DAY 1: Bangkok to Mandalay (D)
On arrival at Mandalay Airport early this afternoon, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Settle in and relax awhile, then you will visit the Mahamuni Pagoda with it's sitting Buddha covered in gold leaf (and see how the gold leaf is hammered out by local craftsmen). You will also see the beautiful wooden Shwenandaw Monastery, made of teakwood that was originally part of the royal palace at Inwa.
Afterwards, we take you atop Mandalay Hill for a stunning view over the city and the Irrawaddy River.
Dinner in Mandalay tonight at a local restaurant.
DAY 2: Mandalay (Amarapura and Inwa) (B/L/D)
This morning, after breakfast, you will be driven to the ancient royal capital of Amarapura, stopping briefly before leaving Mandalay to look at the delightful white Khutodaw Pagoda.
In Amarapura you can enjoy a walk on U Bein Bridge which stretches 1.2 kilometers over Lake Taungtaman. Built around 1850, it is the oldest and longest teakwood span in the world. In the vicinity of this lovely bridge you will also see silk + cotton weaving, a still thriving tradition of Mandalay. After lunch, you'll be taken on a short ferry ride to the nearby small island of Inwa, founded in 1364 and lasting nearly 400 years as a royal capital.
As there are no cars on the island, you will travel by pony cart down tree-lined paths to see the old palace walls, a watch tower called the 'leaning tower of Ava', the Maha Aungmye Bonzan, a beautiful brick-and-stucco monastery, and the elegant teakwood monastery Bagaya Kyaung, where young monks still study. Return from Inwa and transfer back to your hotel in Mandalay.
Meals: Breakfast + dinner at hotel, lunch at local restaurant.
Accommodation in Mandalay: Hotel Yadanarbon, Mandalay. Superior room
DAY 3: Mandalay - Bagan River Cruise (B/L/D)
Following an early breakfast today, you will depart Mandalay on an exciting 2-night riverboat cruise on the fabled Irrawaddy River: as you journey along this mystical waterway you can relax in leisurely comfort whilst enjoying the fascinating sights + sounds of river life.
Your onboard accommodation, with en-suite bathroom, is a haven of stylish comfort, and lunch + dinner are served in the delightful dining room. Moored overnight at a village on the banks of the Irrawaddy, the riverboat will move gently with the ebb + flow of the river as you sleep peacefully in the privacy of your cabin.
Day 4: Mandalay - Bagan River Cruise (B/L/D)
Early this morning your riverboat will continue its journey towards Bagan. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast, then it's time to relax again and take in more of the sights of the Irrawaddy River. A stop will be made enroute to allow you to stroll around + through a riverside village, enabling you to see riverside life up close. The unforgettable sights as you cruise along the river, the impeccable service as you enjoy lunch + dinner again in your riverboat's dining room, and your delightfully comfortable cabin, all combine to make this an unforgettable experience, truly a journey of a lifetime.
Day 5: Bagan (B/L/D)
A little while after breakfast this morning your riverboat arrives in Bagan. You will be transferred to your hotel, where you can relax whilst awaiting check-in to your room.
After lunch at a local restaurant, you have free time to wander at leisure to enjoy the ambience of historic Bagan.
This ancient city is one of Asia’s most stunningly beautiful archeological destinations. With its more than 2,000 pagodas dotting the plains along the legendary Irrawaddy River, Bagan is without doubt one of the jewels in the crown of Asia.
Towards the end of the afternoon, we take you to one of the top viewing sites to watch the sun go down: have your camera ready, these are special moments, a photographer's dream, as the setting sun casts its golden glow over Bagan's plain of temple, a magical scene that will surely forever imprint itself in your mind's 'journal' of travel memories.
Dinner tonight will be at your hotel.
DAY 6: Bagan (B/L/D)
Today you will taken to see the bustling Nyaung Oo local market and then some of Bagan’s most distinctive pagodas including beautiful Shwezigon, Wetkyi-in-Gubyaukgyi (a 13th century ‘cave temple' with fine wall paintings) and the magnificent Ananda Pagoda, one of the most best known temples
You will see the bustling Nyaung Oo local market and then some of Bagan’s most distinctive pagodas including beautiful Shwezigon, Wetkyi-in-Gubyaukgyi (a 13th century ‘cave temple' with fine wall paintings) and the magnificent Ananda Pagoda, one of the most best known temples in Myanmar.
This morning you will go to the Irrawaddy River for an enjoyable 30 minute boat ride to Kyun Thiri Island (in the middle of the river). Here we stop and make a visit to a typical farming village, interacting with the villagers and observing their ways of life. Return to Bagan by boat in time for lunch.
In the early afternoon you will have free time to relax, then you will go to see a small lacquer-ware craft shop in Phawsaw Village where you can observe the process of making these beautiful pieces: you can also try your own hand at making some. Then ride by horse + cart through some of Bagan’s temple areas, monasteries and villages to reach an ideal site, atop a pagoda, for another viewing of the sunset over Bagan and its temples.
Meals: Breakfast at hotel, lunch and dinner at local restaurants.
Accommodation in Bagan: Bagan Thande Hotel, superior room
DAY 7: Bagan to Mandalay then Mandalay to Bangkok (flights) (B)
After breakfast you will be checked-out of your hotel and transferred to Nyaung U Airport to take a flight to Mandalay Airport and your connecting flight back to Bangkok.