The first time we tried to make a trip to Myanmar was not as easy as we thought and various thoughts came out of our mind were hardly acceptable because we did not have a precise idea where we should go in Myanmar. So, we used the internet for collecting the information about travel to Myanmar. We just found one program that was very suitable for us and perfects matched with our imagination. It is “9 Days Myanmar Classic Tour” by Pro Niti Travel. So I directly contacted to them and started planning our trip to Myanmar. The reason is that the proposition of the places to visit is more suited to the type of trip that we wanted to do.
One week before our trip, we checked with our agency by Email to secure all the arrangements of our trip have been set up or not. At the same time, we were preparing to pack all of the things that may be of need of trip.
Yangon arrival and explore marvelous Yangon
As soon as getting off our plane, the smell that came from Golden Land was giving us some refreshment for the upcoming days in Myanmar and welcoming us to the Land of glittering Pagodas. The guide and the driver waited for us and greeted with Myanmar charming smile. We were taken by the car to our hotel, and it took about 1 hour. We took some minutes to check-in and stayed for a while at the hotel. Then we set out our trip to Botahtaung Pagoda. It stands on the east bank of Yangon River, and a sacred hair relic of Buddha had been keeping in the glass case to display inside the pagoda. And we went to the enjoyable Art Gallery at Strand Hotel. It is a definite must-see place for lovers of art, and all beautiful galleries are displayed covering a diverse range of topics, it is small though. We got some inside tips from local artists. Then we walked through the streets to downtown and saw the colonial buildings reminding us of the British era. All several significant land marks such as Yangon city hall featuring traditional roofs, Sule Pagoda, High court and the central post office were attracting us for unstoppable shooting photos. Afterward, the thing we just wrote down in our note book is that hundreds of late 19th century structures are remaining in the downtown area. Then we were driven to BogyokeAung San Market. In my opinion, it is a great place offering souvenirs, clothes, and pieces of art.
So we enjoyed to wander around and got some cheap and quality gifts. Then we went to the Myanmar local restaurant named “Padonmar Restaurant.” It is an excellent restaurant and has very nice seating facilities in the lush green lawn, and food served was also very nice. At the restaurant, we spent for one hour and discussed with our guide for next sightseeing places. After lunch, the weather was getting hot, and so we went at ChaukHtetKyi reclining Buddha image. We think it is one of the famous religious symbols in Myanmar and the shrines are great as well. The next destination that attracts us is Kandawgyi Park. It is also a beautiful park in the middle of Yangon where we have seen local people and plenty of restaurants as well. No doubt that it is a hot spot for local couples. We walked around the park and parts of the lake were beautiful, especially on the side of the Shwedagon Pagoda. So we couldn’t help to take the photos of the Golden Boat in the lake and the scenic view of Shwedagon Pagoda from afar. We were already at Shwedagon Pagoda. Sure, a visit to the Union of Myanmar won’t complete without a visit to Grand Shwedagon Pagoda. We think it is one of the most sacred places in all Myanmar and it is pretty spectacular to see this huge golden stupa surrounded by hundreds of small golden stupas. Visit Shwedagon Pagoda in the evening will give you the most picturesque experience. Although we spent only one day in Yangon, we liked it because it is a lovely city with a good vibe.
Yangon-Bagan by morning flight and explore ancient Bagan
As Yangon greeted us with full excitements, we were eager and couldn’t wait for the new destination visualizing what they would excite us with different things. Thus, we got up early and were ready to set off from my hotel after breakfast. The driver picked us up on time, and we headed to the airport for Bagan flight. Yangon morning was alive with less traffic, and we easily got to the airport. By one hour and twenty minutes flight, we safely landed in Bagan. A friendly guide was greeting and taken us to a local market in Nyaung U, Manisithu Market. It is a colorful market and crowded with locals in town and nearby villages. We were attracted by its rural culture and amazingly by its seasonal fruits and vegetables, traditional local sweets and products. Each and everything is so strange to us and enthusiastic for the next stop. Our second stop was Shwezigon Pagoda, a golden stupa, and it is a good introductory place to learn Bagan’s rich history. Next, to Wetkyi Inn Gubyaukgyi Temple, the architecture and the unique, exquisite Jataka mural paintings show Indian influence; this cave temple is fascinating but photography inside the temple is prohibited as the flash light would damage the ancient mural paintings. Htilominlo temple is noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations, and we are sure that it will impress you with its marvelous architecture.
Then, we proceeded to Ananda temple famous for its architectural masterpiece which is built in the early Mon-Myanmar style. After that, we took a horse cart, and we felt like traveling in ancient Bagan. Passing through the Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan and we stopped for a while for photo shot to the whole view of famous temples like Dhammayangyi, Shwe San Daw and other small temples nearby. We got some interesting history about the glorious of Bagan kingdom and what attracted us most are the hanging puppets from a big tree near the gate of Dhammayangyi. We took a lot of photos there and bought one of the red puppets as the trip present. Lastly, we ended our day at Shwe San Daw Pagoda by enjoying an unforgettable sunset over the plain. It was a bit touristic but worth the wait and patience.
Exploration of Bagan continues
Today also, we planned to stroll around Bagan for some famous and popular temples.We went to Minnanthu village that is just a village giving us an excellent insight into the life and times of the people around Bagan. The authentic cotton weaving and cheroot making in the village gave us a vivid impression of rural life. Then we set out our way to Bagan temples such as Laymyatnar monastery complex, Phayathon Su, Nandamannya Pahto. All are the temples painted by mural paintings, and while we were visiting there, we felt like our dates back to the 13th Century. We didn’t know how the time has gone and was very hungry at the time of arriving at the restaurant. After lunch, we were driven to the hotel and stayed relaxed for a few hours. We noticed it later that was better for us instead of continuing sightseeing in one day after our trip. After we had reloaded our energy, we started our way again to the village named Myinkabar. We visited Manuha temple located as one of the four large Buddha temples in the village.
We were told the story behind the large Buddhas encased in the small chambers. The stories are as fascinating as the structures themselves. The temple next to it is Nan Paya. We had just a short visit there and took the photos of the stone carvings. All stone carvings are visible from the beginning of the entrance. The nearby temple is GubyaukGyi temple where we saw the remarkable feature of the temple. It is the many arrays of well-preserved frescos found in the temple interior. At the late afternoon, we went to the jetty for a sunset river cruise along the Ayeyarwady River (also known as the Irrawaddy River) and enjoyed a relaxing 90 minutes sunset cruise.It is worth a watch for magical sunset if you are a big fan of sunset. We captured a shot of local life along the shore and of the sun setting beyond the river’s edge. It was a great way to relax after a day of temple viewing.Then we got back to the hotel and spent our time at the hotel by seeing the photos shot today.
If you have some more days, you can visit Mt. Popa and other rural villages exploration. Biking around this ancient Bagan is tremendous and adventurous. Of course, ballooning over Bagan is one of the must-try experience in Myanmar.
Bagan-Mandalay by morning flight and ancient cities exploration
To minimize the time, we took the flight from Bagan to Mandalay. On arrival, the guide and driver were waiting for us. As we arrived at the next city, our thoughts were very fresh to explore what is more in a new destination. We observed more about Buddhism and the daily life of monks and novices at MahargandarYone Monastery. As my guide arranged a private donation for us, we got a chance to donate some fruits for the monks. To Ava (Innwa) we needed to take a public boat. It was so exciting to experience the different local transport. In Innwa, we visited Mae Nu brick monastery and noted its intricate stucco sculptures, the leaning tower of Innwa, a 27-meter-high Masonry watch tower, and Bagaya teak monastery built by massive 267 teak pillars. On the way back to Amarapura, we had a chance to observe the alms bowl workshop. At Sagaing Hill, we visited U Min Thoneze Pagoda and U Ponya Shin Pagoda. We took the photos of a panoramic view of Sagaing, and the two bridges stand aside across the Ayeyarwady River.
Then we headed our way to Amarapura and experienced the enjoyable sunset view at U Bein Bridge. U Bein Bridge is famous of its teak planks over 200 years ago. There, we took a boat in Thaung Ta Man lake as it is a bit crowd on the bridge. The amazing sunset just happened with this old and long teak bridge, and together fishers on boats are fascinating. We did enjoy our evening in the vicinity of Mandalay.
Adventure around the last dynasty of Myanmar, Mandalay
Today, we planned to visit in the Mandalay city. The first place we got to is Maha Muni Pagoda. According to our guide’s explanation, we noted that it is the heart of Mandalay and pilgrimage site of Buddhists. Also, it is famous for its life-like Buddha image and the story. If you are in Mandalay, it is the one that you should not miss. Since Mandalay is a city of arts and culture, visiting traditional art and craft workshops was our target. We headed out to stucco, Aung Nan tapestry workshop, bronze casting statue workshop, hand-made gold-leave workshops and got to know the knowledgeable processes of making them. Then we went to a local Myanmar restaurant for lunch and took a couple of minutes for relaxing. Then, we continued our way to the Royal Palace. We learned more about the last kingdom of Myanmar and the epic history.
The other impressive place is Shwenandaw Kyaung (also known as the Golden monastery). It is famous for its wood carving. After exploration there, we visited Kuthodaw Pagoda where we have seen the world’s biggest book and the inscription of the Buddha teachings on the 729 marble slabs. Then, we climbed up to the top of Mandalay Hill and took the photos of the fascinating sunset of Mandalay with the background of Ayeyawaddy River and Sagaing Hill. After all, we got back to our hotel for relaxation and overnight. Discovery of Mandalay city is so unique. It is a modernized city as well as a city where we can see a mixture of old culture and traditions at the concurrent time. Mandalay is worth to see, and a visit to Myanmar without Mandalay is incomplete.
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Mandalay-Heho by flight and time to enjoy nature and explore the ethnic groups around Inle Lake
We were always quite captured with Myanmar’s best places so far, but we were still energetic for the next stop wondering how it would amaze us. Today, we flew to Heho from Mandalay for about 25 minutes. Upon arrival, the experienced guide waited for us, and we proceeded to Pindaya (about 2-hr drive from the airport). Just as we thought, we were aroused by the beautiful Shan Hill with colorful fields and pine trees. Our first stop was Pindaya Cave. It is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists located on a limestone ridge. The legendary of the cave and big spider sculpture is so interesting that we could imagine beyond the history. Then, we explored to the traditional cottage industry of umbrella making by Shan Paper. We could not hide our curiosity of the manufacturing process as it was not only entertaining but also educational for us.
We had our lunch at a local Danu Restaurant and tasted the traditional Danu cuisine. We did think to carry recipes to home. After lunch, we continued to NyaungShwe (for about 2.30 hr drive). On arrival, we went to our hotel for refreshments. We headed out for a small walk near the hotel. NyaungShwe is like a small Italian village, and there are many restaurants and bars to chill after your long day. Moreover, if you are an art lover, you can stop by at art galleries and explore the masterpiece of the local artists which are somewhat a relaxing expedition. We ended our day at a pub by enjoying European dinner.
Inle Lake and Indein village, nature is lovely
Today, we surely would have the different experience for the discovery to Inle Lake by boating. We visited the floating islands and gardens. We were overwhelmed by the gardening method of Intha ethnic. Then, we proceeded to HeyaYwama Village. It is a village of blacksmith, goldsmith, silversmith, and weaving and we had a chance to learn more about their arts and what made us unforgettable is the hospitality of the locals and hosts. They treated us as a family with various traditional snacks and Intha tea. Our next checkpoint was Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda. It is the main pilgrimage site of Inle Lake. Surrounding of the pagoda and in the basement are shops selling traditional Shan and Intha merchandise.
Next, our curiosities were very high at the traditional fishing style of Inthasbecause it is so unique and rare. It would be better if you have your cameras ready in your hands. Our Lunch was different from the past days because we had a local Intha Cuisines which were delicious and fine for the westerners’ appetite. After lunch, we headed out to the south of Inle Lake and boating to Indein Village through Indein creek, a long narrow canal. Indein is one of the villages that host the Inle 5 day market. There, you can see the Paoh people in black costumes with turbans on heads. Everything was attracting for us and the ancient ShweIndien Pagoda complex where we noticed the arts from the 17th and 18th century.
We had a great time to learn more about a different culture, ways of living, and get exposure with the locals. We couldn’t express how happy and excited while we were exploring around the lake.
Adventure biking around the Lake
Since along the way from Heho airport to Nyaung Shwe yesterday, we noted that the surrounding of Inle Lake is rich in natural elements. And so we decided to do one full day lake sightseeing and biking around the lake the next day. Today, we were ready to bike around Nyaung Shwe after breakfast. Our guide was also ready, and we started biking in NyaungShwe town. Our first visit was Nyaung Shwe Mingalar Market in the middle of town, and we enjoyed it as we experienced the authentic traditional cuisines. Then, we continue to NyaungShwe Haw, a secret Shan Palace of a long time ago. There, we have explained the deeper history of the palace and saw a collection of Thrones; the original costumes were worn by the queen and so on. Afterward, we led our way to the north of Nyaung Shwe by passing through green fields and ponds. We stopped by at the ancient Shwe Yan Pyay monastery. It is the most photo spot monastery of NyaungShwe. The unique oval windows in the old ordination hall create the perfect frame, and you can get good pictures of novices. We spent our time there a lot and even having an interaction with little beginners is the best for us. We biked back to Nyaung Shwe and enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant.
After loaded, biking to the eastern part of the lake by passing through villages and a sugar factory is our way. The green fields and seasonal flowers are so attracting alongside the road. Then we visited Red Mountain Winery (called German Winery). The view up there is fantastic with a background view of Inle Lake in the west. We had wine tasting and enjoyed the beautiful view with the cool breeze. It worth biking up there and sincerely we would like to stay until sunset. But, to catch our evening flight back to Yangon, we returned our way to the hotel. Then we drove to Heho airport for Yangon flight. On arrival at Yangon, we just spent our leisure night at the hotel as it’s been a long day.
Trekking around Kalaw, Pindaya, and Inle Lake are very popular in this area and exploring Paoh trail would be another choice you might do there.
Can’t believe we were in marvelous Myanmar
Today was the last day of our trip, and thus we had already woke up before hotel’s morning call and getting ready and alert for airport transfer. Then we had a breakfast that was our last breakfast in Myanmar. Our driver was willing to fetch us to the airport. Spending 9 days in Myanmar is not enough for us. Honestly, we want to spend more here and interact with the people, experience the different culture of ethics, try different traditional cuisines and lastly, explore the wonders and places of Myanmar. Well, we were about to on board and made a vow to come again to mysterious Myanmar.
So… so…, our trip was perfectly ended. We think all of the places where we explored and the things that we made during in trip made sense for its particular location. Naturally, Myanmar offers many breathtaking temples, Pagodas, small villages, statues, vibrant cities and so on. So, we couldn’t resist recommending to other for their trip to Myanmar after we have experienced this journey with full of impression and anticipation getting to know this lovely country.