Magical Myanmar Xmas Special

Myanmar (Burma)

Changi Airport

This adventure is: #on the weekend, #scenic

Myanmar (Burma): Magical Myanmar Xmas Special

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“Hi, it's u­­­s, Georg­i­n­a, Bri­tt­a, and ­Lee­ Lin­g­”

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Seeing hot-air balloons flying over Bagan is one of the iconic images of Myanmar (Burma). The massive scale of the over 3000 temples on the Bagan plain means that you can only truly witness the scale of it all from the air, and slowly floating over is the best way of doing it.

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Balloons over Bagan at sunrise, photo by Paul Arps licensed under CC BY 2.0

* Banner Photo: Sunrise @ Inle Lake, photo by momo licensed under CC BY 2.0


Inle Lake, which measures 22 km long by 10 km wide, and sits in a valley between two mountain ranges, feels like a different world to the rest of Myanmar; in villages and towns across the lake, wooden houses are built high on stilts and fishermen steer their one-man boats with a unique rowing style, wrapping one leg around their oar.

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Stilted houses of Inle Lake, photo by Paul Arps licensed under CC BY 2.0


Day 1 
Arrive Mandalay, visit U Bein bridge. This 1.2-kilometre (0.75 mi) bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and (once) longest teakwood bridge in the world. If time allows, will also visit some temple on the way to the hotel.

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)U-Bein Bridge, Amarapura. Photo by Evgeny Artemov licensed under CC BY 2.0



Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Panoramic view of U Bein Bridge, Mandalay. Photo by Heinz_Htetz licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Day 2 – Cruise to Bagan (B/L)
After breakfast, transfer to jetty for a boat excursion to Bagan, enjoy the beautiful scenes along the Ayeyarwady River, arriving Bagan in the evening around 5pm.

We then drive to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano 1518 metres above sea level, about 50 km southeast of Bagan. It can be seen from the Ayeyarwady River as far away as 60 km in clear weather. We have dinner there and enjoy the beautiful sunset.

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Ayeyarwady River. Photo by Ian Cochrane licensed under CC BY 2.0

Ayeyarwady River (also known as Irrawaddy River) is a river that flows from north to south through Myanmar. It is the country's largest river and most important commercial waterway.

 Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Mount Popa Myanmar. Photo by Guillén Pérez licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


Day 3  – Optional Hot Air Balloon at around USD300 (B)
Set out at sunrise for Balloon over Bagan and back to the hotel for breakfast around 9am or so. We would go on horse cart around Bagan (some may choose E-bike with a top-up of around USD6 if you don't mind the dust), roam around some temple sites with the horizon stretching for miles around, the panoramic view is just as awe-inspiring as the sunset. 

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Travelling around by horse cart is very common in Bagan. Photo by Dunphasizer licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


We'll also visit the Wetkyi-in Gubyaukgyi Temple near Wetkyi-in village to admire the ancient mural paintings that depict scenes from the Jataka tales - the stories that tell about the previous lives of the Buddha. We shall have lunch along the way. At around 4pm, we'll do what the locals love to do, chill out on the beach at Ayarwaddy river bank. 

Day 4 – Kalaw sightseeing (B)
After breakfast, drive to Kalaw for about 5.5 hours. High up in western Shan State, Kalaw is an old hill station with a laid-back atmosphere, with refreshing climate and scenic views. Many of Kalaw's original colonial-era buildings remain. We would also do some sightseeing around Shwe Oo Min natural cave; travel along the up-and-down meandering roads of Kalaw to have the panoramic view of Kalaw; visit an old colonial-style building from a hillock opposite Kalaw.

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Kalaw Town, Shan State, Myanmar. Photo by Go-Myanmar licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0


Day 5 - Kalaw trekking (B/L/D)
We will embark on a 20k moderate trek through the hills of Kalaw with a steady pace. Learn about vegetations with information of the inhabitants of Kalaw and the work they do. Visit tea harvest process and a traditional village, stop for traditional lunch, continue down the other side of the mountains back into Kalaw...Beautiful scenery, takes about seven hours, a good day walk. 

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Trekking in Kalaw, photo by lea_r licensed under CC BY 2.0


Day 6 - Kayaking in Inle Lake; Cycle to Wine Factory - (B)
Morning drive to Inle, check-in hotel. Spend some time exploring the big lake on our own Kayak, meet the lake dwellers, Intha people with their unique leg-rowing boating, glide through narrow waterways between high mountains to quiet and peaceful villages and be closed to nature. Later in the day, we will cycle around Nyaungshwe; visit wine factory in Red Mountain for sunset view. 

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)One-leg rower on lake Inle. Photo by Stefan Munder licensed under CC BY 2.0

 
Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)Storefront in Nyaungshwe, photo by Vera & Jean-Christophe licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)View from the Red Mountain Winery. Photo by by Clay Gilliland licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Day 7 - Inle sightseeing and night bus to Mandalay (B)
A boat trip to villages in Inle is beyond your imagination. Gazing at the blue hazy mountains, feeding groups of water birds that are chattering here and there on the lake, scattering floating vegetations and happy-and-contented Inthas (native to the Lake Inle) in their leg-rowing small boats...a picturesque view for one to imagine.

We would come to the floating garden known as Kyun-Hmyaw, it was built-up from strips of water hyacinth and mud, dredged from the lake bed, which breaks down into a rich humus and it takes 50 years to produce a layer of 1m thick. We will soak in the enchanting sunset view over Inle Lake.

Night bus to Mandalay for around 7 hours.

Magical Myanmar Xmas Special starting at Myanmar (Burma)

The boat tour of Inle Lake, see floating gardens and villages. Photo by Kate, get the picturelicensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


Day 8 - (B)
After breakfast check-in airport 

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Air Ticket around SGD730 subject to change; price always goes up nearer to the date

NOTE: Seat is based on 1st payment 1st served

Maximum 15 pax

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Things to consider:

- Respect the locals by having a sarong handy to cover knees when entering temples, preferably keeping shoulders covered at all times

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