Yangon is the gateway to Myanmar and the nation’s
capital. The many shady parks and beautiful lakes have earned it a
reputation as the "Garden City of the East". Its unmistakably
colonial style buildings, its open markets and wide tree-lined avenues
endow it with a strange mix of old world charm and modern vitality.
Yangon is home to the huge reclining Buddha (Kyauk Htat Gyi), Royal
Lake, and the most beautiful pagoda of Asia, the Shwedagon Pagoda.
The majestic Shwedagon Pagoda towers above the
Yangon landscape with a serenity, so unique that it is often
considered one of the wonders of the world. According to legend, this
glistening, gold covered pagoda was built over two and a half thousand
years ago as a place of Buddhist working.
Ancient port and capital, Bago boasts the most
beautiful statue of the reclining Shwethalyaung Buddha (55 m long and
16 meters high). A visit to Bago imposes itself if one travels by car
to Kyaik-tiyo or overland to the North and is recommended to those
findings themselves with not enough time to enjoy the sights of Bagan,
Mandalay, and Inle Lake.
From Yangon by road, to the ancient capital of Bago,
is just 50 miles. Visits include: Shwemawdaw Pagoda (its golden dome
inlaid with diamonds dominates the countryside) and the gigantic
Shwethalyaung Buddha (dating back to 994 and considered the most
beautiful reclining Buddha statue in Myanmar). Next is the Kalyani
Sima Ordination Hall, the Mahazedi Pagoda and the local market.
Noted for its pottery, Twente is only a three hour
boat ride from Yangon, along the Twente Canal length about 21 miles.
There is a famous Shwe San Daw Pagoda for short visit. Besides pottery
it is also famed for its fresh-water fishery.
The port city of Thanlyin is situated on the other
side of Yangon River. Thanlyin was known as a major port and trading
center during the time of the Portuguese, who sided with the Mon. in
their struggle against the Burmese Kings. Thanlyin continued as busy
port. A short day trip to Thanlyin can be done from Yangon Jetty by a
ferryboat, or by crossing the bridge over the Yangon River. In
Thanlyin, a visit will be made to a traditional native market. Close
by is the large Golden Kyaik-khauk Pagoda, rising from a hill to the
north, and Kyauktaw, where the famous Ye-Le-Papa or island pagoda is
only Myanmar’s second largest city, Mandalay is considered by many as
the heartland of Myanmar as it was in this area where the Burmese Kings
resided for centuries. Claimed by the locals to be most representative
of current day Myanmar, Mandalay provides a unique mix of old and new.
For centuries under royal patronage, the Myanmar Arts are blooming to
this day: silk weavers, tapestry makers, carvers of wood, ivory and
stone, silversmiths and bronze-casters ply their trade according to the
time-honored traditions of their forefathers. As the seat of Myanmar’s
last Kingdom. Mandalay is a spiritual center as well and boasts numerous
old wooden monasteries and unique pagodas, which date back to life as it
was under the reign of Myanmar’s last king. You are free to explore
the fortified ancient palace and the century old monuments and religious
edifices that abound this once ancient royal capital. A number of
interesting excursions can be made.
Amarapura is home to Mahagandayon Monastery where
more than 700 monks bestow upon this city a unique and formidable
religious atmosphere. Also of interest is Myanmar’s oldest Yunnan
style Buddhist temple and U Bein Bridge, a two-century-old, 1.2-km
Sagaing with its many monasteries and pagodas
spread throughout the surrounding hills, overlooks the Ayeyarwaddy
River to the West.
Mingun rests on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River
and is home to the world’s biggest pile of bricks of the foundation
of Pahtodawgyi (the Unfinished Pagoda) as well as the world’s
largest ringing bell. It is reached via a memorable boat trip on the
Ayeyarwaddy River that provides a fascinating insight into life on
this famous waterway.
MAY MYO (PYIN OO LWIN)
(Pyin Oo Lwin), an old British hill station, sits on the foothills of
the Shan Plateau slightly north-east of Mandalay. The 1-½ hour drive
from Mandalay offers breathtaking views across the Mandalay plain.
Horse drawn carriages are the primary means of transport as you
explore this town that abounds with the atmosphere of British colonial
times. Coffee and banana plantations are common and the many
Chrysanthemums that decorate the pagodas of Myanmar are grown here.
Spectacular waterfalls and natural caves are also located in the
is the birthplace of Myanmar civilization. This 11th century
capital is one of the richest archeological sites in Asia. Known by many
as the "City of four million pagodas", this enchanting ancient
city offers the visitors over 2000 religious edifices of marvelous art.
The majority of these well-preserved shrines reveal a rich architectural
heritage from the 11th to 13th century era. In
modern Bagan, bullock carts dictate the pace of the day as the master
tradesmen produce with painstaking patience, Myanmar’s finest
60 kilometers southeast of Bagan is the spectacular
1500-meter high extinct volcano Mount Popa. At the foot of this
mountain is the perpendicular rock formation with almost vertical
sides that is home of the "nat" (spirits). Accessible by a
series of stairways, the famous festival of the "nats" or
spirits is held here during the month May/June.
Situated on the Ayeyarwaddy River near Bagan, yet
still untouched by tourism, Pakokku supports a colorful weaving
industry and some of the biggest monasteries of Myanmar.
It is famous for Paya Thonezu, Three brick Shrines
Nan Paya, Hnee Paya, an antique lacquerware Buddha image, Yokesone
Kyaung and wooden Monastery which has 100 years old sculptures.
Full day drive to Kalaw. First, the road leads
through flat land and endless paddy fields. Later in the day, the road
winds its way up to the Mountains of the Southern Shan State and the
climate starts of to chant with increasing altitude. Arrive Kalaw, a
former British hill station that is renowned for its cool climate and
In the morning, visit Kalaw market, made very
colorful by the many tribes in ethnic costumes, which come from near and
far. In the afternoon, a foot-walk of 2 hours (short way) or 4 hours
leads to a village of Palaung tribe.
At first, a steep track leads down into a narrow
valley where the Palaung are cultivating cheroot, tea, damson, and
mangoes on the slopes of the mountains. The track crosses the valley
floor before climbing up very steeply again to the Palaung village,
which thrones atop the mountain. The village has a very interesting long
house for 8 families. Observe tribal village life and how the Palaungs
dry cheroot on a specially designed oven. Formerly animists, the
Palaungs have mostly converted themselves to Buddhism.
Drive from Kalaw to Pindaya. On the way, visit a
Danu and a Pa-O Village. Then stop at the market of Aung Ban before
continuing by road to Pindaya. Arrive in Pindaya and visit the caves
where thousands of Buddha statues in different styles are exposed.
Drive across the Shan Plateau cultivated by the
Pa-O and Danu to Taunggyi. On the way, stop at Heho market. Arrive in
Taunggyi, the capital of the Southern Shan State, where you visit the
local market in which hill tribe people from faraway sell their
products. Visit the small tribal museum and one of the local cheroot
factories. Afterwards, continue to Nyaungshwe on Inle Lake.
Located in the Shan State and nestled amidst hazy
blue mountains is the beautiful Inle Lake. This 14 kilometer long
waterway is home to the renowned legrowers. Here, villages are built
on stilts over the lake waters and boats are the sole means of
transport. Local products are grown in unique floating gardens and
then peddled by villagers at the spectacular floating market. The
cooler climate of Inle Lake makes it a highly popular summer resort.
Nearby Taunggyi is the capital of the Shan State. It is home to some
of Myanmar’s finest cheroot factories and boasts an impressive local
Full day boat trip on Inle Lake, famous for its
unique "legrowers", the fishermen’s interesting method of
fishing and its scenic beauty. The boat trip includes visit to Phaung
Daw Oo Pagoda, the floating gardens, the floating market at Ywama
(only every 5 days), the "jumping cats" show and the local
KYAIK-TIYO (GOLDEN ROCK
Home of the
incredible balancing pagoda of Kyaik-tiyo. This pagoda is built atop an
enormous gold-leafed boulder that is delicately balanced on the very
edge of a massive cliff face. Legend suggests that the boulder maintains
its balance due to a precisely placed Buddha hair within the pagoda. The
pagoda is a place of particular religious significance for local
Buddhists who undertake regular pilgrimages during the winter months.
The site is closed during the rainy season when access roads become
impassable under the heavy rain.
Drive through seemingly endless paddy fields to the
small city of Kyaik-tiyo, outside of which is the base camp of Kinpun
from where one can reach the Golden Rock in approximately 4 ½ hours by
foot. The path (10km) climbs about 1000 meters in altitude and along the
way, there are various rest halls and shrines, which relate the story of
the temple’s legendary creation. (Possibility also exists to board a
truck at the base camp and be driven to the upper camp from where one
can ascend a very steep path leading to the mountain top in about 1
hour. People not willing to walk at all, can hire at the upper camp a
foursome of porters who offer rides in sedan chairs). Arrive at the
legendary Golden Rock and take in the magnificent view over the
surrounding scenery, make friends with locals and loose yourself in the
magic of this typical Burmese pilgrimage site.
This attractive tropical town with a ridge of hills
on one side and the sea on the other is the third largest city in
Myanmar. Here the citizen carry on their daily activities as they have
for centuries, little affected by the modern influence that has so
dramatically altered lifestyles in other parts of Southeast Asia. Made
famous by Rudyard Kipling’s Mandalay: "by the old Moulmein
Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea.
The sandy, coconut fringed beaches and sapphire blue
seas of Ngapali Beach stretch over 3 km. Still largely undeveloped, this
seaside retreat offers both sun and solitude. Open only during the
winter months, Ngapali provides hot days but refreshingly cool evenings.
Newly opened beach resorts, one of the unspoiled,
clean, sandy spots and shaded with coconut trees, is located on the
south of Ngapali Beach, edging to the Bay of Bengal. An overnight
steamer trip from Yangon along Twante canal up to Pathein and one hour
thirty minutes by coach to Chaung Tha Beach is an interesting trip.
It is the capital of the northern Shan State where
various national races reside. It is a beautiful town on the hill. One
can observe traditional culture, customs, style of dresses of the
various national group.
From Yangon to Lashio
Passengers will have to go from Yangon to Mandalay
and then continue the journey to Lashio by train or car. Since the
section between Mandalay and Lashio lies on the hill terrain the train
has to climb up the hill by using zigzag reversing lines. En-route the
train passes through the Pyin-Oo-Lwin (Maymyo), a famous hill station.
Along the journey, the passengers can enjoy beautiful scenery including
world-famous Gohtaik Viaduct.