View of Bagan plains

Hidden Trails of Myanmar

Trip code
HTM001

If you’re the sort of traveller who loves uncharted territory where tourists are few and far between, discover the Hidden Trails of Myanmar.

Bookended by classic sights, we’ve focussed this itinerary on Shan and Kayah States, stunning rural regions of pine forests and rice paddies. Here you’ll meet several ethnic minority groups to get a sense of customs and traditions unchanged for centuries. Hankering after a different kind of adventure? Tell us your ideas and we’ll create a one-of-a-kind trip just for you.

Pricing

Price based on 3* accommodation
From
$2,600
pp
Price based on 4* accommodation
From
$3,100
pp

Key facts

15 nights/16 days
Discover Myanmar’s history and culture on guided tours of Mandalay, Salay and Yangon, a boat trip to Mingun
Get active in the countryside. Hike to Painnebin village, cycle from Kalaw to Pindaya, visit the villages on Inle Lake by canoe and tackle a two-day trek to Hti Ne village
Learn about the animist rituals and traditions of ethnic minority groups in Loikaw
Cook up a storm in a hands-on cooking class
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DAY 1-2 MANDALAY DAY 3 BAGAN DAY 7 PINDAYA DAY 11-13 LOIKAW DAY 14-16 YANGON DAY 8-10 INLE LAKE DAY 4-5 SALAY DAY 6 KALAW
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DAY 1-2 MANDALAY DAY 3 BAGAN DAY 7 PINDAYA DAY 11-13 LOIKAW DAY 14-16 YANGON DAY 8-10 INLE LAKE DAY 4-5 SALAY DAY 6 KALAW

Three short domestic flights, six journeys by private car with a guide (including one longer transfer of five hours), a four-hour bike ride.

What's great

Getting miles from the tourist trail gives you the chance to experience a completely different way of life, where international visitors are few and far between

You’ll get lots of outdoor adventure amid Myanmar’s epic rural landscapes and stunning scenery

This trip is rich in stories too; you'll leave with a deep insight into the culture and traditions of several ethnic minority groups

Things to consider

You’ll need to be in good shape to handle the outdoor activities. Let us know if you’d prefer to swap in something less strenuous

Some activities are weather dependent

In most areas, only moderate grade accommodation is available

Tourism is in its infancy in rural Myanmar, so things don’t always go quite to plan. This is all part of the adventure; expect the unexpected!

The experience

The itinerary below is just a suggestion. We can tailor your Myanmar trip any which way, so let us know what takes your fancy and we’ll put together a bespoke holiday just as you like it.

Day 1-2

Mandalay

Wherever you wander in Myanmar, you’ll find Buddhist pagodas and monasteries. But don’t worry, we won’t let you get temple burnout; there’s just a few notable monuments on this itinerary to set the scene. First up, is a trip on the meandering Irrawaddy River to the riverside village of Mingun, where evocative pagodas are hewn from white marble and terracotta rock. Later, in Mandalay, your guide will introduce you to the Golden Palace Monastery, and Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to 729 stone tablets, aka the world’s oldest book. Theravada Buddhism is the beating heart of Myanmar, and a little understanding of its significance is sure to enhance the rest of your trip.

Mandalay architecture

Highlights

Putter up the wide Irrawaddy River to the riverside pagodas of Mingun

Get the inside track on a guided tour of Mandalay’s finest temples

At the top of Mandalay Hill, chat to monks who come here to practice their English

Banks of the Irrawaddy River

Day 3

Bagan

Next up is Myanmar’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, the archaeological phenomenon that is Bagan. Across a sun-scorched plain, 3,000 ancient stupa spires in gold, white and terracotta reach for the sky. The beauty’s in the full sweep of temples - on a site larger than Manhattan, they stretch as far as the eye can see. Sandwiched between some of the best-preserved monuments and the Irrawaddy River, is Myinkba village. Your guide will take you to meet the families who have crafted Burmese lacquerware by hand for generations.

Road to Bagan pagoda

Highlights

Discover the beauty of Bagan’s temple-strewn landscape

Explore the cottage industry of lacquerware in Myinkba Village

As the day ends, watch the sun sink behind the pagodas

Bagan pagodas

The finer detail

  • Breakfast every day
  • Six lunches: one you'll make yourself during a cookery class at Inle Lake; two during your trek to Hti Ne; one on the way to Loikaw; a Kayah barbecue in Loikaw; picnic lunch whilst exploring Loikaw's villages
  • One dinner: at the Hti Ne homestay
  • Three full-day experiences: one exploring the artisans and animist beliefs of Loikaw; explore the minority villages that surround Loikaw; city tour of Yangon
  • Ten half-day experiences: a boat trip to Mingun; a city tour of Mandalay; an afternoon at the temples of Bagan; a walking tour of Salay; a boat trip to Paday Thar Kyan village; a short trek to Painnebin; cycling from Kalaw to Pindaya; visit a stilted village on Inle Lake by canoe; cookery class at Inle Lake; Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset
  • Overnight trek to the Hti Ne homestay
  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
  • All internal transport & accommodation

Day 1:
Car transfer from Mandalay Airport to Mandalay (1 hour)

Day 3:
Car transfer from Mandalay to Mandalay Airport (1 hour)
Flight from Mandalay to Bagan (30 minutes)

Day 4:
Car transfer from Bagan to Salay (1.5 hours)

Day 6:
Car transfer from Salay to Bagan Airport (1.5 hours)
Flight from Bagan to Heho (30 minutes)
Car transfer from Heho Airport to Kalaw (45 minutes)

Day 7:
Bike from Kalaw to Pindaya (4 hours)

Day 8:
Car transfer from Pindaya to Inle Lake (1.5 hours)

Day 11:
Car transfer from Inle Lake to Loikaw (5 hours)

Day 14:
Flight from Loikaw to Yangon (1 hour)

  • Visas
  • International flights
  • Meals not mentioned
  • Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
  • Tips for guides & porters