Arrive Yangon, Myanmar
Arrive in Yangon, where you are met and transferred to your hotel.
Yangon | Queen of the East
Today, enjoy your first taste of Myanmar, a profoundly Buddhist country, where many ancient traditions still flourish. Visit Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott Market) to see where locals gather, socialize and shop. After lunch, see the Reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, a 213-foot-long statue with an expressive enamel face. This evening, transfer to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in Myanmar, for a sunset oil-lamp lighting ceremony. Standing nearly 330 feet tall, the venerated stupa is covered in gold leaf and topped by a finial encrusted with thousands of precious gems. View this mesmerizing wonder firsthand, as your local guide explains the history behind the holy relics it enshrines, which include strands of hair from the head of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. Tonight, gather for a special welcome dinner.
Bagan | Temples & Pagodas
Fly to Bagan, a city with more than 2,000 Buddhist pagodas and temples, the first of which was built by King Anawrahta in 1044. Upon arrival, you are taken to a local restaurant for lunch before continuing to your hotel. After a short rest, visit a local lacquerware workshop. This evening, enjoy a Scenic Sundowner from a special viewing platform overlooking Bagan’s temple-dotted landscape.
Bagan | Young Novitiates & Timeless Temples
This morning, witness a shinbyu (novitiation ceremony), a coming-of-age ritual celebrating an aspiring young monk’s first entry to the monastery. Enjoy privileged access to this time-honored tradition and the village festivities. Visit the well-preserved Ananda Temple, built in 1090. Next, travel to the village of Wetkyi-In to see the wonderful Kubyaukgyi Temple, renowned for its ancient murals. Board luxurious all-balcony ‘Sanctuary Ananda,’ your home for a three-night cruise on the timeless Irrawaddy River.
Cruising the Irrawaddy | A Hot Air Balloon Ride
Rise early for an exhilarating hot air balloon ride (weather permitting) over Bagan, as dawn illuminates the gold- and sand-colored stupas. After breakfast on board, explore Nyaung Oo Market and observe locals selling and bartering for goods. Return to the ship for lunch, and listen to a special onboard talk about Myanmar’s history and vision for the future, followed by demonstrations of the longyi (traditional Burmese cloth worn by men and women) and thanakha (a white cosmetic paste made from ground bark).
Cruising the Irrawaddy | U Bein Bridge
Today, learn the secrets of Burmese cuisine during a cooking demonstration at a delightful Chef ’s Table experience. After lunch, disembark to visit Sagaing, a former royal city renowned for its monasteries, pagodas and stupas. Proceed to Amarapura, where you embark by boat to view the picturesque U Bein Bridge — the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. Watch locals riding bikes, carrying crops and commuting from work cross this tall, iconic landmark for an insight into everyday life here as well as an ideal sunset photo opportunity.
Mandalay | Icons & Evening Prayers
After breakfast on board, explore a gold-leaf workshop, where the metal is hammered paper-thin and prepared for use in some of Myanmar’s holiest sites. This afternoon, visit the Shwenandaw Monastery and view the more than 700 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist religious texts at Kuthodaw Pagoda, referred to as the biggest book in the world. Later, witness evening prayers at Shwe Kyin Monastery.
Inle Lake | Floating Gardens
Fly to Heho and drive to Nyaung Shwe to visit a Shan paper workshop. Enjoy a firsthand look at the artisans who produce this distinctive paper, using fibers from the mulberry tree, and craft a wide range of items from it, most notably Burmese parasols. This afternoon, board a boat and explore the ingenious floating gardens of Inle Lake. To create these gardens, used for growing fruit and vegetables, fishermen gather together lake plants such as water hyacinths and seagrass and anchor them with bamboo poles embedded in the lake bottom. Layers of mud, ash and more vegetation are then applied to form a farmable surface strong enough to stand upon. Transfer to your lakeside boutique hotel for the evening.
Inle Lake | Design Your Day
This morning, enjoy one of these Design Your Day activities:
Enjoy an Artisan Visit, to see cigar-like cheroots hand made at a local workshop, and tour a weaving factory.
Bicycle Through the Countryside in the company of a local guide, taking in the lush surroundings and local life.
Attend a Cooking Class led by a local chef, for the hands-on opportunity to prepare traditional Burmese dishes.
After lunch, privately witness an Intha boat race with afternoon tea. Marvel at the coordinated effort required by the 20 participants per boat, each using the traditional single-leg rowing technique that local fishermen still employ.
Yangon | Farewell Dinner
Fly to Yangon and transfer to your hotel. Later, savor afternoon tea with a local writer, artist and intellectual who shares her insight into contemporary Burmese culture and politics. Tonight, toast your time in Myanmar at a special farewell dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and depart.
Travel Privately with A&K | This itinerary is available as a private journey, Signature Myanmar & the Irrawaddy. Priced from $6,395.