Discover the best of two contrasting Asian worlds as you travel in Myanmar and Thailand. The pulsating energy within Thailand’s capital and cosmopolitan cities sets itself apart from emerging Myanmar, steeped in traditions from bygone days. Both countries share wonderful cultural experiences and landscapes.
Yangon is the erstwhile capital of Myanmar that still proudly lives on as the country’s commercial hub.
City Highlights of Yangon Yangon, formerly Rangoon, was once the capital of Burma from 1948 to 2006 – Naypyidaw being the present capital of Myanmar since 2008. Evergreen and cool with verdant tropical trees, shady parks and lovely lakes, Yangon has been named the ‘Garden City of the East’. Start the day with a trip to the old colonial district of Yangon – visit the over 2,000yr-old Sule Pagoda, right in the center of Yangon, enshrining a hair of Buddha; explore Bogyoke Aung San Market, a major bazaar known for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets, where you can practice your bargaining skills. Marvel at the Royal Lion Throne and other Royal Family treasures housed in the National Museum. Inspect the historic Shwedagon Pagoda – one of the wonders of the world, towering almost 100m above the city-scape, believed to have been built over 2500yrs ago; feel its enchanted spiritual atmosphere at sunset.
Yangon Circle Train Ride Journey into Yangon’s past..glimpse slivers of local life..hop aboard the Circle Train..a 2-3hr journey starting from Yangon’s center and ‘looping’ (in a circular route) around the city outskirts. Depart from Yangon Central Train Station, an architectural treat..a grand British colonial building with a historical aura, fusing Burmese architecture with functional Western elements..however, the trains are fairly old and worn for use. Witness city to rural changing scenery..pass watercress fields, ponds, villages, farms and stilted bamboo houses. See how locals live, work, get about. Observe their daily routine, strike up casual conversations; see street-food hawkers with snack trays/baskets selling betel nut, cigarettes, sweet coconut-condensed milk buns..while juice vendors carry red-blue plastic barrels and silver cups; marvel how women vendors balance entire platters of mis-en-place on their heads; notice beggars skittling, children loitering by the tracks; pass bamboo shack houses, muddy yards and curious onlookers. The train terminates at Insein..home to the infamous Insein prison, housing political dissidents. Disembark to explore Insein market..return to downtown Yangon.
Bagan is an ancient royal city brimming with history that dates back to the 2nd century.
Bagan-City Highlights Visit the largest temple complex in Southeast Asia, with its numerous pagodas and temples, including the famous Ananda Temple. Take a stroll through the unique and one-of-its-kind market of Nyaung U, and the view the imposing Shwezigon Pagoda. Appreciate the wall paintings in the Kupyaukyi Temple, and admire collection of artifacts in the Bagan Museum.
Cycling Through the Ruins of Bagan A charming way to explore ancient Bagan’s some 2,000 temples and pagodas..one of SE Asia’s most spectacular archaeological sites, is to lose yourself biking (regular or electric bike). Located on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, Bagan houses the world’s largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins. While the Angkor ruins are comparable to a Chinese Lauriat banquet tucked away beneath dense forests, the ruins of ancient Bagan are akin to a Spanish Tapas style feast..smaller and visible. Cycle to the astonishing temples of ancient Bagan via villages and fields..to centuries old temples, including the beautiful Ananda temple; cycle dusty tracks to magnificent temples and towering pagodas with beautifully painted old murals; visit a traditional lacquer-ware workshop, observe the process. Pedal betwixt iconic temples and pagodas; soak up sights and sounds; experience phenomenonal moments and unforeseen discoveries.
Mandalay is Myanmar’s royal capital and lies in the northern heart of the country, on the eastern bank of Irawaddy River.
City Highlights of Mandalay Mandalay is the 2nd largest city and last royal capital of Burma, 445m north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River. Explore the Royal Palace (Mya Nan San Kyaw), the last Palace built by Burmese Royals, completely built from teak wood and in the center of a large citadel/fort. Visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda, a Buddhist stupa containing the world’s largest book; see Shwenandaw Monastery, a traditional 19th century wooden monastery building and historic Buddhist monastic retreat; visit the Mahamuni Buddha Temple/Pagoda, an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, housing the Mahamuni Buddha image, the most highly revered Buddha image in the country. Enjoy scenic views from Mandalay Hill at sunset.
Excursion to Amarapura, Sagaing and Ava from Mandalay From Mandalay, enjoy day excursions to the surrounding royal cities of Amarapura, Sagaing and Ava. Visit Amarapura, the ‘City of Immortality’ and be engrossed by the daily lives of Buddhist monks in the Mahagandhayon Monastery. In Sagaing, experience Buddhist spiritual life and see numerous Buddhist monasteries. Venture on a horse drawn carriage through the remnants of the former royal city of Ava or Inwa, an ancient imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms between 14th-19th centuries – little remains at the site except for a monastery. Back in Amarapura, enjoy an evening walk across the longest teak wood bridge in the world, the ‘U Bein Bridge’, set amidst the picturesque backdrop of the waning sun’s light.
Inle Lake is a stunning and calm freshwater lake that lies 900 meters above sea level.
City Highlights of Inle Lake Enjoy boat and canoe rides on the Inle Lake. Marvel at the floating gardens, fishing villages and daily activities…all on water. Visit the imposing PhaungDaw U Pagoda with its 5 gold covered Buddha statues. Enjoy interesting excursions to colorful traditional markets, villages and work-shops in the surrounding areas.
Half Day Trip to Indein Village Set out on a half day trip to Indein..one of the small villages in the west of Ywama Village of Inle Lake area on its western bank..entered via a narrow, foliage-mantled winding creek where the jungle grows increasingly dense. Visit a cluster of incredibly atmospheric-ruined pagodas overlooking Inle Lake..namely Nyaung Ohak, housing crumbling stupas with ornate stucco carvings, and Shwe Inn Thein Pagoda, a complex of 1054 weather-worn pagodas. See the Buddha image enshrined in a whitewashed stupa on a hill summit. These temples resemble the Khmer style, and date back to 17th and 18th century Shan period. On either side of the creek are paddy fields..see farmers plough and harrow with water buffaloes.
Chiang Mai is the cultural capital of northern Thailand and is enveloped by a ring of mountains.
Sights And Sounds Of Cm (Cycle)-City On this half day cycling trip discover southern Chiang Mai and its culturally and historically significant ‘Lost City’ of Wiang Kam, vanished due to frequent floods. Explore all of the temple ruins – Wat Chedi Liam, Wat Phra Meng Rai, Wat Kan Thom and Wat Koo Paa Dom – before cycling onwards to the oldest temple of Chiang Mai, Wat Chiang Mun, with its array of artifacts. Pass by the Three Kings monument before finishing your energizing morning tour at the Chiang Mai Arts & Culture Hall where a chronicled collection of the city’s history lies.
Mae Sa Elephant Camp Spend a day with elephants! Nestling in the jungle of a picturesque valley lies Mae Sa training camp. Watch as the resident elephants playfully soak up their morning bath in a stream before they begin their daily work. Observe as the elephants demonstrate their extraordinary skills with their mahoots (trainers) and embrace the opportunities of feeding them their favorite treats: bananas and sugarcane. The highlight of your visit? An elephant ride into the surrounding forest of course! This 50 minute adventure is a wonderful experience. En route back to Chiang Mai, end your day with a visit to an orchid farm.
Chiang Rai is a quaint 13th century town, surrounded by two mountain peaks, Doi Mae Salong and Doi Tung.
Temples Of Chiang Rai Chiang Rai boasts a fascinating architectural history – a mix of Thai and Burmese styles. Visit the ancient temple of Wat Phra Kae, original home of the Emerald Buddha – a replica was placed in the spot it was found; Wat Phra That Doi Chom Thong with its large gold stupa; Wat Rong Khun – different from other Thai temples – in contrast to ancient temples, this was built in 1997, designed using white glass. While exploring the city, observe the Chinese ethnic minorities influence in the city.
Bangkok is a quintessential blend of old and new! Meaning the city of angels, Bangkok is the capital city of Thailand – and is its largest metropolis.
Essential Bangkok Discover Bangkok in all its regal glory! Begin with a cruise through the Thonburi klongs (canals) on a long tail boat. Stop en route at Wat Arun, the ‘Temple of Dawn’ monastery. Proceed onwards to the majestic Grand Palace to witness majestic throne halls and the enigmatic Emerald Buddha. Feast on lunch overlooking the Chao Phraya River at the exotic Supatra River House. Spend your afternoon with a visit to the world’s largest teak building, Vimanmek Palace, before finishing your day at Wat Benjamabophit, the ‘Marble Temple’, which is a fantastic fusion of Thai and European architecture.