Bangkok – Yangon – Bagan – Inle Lake – Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin – Chiang Mai – Bangkok
Combining Thailand and Myanmar on one trip makes sense not only because Bangkok is an ideal jump-off point for visiting Myanmar but also because the histories of these countries are very much intertwined.
For decades, Thailand has been one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. Its friendly people, rich culture, beautiful landscape, colourful customs, decent infrastructure, tasty cuisine and relatively stable political system all contribute to its high ranking as a tourist destination among international visitors. On this remarkable journey of cultural discovery, you will visit Bangkok, the nation’s capital, and Chiang Mai, a strategic city in northern Thailand known for its artistic and cultural heritage.
Much has changed in Myanmar since late 2010 when the country began to take steps towards democracy. If you haven’t been to Myanmar, now is a good time to explore this extraordinary land before its frontier feel disappears.
- Small group (20 maximum).
- Expert local guides.
- Premium accommodations.
- Quality meals.
- No forced shopping stops.
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers included.
- Unlimited supply of bottled water.
- Free Wi-Fi in all hotels.
- Village visits and evening cultural shows.
- In-depth talks by multilingual tour leader on Burmese history, politics and economy (for groups with 10+ guests).
Nights per location:
Bangkok: 2 (first stay)
Inle Lake: 2
Chiang Mai: 3
Bangkok: 1 (2nd stay)
Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner
Scroll down for dates, prices, hotel list and visa requirements.
Day 1/Mon: Departing Home City
The journey begins with your transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.
Day 2/Tue: Arrival in Bangkok
Welcome to Bangkok! Meet your guide on arrival and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Day 3/Wed: Bangkok (B/L/D)
Located in Chao Phraya River delta, Bangkok is the capital and the most populous city of Thailand, with a population of 8 million within the city proper or nearly 13% of the country’s total. The city is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon.
Bangkok traces its roots to a small trading post during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century, which eventually grew in size and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Bangkok was at the heart of Siam’s (as Thailand used to be known) modernization during the later 19th century, as the country faced pressures from the West. The city was the centre stage of Thailand’s political struggles throughout the 20th century, as the country abolished absolute monarchy, adopted constitutional rule and underwent numerous coups and uprisings. The city grew rapidly during the 1960s through the 1980s.
We begin our sightseeing today at the royal Grand Palace. Established in 1782, the palace was dramatically expanded throughout successive reigns. The king and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), resides at Chitralada Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events.
We then proceed to the National Museum, which is the largest museum in Southeast Asia and features exhibits of Thai art and history.
Afternoon sightseeing takes in Wat Arun, a Buddist temple on the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Wat Arun is among the best known of Thailand’s landmarks.
Finally, we go on a long tail boat for an hour-long cruise on picturesque Chao Phraya River and the Klongs (canals) of Thonburi on the west side of the river. There will be chance to observe and photograph the serene family homes and temples along the waterways.
Day 4/Thu: Bangkok – Yangon (B)
Free morning to relax or explore on your own.
Transfer to the airport to board our late afternoon flight to Yangon. Meet the local guide on arrival and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Day 5/Fri: Yangon (B/L/D)
Yangon is the former capital and the largest city of Myanmar. Once known as Rangoon (“end of strife”), it was founded in the 11th century starting as a fishing village and was transformed into a commercial and political hub after it was seized by the British in 1852 during the Second Anglo-Burmese War.
Our walking tour of the historical downtown core this morning takes in Sule Pagoda (entry not planned), Independence Park, the City Hall, photo gallery by Yangon Heritage Trust, Musmeah Yeshua Synagogue (the only synagogue in Myanmar), the Secretariat complex and famous buildings constructed during the British colonial, especially those on Strand Road.
We retreat to the hotel after lunch to avoid intense heat in early afternoon. Later today, just before sunset, we arrive at the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. Situated on a hilltop, the spectacular Buddhist temple thought to be more than 2,500 years old is the city’s most significant landmark.
Day 6/Sat: Yangon (B)
After a stroll along lovely Kandawgyi Lake, we spend the rest of the day exploring Yangon on our own. We recommend the famous Scott Market which is very popular among jewelry and handicraft shoppers.
Day 7/Sun: Yangon – Bagan (B/L)
The early morning flight to Bagan takes 1 hour 20 minutes. Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region. From the 9th to 13th century, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.
The most prominent monuments we will visit in Bagan include Shwesandaw Pagoda and Ananda Temple. We will also learn about the local lacquerware during our visit to a traditional workshop. Viewing the vast forest of spires of temples from above is another highlight of our visit to Bagan.
Day 8/Mon: Bagan (B/D)
We start the day with a stroll through a local market. We then proceed to Shwezigon Pagoda built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century. This is followed by a stop at Khay Min Ga Temple for a panoramic view of the pagodas and temples in the area. We return to the hotel after lunch. Later we drive to Bupaya Pagoda or Mingala Zedi Stupa to watch sunset over the Irrawaddy River. This evening, we enjoy a traditional dinner accompanied by a cultural performance.
Day 9/Tue: Bagan – Inle lake (B/L/D)
After a relaxing morning, we fly to Heho, gateway to the tranquil Inle Lake. The lake is lined with simple villages on stilts and dotted with unique floating gardens tended by farmers in their boats. The state of Shan, where the lake is situated, is known for its traditional papermaking and we can witness this craft during a workshop visit.
Buffet dinner at resort.
Day 10/Wed: Inle Lake (B/L/D)
This morning we explore the Indein Stupa Complex, a stunning forest of 1,000 ancient towering spires. We then get in a small boat to visit one of the lake’s villages perched on stilts. After lunch, we visit a charming silk-weaving village and stop by at one of the village’s floating gardens.
Buffet dinner at resort.
Day 11/Thu: Inle Lake – Mandalay (B/L/D)
Free morning to relax. Fly to Mandalay in late afternoon.
Mandalay is the second largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. Located 716 km north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, the city has a population of 1.3 million and is the economic hub of Upper Burma. During the Second World War, Mandalay suffered massive damages by Japanese air raids. On April 3, 1942, Japanese bombers dropped incendiary bombs on the city, creating a huge firestorm and killing about 2,000 civilians.
After hotel check-in we drive to the top of Mandalay Hill for a panoramic view of the city in sunset.
Day 12/Fri: Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin – Mandalay (B/L)
After breakfast, we embark on a 67km drive to Pyin Oo Lwin. The scenic hill town was once known as Maymyo, named after Colonel James May (later Major General) of the 5th Bengal Infantry stationed there in 1886. The town located at 1,070 metres above sea level was developed during the colonial era and used by the British to escape Rangoon’s summer heat and humidity. Many of the locals in Pyin Oo Lwin still prefer to call their town Maymyo. Although the British have been long gone, the bungalows, villas and public buildings built by them still remain.
We will drive past numerous British buildings and visit one or two of them along the way, but the main reason we come here is the well maintained Kandawgyi Botanic Garden. The National Kandawgyi Garden complex is a 435-acre botanical garden first established in 1915 as the Maymyo Botanical Gardens by Alex Roger, a Forest Officer. The original site was 30 acres and modeled after the Kew Gardens of England with the help of an amateur gardener called Lady Cuffe. On December 1, 1924, the site, with a total area of 240 acres at the time was declared the Government Botanical Reserve. This is also the year when the Burmese Ministry of Forestry designated the Botanical Gardens a “protected forest area”. In the year of 2000, the garden underwent a major renovation. Since then it has been heavily used by the Burmese government to promote ecotourism. The Botanical Gardens has more than 480 species of flowers, shrubs and trees. The $5 admission fee (locals pay less) covers the butterfly museum, the orchid garden and the aviary.
Day 13/Sat: Mandalay (B/L)
Our full-day sightseeing in Mandalay includes Mahamuni Pagoda, Kuthodaw Pagoda complex, a boat cruise on Irrawaddy River that takes us to Mingun Pahtodawgyi ruins, and U Bein Bridge.
Mingun Pahtodawgyi is an incomplete monument stupa in Mingun, approximately 10 kilometers northwest of Mandalay across the Irrawaddy River. The ruins are the remains of a massive construction project begun by King Bodawpaya in 1790 which was intentionally left unfinished on advice from his astrologers. The Pahtodawgyi is seen as the physical manifestations of the well known eccentricities of Bodawpaya, who set up an observation post on an island off Mingun to personally supervise the construction of the temple.
U Bein Bridge is a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura, not far from Mandalay. The 1.2-kilometre bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. Construction began when the capital of Ava Kingdom moved to Amarapura, and the bridge is named after the mayor who had it built.
Day 14/Sun: Mandalay – Chiang Mai (B)
Free morning to explore on your own. We transfer to the airport for late afternoon flight (1hr25min) to Chiang Mai, the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand.
Day 15/Mon: Chiang Mai (B/L)
Nestled in high mountains and 750 kilometres north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is the capital of Chiang Mai Province with a population of over a million in its metropolitan area. The city once served as capital of the Kingdom of Lanna (1296–1768) and is known for its artistic and cultural heritage. Chiang Mail sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River that flows through Bangkok before emptying into the Gulf of Thailand.
After breakfast we drive 50km north of the city centre to visit Maesa Elephant camp. Considered Thailand’s national animal, these giant beasts are an integral component of Chiang Mai’s economy. During the hour-long show, the elephants perform a string of tricks, such as logging wood at the command of their mahouts.
We then proceed to a hillside Hmong village set in a lush national park. Be prepared for lots of walking and stair climbing.
We wrap up the day with a tour of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a Theravada Buddhism temple, which offers sweeping views of Chiang Mai.
Day 16/Tue: Chiang Mai (B)
Our half-day walking tour of the old city begins at the Three Kings Monument and includes Dragon Temple and Wat Lok Molee.
The tour ends around noon. We spend the afternoon exploring the small old town on our own.
Day 17/Wed: Chiang Mai – Bangkok (B)
After breakfast, we spend the morning exploring Chiang Mai on our own. Transfer to the airport for afternoon flight (1 hour 15 minutes) to Bangkok where we stay at Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is connected to the hotel through an air-conditioned corridor. The balance of the day is at leisure. Those departing Bangkok late the next day and wishing to explore Bangkok further may ride the airport express train to downtown, which takes only 20 minutes.
Day 18/Thu: Bangkok – home city (B)
Walk back to the airport terminal to check in for return flight arriving home the same day.
|Bangkok – first stay||2||Sofitel Sukhumvit||luxury|
|Yangon||3||Sule Shangri-La Yangon||luxury|
|Bagan||2||Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort||luxury|
|Inle Lake||2||Novotel Inle Lake||luxury|
|Chiang Mai||3||Le Méridien Chiang Mai||luxury|
|Bangkok – 2nd stay||1||Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport||first class|
Dates and Prices
|Please contact us for other departure dates|
|What the tour price includes:
||What the tour price excludes:
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See Terms & Conditions for more information.
Thailand Tourist Visa
Visa is not required of nationals from Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and a host of other Western countries if the stay is within 30 days. However, you will be required to fill out a declaration form on arrival.
Myanmar Tourist Visa – $50 USD
The country has done much in promoting inbound tourism and along the way the government of Myanmar has made it easy for international visitors to obtain tourist visa. Please go to http://evisa.moip.gov.mm/ to get familiar with the requirements and be sure to apply only within 90 days of your intended arrival. You may pay your visa fee with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express credit card. Please don’t be surprised when you notice that the payment processing is done through a secure website located in Singapore. Visa on arrival is not available at the moment.
It is very important that you carry a clearly printed copy of your Entry Visa Approval Letter as shown on the right.
Health & Immunization
You are not required of any inoculation certificate to enter the above countries. However, we do suggest you visit your family physician or a travel clinic to determine what precautions you should take. We recommend inoculation shots for hepatitis A and suggest that you check out advice provided by the US CDC and Health Canada.
Tap water is not safe to drink. Ask for bottled water when eating in restaurants. When buying bottled water from street vendors, especially at tourist sites, make sure the cap is properly sealed because some vendors may be selling tap water in recycled bottles.
Try to avoid uncooked food. Even the food you eat is clean, you may still experience stomach upsets or diarrhea due to ingredients your stomach is not used to.
Always carry a roll of toilet paper and a bottle of hand sanitizer containing more than 60% of alcohol, no matter where you go. Since you will be asked to remove shoes and socks to enter Buddhist temples in Myanmar and the ground can be very dirty, we recommend that you always carry some wet wipes or towels during your stay in that country. Every time you touch Burmese banknotes you should sanitize your hands right after.
Major credit cards are widely accepted throughout the above countries and can be used for major purchases. U.S. dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Myanmar. Merchants in Thailand generally decline any currency other than their own. The US dollars you bring must be in near mint condition. Banknotes with stain, marking or missing corner would be rejected by local banks and currency dealers.
You do not need to get any Baht or Kyat prior to arrival because you can use a debit card to withdraw local currency from automated teller machines available at airports, hotels and shopping malls. However, you’ll still need to bring a few hundred US dollars for tipping and miscellaneous spending; the US dollar cash also serves as back-up in case your bank card is incompatible with the local ATM.
Available on request.