Our trip begins in Yangon, the historic capitol and our gateway into Myanmar. After meeting our guide in the afternoon, we transfer to the heart of the city to explore on foot. Downtown is an eclectic mix of modern high-rises, old colonial architecture and golden Buddhist pagodas. As we stroll the lively streets, our guide recounts Myanmar?s vibrant history. Weave in and out of the local street markets experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of this energetic city. We?ll enjoy dinner at a modern Burmese tea house. Dinner included.
Walking: 2?3 hours
Our ride begins in Dala, but first we wheel our bikes onto a local ferry for the 10-minute crossing of the Yangon River. In Dala, we hop on our bikes to explore the neighborhoods and streets before loading into small boats bound for Kanaungron River Island. This car-free island is the perfect place for a picturesque, carefree bike ride. We navigate past green rice paddy fields, authentic small villages, and lily-filled ponds. Wandering water buffalo, chickens and goats are interesting distractions. At every turn, spirited children run to greet us with smiling faces and high fives. We return to Yangon by boat and eat lunch, then the afternoon is free to relax. At sunset, we visit the illustrious Shwedagon Pagoda to watch its gilded edges glow in the early twilight. We continue on to Chinatown's night market for a lively dinner. All meals included.
Biking: 2 hours, 15 miles; Terrain: Flat paved roads and paved and dirt pathways.
An early morning flight takes us to Bagan, the "Angkor Wat of Myanmar" and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of Buddhist temples and pagodas punctuate the vast plains, randomly interlaced between toddy palms and bamboo houses. We spend the morning cycling through the countryside learning about the history and meaning of the many Buddhas, paintings and carvings. We enjoy a picnic lunch at the base of a temple ruin.
The afternoon is ours to relax before an incredible evening sundowner. In the late afternoon we board a private boat and ride to a nearby sandbank on the Ayeyarwady River. Enjoy cocktails and snacks as we watch a spectacular sunset over the mountains. Dinner at a local restaurant. All meals included.
Internal flight: 1.25 hours; Biking: 3 hours, 15?20 miles; Terrain: mostly flat on paved, gravel and dirt roads.
For the early risers, there is an optional sunrise, hot air balloon ride (additional cost). This morning we journey an hour outside of Bagan. Here we visit the hardy communities living in the shadow of Rakhine Mountain Range, an arid, expansive land. We visit with curious children, engage with a skillful pottery maker, or watch an experienced shoemaker making wooden shoes by hand. Their kindness, resourcefulness and craftsmanship is as inspiring as it is informative.
Lunch is at an open-air restaurant back in Bagan. The afternoon is free to explore New Bagan?s dynamic market or relax by the swimming pool. At dusk, we hop back on our bikes to visit a secret temple spot to witness another magical Myanmar sunset. Breakfast and lunch included.
Walking: 1?2 hours of casual village walking; Biking: 30 minutes, 5 miles on paved and dirt roads.
We bid farewell to the central plains of Bagan and take a short flight to Heho, located in the hills of the Shan Highlands in eastern Myanmar. From Heho we drive approximately two hours to an intimate elephant sanctuary. This sanctuary is dedicated to providing sustainable care for retired working Asian elephants and educating local and foreign visitors. After a delicious Nepal-inspired lunch, our knowledgeable elephant guide will teach us about these majestic pachyderms. We learn how to safely feed them by hand and may even jump in the river to bathe them! We?ll also plant trees to support the sanctuary?s ongoing reforestation project.
Back at our hotel, explore a nearby natural cave or simply relax before dinner in Kalaw. Dinner at a quaint Burmese restaurant. Overnight in Kalaw. All meals included.
Internal flight: 1 hour; Walking: 1 hour.
Our trail departs from a small village outside of Kalaw. The landscape before us presents green, rolling hills and enticing, sprawling valleys. Dotting the countryside are countless perfectly shaped crabapple trees, offering a view that will keep us entranced. We pass through rural Danu and Pa O communities and fields of ginger, wheat, chilis, cabbages and sesame. Lunch is served at a local home.
The trails we hike were made by local farmers and villagers to connect them to their land and other villages. Daily life carries on during our hike as farmers work in the fields tending to crops and livestock. Our day ends at Pattu Bauk, a small Shan village, where we spend the night. We?ll rest our legs while sipping a cold beverage on the patio, taking in the bucolic atmosphere. All meals included.
Hiking: 3 hours, 5 miles; Terrain: gently rolling hills; Transfer: 45 minutes.
Note: Accommodations are basic on this night. Guests share one or two sleeping rooms in a longhouse made of bamboo. Blankets, foam mattresses, and mosquito netting provided. Bathrooms are shared and include squat toilets and bucket showers. There is limited electricity and running water.
We bid farewell to our gracious village stay hosts and continue our hike to Inle Lake. The views continue to delight as we hike with the mountains and valleys stretched out before us in the hazy distance. Again passing through fields of ginger, mustard and buckwheat, we?ll see villages flanked with bamboo houses and thatched roofs. The locals continue to greet us with waves and curious looks. We stop at a small town for a home-cooked lunch before boarding a private motorboat to our hotel on Inle Lake. Picturesque Inle Lake is Myanmar?s second largest freshwater lake, notable for its floating villages and leg-rower fisherman. Celebrate our trekking success with a beautiful sunset boat ride on the lake. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 4 hours, 6 miles over gently rolling hills; Boat transfer: 1 hour.
Changing gears today, we start with a morning bike ride on the west bank of Inle Lake. Our ride takes us on elevated pathways through abundant fields of rice, past Buddhist monasteries, and quaint villages. We visit with local farmers, learn how to make rice crackers, or try our hand at cigar rolling.
We leave our bikes behind and boat to a family-run restaurant on the water. For lunch, we?ll enjoy local curries, fresh vegetables and Shan-style noodles prepared by our delightful hosts. After lunch, we slip into our kayaks to see the charming, floating world of Inle Lake up close. Narrow waterways are lined with stilted teak and bamboo houses that lead to the famous "floating gardens." Rows of handmade vegetation rafts grow tomatoes, squash and other fruits and vegetables. Return to overnight at our hotel. All meals included.
Biking: 10?15 miles, Terrain: flat terrain on paved and dirt pathways. Kayaking: 2 hours, protected waters.
This morning we explore the backroads of Inle Lake by foot. Starting with a short boat ride to Maing Thauk, we?ll keep our eyes open for the renowned leg-rower fisherman at work. We walk through town but quickly head off-the-beaten path to a more rural setting. We visit several Pa O villages today. The Pa O people are the second largest ethnic group in the Shan State, known for their farming and trading skills. Along our journey through fields of sugar cane, corn and thyme, we may take a dip in a swimming hole, enjoy a hidden natural hot spring, or watch molasses making. Lunch is at an open-air restaurant with picture-perfect views of the lake and surrounding scenery.
After lunch, souvenir shop in Nyaung Shwe, relax by the pool, or kayak the lake?s shore. Tonight we celebrate an amazing journey at a winery with sweeping views. All meals included
Hiking: 2 hours, 5 miles; Terrain: mostly flat, dirt trails with some hills.
After breakfast we drive to Heho airport to board our morning flight to Yangon where our adventure ends. Those with afternoon departures, will be transferred to the international terminal.
Internal flight: 1 hour.