Boats on the Irrawaddy River at sunset

Kipling's Burma

Trip code
KPB001

“This is Burma, and it is quite unlike any land you know about.” So wrote Rudyard Kipling upon visiting Burma, then part of British India, in 1889.

Whether you revere him as a literary great or revile him as a jingoist, Kipling's works make a fascinating lens through which to discover Myanmar’s colonial past. This itinerary is about juxtaposing Myanmar now with Burma then, exploring history in all its complexity as you follow the “Road to Mandalay”.

Pricing

Price based on 3* accommodation
From
£1,908
pp
Price based on 4* accommodation
From
£2,398
pp
Let us help plan your holiday and make it perfect for you

Key facts

15 days / 14 nights
Explore the history and culture of Myanmar on a wide range of guided experiences, including a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset, city tours in Yangon and Mandalay, excursions to Hpa An, Mawlamyine, and Golden Rock, and guided exploration of the temples of Bagan and the colonial hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin
Relax on a two-night cruise on the Irrawaddy River
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DAY 13-15 MANDALAY DAY 8-9 BAGAN DAY 1-2, 7 YANGON DAY 3-4 MAWLAMYINE DAY 5 HPA-AN DAY 6 GOLDEN ROCK DAY 10-11 IRRAWADDY RIVER DAY 12 PYIN OO LWIN
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DAY 13-15 MANDALAY DAY 8-9 BAGAN DAY 1-2, 7 YANGON DAY 3-4 MAWLAMYINE DAY 5 HPA-AN DAY 6 GOLDEN ROCK DAY 10-11 IRRAWADDY RIVER DAY 12 PYIN OO LWIN

Transport in detail

Most transfers will be by private car, with the exception of one internal flight (from Yangon to Bagan) and a two-night river cruise (from Bagan to Mandalay).

What's great

Following Kipling’s route through Burma means a good balance of classic sights and lesser-known destinations

Packed full of guided experiences, you’ll have have plenty of opportunities to get under the skin of the local culture and make friends with local people

This is a fantastic trip for history buffs, combining some of Myanmar’s most interesting colonial and pre-colonial sites

Things to consider

There’s a strong focus on temple sightseeing on this trip, so you’ll need a good appetite for pagodas!

Cruising on the Irrawaddy is only possible during the high water season, roughly from September to March

There are some long car journeys – something to consider if road tripping isn't your thing

Part of the charm of Myanmar is its relative lack of development, but this does mean limited accommodation choices in rural areas

The experience

We built this trip on destinations from Kipling’s writings, but we can design an itinerary around virtually any theme or interest. All you need to do is bring us your ideas, and we’ll get started.

Day 1-2

Yangon

With the most colonial buildings in Southeast Asia, Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is the perfect place to begin your historical exploration. When Kipling visited, he drank at the Pegu Club and laughed with the locals at Shwedagon Pagoda “because that seemed to be the custom of the country”. Though the Pegu Club is no longer, you’ll approximate the experience as you bar-hop between swanky Governor’s Residences and beautifully restored hotel bars. Meanwhile, at Shwedagon, you’ll find that little has changed: laughing together is still very much the custom. Covering both the Burmese and the British sides of the capital, this is a fantastic introduction to the complexities of modern Myanmar.

Yangon Bell Tower

Highlights

Visit the “golden mystery” that is Shwedagon Pagoda: Kipling’s first glimpse of Rangoon as he steamed up the Irrawaddy River

Go on an architectural walking tour of Yangon, including both British-era relics and monuments to anti-colonial resistance

Go bar-hopping in the Elephant Coach, a restored colonial-era bus

Shwedagon Pagoda

Day 3-4

Mawlamyine

After visiting Rangoon, Kipling headed for Moulmein – present-day Mawlamyine – but you’ll expand on his route as you travel through the towns and villages of the Bago region, once among the wealthiest and most powerful in the country. No longer “a sleepy town, just one house thick, scattered along a lovely stream,” modern Mawlamyine is the fourth-largest city in Myanmar. Nevertheless, you can still visit Old Moulmein Pagoda – from which the author looked out over hillsides “ablaze with pagodas” – and recapture the atmosphere of yesteryear as you explore nearby river islands, where life still moves at a lazy pace beneath “the talking of the breezes in the tops of the toddy palms”.

Bago Pagoda

Highlights

Stop off in Bago (formerly Pegu), the 13th-14th century capital of the Mon Kingdom of Martaban

Visit idyllic Ogre and Shampoo Islands: one named for an age-old insult, the other for a royal hair-washing ceremony

Watch the sunset from Kyaik Than Lan Pagoda, about which Kipling is thought to have written the poem Mandalay

Kyaik Tan Lan Pagoda in Mawlamyine

The finer detail

  • Breakfast every day
  • Two lunches: one at a local home on Ogre Island; one onboard the Irrawaddy cruise
  • Two dinners: both onboard the Irrawaddy cruise
  • Three full-day experiences: city tour of Yangon; tour of Mawlamyine, Shampoo Island & Ogre Island; visit the ancient capitals of Sagaing, Ava & Amarapura
  • Six half-day experiences: tour of Hpa-An & the Kyauk Kalat pagoda; explore Hpa Pu village & mountain; visit the Golden Rock; tour of Bagan temples; tour of Pyin Oo Lwin botanical gardens & town; city tour of Mandalay
  • Two evening experiences: Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset; temples of Bagan for sunset
  • Two-night cruise along the Irrawaddy River with activities
  • All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
  • All internal transport & accommodation

Day 1:
Car transfer from Yangon airport to hotel (30 minutes)

Day 3:
Car transfer from Yangon to Mawlamyine (6 hours + sightseeing stops)

Day 5:
Car transfer from Mawlamyine to Hpa-An (1.5 hours)

Day 6:
Car transfer from Hpa-An to Kyaiktiyo (2 hours)
Ascend to the Golden Rock by truck & cable car (30 minutes)

Day 7:
Descend from the Golden Rock by cable car & truck (30 minutes)
Car transfer from Kyaiktiyo to Yangon (4 hours)

Day 8:
Car transfer to Yangon airport (30 minutes)
Flight from Yangon to Bagan (1 hour 20 minutes)

Day 10/11:
Cruise along the Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay (2 days)

Day 12:
Car transfer from Mandalay jetty to Pyin Oo Lwin (1.5 hours)

Day 13:
Car transfer from Pyin Oo Lwin to Mandalay (1.5 hours)

Day 15:
Car transfer from city to Mandalay airport (1 hour)

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