Tours

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Myanmar

Tour departs: 28 September 2017
Tour length: 22 Days

Overview

Tour Departs: 28 September 2017.

Tour Length: 22 Days.

Myanmar, previously known as Burma, has intrigued travellers for centuries and after being “off limits” to visitors for many years, the country is taking its first steps towards democracy which will bring rapid change. In the meantime, it still offers the visitor the mystical experience of the Asia of the past. Despite conquerors and austere military rule, it is still the land of Buddha where pious monks are more revered by the gentle locals than any statesmen or international celebrities. Prepare to be dazzled by the ‘’winking wonder” of  Shwedagon Paya, contemplate the 4000 sacred stupas scattered across the plains of Bagan, and enjoy the smiles and the waves from the friendly locals as we explore the interior of the country.

Our tour takes us to the nation’s capital Yangon (Rangoon), on to Inle Lake, a beautiful highland lake on the Shan Plateau before we travel to the historic city of Mandalay in the north. There, we join our river ship for 11 nights cruising through the heart of the country down the Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers. We will visit the small towns and villages which have been remote from the western world and offer a glimpse of a timeless lost Myanmar.

 

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Yangon (Rangoon), the nations capital
  • Inle Lake, on the Shan Plateau
  • Mandalay, the spiritual capital
  • Bagan, perhaps Asia’s greatest archaeological site
  • 11 nights’ river cruising through the interior of Myanmar

 

RIVER CRUISE SHIP “ANAWRAHTA” – A VERY SPECIAL SHIP

There are a number of ships plying the interior waterways of Myanmar but our home for the 11 nights cruising, the “Anawrahta”, is very special and unique. Only launched in 2015, the vessel carries the name of the founder of the Burmese nation, modern-day Myanmar. Built to resemble a British colonial paddle steamer, the “Anawrahta” takes guests back to an era of bygone elegance. Our Deluxe Staterooms, each with its own private balcony, are amongst the largest of any ship cruising the rivers of Myanmar. Enjoy the finest on-board culinary experience as resident chefs introduce guests to the authentic flavours of Burma as well as offering international favourites. Enjoy a cocktail in Kipling’s Bar on the Terrace deck as you watch the world slip by, learn about the history and culture of the country from local experts in the comfort of the colonial club atmosphere of the Mandalay Lounge, participate in a full programme of included shore excursions and when you return to the ship, unwind in the pool or visit the Thazin Spa for a massage. Touring Myanmar is an adventure but why not enjoy it in absolute first class comfort.

 

 

Itinerary

 

Thursday 28 September

HOME – SINGAPORE

Early this afternoon, we join the flight to Singapore. On arrival, we make our way to our hotel located adjacent to the airport, for an overnight stay.



Friday 29 September

SINGAPORE – YANGON (RANGOON) (B, D)

This morning, we return to the airport and join the lunchtime flight to Yangon. On arrival, we are met and welcomed by our local host and transferred to our hotel for a 2 night stay. This evening, we enjoy our first “taste” of Myanmar over dinner at a local restaurant.

 

YANGON / RANGOON

Yangon / Rangoon owes its history to two factors, the Shwe Dagon Pagoda and the River. It only became capital in 1854, following the 2nd Anglo Burmese War when the British made the small port with its important national pilgrimage shrine the administrative capital of their recent acquisition of Lower Burma. The city stands on the Eastern edge of the Delta and is on the Rangoon River, not the Irrawaddy. It was not connected by water to the Irrawaddy proper till the construction of the Twante Canal in the early part of the 20th century.
Rangoon was renamed Yangon or ‘The End of Strife’ after the conquest of Lower Burma by King Alaunghpaya in 1755. The city later became anglicised as ‘Rangoon’. The name has now officially reverted to Yangon. The British laid out the city with its grid plan — the cross-streets being numbered in the American way. The city soon prospered as a glance at the magnificent colonial architecture will tell. Rangoon was a cosmopolitan capital with large Indian and Chinese communities.


Saturday 30 September

YANGON (B, L)

After breakfast, we start our day of sightseeing with a visit to beautiful Kandawgyi Lake, an artificial lake originally built by the British as a reservoir and complimented by lovely gardens. At the Yangon River we see Botataung Pagoda which houses many ancient Buddhist relics and artifacts, before continuing to the downtown district with its many old colonial buildings still in use. The Independence Monument in Mahabandoola Gardens is dedicated to Burma’s independence from Great Britain in 1948. The streets are filled with colourful sidewalk markets selling various items both old and new. If time allows after our downtown ‘walkabout’, we will go to Wahdan jetty on the Yangon River to see the hustle and bustle of local life as goods and people transfer on and off the ships.  We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before seeing the colossal reclining Buddha Chaukhtatkyi, and the National Museum filled with cultural exhibits of Myanmar. We end the day with a visit to the awe inspiring Shwedagon Pagoda, perhaps the most beautiful pagoda complex in all of Asia.

 


Sunday 01 October

YANGON – INLE LAKE (B, D)

This morning, we return to the airport and join the short flight to Heho. On arrival, we drive to the magical lake and cruise to the famous Paung Daw Oo Pagoda, with its five famous Buddha images, four of which are carried in great ceremony around the lake at festival time. Nearby at Inpawkhone Village where the houses sit on stilts, we see traditional silk weaving with hand looms and the processing of lotus blossoms as they are made into beautiful fabric. As time permits this afternoon, we will visit traditional craft workshops for blacksmiths, cheroot (local cigar) rolling, and boat making before continuing our boat ride to Kaylar village. We see the floating gardens up close, then continue to “Ngaphae Chaung Monastery”, an old traditional monastery on the lake. Finally, we retire to our lakeside hotel for a 2night stay. Dinner tonight at a local restaurant. Inle Resort Hotel

INLE LAKE

Inle Lake is located in the heart of the Shan Plateau. It is a beautiful highland lake, 900 meters above sea level, 22km long and 10km across, and inhabited by many different ethnic nationals of the area. The Intha people are the Lake dwellers and are renowned for their leg rowing. Leg rowed traditional boats are the main ceremonial attractions of the Inle Lake.


Monday 02 October

INLE LAKE (B,L)

After breakfast, depending on the location of the morning market – it rotates its location around the lake’s villages in a 5-day cycle – we will visit the market which is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. We then journey by boat up a small river to the village of Indain where small pagodas are half-hidden amongst the undergrowth. We enjoy lunch at a local restaurant there before returning to our hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure.


Tuesday 03 October

INLE LAKE – MANDALAY (B, D)

After breakfast at the hotel it is a short boat ride to our coach which will take us back to Heho Airport where we join the flight to Mandalay. On arrival we are met and transferred into the city, the last royal capital of the Burmese kingdom and a city rich in history and culture. On the way we stop at the ancient royal capital of Amarapura (a capital twice during the Konbaung period), and enjoy a walk on U Bein Bridge which stretches 1.2 kilometres over Lake Taungtaman. Built around 1850, it is the oldest and longest teakwood span in the world. As we stroll in the vicinity of U Bein Bridge we can also see traditional silk and cotton weaving for which Mandalay is noted.

This afternoon, we take a short ferry ride to the small island of Inwa, founded in 1364 and a royal capital for 400 years. There are no cars on the island so we travel by pony cart down tree-lined paths to see old palace walls; a watch tower now called the’ leaning tower of Ava’; the Maha Aungmye Bonzan, which is a beautiful brick-and-stucco monastery; and the elegant teakwood monastery Bagaya Kyaung, one of the few surviving teakwood monasteries in Myanmar and where young monks still study. Later this afternoon, we return to the mainland and our overnight accommodation in the city for the next 2 nights. Sedona Hotel Mandalay

 

 

MANDALAY

Though Rangoon is the modern day capital, Mandalay, or Yadanapura — the ‘City of Gems’, remains the Golden Land’s spiritual capital. To know Mandalay and its pleasant surrounds is to know Burma. Situated in the heart of Upper Burma, the city is at the hub of river routes from China and India and land routes from the Shan massif and Siam beyond. The city throbs with life and trade. This is a city of markets and monasteries and is no touristic backwater. As well as being the economic epicentre of Upper Burma Mandalay is the religious capital of Burma. There are as many living monasteries and pagodas as Pagan has dead ones and the monastic population numbers over 100,000. The present city covers an area of 25 square miles and is rapidly growing.

The British captured Mandalay in 1885 following a campaign for control of the Irrawaddy and on 1st January 1886 the Burmese empire was formally annexed by Lord Randolph Churchill. The royal palace was renamed Fort Dufferin and a new city on a grid plan was laid out to the south-west of the palace-city extending to the river bank and its important port. This plan remains to this day though sadly many of the old colonial buildings have been lost — either in the war, fire or to developers. Glimpses of the old colonial city may still be seen, particularly in the downtown area around the Mahamuni Hpaya-gyi — the city’s principal shrine.


Wednesday 04 October

MINGUN – MANDALAY (B, L)

This morning, we transfer to the jetty and join our boat for the hour’s ride up the Irrawaddy River providing a colourful glimpse of harbour and river life around Mandalay. Our destination is Mingun, the site of what would have been the world’s largest pagoda had not King Bodawpaya died in 1819 thus halting all further work. This unfinished pagoda stands 50 meters high and is a massive and impressive brick structure, partially split by an earthquake in 1838. The 90 ton Mingun Bell was meant to hang on the pagoda and it is the largest intact hanging bell in the world. We return to Mandalay for lunch and continue our sightseeing tour of the city with visits to craft shops to see the skilled workers making gold leaf, ornate tapestry and lovely wood carvings. The Kuthodaw Pagoda complex is also known as the “world largest book” since it contains the entire Buddhist scriptures on 729 marble slabs. The magnificent “golden palace” Shwenandaw Monastery dates back to 1879 and is built with teak from the former royal palace. If time permits, we will visit Mandalay Hill for a view over the city and the river.


Thursday 05 October

COMMENCE 11 NIGHT CRUISE (B,L,D)

IRRAWADDY & CHINDWIN RIVERS

This morning, we transfer to the Mandalay river bank to board our floating home for the next 11 nights, the beautiful river ship “Anawrahta”. After a safety briefing, we set sail and enjoy lunch aboard as we cruise down the Irrawaddy River to its confluence with the Chindwin River. After a few busy days, its time to relax and enjoy the passing scenery. This afternoon, there is a demonstration of Myanmar traditional dress along with an informative lecture on Myanmar culture. Tonight, we get to know our fellow guests over cocktails before dinner.


Friday 06 October

MONYWA (B,L,D)

This morning we enter the Chindwin River and make our way to the busy trading town of Monywa. Join our guide in the Mandalay Lounge for a relaxed instruction class on the Burmese language. This afternoon, we visit some cave-temple complexes outside the city at Pho Win Taung and Shwe Ba Taung. Believed to be around 300 years old these caves contain many sandstone carvings including Buddha images, animals, plants, demons and ogres. There are also many beautiful Konbaung-period murals and paintings. We then sail on into the late-afternoon light as the river narrows, passing small villages amid rolling hills.


Saturday 07 October

MOKTAW (B,L,D)

After a short time cruising upriver, we disembark for a morning visit to the riverside village of Moktaw, typical of many on the river, for a taste of traditional village life. If we are lucky, we may witness a special ceremony at the local monastery. Enjoy the scenery as lunch is served on board. This afternoon, there will be an explanation and demonstration about the ancient habit of betel-chewing. Tasting is optional! Tonight the ship moors near Maukkadaw.


Sunday 08 October

MAUKKADAW & KALAYWA (B,L,D)

We start the day with an early-morning walk through the small village of Maukkadaw. This used to be a busy teak port and you can see the remaining teak enterprises before visiting the local school. Back on board there is another Burmese-for-Beginners language lesson and a Book Review with Burma as it’s subject. During the afternoon there will be another lecture, this time looking at Burmese history and current situation. Before dinner there should be the chance to stretch your legs at our destination for tonight, the riverside port of Kalaywa.



Monday 09 October

KALAYMYO (B,L,D)

This morning we take a beautiful one hour’s drive inland to visit the market at Kalaymyo, the gateway to Chin State and a trade post to India as it is only 80 miles from that border. There will be the opportunity to purchase traditional Chin fabrics and to visit a silk weaving factory. The Chin Hills stand over the town, making a dramatic backdrop on a clear day. We return to the ship in time for lunch on board and continue sailing through a wild landscape of forested gorges and rolling hills. If we have made good time travelling upstream, there should be an opportunity to walk among the colonial houses of Mawleik before sunset.


Tuesday 10 October

MAWLEIK & SITTAUNG (B,L,D)

Once again, we take advantage of the cooler air of morning and visit the Pyarswal Elephant Camp to see these grand animals at work before making a tour around the town of Mawleik. This used to be the Administrative Capital of the region under the British and many of the colonial-era houses built by the Bombay-Burmah Trading Company still remain. Legend has it that they chose Mawleik over the more practically-placed Kaleywa on account of the excellent duck shooting they found here. Key to the development of the area is the subject of this afternoon’s lecture – the 700 ships of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, the greatest river fleet ever assembled in the world. Many of these were scuppered at our next stop, Sittaung, by the retreating British in 1942; rather than leaving them for the advancing Japanese Army.


 

Wednesday 11 October

SITTAUNG & TOUNGDOOT (B,L,D)

Tiny Sittaung, with its 28 houses and 200 or so inhabitants, is the place for this morning’s village walk before we sail on northwards. Join the cruise staff in the Mandalay Lounge and learn how to write your name in beautiful Burmese script before enjoying another delicious buffet lunch. Early this afternoon, we make our second stop for the day at Toungdoot, a remote outpost of the Shan people who are far from their usual lands in the east of Myanmar, near to the border with Thailand. We carry on into the sunset eventually mooring overnight near Kyaing Kyaing.


Thursday 12 October

HOMELIN (B,L,D)

Homelin is the end of the 400 navigable miles of the Chindwin River for us and indeed all ships of any size. Here, we enjoy a morning tour including taking in the view from the high vantage point of the Buddha Lotus Garden. Our guide will take time to explain the significance of the various statues depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha. On our return to the ship, we start our downstream journey and you will appreciate the power of the river as we now sail with the force of the current on our side. During the afternoon we continue the religious theme of the morning with a lecture entitled “Religion in Myanmar”.


Friday 13 October

SAILING (B,L,D)

Today is a chance to simply relax, enjoy the passing scenery and enjoy the facilities on board our beautiful ship. We will sail around 150 miles today, taking us to the area around Mingkin, an outpost of the Konbaung Kings of Burma and home to some outstanding carved-teak monasteries. If we have made good progress, there may be time to visit one of these at the end of the day in a small village called Kanywa.


Saturday 14 October

MINKIN & KANI (B,L,D)

This morning we visit the small village of Gyi-taung-oo where you can discover the only surviving and still operating wooden monastery that pre-dates the Konbaung Dynasty’s foundation in 1752. The name means “Great Sacred Hill” and as you might expect there are some nice views to be had from the monastery over the river and surrounding area. Moving on to Minkin town itself, we continue the monastic theme with a stop at the Maha Min Kyaung Monastery. This was built in 1912 and has an unusual mix of Burmese and European architectural influences including some Italian stained-glass windows. Sailing on through lunch we stop again early in the afternoon to visit the small town of Kani, home to the “Lord of the White Horse”, one of the most famous “Nat Spirits”. These are pre-Buddhist, animist spirits which are still honoured by many Burmese.


Sunday 15 October   

BAGAN (B,L,D)

Enjoy a leisurely morning aboard which includes a lecture on the subject of our final destination – Bagan, the ruined city of King Anawrahta, our namesake. The Bagan Period is one of the finest in Burmese history as the newly-unified country converted to Buddhism and set to work in a frenzy of pagoda-building. We arrive in time to give you an orientation tour which includes the magnificent Ananda Temple and the pretty Sulamani Pagoda. We finish at one of the ‘sunset’ pagodas to watch the breathtaking vista of the sun setting over the temple-strewn plain. Tonight the ship moors at Bagan.

 

BAGAN

Some 200 km southwest of Mandalay and 600 km north of Yangon, Bagan is to Myanmar what Angkor is to Cambodia, Ayuthia is to Thailand and Borobudur is to Indonesia — the most magnificent architectural flourish of an ancient people. Sprawling away from the banks of the Irrawaddy River, more than 2,200 temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins grace more than a 42 square kilometers. Some date back to the 9th and 12th Centuries, and all contribute to what National Geographic hails as “one of Southeast Asia’s greatest archaeological heritage sites.”


Monday 16 October

BAGAN (B,L)

An early morning tour takes us to the bustling Nyaung-U market and the revered Shwezigon Pagoda. Then we will make a visit to one of the famous lacquer-ware shops where the fascinating production techniques of this ancient craft will be explained before returning to the ship.

Sadly, late this morning, the cruise comes to and it is time to disembark from our ship. We transfer to our hotel for an overnight stay. Bagan Lodge.


Tuesday 17 October

BAGAN – YANGON  (B,D)

After breakfast, we return to the Irrawaddy River for an enjoyable 30-minute boat ride to Kyun Thiri Island in the middle of the river. Here we visit this typical farming village, interacting with the villagers and observing their way of life. We also visit a monastery where we are served local tea and snacks. We return to Bagan by boat in time for a lunch break after which we join our flight from Bagan to Yangon where we are met and transferred to our hotel for our final night in Myanmar. This evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner together. Sedona Hotel Yangon


Wednesday 18 October

YANGON – SINGAPORE – HOME (B)

This morning, we start our homeward journey as we are transferred to Yangon Airport in time to report for the flight to Singapore. On arrival, we transfer to our final homeward flight.


Thursday 19 October

ARRIVE HOME

Arrival time is mid-morning.

 

myanmarMap

 

Prices

Tour Costs

Per Person Sharing Twin or Double Room/Cabin: $ 16,500
Per Person Supplement for Single Room/Cabin: $ 3,980

Cost Include
  • Economy class air travel from the tours international departure point
  • Upgrade to Business Class available at additional cost.
  • Prepaid government and airport taxes, security and fuel surcharges (as at 01/09/2016).
  • First Class accommodation throughout.
  • Deluxe Balcony Staterooms on board “Anawrahta”
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary.
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees as indicated in the itinerary.
  • English speaking local hosts and guides in each country.
  • Baggage handling of one suitcase per person.
  • Tips to local guides and coach drivers.
  • Fully escorted by a Maher Tours Leader.

Costs Exclude
  • Any meals and sightseeing not specifically mentioned in the itinerary.
  • Travel insurance – advice and assistance offered.
  • Visa fees – advice and assistance offered.
  • Items of a personal nature such as room service, laundry, drinks, telephone charges etc.
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By Phone: 0800 500 518 | By Email: info@mahertours.co.nz