Myanmar (Burma) is a cultural melting pot that will surprise and delight even the most-worldly traveller. The contrasting landscape, with endless plains suddenly rising up into highland plateaus, will create dramatic backdrops for your journey.
Gaze in awe at the thousands of pagodas scattered across the plains of Bagan or perhaps explore the backstreets of Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar, which offers a sudden time-capsule journey back to British colonial times. The sacred Shwedagon Paya, a pagoda decorated in gold leaf, diamonds and other gems, stands like a sentinel in this devoutly Buddhist land.
In contrast but equally impressive is Inle Lake, the picturesque setting for leg-rowing fishermen, houses on stilts and lively village markets.
Mandalay, located on the east bank of Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River, is often considered the hub of Burmese culture and boasts stunning temples and a rich history.
The many sites of Myanmar draw visitors to this fascinating destination, but the friendly smiles from locals on their trishaws and horse-drawn carts are what truly delight.
At 110 metres high and over two thousand five hundred years old the Shwedagon Pagoda, which is said to enshrine strands of Buddha’s hair and other holy relics, is the most sacred Buddhist site in Myanmar. The Pagoda is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the stupa is encrusted with thousands of diamonds, the largest is reportedly a 72 carat diamond. The Shwedagon Pagoda complex consists hundreds colourful temples, stupas, and statues.
Shwedagon Pagoda is one of the most famous pagodas in the world and it is certainly a highlight to any visit to Yangon, Myanmar’s capital city. Visitors are required to remove their shoes upon entering the Shwedagon and negotiating the hot floor tiles between the shaded sanctuaries can be a challenge.
Inle Lake is the life-source of a beautiful community of mostly devout Buddhists, who live in, on and from the lake. Most people live in simple houses of wood and woven bamboo on stilts; they are largely self-sufficient farmers.
Local fishermen are known for practicing a distinctive rowing style which involves standing at the stern on one leg and wrapping the other leg around the oar. This unique style allows fishermen to navigate without getting stuck in the lake’s reeds. The leg rowing style is only practiced by the men; women row in the customary style. In addition to fishing, locals grow vegetables and fruit in large gardens that float on the surface of the lake. These gardens rise and fall with changes in the water level, and so are resistant to flooding.
The Inle lake area is renowned for its weaving industry. Silk-weaving is another very important industry, producing high-quality hand-woven silk fabrics of distinctive design called Inle longyi.
Bagan is an ancient city located close to the centre of Myanmar. From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later become Myanmar. During the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed on the Bagan plains. Over 2200 temples and pagodas survive to the present day.
During its heyday the city was a centre for religious and secular studies, attracting monks and students from India, Ceylon as well as the Khmer Empire. The Pagan Empire collapsed in 1287 due to repeated Mongol invasions (1277–1301). The city, once home to 200,000 people, was reduced to a small town.
A balloon flight across the plains is a must.
The former capital of Burma, Mandalay was founded on the wishes of the ruler, King Mindon in 1857, at the foot of Mandalay Hill, ostensibly to fulfil a prophecy on the founding of a metropolis of Buddhism in that exact place on the occasion of the 2,400th jubilee of Buddhism.
Mandalay remains a Myanmar’s cultural and religious centre of Buddhism, having numerous monasteries and more than 700 pagodas. At the foot of Mandalay Hill sits the world’s official “Buddhist Bible”, also known as the world’s largest book, in Kuthodaw Pagoda.
A journey down the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar’s longest, which flows from its source high in the Himalayas south through the centre of the country before reaching the Andaman Sea, is a wonderful way to explore Myanmar. There a many fine vessels offering very high standards, some carrying upwards of 90 guests. Our favourites are a little smaller and offer a more intimate experience both on-board and also when disembarking to explore along the way.
MV Orcaella with 25 cabins or the Kya Byoo (image) with just 9 teak lined cabins are just two we think you should consider. Their popularity means you need to book early, at least 6-8 months prior to departure.
Top class design and the finest facilities. Usually located in a spectacular setting it may be an exclusive hotel in a meticulously restored historic building, or recognised as the leading property of an international chain.
The Strand Hotel
A perfect alternative to the big brand hotels:
exclusive and independently-owned properties with a smaller number of rooms and highly personalised services.
Amara Mountain Resort
High quality with an excellent room standard, a full range of facilities and first-rate service; may be a new property or regularly refurbished with attention to ongoing maintenance.
The Savoy Hotel
Arrive in Yangon and catch a flight up to Bagan, on the banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River.
Spend the day exploring the stunning archaeological zone, home to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist pagodas, stupas and temples in the world, with many dating from the 11th and 12th centuries.
Witness the manufacturing of Myanmar’s most treasured handicrafts with a visit to a lacquerware craftsmen’s workshop in Myinkaba village before ending your day with a climb up to the top of one of the off-the-beaten track pagodas and absorb the stunning view at the sunset over the plains of Bagan, dotted with the spires and towers more than 2000 temples and pagodas.
A visa is required by all Australian passport holders to enter Myanmar.Visas are best obtained on-line or can be obtained from a Myanmar embassy.
We recommend that you obtain your visa on-line prior to departure to avoid any uncertainty or delays on arrival at the airport.
Malaria is prevalent throughout many regions of Myanmar and prophylaxis is recommended. A valid Yellow Fever certificate is required if coming from a country designated as being in a Yellow Fever zone. Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza. Japanese Encephalitis may also be a risk for some travellers. There are no compulsory vaccinations unless you are arriving from a Yellow Fever zone.
We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess these risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.
Myanmar has a tropical climate, with the southwest monsoon bringing rain from May to October. November to February is considered the best time to visit most of Myanmar when temperatures are relatively manageable.
High Season – December to February
From October onwards the rains subside and the temperature moderates. During the high season it is important to book accommodation and transport well ahead in order to not be disappointed.
Shoulder Season – October and November plus March and April
From March to May in Yangon temperatures can reach 36 C whilst around Bagan and Mandalay it can be even warmer. The hill towns of the Shan State are somewhat cooler. All forms of transport book out solid during the Thingyan Water Festival in April so early bookings are essential if you are considering travelling at festival time.
Low Season – May to September
The southwest monsoon starts in mid-May and peaks from July to September. The dry zone between Mandalay and Pyay gets the least rain. During the Monsoon roads can become impassable especially in the delta region and particularly from July to September.
We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Asia are Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines. With hubs in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively both airlines are well positioned to provide a quality service from Australia to all major destinations in Asia.
Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll want to know the details of all of your fights. Flight times regularly change and, if or when they do, we want to make sure your transfers and other arrangements are amended accordingly.