Myanmar: A Cultural Journey through Burma13 days
About This Experience
Uncover the land that Kipling called “quite unlike any place you know about.” Myanmar has kept one foot firmly in the past—city dwellers stroll the streets in traditional longyi and canoes and horse-drawn carriages remain preferred means of transport. It’s this slower style of life that affords ample time to take in the country’s staggering number of temples and pagodas.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
10 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 2 lunches, 4 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Private deluxe motor coach
Multilingual Tour Director
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Temples, stupas & pagodas at every turn
Cosmopolitan and cultural Yangon
The warm and welcoming Myanma people
Samplings of savory noodles and spicy curries
Bagan’s gilded towers gleaming at sunset
Placid Inle Lake & its peaceful inhabitants
Overnight Flight1 night
Bangkok1 night - hotel info
Yangon2 nights - hotel info
Say mingala ba! to Myanmar
This morning, board a quick flight to Yangon. The former capital of Myanmar, this eclectic city remains the country’s largest by far and is considered a cultural and economic hub. International architecture abounds, as 19th-century British colonial styles mix with Chinese, Indian and local influences. Tonight, meet your fellow travelers at a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Explore the country’s cultural capital
Sule Pagoda, Chauk Htat Gyi Reclining Buddha, Karaweik Royal Barge, Kalaywa Monastery, Shwedagon Pagoda
Get to know Yangon with a full-day sightseeing tour. Visit the majestic Sule Pagoda, named for the powerful spirit Sularata. According to legend, Sularata was cleverly able to locate several sacred relics, including a strand of hair from the Buddha, on which the temple was built. Your exploration continues into downtown and Chinatown, where you may use your free time to sample some local street food for lunch. This afternoon, meet the iconic Reclining Buddha visit the palatial Karaweik Royal Barge and learn about Myanmar’s ancient Buddhist tradition at the Kalaywa Monastery. End your day by watching the sunset over the gilded tower of the Shwedagon Pagoda.
Bagan2 nights - hotel info
Jet off to the land of 2,000+ pagodas
Temples & Pagodas of Bagan
This morning fly to Bagan, home of the largest and densest collection of Buddhist temples, stupas, pagodas and ruins in the world. Your guide will walk you through thousands of years of history at sites ranging from the crumbling Gubyaukgyi Temple to the stuningly gilded Shwezigon Pagoda. Stop at a local lacquerware workshop to see the ancient art in action before checking into your hotel and spending a free afternoon in Bagan. This afternoon, zoom two-by-two on pony carts through the hidden corners the city’s ancient ruins before dining as a group at a local family home.
Immerse yourself in the flavors of Myanma cuisine
Start your day at the Nyang Oo Market. Rustic and bustling, this open-air marketplace is your best chance to sample exotic local fruits and vegetables. Continue on to Phwar Saw Village where you’ll visit a local home and see firsthand the traditional cooking techniques that have been practiced for centuries. After a free afternoon in Bagan, rejoin the group for tea on a sunset cruise along the Irrawaddy River. The country’s largest and most important waterway, the Irrawaddy stretches more than 1,300 miles from where the Mali River meets the N’Mai to the Andaman Sea.
Mandalay2 nights - hotel info
Discover modern Myanmar in Mandalay
Mahamuni Pagoda, Shwe Kyaung, Kuthodaw Pagoda
This morning, fly to Mandalay, the economic hub of northern Myanmar. The city is also a religious center, with half of the nation’s monks taking up residence along the wide avenues frequented by bikes and motorcycles. Downright modern compared to the rest of the country’s mostly ancient urban centers, Mandalay was established in 1857 and its splendor shone until British conquest in 1885 and subsequent attacks during World War II. Spend the morning exploring the city’s history with visits to local pagodas and monasteries before enjoying a free afternoon. This evening, ascend Mandalay Hill on foot or by escalator to watch the sunset over the city.
Spend a free day in Mandalay
Optional Excursion - Mingun Monasteries & the U Bein Bridge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Today is yours to explore the city on your own. You may opt to join an optional excursion to the Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery where 2,000 monks line up each day to receive food prepared in the massive kitchens. Then, take in the signature white steeples of the Sanda Muni Paya, and cross the U Bein Bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world.
Mingun Monasteries & the U Bein Bridge $69* pp
Take in panoramic views of the Sagaing hills on a drive to Amarapura, the Mandalay township known for its production of high-quality goods in bronze, silk and cotton. Stop at the Mahagandayon Monastery for a glimpse of monastic life before a visit to the U Bein Bridge. The longest teak bridge in the world, it stretches almost 4,000 feet across the Irrawady River. After an included lunch, embark on an hour-long float up the river toward Mingun, where you’ll visit the massive ruins of Mingun Paya. Construction on this stupa began in 1790 and intentionally frittered out when a prophecy promised ill fortune for the king upon its completion. Gaze west to catch a sight of the seven circular terraces of the ethereal Myatheindan Pagoda, modeled after the mythological Mount Meru. Your day concludes at the 90-ton Mingun Bell. At 12 feet tall, the bell is second in size only to the 116-ton Bell of Good Luck in China.
Inle Lake3 nights - hotel info
Experience a life lived on the water at Inle Lake
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery
Experience a life lived on the water at Inle Lake Say goodbye to Mandalay this morning and board a flight to Heho, where you will transfer to the tranquil Inle Lake. Here, local tribes live a self-sufficient existence, thanks to the lake’s plentiful carp population and ingenious floating gardens that suspend crops on bamboo rafts along the surface of the water. Stop for a guided tour of the lakeside town Nyaung Shwe, including a visit to the uniquely wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery. Then, climb aboard a boat to take in the scenery from the water, as fishermen paddle by in the distinctive local style: standing, with one leg wrapped around the oar. Disembark at your hotel for dinner with the group.
Sample the bounty of the lake region cuisine
Phaung Daw U Pagoda
This morning, return by boat to Nyaung Swe, where your Tour Director will guide you through the local market on the hunt for fresh ingredients. The spoils of your search will later be converted into a delicious lunch at a cooking demonstration led by a local chef. After lunch, visit the Phaung Daw U Pagoda, home to five small statues of Buddha lavishly covered in gold leaf, before stopping in the silk-weaving village of Inn Paw Khone. Here, local weavers create traditional longyi and other garments from the fibrous strands of the lotus root. Continue on to a cigar factory where local women hand-roll cheroot cigars flavored with honey or tamarind. End the day with a visit to nearby hillside villages before returning to your hotel.
Practice your bargaining skills at the rotating market
Set sail by long-tail boat to visit the five-day market, a nomadic shopping experience that rotates around the lake on a five-day schedule, allowing all of the surrounding tribes easy access at different times in the week. Items available for purchase include coconut candies, brightly colored spices and, of course, heaps of fish fresh from the lake. Today’s exploration continues on to the Inn Dein Pagoda complex, a staggering collection of vibrant gold stupas, and a floating farm where you’ll learn how local farmers create the buoyant fields that feed the local population. The afternoon is yours to explore the lake region on your own, before hitting the water again for an included canoe ride.
Bid farewell to Inle Lake and jump back into the urban bustle
Transfer to Heho for your flight back to Yangon. This afternoon, take some time to rest in your dayroom, or use your last Kyat and now-expert bargaining tactics to secure some souvenirs— you’ll find locally produced lacquerware and jewelry at Scott Market. Tonight, join your group at a local restaurant for a farewell dinner before a Go Ahead representative escorts you to the airport for your flight home. If you’re joining the tour extension to Laos, you’ll spend the night in Yangon.
Extend Your Stay
Add Laos $1,499*
This oft-forgotten corner of Southeast Asia is fast becoming one of the world’s most sought-after destinations. While the country boasts peaceful, untouched environments and centuries-old traditions, it’s the amazingly relaxed style of life that really creates an incredible travel experience for all.
Luang Prabang3 nights
Discover the laidback lifestyle of the Lao
This morning fly to Luang Prabang, a city tucked beneath temple-topped hillsides. The city itself is a tapestry of traditional wooden houses with touches of French colonial architecture that hint at the city’s Indochine past. After checking in to your hotel, join the group for dinner at a local restaurant. Tonight, experience the Night Market, where local villagers showcase their handicrafts—and the easygoing Laotian attitude keeps the browsing low-pressure.
Venture up the river toward ancient villages
This morning, visit Wat Xieng Thong, the Temple of the Golden City, located where the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers join. From there, board a riverboat for a trip up the Mekong toward the Pak Ou caves, where hundreds of Buddha statues overlook the water. Stop at the village of Ban Xanghai to sample locally produced rice wine before returning to Luang Prabang for an included lunch. This afternoon, visit the impressive That Makmo stupa at Vat Visoun before scaling Phou Sii hill for panoramic views of the city. Transfer to the village of Ban Phanom, where residents rely on ancient weaving techniques to create patterns that have been worn for centuries. This evening is your own to experience Luang Prabang as you wish.
Awake before dawn to witness an ancient tradition
This morning, rise before the sun to experience the Tak Bat, the Buddhist monks’ morning rounds. See the brightly robed monks silently file down the street collecting food and alms. Residents line up before the monks arrive, ready with bowls of sticky rice to offer the enormous monastic population that slowly passes. After breakfast, learn more about Laotian culture and history at the National Museum at Haw Kham, a former royal palace. Escape the city this afternoon for free time at the Kuang Si waterfalls. The large falls feature multi-leveled pools and offer a picturesque setting for a lunchtime picnic.
Slow down in the sleepy capital city
Spend a free morning in Luang Prabang before boarding an afternoon flight to Vientiane, the sleepy Laotian capital on the banks of the Mekong River. While it’s gradually modernizing, this slow-paced city still has a more small-town feel than other Southeast Asian hubs. After checking in to your hotel, join the group for a welcome drink.
Explore the city of victory and struggle
Get to know Vientiane with a full day of sightseeing around the city. Visit Wat Sisaket, the town’s oldest temple that was built in 1818 and today houses hundreds of Buddha images. Explore the historic Haw Phra Kaew, the former royal palace and see the Patousay, the victory gate inspired by Paris’ Arc de Triomphe. Learn about local charitable initiatives at COPE, a non-profit that provides services for survivors of land mine explosions and related accidents. After an included lunch, stroll through the Xieng Khuan Buddha Park, a whimsical collection of statues depicting Buddhist and Hindu deities. Then visit the Friendship Bridge, which connects Vientiane with the city of Nong Khai in Thailand, before observing a local weaver at the Carol Cassidy Gallery & Weaver Workshop.
Say goodbye to the Jewel of the Mekong
This morning, fly to Bangkok. Relax in a dayroom to reflect on your Southeast Asian adventure, or continue your exploration through the city’s numerous golden temples and famous floating marketplaces. Then, a Go Ahead Representative escorts you to the airport for your return flight home.
Passport & Visa Requirements
In order to enter Myanmar and Laos, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the reentry date. Additionally, U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in order to enter Myanmar and Laos. The visa for entry into Myanmar must be secured in advance, while you have the option to obtain a Laotian visa upon arrival. You may choose to obtain your individual visas in advance by applying directly to each country’s consulate or by using a visa provider, such as our partner company, VisaCentral. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Clothing and Packing Tips
To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. Bear in mind that the climate of the countries on your tour has warm, humid weather. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).
There are no major health risks associated with traveling to Myanmar and Laos. However, some of the diseases known to exist in Myanmar and Laos include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, malaria and rabies. Be sure to check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and overseas travel requirements.
The cuisine of Myanmar reflects the country’s multicultural influences, blending flavors from China, India and Thailand. Seafood dishes are popular in coastal towns as well as inland areas, where freshwater fish and shrimp feature heavily on most menus alongside traditional beef and pork options. Popular dishes include rice, noodles and curries—and due to the region’s various religious dietary restrictions, most dishes can be prepared vegetarian upon request. Ngapi, a versatile paste made from fermented fish or shrimp, is present at most meals as a soup base, salad dressing or condiment. Laotian cuisine is strongly influenced by the neighboring northern Thailand, with sticky rice served with everything from spicy meat and vegetables to papaya salad.
Round-trip flights arrive in Bangkok and depart from Yangon (or round-trip through Bangkok on the extension). Included transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. On the extension, there are internal flights from Yangon to Luang Prabang, from Luang Prabang to Vientiane and from Vientiane to Bangkok.
The electrical current for Myanmar and Laos is 220–240 volts. Most sockets take two-prong round pins. It’s recommended to bring a universal adaptor and to use a power surge device if using a laptop computer.
Myanmar is 6.5 hours ahead of Greenwich meantime, and 11.5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard time. When it’s 9 a.m. in New York, it’s 8:30 p.m. the same day in Myanmar. Laos is seven hours ahead of Greenwich meantime, and 12 hours ahead of Eastern Standard time. When it’s 9 a.m. in New York, it’s 9 p.m. the same day in Laos.
The official unit of currency in Myanmar is the kyat (K). In Myanmar, most credit cards are accepted, and most shops accept U.S. dollars (USD). The official unit of currency in Laos is the Lao kip. ATMs are not widely available, so we recommend withdrawing money at the airport or in central Yangon. We advise that you take a combination of bank/ATM cards, USD and credit cards. We also suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.