At Asia Senses Travel we’re adventurers at heart. Our journeys are all about discovering new places and cultures while creating unforgettable memories through physical activity and breathtaking scenery.
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Join our Burma Family Cycling Explorer on a fully escorted tour to the most iconic destinations. Start from Mandalay, discover the iconic U Bein Bridge, traditional craft workshops, ancient pagodas then embark on a river cruise to the Irrawaddy to experience life in Yandabo pottery village. From here, pedal to Bagan, the greatest archaeological treasure of Myanmar with over 2000 pagodas and temples ruins located on the plains of Bagan by the Irrawaddy River.
Heading east, we cycle Mount Popa, Kalaw, then visit the fantastic Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp. A one-hour ride from Kalaw leads towards Nyaung Shwe, where an exploration through the Myanmar countryside awaits. End of this amazing trip, sample local vineyard products, visit markets, floating gardens and cultural highlights on the Inle Lake and the surrounding area before returning back to Yangon where our two-week adventure concludes.
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Day 01: Mandalay Arrival
Upon arrival in Mandalay International Airport, you will be welcomed by our Asia Senses local guide, then transferred to your hotel for check in. Depend on your actual arrival time, some soft sightseeing for an orientation tour is suggested.
After a short break at your hotel, pay a visit to craft shops includes marble masonry, jade and gold-leaf workshop. As a former capital of Myanmar, Mandalay is the centre of skilled craftsmanship. In the past, all skillful craftsman gathered in Mandalay, produced and supplied good to Royal Courts. Observe excellent quality Buddha images, the process of making the 0.00005 inch thick pieces of gold and watch gems being cut and polished.
Then, we continue to Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung (or Golden Palace Monastery) to marvel at its carvings, particularly the interior gilded Jataka scenes (past-life stories of the Buddha) and Kuthodaw Pagoda (also known as the world’s largest book), named after the 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings.
In late afternoon, we climb up covered stairways to the top of 240 meters high Mandalay Hill and enjoy a spectacular sunset with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, Irrawaddy River, and city centre.
Enjoy a welcomed dinner at local restaurant. Return to hotel then free at own leisure.
Day 02 - Mandalay Cycling (Mingun – Sagaing – Ava – Amarapura)
After breakfast, we depart for an excursion by bike to explore Mingun, Sagaing, Ava and Amarapura.
First, catch a boat and transfer to Mingun, on the other side of Irrawaddy River.
Then it’s time to unload the bikes and start our cycling to the main sites of Mingun, beginning with the famous Mingun Pahtodawgyi. This huge brick structure was left unfinished after an astrologer predicted the king would die should the temple be completed. In the 1800s, an earthquake left several large cracks in the structure giving it the iconic fractured appearance it has today.
Then continue to the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda, whose distinctive style is meant to resemble the mythical Mount Meru. Afterwards, view the Mingun Bell which weighs 90 tons and is considered the world’s largest uncracked ringing bell. The weight of the bell in Burmese measurement, is 55,555 viss (90,718 kilograms or 199,999 pounds), handed down as a mnemonic "Min Hpyu Hman Hman Pyaw", with the consonants.
After a short rest, continue our biking to Sagaing. On arrival, visit Sagaing Hill where you can observe white and gold pagodas along the Irrawaddy River from top of hill. This hill has numerous pagodas, monasteries and meditation centers known as a peaceful place for Buddhist studies. Then visit a Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, U Min Thonze Caves which are located on the top of the Sagaing Hill.
Stop for lunch at a local restaurant before riding on to Inwa, the capital of Myanmar from 14th to 18th centuries. It's well-known for religious structures left over from several reigns as the nation's capital, from the 14th to the 19th centuries.
After a short ferry ride across the river, we visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery and the remains of the Royal Palace and Fort. There are many small villages located amid Inwa’s ruins and, by riding we will get great glimpses of local life in the Burmese countryside.
Afterwards, ride towards Amarapura, a former capital of Myanmar whose name means ‘City of Immortality’, and now a township of Mandalay. On the way, we will visit handmade silk-weaving workshop which produces exquisite handmade products. Then continue to visit U Bein Bridge for a walk along this iconic 2000-year old teak structure. The bridge was built around 1850s and is believed to be the oldest and longest teak wood bridge in the world. This beautiful 1.2 kilometre long was constructed of 984 teak wood posts that were once part of the deserted Inwa Palace. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and the fabulous views of Taungthaman Lake and the surrounding countryside.
Return to Mandalay late this afternoon and have the rest of your day at own leisure.
This morning, you will be transferred to the jetty and board a four-hour cruise down the Irrawaddy River to Yandabo Village. It is famous for an Anglo- Myanmar peace treaty that was signed in 1826. Today, Yandabo is famous for its pottery.
Check in your hotel and take a short break. After lunch, explore the village for a glimpse of the traditional Burmese way of life. Learn how the villagers make their famous terracotta pots from the riverside clay. Then try to make a traditional pot, or create a unique design by your own. Not only is this activity lots of fun, but it results in a fantastic souvenir as well!
In the late afternoon, stroll along the river bank, watch the sun starts to set. Capture photos of the memorable moments such as children playing in the water below, girls and women carrying water from river.
Overnight in Yandabo Village.
Yandabo Home Hotel
Day 04: Cycle to Myingyan – Bagan
This day, we say goodbye to the Yandabo village, then jump on the bikes and ride towards Myingyan township, located on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River. It take two hours (22km) for us to pedal from Yandabo to Myingyan.
Have lunch at a local restaurant in Myingyan. Then you will be transferred to Bagan by coach.
From the 11th to 13th centuries, when Bagan was the capital of Myanmar, the rulers constructed thousands of huge stupas and temples, many of which are still standing today near the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Today, Bagan is home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world. Approximately 2,200 of the originally 4,400 temples that are spread across the plains of Bagan.
In the late afternoon, head out to observe the process of making traditional lacquerware, one of Myanmar's best-known handicrafts and a specialty of Bagan. Stop at Bagan’soldest lacquerware shop. Visit a workshop where every phase of production, from splitting the bamboo to etching designs, is performed. Each stage will be described in detail, giving a great overview of how this ancient craft has developed into an art form in Bagan. The process begins with forming objects from bamboo, then painting them with lacquer. Depending on the quality desired, between 8 and 16 layers of lacquer are applied - a high-end piece of lacquerware can take a year to complete. After drying, the surface is polished. The last stage is where things get creative and is a stage visitors can take part in. In one of the workshops, craftsman sketch a traditional design on each coaster. After being provided with paint and a brush, take part in the creation of a masterpiece. Afterwards, the creation will be set aside to dry and collected later in the day or the following morning.
From there, take a relaxing horse cart ride around Taungbi Village and observe daily life. Finally, proceed to a place to enjoy an incredible sunset. The sunset, with views across the plains studded with chedis and temples is an unforgettable experience.
We begin our sightseeing tour by visiting Nyaung U Morning Market which offers a colourful display of fruit, vegetables, flowers, fish and textiles. Morning time is the best time to visit market, you would see it at its liveliest and ways of life of local people.
Then, cycle to visit Thatbyinnyu Temple - the tallest temples of all monuments in Bagan; 61m high overlooking the Bagan scene. Continue to Dhammayangyi Temple - one of massive temples in Bagan. It was built in 12th century by Narathu King. It is infamous for its mysterious, bricked-up inner passageways and cruel history.
On the way, we make a stop to see the elegant Htilominlo Temple noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations. After taking a morning cycle around the Archaeological Zone, return to the hotel. This is good opportunity to cool down by taking a refreshing dip in the hotel pool.
In the afternoon, continue to explore Manuha Temple, which built in the Mon style in 1059 and follow on to Nanbaya Temple, a unique sandstone monument said to have been the palace of King Manuha.
In the afternoon, around 14:00, we will transfer to the local boat jetty for a sunset cruise. The boat heads to a sandbank in the middle of the Irrawaddy River where a table and chairs are set up. Enjoy snacks and drinks on a private ‘island’. The children, and adults included, will have the chance to play with a cane ball called a ‘chinlone’. This is also a great opportunity for the kids to fly traditional kites or build sand castles while the adults relax and enjoy the views.
Return to the town just after sunset and transfer back to the hotel.
Overnight in Bagan.
Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel
Day 06: Bagan – Mount Popa (Cycling)
Depart the ruins of Bagan and head to the Burmese countryside. Along the way, you would see small fields and farmers who are working hard on their plantations. We also stop to visit a palm tree workshop, see how villagers get juice from palm tree, make candy, wine from palm juice. The palm tree plays an important role in Burmese rural life. Beyond creating juice and sugars for people, it’s also used for making household utensils, construction materials and medicine.
From here, begin to feel the road rising as the cycling tour begins an ascent towards the national park that encompasses Mount Popa, a now-extinct volcano. This is the most challenging stretch of the cycling trip, as it heads up a steep incline to reach the summit. For those who find the going tough, our support vehicle will be on hand to take the strain.
Mount Popa is known as the home of the “Nats” spirits among the locals. The Popa Taungkalat shrine is the favoured home of 37 Mahagiri Nats or aminist spirit entities. So important are these spirits to the people of this region, they are worshipped every year during a festival that takes place from May to June. To reach the top, you need to remove shoes and socks and climb the 777 steps to the summit.
After that, we head to Popa Mountain Resort which offers fabulous views over the surrounding area. Check in, free at your leisure in the afternoon.
Overnight in Mount Popa.
Popa Mountain Resort
Day 07: Mount Popa – Kalaw – Elephant Camp
Today, we will drive to Kalaw via the township of Meiktila. Along the way, we will through villages, observe the traditional lifestyle of the rural Burmese. Their life is lacking in many modern amenities. Their life is lacking in many modern amenities yet the concepts of mutual help and cooperation are central to village life.
We will reach Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp in Magwe Village before proceeding to Kalaw. Upon arrival, a specialist guide from the camp will greet and transfer us to the main camp base. Enjoy a welcome drink while receiving a briefing on the day’s activities, the background of the camp and the history of elephants in Myanmar.
Then take a short walk to the river, passing through a reforestation project set up by the camp and villagers. Observe elephant in their natural habitat, see the elephant bath and join with the mahouts to bath these gentle giants if you wish. After the walk, spend some time at the yard elephants. There is no better chance to learn about the elephants’ delicate diet and get a chance to feed them, under professional supervision.
Return to the main camp for lunch. There is time in the afternoon to explore more on foot with the local trekking guide or interact with the elephants. In the late afternoon say goodbye to the elephants and mahouts and transfer to Kalaw. Kalaw is a charming little town with a mix of local and colonial-style houses. The slightly higher elevation means that the air temperature is usually much cooler than much of the country.
After breakfast, we take a soft trek around Kalaw and its morning market to get a great insight into daily life of local.
Then we leave this charming town and take a short transfer to the famous Myinmahti Cave. It is located on the east of Kalaw, on the Kalaw-Loikaw Highway about four miles as the crow flies from Kalaw. The caves are just over one thousand feet in length, lined by stalactites and natural formations on the walls.
After that, we start our cycling adventures at the starting point of Naung Tayar Village. We will pedal through Pa Oh villages, wooden, single-storey shops lined wide, dusty roads of the countryside in Shan State. We will have plenty of opportunities to stop and interact with the friendly locals.
Have your picnic on the way before arriving at Hmawbi Bridge, the end point of our cycling for today. Then you will be transferred by a traditional long tail boat to Samkar, little remote village which is located at the sourthern shores of Inle Lake. If time permits, we can visit Thar Khaung Buddhist Pagoda.
Check in at your guesthouse and relax for the rest of day.
Overnight in Samkar Village.
Guesthouse in Samkar Village
Day 09: Samkar – Nampan – Nyaung Shwe (Cycling)
Today we start our next cycling challenge to Nampan. It’s an enjoyable scenic and leisurely ride with mountain views at the right and lake views to the left. Not only the farms of maize but also the cultivation of rice will be seen on the way. Upon arrival to Nampan, we will have our lunch at a local restaurant.
We activate this afternoon by taking a long tail boat to the center of the lake. Passing villages inhabited by the Intha people, who build their houses on stilts, and floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. We will also see the iconic leg‐rowing fishermen of the lake who steer their boats with incredible balance.
We’ll enjoy sightseeing at some of the lake’s most renowned sites. Continue to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main sanctuary, which contains 5 sacred Buddha images, and proceed to the village of Inpawkhone to observe the traditional silk weaving techniques of 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.
We will also visit a cheroot factory where the local Burmese cigars are rolled by hand.
Then, we will head to Nyaung Shwe, the main gateway to Inle Lake and transfer to the hotel.
Day 10: Inle Lake Sightseeing – Red Mountain (Cycling)
This day, we will take an excursion by boat on Inle Lake. Join with local fishermen and observe their daily activities: fishing. They will show us how they use traditional techniques: rowing the boat with one leg while using both hands to fish, corral fish into their nets. These techniques take a lifetime to master the balance. If you want, you could try to catch some fishes for your lunch. Whether or not your fishing expedition is successful, this will be a memorable encounter with the Intha fishermen.
Afterwards, visit floating gardens on Inle lake. These gardens are a large part of the region’s economy as the produce is shipped to the four corners of Myanmar. Our guide will provide an insightful glimpse into how the gardens are created and harvested. We will have an opportunity to pick our own choice tomatoes for our upcoming lunch. If it’s open, visit Nampan market and shop for the day’s menu.
Next, proceed to a traditional Inthar House at Tharlay Village where we will spend time preparing the dishes with a local family. It’s a unique chance to spend time with the locals and learn about their cuisine and culture. Together we’ll prepare local delights including Inle Style Tomato Salad and other Inthar dishes.
Our lunch will be served on a low table and enjoyed by sitting on the floor the local way.
After lunch, we head to Khaung Daing Village which is famous for hot springs and making tofu from yellow split peas. Villagers use traditional method to make Shan tofu – fried crackers and folded, triangular tofu treats. Observe steps of tofu making: the soy beans are sifted, boiled, mashed into balls then formed tofu cakes. This is a fabulous taste of local life on Inle Lake.
From there, we hop back on our bikes and ride to catch the sunset at Red Mountain Winery. Located 1,000 meters above sea level, Inle Lake is also the perfect place for wine making in tropical Myanmar with locally grown grapes, sourced from Italy, France, Spain and Israel. The vineyard is founded in 2002, the winery employs French and Australian know-how and French, Spanish and Israeli vines to knock out some fine and varied vintages. Take a stroll through the grounds and in the factory, observing the production of Cabernets and Sauvignon and then sit down to take a try. Enjoy 4 different wines, with a light snack, as you watch the sun glisten on the calm waters of Inle. Then, transfer back to the hotel.
We will take a one hour tour to Nyaung Shwe Morning Market for unique insight into the local cultures of the area. Villagers from the surrounding hill tribes come to the market to sell and trade tomatoes, eggplants, scallions, peppers, betel, beans, garlic to cheroots. Buy ingredients, herbs and vegetables which you will be using for your dishes. During this cooking class, a master chef will teach you traditional cooking techniques of Myanmar, while introducing you to the classic food combinations, which are making Myanmar's food so popular worldwide. Enjoy your lunch with dishes which are prepared by your own.
After lunch, you will be transferred to Ywama Village, also known as Heya Ywama, is located on the western side of Inle Lake. Observe the everyday lives of local people, a lifestyle that has remained relatively unchanged for generations.
Then head to the village’s pier for our kayaking tour today. Our guide will provide instructions and offer a test-ride before entering canals. Gliding through the narrow waterways between high mountains to quiet and peaceful villages and feel how close to nature you are. Seeing local people catching fishes while paddling a boat is an extraordinary experience in Kayaking.
After about half an hour, we disembark for a soft trek through a local village near the lake. Stop at a local house for a cup of tea and sample some traditional snacks. After exploring the village, head back to the kayaks, paddle through the small channels of the Ywama village. The trip concludes at the same pier where our journey began. Afterwards, transfer bach to Nyaung Shwe.
This morning, you will be transferred to Heho Airport for your flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, the guide will pick up and transfer you to the hotel in Yangon downtown for check in.
After a short break, visit Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda which is built in 1966 and houses a striking reclining Buddha image that measures an impressive 65 metres long and 16 metres high. We then venture downtown to explore the city centre and its fabulous mix of architecture and sites. Walk around and take some photos of Yangon City Hall, Yangon Region Court, and Independence Monument which is located in Maha Bandula Park.
After lunch, continue to Saint Mary's Cathedral, a Catholic cathedral located in Yangon. It’s also the largest cathedral in Myanmar, designed by Dutch architector Jos Cuypers. It’s onward to Little India and Chinatown, a colorful cacophony of restaurants, temples and markets.
Reach Bogyoke Market (formerly known as Scott Market), where you can find largest selection of Myanmar handicrafts and souvenirs from lacquerware and Shan shoulder bags to puppets and jewellery, slippers, longyi etc.
In the late afternoon, we will visit the famous Shwedagon Pagoda - Yangon’s most famous landmark. The massive 99 meter high gold plated pagoda with the diamond studded spire set on top of a small hill in downtown Yangon. Its massive bell-shaped golden spires are plated with 60 tons of gold, while the tip of the stupa is inset with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and topaz. Wander through this magnificent structure and its courtyards, stupas, bells, temples, and Buddha images, and see religious and secular visitors from all parts of the globe. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from this vantage point.
Today is our final day to do some exploration on bikes! After breakfast, you will be transferred to Kyi Myint Daing Train Station then take a two hour scenic train ride in the outskirts of Yangon. On the way to the Kyi Myint Daing station, take a soft trek to a colorful bustling market, stroll around and watch many of the market sellers and hawkers boarding the train with their home grown produce... It would be an unforgettable experience in Yangon.
After two hours, we will stop at a small station called Wah Net Chaung station. Then pick up our bikes and start our today’s cycling adventure. Depart from the station, we ride through trails and villages, paddy fields as well as a fun peaceful countryside along the way.The scenery is remarkably different from nearby Yangon, with many trees, local neighborhoods and green fields filling the area.
After a 13km ride, we will stop at a local restaurant to have lunch with traditional Myanmar dishes.
After lunch, we continue ride to the Phu Gyi Reservoir, one of the main water resources for Yangon city. It offers an idea spot for amateur and professional photographer to take the best shot of Myanmar nature. We will take a ride on the 3km long reservoir bank and breathe in the fresh air. Then we return to our start point and transfer back to Yangon.
After freshening up at your hotel, we celebrate our farewell dinner at a local restaurant.