Day 1: Yangon in Arrival with sightseeing
On arrival at Yangon, our guide and driver will welcome you and transfer you to the hotel for check-in. After check-in, start sightseeing in the Yangon downtown area where we will explore, on foot, a wide range of beautiful old colonial buildings. Continue on to visit Yangon City Hall which is centrally located in downtown Yangon and considered a fine example of Burmese architecture, featuring traditional roofs. City Hall is next to several important landmarks such as Sule Pagoda which is part of the city’s economy and public life, Maha Bandula Park which is a public park, the High Court, and the Main Post Office. Enjoy lunch at an authentic Myanmar cuisine restaurant and then proceed to the Wardan Jetty where we will explore Bogyoke Aung San Market with its 2,000 sprawling shops selling clothes, gemstones, jewelry, Myanmar traditional arts & crafts and all kinds of souvenirs. Note that the market is closed on Mondays and on all Public Holidays. Keep an eye on the interesting life on and around the river. We also visit Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda which is home to a 72 metre long reclining Buddha image which is one of the largest in Myanmar. Our day will end at Shwedagon Pagoda which is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar and is surrounded by an array of temples, shrines and pavilions. Afterwards transfer back to the hotel.
Day 2: Yangon to Mawlamyine for sightseeing
Early in the morning we will have breakfast at the hotel. After that, our driver will pick us up from the hotel and drive to Mawlamyine which will take about 6 hours. On the way we will visit a small Karen village which is situated on Mount Zwekabin and then we will have lunch. On arrival in Mawlamyine, we will do sightseeing in and around the town for the rest of the day. Visit the local Zegyi Market, Mawlamyine’s oldest and most important market. We then drive to the small town of Mudon which will take one hour. On the way to Mudon we will pass by fertile lands which are famous for the rubber plantations and a variety of seasonal fruits. We then proceed to the Mon State National Museum (if open) where we will learn about the Mon Tribes’ traditional musical instruments, clothes, and ancient Mon language scripts. If time permits, we continue to the Kyaithanlan Pagoda which is the tallest pagoda in the city. There is a good connection from there to Mahamuni Pagoda which looks similar to the Mahamuni Bronze Buddha image in Mandalay though it is smaller. We proceed to the nearby monastery which is named after its founder, Seidon Mibaya Kyaung, where we will see the brilliant wood carvings which are well over 100 years old. All these are religious buildings and situated on a mountain range. We then return to Mawlamyine to overnight at our hotel.
Day 3: Mawlamyine sightseeing
After having breakfast at the Mawlamyine hotel, we drive south to Win Sein Tow Ya, the largest reclining Buddha in the world. At a whopping 30 metre high and 180 metre in length it is located opposite of the Buddhist shrine of Kyauktalon Taung and can be seen for miles even though it is still under construction. We then will stop at Thanbyuzayat which is a town in Mon State in south-eastern Myanmar. We will visit the site of a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Over 3,000 Allied servicemen who worked on building the railway are buried here in the Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery. We continue our drive to Kyaikami which is a small town along the sea in Mon State where we visit the Kyaikhami (Yeilé) Pagoda which is on a small island surrounded by the sea in all directions. In the afternoon, we will return to Mawlamyine and continue to visit Mawlamyine’s small museum (if open) and the local market where we will leisurely take photos of the many old colonial-style houses, a mosque and churches. We then continue to a nearby viewpoint to enjoy the beautiful sunset views over the harbor and will return by crossing the river. We again overnight at the hotel in Mawlamyine.
Day 4: Mawlamyine to Hpa-An
After having breakfast, we start the day with sightseeing of Kyaikthanlan Pagoda which overlooks the city. There is a good connection from here to Mahamuni Buddha image which looks similar to Mahamuni Buddha image in Mandalay, but is smaller. We then proceed to the nearby monastery which is named after its founder, Seidon Mibaya Kyaung, where we will see the excellent wood carvings which are over 100 years old. All these religious buildings are situated on the mountain range. We then drive to the viewpoint where we wil enjoy the views of the small islands which are in the Than Lwin river delta. Afterwards we proceed to the Mawlamyine-Hpa-An ferry jetty to take a boat ride to Hpa-An on the Than Lwin river. The Than Lwin river is the second largest and it is known for having clear blue-green colored water. While we are taking the boat ride for five to six hours, we will enjoy the scenery along the river banks and the charm of Than Lwin river. Once we arrive in Hpa-An, we transfer to our hotel for overnight. Please note that if the ferry boat is not available on our departure day to Hpa-An, a car will be arranged for the journey. If we drive, we will visit Kadoe Village where we will learn about the colorful little figures which explain the Buddhist stories and we will see the beautiful teak wood carvings on the teak plants.
Day 5: Hpa-An to Golden Rock
After having breakfast, we start the day by the visiting Mount Zwekabin where we can see a small Karen village. We go up the mountain top which will take about one hour to enjoy the panoramic view. We then visit Kyauk Ka Lak Mountain Monastery where we can take postcard beautiful photos. We also visit Lumbini Park with its 1,000 Buddha images at the base of Mount Zwekabin. We then explore Kawgun Cave which is a natural limestone cave. Inside the cave are thousands of Buddha images of various sizes and shapes in ancient styles, carved out of stone. In the afternoon we continue our drive to Kyaik Hto which is the junction town to go up the amazing Golden Rock. On the way, we will visit the Bayin Nyi Cave where you can see the beautiful surface and a pagoda which is a relatively modern structure. The cave is quite impressive and is well set-up for tourists. We proceed to Kinpun base camp from where we take an interesting converted truck uphill and then a short walk to the summit of Kyaiktiyo where we will find the Golden Rock. The rock is famous for its precarious, and very delicate, balancing on the edge of another rock. It is the third most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar. Note that while riding up the mountain on the back of the converted truck is an exhilarating experience, it can be a rough ride and possibly crowded with pilgrims and tourists, it may not be such a pleasant experience to some of us. Should you prefer to take a more comfortable private truck, please ask your guide to arrange this at an additional cost. From the upper area where the truck comes to a stand, the final stage to the Golden Rock at the summit is a pleasant 45 minutes walk past small shops selling food and drinks. If you prefer an easier alternative to walking up, you can request to be carried like a king in a “sedan chair” by four porters, at an extra cost. On arrival at the top, check-in at the hotel and then take a short walk to the Golden Rock. Enjoy the wonder of this amazing Golden Rock while witnessing the rituals performed by the Buddhist pilgrims. The views from here are stunning! We stay overnight at our hotel at the summit.
Day 6: Golden Rock to Bago sightseeing and proceed to Yangon
We can first enjoy the beautiful sunrise before enjoying our breakfast and then go down the hill to Kinpun base camp from where we proceed to Bago. The drive from Kinpun to Bago takes about three hours. Upon arrival at Bago, we will visit Kya Khat Wai Monastery which is one of the three largest monasteries in the country which is a great example of the Buddhist monastic life of Myanmar. We will also visit the Shwemawdaw Pagoda which is similar to the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon but is taller and visible from all over Bago. We will have lunch at a local restaurant and then continue to the 55-metre long reclining Shwethalayaung Buddha, and the Kalyani Sima (“Hall of Ordination”) where we will see ten large tablets with Pali and Mon inscriptions and rows of tented arches around the outside. We also visit Kyaik Pun Pagoda which is notable for its four giant seated Buddha statues sitting back-to-back facing into the four opposite directions. On the way returning to Yangon we will stop at the Taukkyan War Cemetery, the resting place of the Allied soldiers from the British Commonwealth who died in the battles in Burma during the Second World War. We will arrive back in Yangon during the late afternoon and have dinner and stay overnight our hotel in Yangon.
Day 7: Yangon Departure
After having breakfast at the hotel, we transfer by car to the airport for the departure flight.