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With just one departure, this year’s Beautiful Burma group tour just may be our most exclusive yet! We’ve pulled out all the stops to make this our best, most meticulously researched and carefully thought-out trip to date, and though we say so ourselves – it’s going to be a doozy.
What makes Beautiful Burma so great? Well, we’ll let you decide for yourselves…
U Bein Bridge
The longest and oldest teakwood bridge in the world, U Bein Bridge lies just outside of Mandalay – and it’s one of the very best places in Burma to watch the world go by. Visit at sunrise to see it at its best.
You’ve probably seen pictures of the famous temple-studded landscape of Bagan, but have you heard of the white stupas of Sagaing? Dotted across a hill just outside Mandalay, these whitewashed monasteries and temples – most of which are still in use – are the remnants of another long-forgotten capital city.
Mandalay’s arts & crafts
As the last royal capital of Burma, Mandalay was once the country’s cultural heart, and home to the artisans and craftsmen that provided the royal court with all its beautiful trappings. Though the days of the monarchy are long gone, Mandalay is still the best place to see and buy traditional crafts: from its jade markets to its gold-leaf workshops and kalaga tapestries.
Hot air ballooning over Bagan
The temples of Bagan need little introduction. The two-thousand-plus red-brick stupas that stand scattered across the landscape are all that’s left of the once-great Pagan Kingdom, which ruled a newly unified Burma hundreds of years ago. It’s one of the most awe-inspiring landscapes in all of Southeast Asia, and on Beautiful Burma you’ll have the chance to take it all in from above – in a hot air balloon!
Cruise on the Irrawaddy
As if a hot air balloon ride were not enough, our Beautiful Burma tour also gives you the chance to float down the Irrawaddy River on a cruise from Mandalay to Bagan, drifting past countryside scenery and villages as you make your way to the Burmese heartland.
Perched at the top of a volcanic rock formation overlooking the plains, Mount Popa is one of Burma’s most surreal destinations. Climb the 777 steps to the stop to visit its crowning temple: the most important place in the country for indigenous nat worship. (Read more here).
If you’ve always dreamed of meeting an elephant, this is your perfect chance. At the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp in Kalaw you’ll have the chance to meet, feed, bathe and learn about the world’s biggest mammals – all in an animal-friendly setting that gives retired working elephants a happy retirement.
Hiking in Kalaw
Kalaw isn’t just about elephants, and during your stay in the hills you’ll head out on a guided hike through the surrounding forest, learning about the local flora and fauna as you get out into the wilderness.
Often billed as Burma’s most beautiful destination, Inle Lake lives up to its hype – with stilt villages, floating farms, leg-rowing fishermen and a distinctive Intha culture that’s quite unlike anything else you’ll encounter in Burma. This is the ideal place to take the pace down a notch or two and enjoy the (boat) ride!
One of the great things about Inle Lake is that it’s huge – and that means there’s always a quiet, hidden corner waiting to be explored. Sagar is just one such place – its 108 “sunken” stupas spend part of each year submerged in water, and you’ll often find you have them all to yourselves. Don’t tell anyone, will you?
Yangon circle train
The best way to get a feel for Burma’s former capital city is to jump on the “circle train” and take a ride out into the suburbs. Your tour leader will take you on a hop-on, hop-off journey through Yangon’s most interesting districts, taking you well beyond the tourist trail to get to know the daily life of the city.
Burma’s most famous religious monument really has to be seen to be believed. Colossally tall and brilliantly gold, it’s best visited as dusk falls and Yangonites begin gathering to pay their respects, mingle and socialise.
Trip style: Small Group Tour (maximum 14 passengers)
Trip length: 13 nights
Destinations visited: Mandalay, Bagan, Mount Popa, Kalaw, Inle Lake, Yangon
Great for: Combining Burma’s top destinations with little-known gems
Are you interested in our Beautiful Burma tour? We have limited places and one exclusive departure this year, so get in touch as soon as you can to secure a place. The tour leaves on the 5th of November 2017. Click here to find out more.
Photos: Alistair & Lesley Greenhill; Oriental Ballooning; InsideAsia staff