Tanintharyi, bringing with them immigrants from India, China and even Africa. This can be discerned through the varied population of this area today - a mix of different races and religions. The reconstruction process came to a halt after the occupying British got wind of the French's rapid expansion and they abandoned Tanintharyi to grab hold of the more affluent and influential mainland. Most of the projects were aborted - there are almost no significant buildings save for Golden Rock Temple and colonial quarters of Mawlamyine. There is virtually nothing to remind people of Mawlamyine's status as the colonial government's first holding or the region's celebrated position as the birthplace of Buddhism in Myanmar.
At some time after the independence, the military government decided on segregate the country based on dominant ethnic groups, effectively cutting down Tanintharyi into three smaller regions. They will be known under the names Mon, Kayin (Karen in some dialects) and Tanintharyi. As a whole or not, they remain under-exploited and ill-equipped to accommodate the ballooning influx of tourists to Myanmar. Reaching southern destinations are frustrating and they, thanks to the proximity to the coastline, are only open to visitors once the monsoon is over.
The Pagoda was built by supernatural forces which may cause some eyebrows to frown in disbelief but its composition is supernatural without further dispute. Perching on the edge of a vertical cliff, the gilded pagoda on a gilded boulder has stood as fast as the Myanmar belief in the conversion power of Buddhism.
Unlike other places in the southern territory, Hpa-an is blissfully cool and soothing, providing ones who brave the rugged southbound trail with longed relaxation. It boasts a collection of karst caves, tranquil ponds and enigmatic Buddhist structures.
The capital of Mon State, Mawlamyine was the first stronghold of the British who left a score of colonial structures during their brief occupation. Before Tanintharyi was split, Mawlamyine had been its capital as well and a busy trading port. Prosperity soon faded as Myanmar was isolated from the outside world following the army's assumption of power. Being the northerly transport hub of the region, Mawlamyine has its own airport and train station which operate so reliably that tourists simply choose car or bus out of convenience. Direct flights from Yangon are not daily and the train to Mawlamyine is a recurring gag that is hilarious as well as haunting.
After Mon and Kayin were split from the original Tanintharyi, Dawei (Tavoy) was designated as the new capital of the current Tanintharyi - a region so undeveloped and detached from the rest of Myanmar that not many visitors manage to register its name. Dawei was the most southerly point the national railway system can reach by the time of writing. An account from Man in Seat 61 captured Dawei train track overgrown with bushes which cover the front window of the locomotive. Dawei gets a sufficient beach - Maungmagan - which is praised as uncharted by many visitors. It also has an airport, despite the fact that the spotty frequency of flights makes entering overland from Myawaddy a more efficient and time-effective way to reach Dawei.
The Burmese name Myeik and its Westernized equivalent Mergui convey a period that is certainly not recent. Myeik belongs to the past more than any other city of the south. The colony of decrepit buildings - Western, Chinese, Christian, Muslim - makes the landmarks of the city and a trip to the nearby ancient citadel Tanintharyi is the staple of any itinerary involving Myeik. The heavenly Myeik Archipelago is named after the city even though it only offers accesses to the northern islands and islets. These islands are big enough to host cruises but the surrounding water is not clear enough to allow diving experience.
The southernmost city, opposite to Ranong across the Kraburi River, is a busiest port in tourist and commercial terms. The Yangon-Kawthaung flight is blissfully daily despite its sloppy punctuality being called into attention numerous times. Kawthaung is the gateway to the most beautiful and diver-friendly islands of the Myeik Archipelago. The cruises from Kawthaung offers both cruising and diving adventures and close contact to the remainders of diminishing Moken people. Kawthaung city has a market to visit and a lovely beach with the tongue-twisting name Palonetonetone for family gatherings. It also has perfect lookout points allowing vision to extend to Thai territory. An anecdote: The most southerly point was named Victoria Point by the British and Bayinnaung Point by the independent government - both use the names of monarchs with brilliant military exploits. A statue of Bayinnaung brandishing his sword toward Thailand is one of a few erected on the eastern border - a reminder of a gone period of glory.
It takes a minimum of 8 days to explore Golden Rock, Hpa-an and Mawlamyine plus arrival in Yangon and transfer through Bago since these locations don't have a nearby portal to receive international tourists. Overland seems to be a good idea since Myawaddy is conveniently located from Mawlamyine but the complicated visa formalities are too much to discourage visitors.
The itineraries below enclose a visit to these destinations as an off-the-beaten-track option. They are relatively long to accommodate the patronage of four classic attractions and the discovery of the southern backwaters. While the same locations are featured, the order of them within the schedule may be altered to fit the preference of different customers. The emphasis also differs from program to program.
Type: Discovery and Culture | Duration: 18 days and 17 nights | Starting point: Yangon | Itinerary: Yangon, Golden Rock, Hpa An, Mawlamyine, Mandalay, Monywa, Bagan, Mountain Popa, Kalaw, Inle Lake.
One of the most comprehensive Myanmar tour, this 18-day trip to Myanmar attempts a well-round overview of the the country. It covers the classics, the nature, the activities, the religious centers and the unfrequented southern strip with a flair that is hard to rival. The exploration of the southerly territory will start with the Golden Rock then trace southward to Hpa-an and Mawlayine before going back to Yangon for further survey of Burma.
See the full 18-day Myanmar trip itinerary here.
For complementary beach stay in Ngapali, you can extend this itinerary to 3 weeks in Myanmar.
Type: Discovery and Trekking | Duration: 18 days and 17 nights | Starting point: Mandalay | Itinerary: Mandalay, Pakokku, Bagan, Mountain Popa, Kalaw, Inle Lake, Sagar, Yangon, Bago, Golden Rock, Hpa-an, Mawlamyine.
Adapted to lessen the physical demand of the southbound leg, this itinerary takes you step by step, exploring one by one destination from Bago, Golden Rock, Hpa-an and eventually Mawlamyine. After the excursion towards the south, you will go back to Yangon and have a full day to recover from the strains of lengthy road trips.
See the full itinerary of this Myanmar senior tour here.
Type: Honeymoon, Culture, Discovery and Nature | Duration: 17 days and 16 nights | Starting point: Yangon | Itinerary: Yangon, Mount Kyaikhtiyo (Golden Rock), Hpa-An, Inle Lake, Mandalay, Monywa, Pakokku, Bagan, Ngapali.
The southerly cities of Myanmar can't be more lovely and romantic in this honeymoon vacation. With emphasis on love and affection, the trip retells the story of the making of a Buddhist Myanmar - the legends are filled with power plays, strategies, opportunities but never depart from the essence of human existence which is love. Let's the folklore of Myanmar tell you about the bitter love that made Mawlamyine fall, the tragic love that stood as firm as Mountain Popa and the celestial love that exists for the sake of love only.
See the full itinerary of this Myanmar Honeymoon Tour here.
Type: Discovery & Nature | Duration: 13 days and 12 nights | Starting point: Yangon | Itinerary: Yangon, Golden Rock, Hpa An, Mawlamyine, Bago, Taungoo, Mountain Popa, Bagan, Inle Lake.
The most physically demanding excursion on our Myanmar Off the Beaten Track Collection, this tour involves the longest distance traveled by land. It also brings you the closest contact to local daily lives. Enjoy your trip among artisans crafting supplies from wood, mahouts living their lives on the back of their elephants and a short train ride. Feel the triumph upon completion of the track from Mawlamyine to Bagan - it is indisputably rough enough to deterred the best backcountry darers.
See the full itinerary of this Burma trip here.