Travel here is like stepping back in time. Steeped in history, Myanmar has so much to see...
BURMA & TAIWAN (21 Days)
Jan 9-29 2019
Land ONLY $ $7,395 Canadian /person Land tour begins in Taipei, Taiwan & ends in Yangon, Myanmar
AIRFARE: approx: TBA Departing Vancouver BC to Taipei, Taiwan and returning from Yangon, Myanmar including arrival & departure transfers if arriving & departing on our group tour dates.
NOTE: You do NOT have to come to Vancouver to join the tour please contact us for a quote to depart other cities.
BURMA ONLY (17 Days)
Jan 13- 29 2019
LAND ONLY: TBA Canadian /person Land tour starts & ends in Yangon, Burma.
Escorted by Julie Bruce
Limited to 24 Participants
Myanmar. Kipling once wrote of Burma “it will be quite unlike any land you know about.” Myanmar remains virtually untouched by the Western world. Now that a decades-old travel ban has been lifted, the people of this enchanting land are once again welcoming travellers. Our Myanmar tour takes you on a journey from Irrawaddy River villages to Buddhist shrines, with diversions away from the main sites and into the heart of the country to discover the peaceful rhythm of Burmese village life and learn the secrets behind local arts and crafts. At Inle Lake we meander among its pagodas, floating gardens and haunting ruins, witnessing the incredible leg-rowing Inthar fishermen – one of many ‘uniquely Burmese’ things you will see and do on our Myanmar tour. We explore the famed pagodas, monasteries, and markets of bustling Mandalay. In Bagan, we explore the magnificent Plain of Temples, perfectly described by Somerset Maugham as “huge, remote and mysterious.” At Pindaya we explore limestone caves which are home to more than 8,000 Buddha statues.
Taiwan is a large island off the south-east coast of mainland China, first known in the West as Ilha Formosa – “Beautiful Island.” The east coast is dominated by rugged cliffs exposed to the open Pacific Ocean, while the populated west coast faces the Taiwan Strait which separates this island nation from mainland China. Down the middle of the island runs a chain of more than 200 forested mountains soaring over 3,000 metres high. In the mid-17th Century the last emperor of the Ming dynasty fled from mainland China to the island and established his court here.
UPDATED AT: April 6 2017 ( Please note new travel dates)
DAY 1 January 9
We fly from North America overnight to Taipei, arriving early the next morning.
DAY 2 January 10
TAIPEI – KAOHSIUNG (TAIWAN)
Early this morning we arrive in Taipei on the northern tip of Taiwan island and transfer to Taiwan’s second largest city, Kaohsiung, in the southwest. After checking into our hotel, the rest of the afternoon is free.
First of 2 nights in Kaohsiung. Ambassador Hotel. Dinner.
DAY 3 January 11
KENTING NATIONAL PARK
This morning we drive further south to Taiwan’s southern-most tip to explore Kenting National Park. Here the 3 sides of the park are lined by 60 Km of coral reefs, sand dunes, forests and lakes, backed by mountains. We stop at the Oluanpi Lighthouse and the Maopitou Coastal Scenic Area. On our drive back to Kaohsiung we see scenes of typical Taiwanese rural life before taking a tour of the city. Kaohsiung’s harbour, at the mouth of the Love River, is one of the busiest ports in the world. Our city tour includes the red-brick former British Consulate, the Pier 2 Art District and the ultra-modern stadium where Taiwan staged the 2009 World Games. We take the elevator to the 75th floor of the Tuntex Sky Tower for spectacular views over the city, harbour, coast and the South China Sea across to “the other China.
Second of 2 nights in Kaohsiung. Ambassador Hotel . Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 4 January 12
TAINAN, SUN MOON LAKE
This morning we drive north up the west coast to Taiwan’s oldest city, Tainan, where our city tour includes Fort Zeelandia established by the Dutch in 1624 to control trade in the area, and several other Dutch-era castles. When the Ming dynasty in mainland China was overthrown by the Manchus in 1661, the Ming emperor fled to Taiwan where his army defeated the Dutch. Many of the monuments we see this morning are Ming Chinese-style dating from the late 17th Century. We see the remains of the defensive wall that used to surround the city, the Great South Gate, the old streets of the Anping area, the God of War Temple and the Matsu Temple dedicated to Taiwan’s most popular goddess. This afternoon we drive up into the mountains that form the north-to-south spine of Taiwan Island.
Overnight at Sun Moon Lake. Lea Lea Garden Richforest Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 5 January 13
SUN MOON LATE, TAIPEI
This morning we enjoy the area around Taiwan’s largest lake, located at 762 metres above sea level and surrounded by forested mountains. Our tour includes the Holy Monk Shrine, Tse-En Pagoda, Itathao village, the Peacock Garden and the Literature Warrior Temple dedicated to Confucius the Master of the Pen and to Kuan Ti as the Master of the Sword. This afternoon we return to the coast and drive north to Taipei.
First of 2 nights in Taipei. Howard Plaza Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
(Those taking our 17 day Myanmar only tour depart Vancouver today)
DAY 6 January 14
TAIPEI CITY TOUR
Our full day guided tour includes the Martyrs Shrine and the Chang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, dedicated to the founder of the Republic of China. The National Palace Museum is one of the best and largest collections of Chinese art in the world. Many of the star pieces were the highlights of the Forbidden City in Beijing and cover over 5,000 years of Chinese history. Those who feel energetic can join us on our exploration of the Shilin Night Market this evening.
Second of 2 nights in Taipei. Howard Plaza Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner. (Those taking our 17 Day Myanmar only tour fly into Yangon tonight.)
DAY 7 January 15
TAIPEI (TAIWAN), YANGON (MYANMAR)
This morning we fly from Taiwan Myanmar (Burma.) On arrival we transfer to our hotel in Yangon and meet with the members of the group taking our Myanmar only tour. This afternoon we join our guide for sightseeing in the city formerly known as Rangoon. We visit the Sule Pagoda which, at 2,500 years old, is considered the oldest pagoda in the country. This Indian-style pagoda is said to contain a strand of the Buddha’s hair. We also visit the diplomatic area, highlighting some of the rich colonial architecture dating from the British occupation, when the country was known as Burma.
First of 2 nights in Yangon. Traders Hotel Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 8 January 16
YANGON (RANGOON) CITY TOUR
Yangon is the former capital and the biggest city of Myanmar. This city of long, tree-shaded boulevards, famous for its golden pagodas, became the capital of Myanmar in 1885 after the Third Anglo-Burmese War and remained the capital until 2005. This morning we visit the National Museum, a huge collection of Burmese history, art and ethnology, including the famous Lion Throne. This afternoon we visit the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda with its 70-metre-long lying Buddha image. We continue to Kandawgyi Park, one of central Yangon’s greenest spots, to see the glittering Karaweik barge, a replica of the royal barge.
Second of 2 nights in Yangon. Traders Hotel or similar. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 9 January 17
(FLY) YANGON, INLE LAKE
This morning we fly to Heho and enjoy a scenic drive to wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery which features beautiful carvings. At Nyaung Shwe we board a local motor boat to start our exploration of 22-Km-long Inle Lake, which is inhabited by many different tribes. We pass stilted villages, the leg-rowing Intha fishermen and floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud anchored to the lake’s bottom with bamboo poles. We also see Nga Hpe Chaung, also known as ‘Jumping Cat Monastery’ and famous for its collection of antique Buddha statues.
First of 2 nights on Inle Lake. Myanmar Treasure Hotel Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 10 January 18
Today we spend a day on the lake exploring the sites and villages by private boat surrounded by magnificent scenery. After breakfast, we visit the lake’s morning market. The market rotates its location around the lake’s villages in a 5 day rhythm and is visited by lake inhabitants and surrounding hill tribes who come to sell and trade their wares. We continue to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, which houses 5 images of Buddha covered in gold leaf, Nampan village where locals make cigars and boats. We also visit the silk weaving village of Inn Paw Khone to observe the traditional silk weaving techniques of the Innthar people. Inpawkhone is also known for its weaving from the stems of lotus flowers, a time consuming process that results in high quality materials famous throughout the country. In the afternoon, depending on the water level, we travel by boat to the Pa-oh village of In Dein and explore the area on foot, strolling around the village.
Second of 2 nights on Inle Lake. Myanmar Treasure Hotel Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 11 January 19
INLE LAKE, KALAW (ELEPHANT SANCTUARY)
From the lake we travel up into the hills to the beautiful, pine-clad hill station of Kalaw. This is where the former British colonial administrators used to retreat from the summer heat of the plains below. We visit the market, where various ethnic minority groups come down from the surrounding hills to trade. This afternoon we visit the Green Valley Elephant Camp to learn more about these intelligent, gentle beasts.
Overnight in Kalaw. Top Hill Villa Hotel. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 12 January 20
KALAW, PINDAYA CAVES – MANDALAY
This morning we take a scenic drive over the hills of the Shan plateau, passing colourful vegetable farms, mustard and wheat fields to the Buddhist pilgrimage site of Pindaya, This extensive system of limestone caves contains stalactites and stalagmites and over 8,000 images of the Buddha. Later we learn about the making of traditional hand-made Shan paper and parasols from mulberry bark. This afternoon we drive to Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar and the last royal capital. It is located on the banks of the Irrawaddy River (now known as the ‘Ayeyarwaddy’), considered the centre of Burmese culture.
First of 3 nights in Mandalay. Sedona Hotel. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 13 January 21
MANDALAY + MINGUN
After breakfast we transfer to the Mandalay jetty and board a private local boat for a 1-hour cruise on the Irrawaddy River to Mingun about 11 km upriver from Mandalay. The Mingun Pagoda was left unfinished after an astrologer predicted that the King would die should the temple be completed. Today this unfinished pagoda, complete with marble footprint of the Buddha, is the largest single brick building in the world. The Mingun Bell is the largest working bell in the world, weighing 90 tons. The distinctive style of the beautiful, white Hsinbyume Pagoda is meant to resemble mythical Mount Meru. Later this morning we return to Mandalay. The Mahamuni Pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with so much gold leaf that it now has an almost ‘lumpy texture. The 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures of the Kuthodaw Pagoda have earned it the title ‘the World’s Biggest Book’. Mandalay is well known for its skilled craftsmen and, as we tour some of the traditional workshops, we observe the production of wood carvings, kalaga tapestries and gold-leaf, where the techniques remain unchanged from those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court.
Second of 3 nights in Mandalay.Sedona Hotel. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 14 January 22
PYIN OO LWIN BOTANICAL GARDEN
This morning we take a scenic drive to Pyin Oo Lwin, set high in the mountains. The former British hill station of Maymyo is sometimes called “Little London. The town is famous for wool knitting and its gardens and brick and timber British houses. Beyond the town we visit the National Botanical Garden which features wide expanses of manicured lawns, large flower beds, a rose garden, an orchid house, a small stupa on an islet in a pond and 20 hectares of natural forest with walking trails .From Pyin Oo Lwin we return to Mandalay and visit the Shwenandaw Monastery also known as The Golden Palace Monastery, which is the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace, the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy.
Third of 3 nights in Mandalay Sedona Hotel. Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 15 January 23
MANDALAY, AMARAPURA – MONYWA
This morning we visit Mahaganayon Monastery at Amarapura (whose name means ‘City of Immortality’) in time for the morning alms offering. This serene ceremony is a great chance to learn about local Buddhism practices. More than a thousand monks live and study here. We continue to U Bein Bridge (the longest teak bridge in the world constructed of 984 teak posts and 1.2 km long), built in 1782 at the time when Amarapura was one of the capitals of the third Myanmar Empire. We then cross a bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing, considered to be the living centre of the Buddhist faith in Burma and famous for its silversmiths who still work in much the same way as their ancestors did. This afternoon we explore Sagaing Hill, covered with some 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries. It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centres. We’ll also visit Sagaing’s local market, a typical Burmese market that few tourists visit. Here you will find a range of items for sale including locally made pottery, silver and other handicrafts. We will also stop at a small pottery village to see the process of making the ubiquitous water pots found throughout Myanmar. We then continue south to Ava, Burma’s capital from the 14th to 18th Centuries, where a short ferry ride takes us across the river to where our horse and carriage are waiting. We visit the remains of the Royal Palace and Fort including the Nanmyint Watch Tower, nicknamed “the leaning tower of Ava”. There are many small villages located amid Ava’s ruins and as we travel by horse and cart you’ll get a glimpse of local life in the Burmese countryside. We continue to Monywa, a typical Burmese town on the banks of the Chindwin River.
First of 2 nights in Monywa. Hotel Chindwin Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 16 January 24
MONYWA + VILLAGE LIFE
This morning we visit the Thanboddhay Pagoda, a huge Buddhist temple covered with more than half a million Buddha images! We also stop at the Boditahtaung Pagoda which houses the largest reclining Buddha image in Myanmar, at 100m long and 27m high. Nearby is the largest standing Buddha in the world, Laykyun Setkyar, at 127 m in height. We also see how copper is made in the traditional way. In the afternoon our visit to a traditional Burmese village gives you the opportunity to discover the rural Burmese way of life first hand.
Second of 2 nights in Monywa. Hotel Chindwin . Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 17 January 25
MONYWA – BAGAN
After breakfast we proceed to Po Win Taung, an extraordinary complex of 947 sandstone caves dug out of the hills and containing what is considered by archaeologists to be the richest collection of mural paintings and Buddhist statues in Southeast Asia. Nearby is Shwe Ba Taung, where monasteries and temples are carved into rocky cliffs. We then continue down the ‘road less traveled’, passing traditional villages where we may see farmers climbing palm trees to extract juice to produce palm tree sugar. In the village of Pakkoku we board a private local boat for a leisurely cruise down the Irrawaddy River to see the exquisite carvings at Kyauk Gu U Min. We arrive at Bagan with a panoramic view of the magnificent ruins.
First of 3 nights in Bagan. Baga Hotel River View. Breakfast &Dinner.
DAY 18 January 26
This morning we start with a drive to Chauk to visit the fabulous morning market, filled with locals buying and selling their goods. We continue our drive to Mount Popa,a national park and once-volcanic mountain believed to be the sacred home of powerful ‘Nats’ (spirits.) On top of a rocky crag is a picturesque complex of monasteries, pagodas and shrines which can be reached via a winding, covered walkway and which provides us with stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Returning to Bagan, we visit workshops producing Bagan’s most famous products: wood carvings, fabrics, rattan goods and lacquer ware. Here skilled craftsmen use techniques passed down through generations.
Second of 3 nights in Bagan Baga Hotel River View Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 19 January 27
From the 9th to the 13th Centuries Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan. During the kingdom’s height, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed. Today over 2,200 remain the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world.
Our exploration begins at Thagyar Pone Temple, with spectacular views over the surrounding plains. This is the perfect introduction to the grandeur and scope of Bagan’s architecture. The Ananda Temple, Bagan’s holiest temple, was built by the third king in 1091. The temple houses four Buddhas facing the cardinal directions, which represent the four Buddhas who have attained Nirvana. Ananda is one of the finest, largest and best preserved of the Bagan temples. Afterwards we drive to Myinkaba village and Gubyaukgyi, a 13th Century temple noted for its wall paintings depicting scenes from the previous lives of Buddha on its inner walls and well-preserved plaster carvings on its exterior. Nearby are Manuha Temple, built in the Mon style in 1059, and Nan Paya Temple, a unique sandstone monument said to have been the palace of King Manuha. The golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century as a religious shrine, was the prototype for Burmese stupas, with many smaller surrounding shrines.
Third of 3 nights in Bagan. Baga Hotel River View ( or Similar) . Breakfast & Dinner.
DAY 20 January 28
(FLY) BAGAN TO YANGON
After our morning flight back to Yangon we visit the General Aung San House Museum dedicated to the architect of Burmese Independence. This colonial-era villa, built in 1921, is where his daughter and Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi grew up. This afternoon we have time to shop among the inner cobblestone streets and colonial architecture of the 70-yearold Scott Market where you can buy antique Burmese handicrafts, jewellery, art and other traditional goods.
Overnight in Yangon. Traders Hotel ( or similar) Breakfast & Dinner
DAY 21 January 29
This morning we fly from Yangon, arriving home the same evening having crossed the International Date Line.
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