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Myanmar Art and Culture

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Su Shwe Yee Aung @ Skylar

Myanmar Diaries

Your trusted Myanmar travel specialist who warmly welcome to create memorable trips for you

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Myanmar Art and Culture

Explore art and culture in Myanmar. In Yangon You will visit the famous Pansondan Gallery in Yangon, which is a good introduction to your tour as its collection includes Traditional, Realism, Surrealism and Classic Paintings by celebrated Myanmar artists. You will explore the mesmerizing temple plain of Bagan, take a lunch at a nunnery in Sagaing and see the beauty of Inle Lake.

DAY 1

ARRIVAL YANGON

Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! The former capital Yangon, also known as Rangoon, remains Myanmar largest city and continues to be the country's the most important commercial hub and gateway for most of its international visitors. Its colonial background and religious legacy make it one of the most mesmerizing and genuine places in all of Southeast Asia. Upon arrival at the airport you will be warmly welcomed and transferred to you hotel for check in. (Note: check in time at most hotels is 14.00; early check-in is subject to availability) Indulge in High Tea at The Strand Hotel. Built in 1901, this British-era hotel became the centre of expat life during the 1900s and the High Tea has become a Yangon institution. Situated on the edge of the Yangon River, the classical hotel is a nice retreat from the heat and buzz of the city. Relax in the casual yet elegant café while enjoying a full service High Tea of either Burmese or Western treats. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Yangon. Read more

YANGON, 3 NIGHTS
DAY 2

YANGON

This particular art tour is centered on traditional and contemporary Myanmar fine arts and rich collection of antiques in the country. Through this day’s outing you will gain a much deeper insight and understanding into the regional arts and culture scene. Begin downtown at Pansodan Gallery, a small but impressive gallery hidden downtown. Pansodan is a good introduction to your tour as its collection includes Traditional, Realism, Surrealism and Classic Paintings by celebrated Myanmar artists. Then head to New Zero Art Space, a not-for-profit gallery that nurtures emerging artists and also provides opportunities to meet with and study under international artists. From here we head to River Gallery which features works by 20-30 artists, established and emerging, at any given time. Approaching midday we head up to the ‘Golden Valley’ neighborhood where you will have lunch at the House of Memories Restaurant, an ‘antique’ colonial manor set in a gorgeous garden. This structure was once used as the headquarters for the Burmese army; the building itself is full of the memories left there from the people who helped Myanmar gain its independence. Meander all throughout the place and gander at the historic miscellany on exhibit together with a room named after General Aung San, which was his office and still contains some of his personal items such as his typewriter. Having now seen a taste of colonial-era past of the city we head to an antique shop where the knowledgeable owner will explain the history of various items ranging from old Buddhist scripts to British advertising signs. Nearby are a myriad of shops with piles of items through which you need to hunt to find treasures. On your way back to your hotel stop at Augustine’s Antiques which has one of the largest selections of antiques and antique furniture in all of Myanmar. (Note: Galleries do not open until 10 at the earliest and hours can change based on exhibits. Thus program may need to be re-arranged to suit) If you wish so and the time allows, make a stop on the way back at Patrick Roberts’ residence, a French designer, worldwide famous. (Note: subject to availability and approval of the owner) Pay a visit to Gitameit Music Center, a non-profit community center offering music classes and organizing concerts performed by local artists or students. (Note: Gitameit Music Center is open from 8:30am to 9pm) OPTION: ART COCKTAIL HOUR In the early evening transfer to Yangon’s premier art gallery for a cocktail reception with local artists. Mingle with the artists who will discuss their works and how they have been inspired by personal upbringing, political events, travels and outside influences. Varying in their background and style, this evening gathering of artisans is a reflection of the contemporary art scene in Myanmar and the gallery serves as a unique backdrop for a cocktail party. Lunch at House of Memories and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Yangon. Read more

YANGON
DAY 3

YANGON

You’ll be taken downtown and start your tour on Mahanbandola Road where the Immanuel Baptist Church, originally built in 1830, is located. Continue east passing a couple of alleyways crammed with food stalls and markets. Turn right onto Pansodan Street with its many stalls selling second-hand and photocopied books. You’ll pass the High Court Building, the grand Inland Water Transport offices and even grander Myanma Port Authority building until you’ll reach Strand Road. Your next stop will be outside of the majestic Strand Hotel and walk along Strand Road until you’ll see the Customs House and the Law Court, an impressive-looking colonnaded building. Turn north onto boisterous Bank Street and up onto Sule Pagoda Road, where you can consult one of the many fortune tellers who hang out under the trees. Be sure to make a photo stop at Sule Pagoda, downtown’s symbol whose construction dates back to over 2,000 years ago and have a glimpse of Independence Monument and Mahabandoola Garden. After a complete rotation seeing the twice rebuilt City Hall continue west down Mahanbandoola Road through the chaotic Indian and Chinese quarters. Explore the gold shops of Shwe Bontha Street and have a look from outside at the Moseh Yeshua Synagogue on 26th street. You’ll reach Theingyi Zei market, where you can engage in a little pickled-snake hunting. Exit onto Anawratha Road until you reach the Sri Kali temple, Yangon’s most colourful Hindu temples. On the way, you will make a stop at Yangon Heritage Trust office, a local NGO working on preserving Yangon’s rich heritage and architectural buildings. OPTION: YANGON HERITAGE WALK WITH LOCAL EXPERT On this half-day excursion you will discover the stories behind Yangon's historic buildings and the efforts being made to preserve the rich architectural heritage of the city. A local expert will accompany you on the walk, explaining in detail the significance of each edifice and the efforts being made to maintain it. This tour is sure to not only open your eyes to some of the most impressive buildings but also provide a deeper understanding of Yangon's rich past. No Myanmar expedition can be considered truly great if it’s lacking a visit to the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Ready for an amazing experience? The visual delights present there alone, are worth the trip. The best time to visit Shwedagon Pagoda is at sunset when its gilded stupa is bathed in the fading rays of the sun and takes on a magical glow. No Myanmar expedition can be considered truly great if it’s lacking a visit this legendary site. Ascend the eastern stairway to find a row of shops at the base of the temple selling various religious items. Here you will find monks robes, alms bowls, offerings, incense and other unique Buddhist objects. As your browse the stalls your guide will explain the use and rituals of Myanmar’s Buddhist people. Then reach the platform which forms the base of the majestic temple. As the sun begins to dip low in the sky, witness the colors transform on the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. Shwedagon is largely considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese; most visitors report that the trip is extremely memorable and still etched into their minds Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Yangon. Read more

YANGON
DAY 4

YANGON - BAGAN

Early in the morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your domestic flight to Bagan. Welcome to Bagan, known to be one of the greatest architectural sites in Asia. When Bagan was the centre of Myanmar from the 11th to 13th centuries the monarchs built multitudes of massive stupas and pagodas, scores of which are still present on the shores of the Irrawaddy River. The majesty of Bagan with more than 4000 red brick temples is one of the highlights of a Myanmar holiday that will soothe the eye of every traveller. Discover the best of Bagan today! Not simply a chance to see the splendid Bagan temples, this excursion also introduces you to the Burmese culture, allows you to see traditional craftsmen at work and takes you up the mighty Irrawaddy River to a decidedly unusual ‘cave’ temple! Your fist port of call is an elevated location with its panoramic views of the Bagan plains. This viewpoint will give you a taste of the sheer number of temples as well as some of their distinctive styles. From here you will have a look around the Ananda Temple – one of the most exalted of Bagan’s temples. We will ensure that our tour reaches this point before the majority of tourist arrive, enabling you to enjoy the splendor of the temple in relative tranquility. Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of architectural styles in the area as well as the artistic wonder of the 9-14th centuries. Traveling amid the temples you will get a taste of rural Bagan life in this ‘living museum’ setting where farmers and families work amongst the monuments. After a short siesta back at your hotel, you will board a private river boat and set off upriver towards KyaukGu U Min. Throughout your Irrawaddy river cruise you will be treated to fabulous scenes of life on and by the water: fishermen, ferry boats, riverside villages and views of the Bagan temples. There will be a stop at a riverside village to allow you go ashore for a short stroll and observe the lives of the river’s residents. The friendly people work as farmers and fishermen, living a simple but happy life. After returning aboard the cruise continues to KyaukGu U Min on the eastern side of the river from where it is only a five to ten minute walk to the temple. Inside the cave there are several small recessed alcoves which are ideal for meditation. Legend has it that the cave was built during the 13th century for the locals to hide from the invading Mongols. After your exploration of KyaukGu U Min, you’ll return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around 1 hour). Transfer back to your hotel. Lunch on own account. Dinner at a local restaurant with puppet show. Overnight stay in Bagan. Read more

BAGAN, 2 NIGHTS
DAY 5

BAGAN

OPTION: HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE OVER BAGAN The morning will start off with an exciting hot-air balloon ride above the Bagan countryside. You will observe one-of-a-kind views when the sun begins to rise over the Irrawaddy River and various stupas in the region. You’re simply not going to find many other opportunities like this on Earth. (Only available from October/November through March) After breakfast it’s off to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market, where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily. From here you will have a look around the Old Bagan starting with a visit of the renowned Shwezigon Pagoda, constructed by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious memorial. Travel over dusty lanes and tree shaded roads past temples and monasteries to temples and monasteries to a small village. Explore the village on foot, getting a glimpse of local lifestyles of Bagan’s residents. Continue to more lesser-known monuments, selected based on your interest, in the area for the remainder of the morning. If you wish, a short walk can be arranged through a series of smaller monuments which allows for a unique perspective of Bagan. OPTION: COOKING CLASS WITH A LOCAL AT HOME You’re invited to a local home to join for Myanmar traditional cooking experience. Meet the friendly host who awaits in the humble kitchen while preparing array of ingredients for today’s cooking. The host will briefly explain her market finds of the day, and if you’re in luck, some seasonal vegetables native to Bagan region will be on the menu. While the host storms up the kitchen, you will find some time to share cooking methods, stories and some laughs. After approximate 1:30 or 2 hours of cooking, it’s time to enjoy the meal together in the home garden. Explore the authentic taste of each dish and big consumption is a Myanmar way to show your appreciation to the host. (Note: please notify in advance if you avoid any particular kind of meat or vegetable.) From here you will journey on by horse cart for an excursion that passes Thatbyinnyu, the tallest temple in Bagan, gigantic Dhammayangyi Temple noted for its remarkable brickwork, and of course, Sulamani Temple. Take pleasure in an extraordinary sunset from the upper terrace of one of the surrounding temples. Lunch and dinner on your own account. Overnight stay in Bagan. Read more

BAGAN
DAY 6

BAGAN - MANDALAY

After breakfast start to drive to Mandalay about 4,5 hours. Welcome to Mandalay! Mandalay, the second largest city of Myanmar and one of the ancient royal capitals is often perceived and described in literature as Asia at its most traditional, timeless and alluring but those who go meet a booming and vibrant city located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. However, despite the energy and thriving business it's where the cultural heart of Myanmar lies and tradition of music, dance and drama are still alive. Upon arrival in you’ll be transferred (1 hour) to Mandalay city and check in at your hotel. Directly south of Mandalay Hill stands the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. Admire the huge Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. It’s said that the colossal marble block took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transport it from the riverside to its current location. Proceed to Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Then it’s off to the Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. This impressive structure is celebrated for its remarkable woodcarvings. Your Mandalay guided tour continues this afternoon with a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda houses one of the country’s most honored Buddha images, completely covered in gold leaves that are every day applied to the statue by male devotees. There are also many craft workshops in Mandalay and, should you wish, we can stop for a visit to one making gold leaf, tapestries, wood carvings or marionettes if you are interested and if time allows. Late in the afternoon, go to the top of Mandalay Hill overlooking the city at 240 meters high that offers a wonderful panoramic view of the surroundings. From here you will be able to admire a beautiful sunset over the city, the Irrawaddy River and the rural surroundings of Mandalay. OPTION: MYANMAR TRADITIONAL MARIONNETE PERFORMANCE Transfer to the Mandalay Marionette Theatre in the evening and settle in at this small theatre for the 20.30 performance. Over the next hour, you will be treated to various aspects of Myanmar traditional theatre commencing with local music and dance and then followed by a selection of marionette shows. Each mini skit tells a tale or legend of the local culture and the skilled puppeteers make this ‘come to life’ with their life like movements of the marionettes. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Mandalay Read more

MANDALAY, 2 NIGHTS
DAY 7

MANDALAY-SAGAING-AMARAPURA

After breakfast the day will begin with an expedition to investigate the previous capitals of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing. Cross the bridge over the Irrawaddy River in to Sagaing. With 600 ivory colored pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is generally seen as the spiritual hub of Myanmar and claims residence to around 3,000 monks and nearly 100 meditation shrines. You’ll visit pagodas such as Swan OoPonNya Shin, U Min ThoneSae and Shwe Taung Oo Maw. Continue to Sagaings local market, a less visited tourist site. We’ll head over to a small pottery village which is recognized for manufacturing ubiquitous water pots to observe the tradesmen here applying their traditional methods for producing their goods. Next you will visit a nunnery to see and to know a little closer everyday life and the way of life of nuns in Myanmar. Firstly, you will shop a few biscuits shampoo, candles, juice, toothbrushes and tooth paste at the market of Sagaing and donate to the monastery and nuns. To thank them, the nuns will prepare a delicious lunch in their small kitchen. NOTES: • Clients need to be respectful in dress, manner and volume while at the nunnery. Please keep your voice down. • No alcohol. No smoking inside the nunnery grounds. Next it’s on to Ava which was the standing capital from the 14th through the 18th centuries. Cross the small river by ferry and travel in a traditional horse and carriage to the wooden Bagaya Monastery renowned for its extraordinarily elaborate woodcarvings. Be sure to check out the Nanmyint Watch Tower - also called “the leaning tower of Ava“ - which is what’s left from the remnants of the ancient palace and MahaAungmyeBonzan Monastery. The afternoon’s activities will kick off with a visit to Amarapura, Myanmar’s penultimate royal capital. Amarapura means “City of Immortality”, though its period as capital was relatively brief. First you’ll stop at a silk weaving workshop known for their exquisite merchandise. Continue to Mahagandayon monastery, home to more than a thousand young monks and renowned as a centre for monastic study and strict religious discipline. Once the sun starts to set, you’ll want to stroll along the legendary U Bein Bridge, which was built in 1782 when Amarapura was the Royal center of attention. It spans 1.2 km across the shallow Taungthaman Lake and is said to be the longest teakwood bridge worldwide. Enjoy this very special atmosphere as the late afternoon sun casts long shadows and illuminates the local people heading home. As a stunning day comes to an end head back to Mandalay for the night. Lunch at a nunnery and dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Mandalay. Read more

MANDALAY
DAY 8

MANDALAY-HEHO-INLE LAKE

Transfer to Mandalay airport and flight to Heho. From Heho, you will experience a lovely scenic one-hour drive (32km – 1 hour) which leads to Nyaung Shwe, gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, you will have an opportunity to visit rural workshops that specialize in traditional Shan paper and unique handcrafted umbrellas. Also, be sure to stop in at the teak monastery of Shweyanpyay to witness the intricate wood carving artwork and craftsmanship of the monks there. Upon reaching the edge of the lake, you will board a private motorboat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular and breathtaking sights. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes, to which scenic hills provide the perfect backdrop. Along the way you will pass several villages that are built on stilts over the lake, which are inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their ‘floating gardens’, which are built up from strips of water hyacinth, earth and anchored to the bottom of the lake with bamboo poles. You will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses loads of early Shan Buddha Images. In the past this temple was known for its ‘jumping cats’ but these days there are only a few felines roaming around and none are jumping any more. Yet the Buddha images are still worth the visit. Proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven, which contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. There are also many traditional crafts originating on Inle Lake and, should you wish, we can stop for a visit to one making incredible woven items from lotus silk, boat builders (depending on the time of year), a cigar making workshop, blacksmiths or even silver smiths. The tour will come to a close with a return trip by boat to your hotel. Lunch and dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Nyaung Shwe or on Inle Lake. Read more

INLE LAKE, 3 NIGHTS
DAY 9

INLE LAKE-INDEIN

After breakfast you’ll pay a visit to the lake’s morning market (the market is open every day apart from dark moon and full moon calendar days). The market’s location rotates between the lake’s villages in a 5 day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants as well as the surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. A 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending to the top of a hill. Once you’ve arrived at the summit, you will be greeted buy an iconic Buddha image which sits enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. Here, from the peak, you will also be rewarded with mesmerizing views of the placid surroundings. The Indein Pagoda complex is undoubtedly one of the most amazing sites around the shore of the lake and it consists of hundreds of small stupas which are overrun by moss and greenery. On your boat ride back, should time allow, you'll stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake's indigenous people and enjoy a delicious coffee and cake (snack break not included). Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Nyaung Shwe or on Inle Lake. Read more

INLE LAKE
DAY 10

INLE LAKE-SAGAR

Set off this morning for your lakeside hotel for Sagar, the far southern region of Inle Lake. Very few tourists make the trip down to this region yet it is one of the most beautiful places in the Shan State with the mountains forming a backdrop for the small villages and fishermen on the water. The area was only recently opened to tourists in 2003. The boat journey takes 2.5-3 hours but is full of fabulous views and home to many unique species of birds, both indigenous and migratory. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride! Upon arriving in Sagar area there are several stops that will be made (the order will depend on the time, other tourist boats and activity in the villages) The main highlight for many travellers are the 'sunken' stupas of Sagar- 108 stupas from the 16-17th centuries that are partially underwater for a few months a year. There is also a local monastery and village that can be visited here. Continue to the village of Thaya Gone, home to Pa-Oh, Shan and Inthar people and known for its production of local rice wine. Watch the process of distillation and then sample some of the local brew if you wish. In Thaya Gone there is also the chance to climb to the top of a small hill which there are great views of the lake and surrounding villages. Another stop will be made in Sae Khaung Pottery Village to see the crafting of oil and water pots as well as the natural, underground kilns used by the villagers. On the western shores of the Sagar area is Tar Kaung, a series of more than 200 stupas which also make a fabulous photo stop. Around 2.30 the boat will begin its journey back to the main section of Inle Lake. Travelling back in the afternoon the light has shifted and the route looks much different on the return, with different activities occurring on the water and in the villages. Rice noodles can be seen drying in the sun, spun cotton is hung out to dry and kids are returning from school at this time of day. You'll reach your hotel early this evening in time to freshen up and watch the sunset. Note: Sagar has a distinctive dry and rainy season which can affect the suggested itinerary. From approximately June to September, the rain can be heavy and thus the pottery workshops are closed. As well, at this time, thick vegetation on the water can cause blockages in the narrow passages leading to the village preventing boats from reaching all villages. When the water levels drop there may also be some places mentioned that are inaccessible. Should any of these occur, visits to alternate villages in the area will be substituted. Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Nyaung Shwe or on Inle Lake. Read more

INLE LAKE
DAY 11

INLE LAKE-HEHO-YANGON

Breakfast will be served at your hotel then you will be transferred to the Heho Airport (1 hour) for your flight back to Yangon. Upon arrival in Yangon, transfer to your hotel and check in for some relaxation. (Note: check in time at most hotels is 14.00; early check-in is subject to availability) The rest of the day is at free and leisure to do as you pleased (car and guide at disposal for the transfer only). Lunch and Dinner on own account. Overnight stay in Yangon. Read more

YANGON, 1 NIGHT
DAY 12

DEPARTURE YANGON

Unfortunately, it is already time to say goodbye to one of the most impressive and enchanting country in the world. Depending on your flight schedule, you can go on your own at Bogyoke Market, better known under the name of "Scott Market" to stroll through the stalls filled with handicrafts and do your last minute shopping (the market is closed on Monday and during the holidays). Transfer to Yangon International Airport, check-in for flight back. Read more

YANGON

ACCOMMODATIONS

Day in trip
Location
Hotel
Day 1
Location YANGON
Day 4
Location BAGAN
Day 6
Location MANDALAY
Day 8
Location INLE LAKE
Day 11
Location YANGON

TRIP PACKAGE

Package includes

  • Accommodation on shared twin room basis with daily breakfast
  • Meals as mentioned in the program (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D= Dinner)
  • Activities and sightseeing as mentioned in the program
  • Local English speaking station guides (different guides in each destination – one guide per town)
  • Ground transportation with air conditioned vehicle (where available) with drivers on touring days
  • Entrance fees for visits mentioned in the program (except camera fees)
  • Boat tour to Kyauk Gu U Minh in Bagan
  • Horse cart in Bagan
  • Private motorized boat on Inle Lake
  • Drinking water and refreshing towels on touring days

Package excludes

  • International airfare
  • Domestic airfares (please refer to the airfare table)
  • Visa fee for Myanmar
  • Tour options (quoted separately)
  • Transfer for dinners if meals are not included in the itinerary.
  • Drinks during meals
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses (souvenirs, laundry etc.)
  • Peak season surcharges (Myanmar Water Festival, Christmas, New Year, etc.)
  • Christmas and New Year compulsory dinner supplement (TBA at time of booking)
  • Early check in and late check-out from hotel
  • Tips for guides, driver and other suppliers
  • Any other services/items not mentioned in inclusions

REVIEWS

4 Reviews

Rand Morimoto , United States

We LOVED this trip, the communications from Su throughout the planning process and through the details was VERY helpful, the hotels exceeded our expectations, the mix of pagodas along with Cooking Class, Elephants, Electric Bikes, lunch on the boat, etc and all of the guides (particularly Lin Lin in Yangon) made the trip the best ever! We are very pleased, thank you!!! Su was awesome, he helped put together the right mix of activities, great locales, and was extremely responsive to even our last minute questions, was exactly what we needed! Read more

Amanda Herrald, Australia

Was really impressed how nothing was too much trouble. Communication was excellent Rate Su very highly. Extremely helpful and flexible. Any questions or changes were no trouble

Liz Siddons , Canada

I had the most fantastic trip! I saw everything I wanted to see and lots that I didn't know I wanted to see. Everything went smoothly. Hotels and guides and drivers were all great. Travel arrangements all worked well with no delays. Very pleased with all aspects of my trip. Su was great with organising my trip. Always very prompt with replies and planned a trip that suited me perfectly. Read more

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