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17-Day Burma Road to Yunan
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Overview

Day 1

Arrive Yangon

Day 2

Yangon - Heho (By Am Flight) - Inle Lake

Day 3

Inle Lake/Indein - Heho - Bagan (By Pm Flight)

Day 4

Bagan

Day 5

Bagan - Mandalay (By Boat)

Day 6

Mandalay/Mingun/Amarapura

Day 7

Mandalay - Pyin Oo Lwin

Day 8

Pyin Oo Lwin - Gokteik Train - Hsipaw

Day 9

Hsipaw - Lashio (By Car)

Day 10

Lashio - Muse - Jiegao - Ruli

Day 11

Ruli - Tengchong
Day 12 Tengchong
Day 13 Tengchong - Baoshan
Day 14 Baoshan - Dali
Day 15 Dali - Kunming (By Train)
Day 16 Kunming
Day 17 Depart Kunming

Itinerary

Day 1        Arrive Yangon

shwedagon-pagodaUpon arrival at YANGON airport, welcomed by your Asian Tour guide and transferred to hotel.  After small refreshment, your journey begins with an afternoon tour through Yangon’s colonial-style city center.  Visit MAHABANDOOLA PARK from where you have the perfect view on Colonial Buildings, CITY HALL and HIGH COURT. Visit and stroll through the BOGYOKE (SCOTTS) MARKET (closed on Monday and Gazette holidays), a compound of hundreds of food, garment, handicraft and gem stores. After a photo stop at the KARAWEIK HALL, a 'hamsa-bird-shaped' floating barge on Kandawgyi (Royal) Lake, visit the magnificent reclining Buddha CHAUK HTAT GYI. Complete your first day in Myanmar with a visit to one of the world’s most spectacular monuments, the SHWEDAGON  PAGODA.

Overnight stay in Yangon.

 

Day 2        Yangon - Heho (By AM Flight) - Inle Lake

inle-10 inle-11

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for a domestic flight to Heho and drive (25km – 1 hour) to NYAUNG SHWE Jetty for boat ride to INLE LAKE. Excursion by boat on the Inle Lake will include sights of the famous leg rowers, typical floating gardens, local methods of fishing, village life and magnificent scenery. Begin with Local Market (if possible according to market day schedule); the PHAUNGDAW OO PAGODA, one of the most sacred shrines in Myanmar, dating back to the 18th century; SILVER SMITH, BLACK SMITH AND WEAVING WORKSHOPS in YWA-MA and INPAWKHON. And also visit the NGA PHE KYAUNG MONASTERY wonderfully carved wooden floating monastery in the lake.  

Overnight stay in Inle Lake.

 

Day 3        Bagan / Mt.Popa

After breakfast, the visit begins with the local market in the Inle Lake region (Remark : on market days only) and proceed to the Western Shore of Inle Lake, where you will find the beginning of a stair path leading to the well hidden INDEIN PAGODA complex.

In the afternoon you will be transferred to the airport for domestic flight to BAGAN. Upon arrival, transfer to hotel.

Overnight stay in Bagan.

 

Day 4        Bagan

bagan-12Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to the airport for a domestic flight to MANDALAY. Upon arrival, drive to MAHAGANDayON MONASTERY where more than a thousand monks live and study. Time permitting you will have the opportunity to observe the monks having their last meal of the day in total silence. Transfer to hotel.
In the afternoon, visit also one of the most revered religious monuments of Myanmar, the MAHAMUNI PAGODA.  Mandalay is also a major arts and crafts center. Visit a Kalaga tapestry craftsmen’s shop.

Continue experience the sights and sounds of Mandalay including the SHWE INBIN MONASTERY; the GOLDEN PALACE MONASTERY, a superb example of a traditional wooden building and KUTHODAW PAGODA the world’s largest book made of marble.  Then proceed to MANDALAY HILL for sunset.

Overnight stay in Mandalay.

 

Day 5        Bagan - Mandalay (By Boat)

Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to jetty and board a Chinese-built ferry boat for your journey on the AYEYARWADDY River to MANDALAY. The trip takes approx. 10 hours upriver, depending on river conditions and water level.

Optional: Experience 1nights/2nights/3nights/4nights cruise between Mandalay and Bagan by exclusive vessels. (Details see River Cruises).

Overnight stay in Mandalay.

 

Day 6        Mandalay / Mingun / Amarapura

mingun-01 u-bein-01 

After breakfast, an excursion by boat on the Ayeyarwaddy River to MINGUN, about 11 km (1 hour) upriver from Mandalay. Visit the unfinished MINGUN PAYA, which was meant to become the largest stupa in Myanmar constructed by King Bodaw Paya one of the world’s largest bells; the 90 ton weighing MINGUN BELL and HSINBYUME PAYA. Return back to Mandalay.

In the afternoon, drive to visit 200-year-old U BEIN teak bridge in AMARAPURA. Continue to visit one of the most revered religious monuments of Myanmar, the MAHAMUNI PAGODA; a Kalaga tapestry craftsmen’s shop; the GOLDEN PALACE MONASTERY; KUTHODAW PAGODA the world’s largest book made of marble and KYAUK TAW GYI PAGODA. Enjoy sunset at MANDALAY HILL.

Overnight stay in Mandalay.

 

Day 7        Start Journey to Burma Road, Mandalay - Pyin Oo Lwin

After breakfast, take the scenic highway (67 km, 2 hours) along the Burma Road to the former British hill station of PYIN OO LWIN (Maymyo). Now the town is heavily inhabited by Nepalese and Indians, and their crafts and cultures predominate. Visit the PEIK KHYIN MYAUNG CAVES, caves almost as old as the land itself and proceed to PWE KYAUK FALLS, a favorite picnic spot for local people. Visit the Market, BOTANICAL GARDEN with its lake, waterfalls, and CHINESE TEMPLE soothes our spirit.

Overnight stay in Pyin Oo Lwin.

 

Day 8        Pyin Oo Lwin - Gokteik Train - Hsipaw

goktiek-01Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to the railway station and board the Lashio - Mandalay train departing at 08.30 am. This train used to be infamous black-market train in the past transporting goods to and from China. You will travel past pretty hills and scenery. The train will cross the famous 700m long Gokteik Bridge, built in 1900 by the American Pennsylvania Steel Co.  The impressive height from the bridge to the bottom of the valley is nearly 300m. After crossing the bridge the train will stop at a small station. You will get the chance to have a better look at the bridge. Take good note though that it is not permitted to Photograph/video bridges in Myanmar. Upon arrival at NAUNG PAIN station, get off the train and drive to HSIPAW (60 Km, 1½ hour).

Overnight stay in Hsipaw.

 

Day 9        Hsipaw - Lashio

hsipaw-01Explore Hsipaw and sail.

After a few minutes walk to the jetty and take private long tail boat. Start upstream sail for around 30 minutes to a fruit plantation and a walk through the plantation, village and then up to a 150-year old monastery (40 minutes walking time).  After visiting the monastery, return to the boat and continue sail to the confluence of the Dokehtawaddy River. Break for photos. Continue to a Shan village and take a stroll around the village to meet with the locals and learn more about their culture, traditions and lifestyles. Then return by boat to Hsipaw.

Afternoon, continue  journey to Lashio (213 Km, 6 hours) and transfer to hotel.

Overnight stay in Lashio.

 

Day 10        Lashio - Muse (Border Pass) - Jiegao - Ruli

Early breakfast this morning and leave to Muse for China.

Border crossing at Jiegao (the procedures take around an hour), welcome by your Chinese guide and journey to Ruili. Located in the western part of Yunnan province, it is a key area on the « Southern Silk Road » that connected Myanmar to Yunnan.

You will make a small detour to take in the famous banyan trees of the One Tree Forest, located an approximate twenty minute drive from Jiegao, before going on to visit Moli (taking another twenty minutes to reach), a tropical rainforest boasting more than 1500 varieties of plant and 500 species of flower. The Zhaduo waterfall is the reason for the park’s fame, principally because of the role it plays in the history of Buddhism (Buddha came here to train some wild elephants, who built this “basin” to show their gratitude). The visit will last around 2.5 hours.

On to Ruili (taking around 40 minutes). Settling in at the hotel and visit to the town. Formerly a crossroads for all kinds of trafficking (drugs, animals, and precious stones amongst other things), Ruili is now almost entirely clear of its toxic reputation. The population is a mix of Han Chinese, minorities (Dai, Deang, and Jingpo), and Burmese merchants who sell their goods from the many stalls, notably wooden sculptures and jade products (highly valued in the region), amongst other things.
Stroll along the palm tree lined streets, bustling with rickshaws and a visit to the jade market. Evening visit to the famous, colourful night market (which is along ‘Mengmao’ Road, the name given to Ruili by the Dai people), the street perfumed by the smell of Burmese cuisine, and the visiting Thai and Pakistani merchants showing off Ruili’s cosmopolitan charm.

Overnight stay in Ruli.

 

Day 11        Ruli - Tengchong

Breakfast at hotel.

Your day will start with a trip to the Jiele Golden Pagoda (located 7km from Ruili), the main Buddhist building of the area which has been destroyed and rebuilt on numerous occasions. The most recent reincarnation is the most faithful to the original style of the building, and is of typical Burmese design (and of that of part of South East Asia) with a central pagoda (40m high) and 16 smaller pagodas around it.

Visit to neighbouring villages, populated in the majority by people of the Dai Minority (who number around 1.2 million, the lion’s share of whom live in the Xishuangbanna region, close to the borders with both Burma and Laos). The Dai are part of the Thai linguistic family, practice the same type of Buddhism as their Thai cousins, and like them celebrate the Water Festival (amongst other festivals).

Note: The Water Festival lasts around three days and takes place in mid-April.

You will start in Nongan, known for its “Golden Duck Pagoda”, so named, according to the legend, thanks to the timely arrival of two ducks who saved this marshy region... You will pass through the villages of Jiexiang and Nongdao, overflowing with small markets, temples (notably the Denghanong sanctuary), and stupas. You will then arrive at Jiedong, the home of the Hansha Temple, made of bamboo boards, built on stilts, and known for the huge Buddha statue located in its centre.
On to Tengchong, located less than 300km away, taking four or five hours not including stops. This superb road follows a tropical path, surround by green mountains and bordered by palm trees, banyan trees, bamboo, rubber trees and sugarcane. The first stop is in the neighbouring district of Longchuan, one of the main centres of the small Jingpo minority (numbering less than 150,000 people, the majority of whom are found in Myanmar where they are known by the name of “Katchin”) and the Achang (less than 50,000 people), known amongst other things for their ability in the art of cutlery making (the husa knives are famous in the region).

The next stop is at Yingjiang where you will visit the Yunyan Pagoda, built to appease water demons and combat plague. Finally, you will stop in Lianghe, full of beautiful wooden houses and where you will visit the Former Residence of Tusi, a high ranking civil servant from times gone by.

At the end of the day you will arrive in Tengchong, a part of the old “Southern Silk Road”, where the most traded commodity was Burmese jade. Tengchong was also a strategically important place during the Second World War, and the WWII Cemetery located here commemorates the battles that took place between American and Chinese forces and the Japanese Army. Settling-in at the hotel.

Night in Tengchong or in the neighbouring village of Heshun, depending on the category of hotel you have chosen.

Overnight stay in Tengchong.

 

Day 12        Tengchong

Visit to the neighbouring village of Heshun (4km away), a former hideaway for overseas Chinese during the Second World War. Heshun became rich thanks to its trade links with Myanmar and is known for its labyrinth of paved roads, lined with traditional wooden houses that call to mind an old-worldly China. Visit to the daily market, to the stunning Library (the richest in rural China, with over 60,000 volumes) which is financed by overseas Chinese, and to one of the many Ancestor-worship Temples.

You will also visit the Sino-Burmese anti-Japanese War Museum that amply demonstrates the strategic geographical importance of Heshun on the road to Burma.
Lunch comprising of traditional Tengchong food, famous throughout Yunnan.

The region of Tengchong is first and foremost known for its volcanoes and hot springs, numbering 40 volcanoes and 80 hot springs spread over a 750km2 area. Journey on to the village of Mazhan (located 22km from Tengchong), our starting point for the visit to the largest concentration of volcanoes in the region. Ascent up Dakongshan, which towers over the volcanoes and from which you can appreciate the crater on “black hollow hill” and the surrounding lava fields.

During your visit you will be able to take in the Black Fish River, known for its crystal-clear waters and which takes its name from the thousands of black fish that occupy it year after year. Visiting this site takes around one hour.

Return to Tengchong and the Hot Sea Park, where a large number of natural sources of hot water are clustered, and which can be appreciated from a distance thanks to the columns of steam they let off, and where you will have the opportunity to unwind to finish off the day.

Overnight stay in Tengchong.

 

Day 13        Tengchong - Baoshan

Journey to Baoshan, located around 160km away and taking between three and four hours on the road, not including the stops. Stop at the Gaoligong Natural Reserve, home to 300 species of bird over its 12,000 hectares set against the backdrop of the Gaoligong mountain chain (the highest peak among its mountains reaches over 3900m in altitude). The visit takes between two and four hours depending on both your level of fitness and your wishes.

Arrival in Baoshan, the largest city in Western Yunnan, which also owes its development to the Southern Silk Road, in addition to the Nujiang River to the west and the mythical Mekong river to the East.

Meeting wih a local coffee producer, a Baoshan specialty (coffee was imported into South East Asia in the 50s).

Overnight stay in Baoshan.

 

Day 14        Baoshan - Dali

baoshan-01Journey to Dali (170km, taking around 3 hours), with an en route visit to the Reclining Buddha Temple (16km from Baoshan), built into the mountain and that overlooks a cave studded with stalactites. This reclining statue of Buddha in white jade and a gold tunic is the largest statue of its type in China (6 meters long).
Dali is home to the Bai minority and was a stronghold of the kingdom of Nanzhao (738-902) and epicentre of the Dali Kingdom (937-1253). The region, notably the shores of the Erhai Lake (literally the Ear Shaped Lake), and the surrounding areas where bronze dating back to 1000 BC has been found, played a strategic role in Yunnan’s history. The Bai (who nowadays number less than 2 million) first settled in the region more than 3000 years ago and their first dwellings surrounded the lake. The Bai are most distinguishable by their clothing - predominantly white (from which the Bai take their name, “Bai” means white in Chinese) and by their homes, which are very particular to this region and you will be able to see example of these in Dali old town.

We will visit for the Three Pagodas at the Chongsheng temple, situated around 13 away from Dali old town.The temple is a mystical emblem of the town and stands proud at the foot of the Changshan Mountains. The Pagoda of the Thousand Awakenings was built in the ninth century and designed by an engineer from Chang'an (nowadays known as Xi'an) and is characterized by its square plan, similar to that of the Wild Goose Pagoda found in the ancient imperial capital, symbolising the influence the Chinese Tang Dynasty in the region.

Overnight stay in Dali.

 

Day 15        Dali - Kunming

daliVisit of the daily market in Xizhou in one the village around Erhai lake, a very well persevered Bai arhictecture village located 18km in the norh of Dali.

We will then head on to the old town of Dali, where you can still find some typical Bai homes. Stroll in old town, a relaxed and warm atmosphere seems to ooze from these white walled homes, on which you can find paintings representing mountains, running water, birds and flowers. Their front porches, famous throughout the country, are distinguished by their beautifully carved arches. Visit of the Catholic church that mixes Bai and European architecture styles.
Afternoon at leisure.

Note: Cangshan mountains are 2 km west of Dali and the backdrop of Dali city. The site offers many different trekking paths and great views on Dali & Erai lake. Please consult us if you want to add a hike.

Transfer to train station for a night train in a sleeper cabin to Kunming (taking between 7 and 8 hours). In China, the train is the meeting place of the Chinese. People board the train, eat containers of instant noodles with water from their thermos in hand, gulp down unbelievable quantities of sunflower seeds, play cards, and clink glasses of beer or baijiu, the country’s rice liquor.

Overnight on board.

 

Day 16        Kunming

Early arrival in Kunming. Transfer to your hotel to take a shower and enjoy breakfast.

Your day will begin with a short walk in Green Lake Park (also known as Cuihu Park), letting you get a feel for the atmosphere of Chinese parks in the morning. The real early birds start their day with taiqi or qigong, both types of physical exercise which they consider vital to their health and well-being. Others engage in a friendly game of Chinese chess, Go (an ancient Chinese board game), or Mah-jong: a piece of true theatre on the banks of the lake which in summer is covered by lotus-flowers and in winter flooded with seagulls. For those who have been to China before, you have probably experienced Chinese park culture in Beijing or another major Chinese city.

Afterwards you will visit the Yuantong Temple (literally meaning “the Temple of understanding everything”). Founded during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the temple is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments in Kunming and is known for its unique location. It is situated in a natural valley, contributing to the peaceful atmosphere of the temple which is still regularly visited by pelerine monks. You will then visit the Golden Temple (which takes its name from the gold leaf which covers the main pavilion), which is perfectly located on a small hill surrounded by pine and cypress trees. Despite its Buddhist influence the temple is dedicated to Taoism, letting you take a peek at another fundamental pillar of traditional Chinese belief. From here, you will move on to the Yunnan Provincial museum, an essential stop for anyone wishing to truly understand the characteristically multi-ethnic nature of this region. China has 56 different officially recognised minority groups, but during this trip you will mainly learn about the Yi (the largest minority in Yunnan), the Hui Muslims, the Buyi, the Bai, the Hani and the Naxi. The museum has a beautiful collection of finery and traditional dress along with a relatively clear explanation of popular art forms.

Option: Dinner will be at the 1910 South Railway Station Restaurant. We suggest  this pleasant colonial style restaurant in order to highlight an oft forgotten period of this province’s history. China was never fully colonised (at least by Western powers) unlike some of its neighbours in South-East Asia, but Concessions were granted to Western powers during the 19th century, one of the best known being in Shanghai. In 1910 the French launched a mammoth project in order to advance their expansionist desires by linking Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam and at the time a French protectorate, to Kunming.

Note: Please consult us if you want to replace this city tour by a day trip in the Stone forest.

Overnight in Kunming

Overnight stay in Kunming.

 

Day 17        Kunming

Transfer to Kunming airport and departure flight.

Itinerary is subject to changes depending on flights, road conditions and availability of rooms.

You can extend the program with Extended Tours .

 

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