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Travel through Myanmar in style

June 3, 2017 Destination ASEAN, Headline News No Comments Email Email

It’s getting easier and easier these days to travel to Myanmar and see most of the attractions of the Golden Land, especially when you stay in the heartland along the Ayeyarwady River. If you start your journey in Thailand, you have two options to fly to the commercial city of Yangon, which is the main gateway to Myanmar, namely from Bangkok or Chiang Mai with Bangkok Airways. To get a tourist visa valid for thirty days will cost you 40USD at the newly opened consulate of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Chiang Mai or in Bangkok.

Arriving in the new terminal of the Yangon International Airport, you quickly pass immigration and customs, change some local money (1USD=1,300Kyat) and catch a taxi to your preferred hotel. The morning traffic into the town is heavy, and it takes nearly an hour to reach the scenic Kandawgyi Lake and the Esperado Lake View Hotel at the east side of the lake. After a short rest, you can walk along a wooden pathway on the lake, inspect the Karaweik Restaurant and take your evening dinner in an open restaurant at the west end of the lake. Where ever you go, you can see the dominating golden spire of the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is a symbol of strength and serenity. Back to the hotel with a taxi, it is possible to have a few drinks at the 9th floor restaurant of the hotel in the full illuminated view of the Shwedagon Pagoda before going to sleep.

A whole day sightseeing tour introduces the city life of colonial Yangon and features the Botataung Pagoda at the port, Sule Pagoda in the city center and the busy Scott Market, where a tasty Shan noodle dish for lunch is taken. The whole afternoon is then reserved to visit the holy and impressive Shwedagon Pagoda until sunset. The dinner is taken at the 9th floor of the Esperado Lake View Hotel.

Another day of sightseeing brings you to the old Mon town of Bago, meaning beautiful in the Mon language. There is first a two hour train ride from the Central Railway Station in Yangon. After arriving in Bago, formerly Hanthawaddy, you can visit a Buddhist monastery to watch exactly how the monks get daily fed. After that you continue to see the huge Shwemawdaw Pagoda, which is actually higher than the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, and Kambawza Thardi, which was the palace of King Bayintnaung (16th century). There is a simple restaurant for lunch near the clock tower und later you drive to the sleeping Shwethalyaung Buddha (55m long). Make a photo stop at the forest monastery of Kyaik Pun and at the spirit shrine of the Buffalo Goddess, also called Mother Goddess of Bago, continuing to drive back to Yangon and take your dinner again at the 9th floor des Esperado Lake View Hotel.

Early next morning fly from Yangon to Nyaung U-Bagan. Visit the local market and transfer to the Umbra Hotel, which offers a big swimming pool. Bagan is one of Asia’s most amazing and richest archaeological sites, also being the capital of the first Myanmar Empire. Have the first part of sightseeing in the afternoon in Bagan: Htilominlo, Ananda, Old Bagan and Bupaya (4th century) at the river, which was built by the Pyu people, the forerunners of the Myanmar. After sunset, have dinner in a local restaurant.

Highly recommended is an early morning balloon flight over Bagan (300USD) with its more than 2,000 pagodas und then have breakfast in the hotel. After that take a horse cart ride to the Shwezigon Pagoda (11th century) and Kyanzittha Umin, where you can see wall paintings of the time, when the Mongols conquered Bagan in the 13th century. In the afternoon sightseeing south of Old Bagan: Nanpaya and Manuha temples, a lacquer ware workshop in New Bagan and Lawkananda Pagoda until sunset. Have dinner in a local restaurant.

After one day rest in Bagan continue with a public bus from Bagan to Mandalay, which will take around 6 hours. Stop for a local lunch at Myingyan. Arrive in Mandalay in the afternoon and check in at the Yadanarpon Dynasty Hotel in the eastern part of Mandalay not far from the palace. Mandalay was the last capital of the Myanmar Kingdom and is some 700km located north of Yangon. It is famous for its cultural heritage, traditional arts and crafts. Have dinner at a local restaurant.

Next morning visit the reconstructed wooden Mandalay Palace and stop at the Zay Cho market near the clock tower. In the afternoon visit the Royal Monastery Shwenandaw, Atumashi, Kuthodaw Pagoda with the biggest book of the world (729 marble tablets) and Sandamuni Pagoda with the commentaries. Later drive to the Mandalay Hill (240m high) and watch the sunset at the western horizon over the Ayeyarwady River. Have dinner at a local restaurant.

In the morning go by boat on the Ayeyarwady River to Mingun to see the uncompleted Pagoda (50m high) and the biggest bell of the world. In the afternoon drive to the Mahahmuni Sanctuary in Amarapura und then cross the river to reach Sagaing Hill from where to see the splendid environs around Mandalay. Later visit the famous U Bein Bridge in Amarapura until sunset. Have dinner in a local restaurant.

In the morning drive some 70km away to the highland town of Pyin Oo Lwin (May Myo) and check in at the Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort. Built by the British, today Pyin Oo Lwin has also become home to the Defence Services Academy (DSA). Its town center is marked by the Purcell Clock Tower built in 1936. In the afternoon, visit the Pwe Kauk Waterfalls east of May Myo und climb to the hill monastery with a Marble Buddha. Later relax with café and cake at the Feel Bakery at a lake. Have dinner in a Shan Restaurant.

On the next day visit the big town market in May Myo and then proceed to the National Kandawgyi Garden until closing time. The famous botanical garden offers a myriad of flowers, trees, a rock garden, fossil museum, walk-in aviary, orchid garden and butterfly museum.  Later visit the rebuilt Governor’s House for sightseeing. Have a dinner in the Indian restaurant TAJ.

Next morning drive with the train to Lashio from Pyin Oo Lwin Railway Station to Nong Paeng and cross the impressive Gok Teik Viadukt (700m long). After a local lunch drive back by bus to Pyin Oo Lwin and then back to Mandalay. Check in at the Yadanarpon Dynasty Hotel and have dinner in a local restaurant.

Next morning fly from Mandalay to Heho in Southern Shan State. Drive to Nyaungshwe and check in at the local Thanakha Hotel. In the afternoon drive by boat to the famous Phaung Daw U Pagoda on the Inlay Lake to see the floating gardens and the leg rowers. Inlay Lake is located some 900m above sea level, 22km long and 10km wide. There are some 20 villages of the Intha people around the lake, while the capital Taunggyi is high up in the hills. Have an Intha dinner at the hotel.

Have a whole day free in Nyaungshwe to explore the golden town pagoda and the former Shan Palace, which today is a museum. The former palace was built between 1913 and 1923 by Sawbwagyi Sir Sao Maung. Actually, Sawbwa Sao Shwe Thaike became the First President of Myanmar (1948-1952). There are still the offices of the Chief Minister, Revenue Officers, Judicial Officers and Judical Officers next to the treasury. Have lunch in the Thanakha Garden Restaurant and dinner at the View Point Restaurant.

Next morning see a local Shan Monastery and continue to Heho Airport. Fly from Heho to Thandwe in Rakhaing State and check in at the luxury Amazing Resort in Ngapali for a week. Ngapali is one of the beautiful beaches in Myanmar. By overland from Yangon, it is 14 hour drive along a narrow winding road over the Rakhaing Yoma Mountain Range and crossing the Ayeyarwady River at Pyay.

Stay in Ngapali, watch the fishermen’s work and have dinners at several Sea Food Restaurants (Ocean Pearl, Sea Queen, Blue Lagoon, and Gold Fish). Finally fly from Thandwe, formerly called Sandoway, back to Yangon. Transfer from the Domestic to International Airport. In the evening fly from Yangon to Bangkok. End of the trip.

Is there are better way to see the highlights of Myanmar within three weeks time, I wonder?

Written by : Reinhard Hohler

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