Road Scholar : Home
Burma Unveiled: Ancient Kingdoms, Indelible Beauty

Program Number: 20337RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/14/2014 - 10/29/2014;
Duration: 15 nights
Location: Myanmar (Burma), Myanmar
Price starting at: $4,689.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 35; 13 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 11 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Trace the fascinating history of Burma: from the ancient Bagan Dynasty, which united the lands that make up Burma, laid the foundation for its language and culture and built stunning temples that still survive today, to the colonial rule of the British Raj to the recent political and cultural reform termed “Myanmarification."


• Explore the ruined temples of Bagan, their beautiful pagodas rising majestically from lush surroundings.
• Learn Burma’s story in four of its historic capitals: Amarapura, Bagan, Mandalay and Rangoon (today Yangon).
• Discover the stilted villages and floating farms of Inle Lake.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to 3 miles per day on uneven terrains. Must be flexible and be able to climb in and out of small boats for at least 3 to 4 times a day in Inle Lake. Must be able to climb steps without any railings. May require standing up or sitting down for up to one to two hours at a time. Itinerary is full and moves rapidly through out the day. Consider heat and humidity as physical factors.

Due to the nature of this program, listening devices are not available.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Yangon, 2 nights; flight to Heho; coach to Inle Lake, 2 nights; coach to Heho; flight to Mandalay, 3 nights; coach to Monywa, 1 night; coach to Bagan, 4 nights; flight to Yangon, 1 night; departure.

Overnight flight from the U.S.A.
1 night
Cross International Date Line
1 night
Arrival Yangon
2 nights

Discover this historic city’s colonial architecture and diversity — visit Hindu and Chinese temples and a synagogue. Journey to the enormous, golden Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese. Interact with local university students and learn about Burma through their perspective.

Flight to Heho
Coach to Inle Lake
2 nights

Board a private motorboat to explore spectacular Inle Lake with its simple houses on bamboo stilts. Continue to In Dien, a hillside village dotted with thousands of small stupas built in the 15th century. Learn about daily life here as you visit a weaving village and share lunch at a family home.

Coach to Heho
Flight to Mandalay
3 nights

In Amarapura, walk across the lovely U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teak bridge, and visit the monastery of Maha Gandhayon Kyaung, home to over 1,000 monks. See the “world’s largest book” carved into stone tablets on stupas. Take a restored rice barge up the River Irrawaddy to discover the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, a monumental unfinished pagoda. Continue to the picturesque former British hill station of Pyin U Lwin. Enjoy a traditional Burmese dance performance.

Coach to Monywa
1 night
Coach to Bagan
4 nights
Flight to Yangon
1 night

Journey through the Burmese countryside, stopping at the Thanboddhay Pagoda, a huge temple with more than 500,000 Buddha images, and the Hop Win Daung Caves. From the old market town of Monywa, coach to Bagan. Enjoy three days exploring the amazing temples of Bagan and relish the opportunity to see the sun set on the stupas. Participate in a Monk initiation ceremony with the local villagers, a integral part of a young boy's life.

Myanmar (Burma)

Burma, or the Union of Myanmar, achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1948 and has been under military rule since 1962. With roughly 87 percent of its population practicing Buddhism, temples and shrines dot the landscape, and traditionally, monasteries are the center of spiritual and social life. It is a land of intense natural beauty, with its central lowlands ringed by steep, rugged mountains.

Yangon: Four-star hotel. Inle Lake: Beautiful spa resort. Mandalay: Four-star hotel near temples and royal palace. Monywa: Lakefront hotel. Bagan: Hotel on the banks of the Irrawaddy river.
Meals and Lodgings
   Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon
  Yangon, Myanmar 2 nights
   Pristine Lotus Spa Resort
  Inle Lake, Myanmar 2 nights
   Shwe Pyi Tha Hotel
  Mandalay, Myanmar 3 nights
   Win Unity Resort
  Monywa, Myanmar 1 night
   Bagan Thande Hotel
  Bagan, Myanmar 4 nights
   Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon
  Yangon, Myanmar 1 night
 Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon is a 5-star city resort located by the historic Royal Lake (Kandawgyi Lake) in the heart of Yangon City. This legacy property, with its distinguished colonial style blended with Asian and Eastern revival architecture, is ideal for both business and leisure travelers. A stay at Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon is an experience with “A remarkable heritage”.
  Contact info: 40, Natmauk Road,
Tamwe Township
Yangon,   Myanmar
phone: +(95) 1 544 500
  Room amenities: All rooms are equipped with a range of deluxe amenities, IDD telephone, satellite TV and in-house movies, mini-bar, in-room safe, hair dryer and a personal safety deposit box. All rooms have spacious bathrooms with separate glass shower cubicles. Private balconies are attached to all rooms and 24-hours room service. Additional amenities include: • Welcome drink upon arrival • Daily buffet breakfast at The Emporia • Daily replenishment of bottled drinking water - 2 bottles a day • Daily In-room servicing • Tea/Coffee making facilities in the room • Wi-Fi internet access in room • Complimentary use of Swimming Pool, Gym, Sauna and Jacuzzi
  Facility amenities: • Breath-taking view of serene Royal Lake and Magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda from the hotel • 303 guestrooms ranging from 40 to 300 sq.m. including 37 divine suites • Full-range Business Center services including private meeting rooms • Chatrium Club Lounge with dedicated staff and continuous food and beverage service • Kohaku Authentic Japanese Restaurant • Tiger Hill, a signature Chinese fine dining restaurant • The Emporia for all-day dining • Lobby Lounge and Sunset Terrace • The Ritz Executive Lounge and Bar with lavish setting and design • A 435–square meter ballroom with 5 additional function rooms of various sizes • L-Shaped outdoor swimming pool and children’s pool surrounded with palm garden and lash greenery • Fully-equipped modern Fitness Center with Jacuzzis and Sauna rooms • Lilawadee Spa with a full variety of treatments and massages
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

 Pristine Lotus Spa Resort
Type: Hotel
  Description: Inle Lake is one of the most significant and productive ecological system supporting an immense variety of plants and animals and yielding great wealth for Myanmar through its occurrence of floating islands and the living style of the natives. Pristine Lotus Resort is located at Khaung Daing Village on the west back of Inle Lake, 20 minute fascinating boat-ride from Nyaung Shwe or 45-minute interesting drive from the Heho airport. Inle Lake is a huge lake (22 km long and 10 km across) located in Shan State, over 900 meters above sea-level, and it is outrageously beautiful. Inle Lake is one of the most significant and productive ecological system supporting an immense variety of plants and animals and yielding great wealth for Myanmar.
  Contact info: Khaung Daing Village
Nyaung Shwe
Inle,   Myanmar
phone: (++95-81) 209317
  Smoking allowed: No

 Shwe Pyi Tha Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: Hotel Shwe Pyi Thar, located in a place where the culture is interconnected with the beauty of Myanmar, a place where the historic, lake Aung Pin Lae, founded by King Mindon together with the new royal capital of Mandalay. Faining the traditions of Myanmar architecture using local golden teak and modern conveniences blend with the beautiful Shan Mountain View, The Hill View of Mandalay and City View make our Hotel the preferred destination in Mandalay, Myanmar for both Business Travelers and Tourists alike.
  Contact info: N0.B-8, Pyin Oo Lwin Road,
Between 31st & 32nd Street, Chan Aye Thar Zan Township
Mandalay,   Myanmar
phone: +(95) 2 74 402 (to 09)
  Room amenities: •Complimentary Wi-Fi internet access throughout hotel •LCD Flat screen TV •DVD Player •Iron and ironing board (Upon Request) •In-room safe •IDD/STD telephone lines •Individual Air conditioning •Tea and coffee making facilities •Shoes shine service •Myanmar Traditional Slipper
  Facility amenities: 24 – Hours front desk, Concierge and luggage storage. 24 – hours business centre ( IDD, Internet, Photo copy, scanning and printing) Free Wi-Fi service Limousine service All are non smoking rooms except 4th floor (smoking room) 24 – hours lift services Spa service ( from 09:00 to 21:00) Nice and cleaned swimming pool ( from 08:00 to 21:00) Fitness Centre and bicycle rental service Doctor on call service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Win Unity Resort
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The hotel is situated on a small lake on the outskirts of Monywa, near the Chindwin River.
  Contact info: Bogyoke Road, Yone Gyi Quarter, Kantharyar
Yone Gyi Quarter
Monywa Township, Sagaing Division,   Myanmar
phone: + 951-227-389
  Room amenities: Irons, hair dryer, air-conditioning, refrigerator and safety-deposit box, phone.
  Facility amenities: Lounge, outdoor swimming pool, laundry service, restaurant, business center
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Bagan Thande Hotel
Type: Full Service Hotel
  Description: The hotel is set in a picturesque location on the banks of the Irrawaddy river, inside the walls of Ancient Bagan City. It is within walking distance to temples and the Bagan Archaeological Museum.
  Contact info: No.75 (D) Banyadala Road
Bahan Township
Yangon,   Myanmar
phone: +95-61-60025
  Room amenities: Deluxe, river-view rooms with satellite T.V, mini-bar, air-conditioning, telephone, hairdryer.
  Facility amenities: Coffee shop, souvenir shop, outdoor swimming pool, pool bar, massage service, bird sanctuary and gardens, laundry service, internet service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
The program commences with Orientation in late afternoon on Day 3 at the program hotel in Yangon, Burma. You will be staying at Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon that night.
  End of Program:
The program concludes with breakfast on Day 16 at the program hotel in Yangon, Burma. You will be staying at Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Driving is not recommended in Burma.
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: This is not available.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Yangon
  Transportation to site: Prior to landing at Yangon International Airport, flight staff will pass out customs forms you will need to fill out, sign, and have handy with your passport. Disembark the plane and follow the signs to Immigration. Queue in the Foreign Passport line and get your passport and departure form stamped. Then, proceed to baggage claim, find the conveyor belt that corresponds to your flight number, and collect your luggage. Enter the Green Channel for Customs where your luggage will be X-rayed, provide your signed customs form and passport to the Customs Officer, then pass through to the waiting lounge where you will see many local people standing and waiting to meet their arrivals. Among them will be a program representative holding a Road Scholar sign. After everyone on the flight has gathered, the Road Scholar representative will guide you to the transfer vehicle and accompany you to the hotel. The transfer typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic. Rooms should be available for check-in by 2:00 p.m. (14:00 hours). If you arrive earlier and rooms are not ready yet, you are welcome to wait in the lobby or bar. IF YOU ARE A PROGRAM ONLY PARTICIPANT (POP) OR MISS THE TRANSFER, the program hotel is a 30 to 40 minutes drive from Yangon International Airport. Given this distance and the nature of Yangon traffic, we recommend that guests arrange for a car transfer to the hotel. You can find some local taxis at the airport which can take you to the hotel. Please note that the taxi rates will vary, depending on the season and the tourist market. Private arrival and departure transfers -- at an additional cost -- may be arranged in advance by calling Road Scholar Travel Services.
  From End of Program
  Location: Yangon
  Transportation from site: There is one desginated group transfer offered at the end of the program that Program Only Participants can take. If this does not coincide with your flight, it is best for you to prebook a transfer with RSTS. Cost is approximately $25 per person (subject to change).
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart on International Flights
(Tuesday, October 14)
 Depart From: Depart from home for your flight to Asia.

Day 2: En Route
(Wednesday, October 15)
 In Transit: Overnight flight to Asia.

Day 3: Arrive in Yangon, Myanmar / Hotel Check-in / Program Orientation / Welcome Dinner
(Thursday, October 16)

Note: Transfer time from the airport to the hotel may be approximately 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic.

 Arrive To: Arrival to Yangon International Airport.
 Afternoon: Transfer to program hotel for check-in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. In addition to the program theme and logistics, we will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Please be aware that indicated times are approximate and that program activities and schedules could change due to local circumstances such as weather, traffic conditions, etc. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. During free time, the Group Leader will often be available for informal excursions, activities, or meals not included in the program. You are welcome to join if you wish, with any associated costs on your own, or may explore independently.
 Dinner: Our welcome dinner at the hotel features Chinese cuisine plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure. Settle in, relax, and get a good night’s sleep for tomorrow.
Accommodations: Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 4: Burmese History / Meet University Students / Yangon City / Shwedagon Paya
(Friday, October 17)

Note: Walking approximately 1.5 miles (2 kilometers); mostly even terrain; watch out for occasional potholes; one bridge with 25-30 steps. Visitors to Shwedagon Paya are required to dress modestly and enter barefoot (no shoes or socks).There are many steps to the top of the Pagoda. There is an elevator, but it may not be reliable.

 Breakfast: Our breakfast buffet at the hotel features Asian and Western selections including noodle soup, bread/toast, eggs, cold meat, fruits, cereal, juices, milk, coffee, tea, water.
 Morning: We begin to understand Myanmar with a presentation on Burmese history by a local expert. While archaeological research dates Stone Age culture here back to 11,000 B.C.E., our focus is on more recent history. The Burmese steadfastly resisted European colonization, but after many conflicts during the 19th Century, the British East India Company became the dominant force. Burma was eventually annexed to India, later declared a self-governing British colony in 1937, and independence in 1948. Throughout its turbulent history, Burma (renamed Myanmar in 1989) has retained many cultural and religious landmarks and traditions that are little different from centuries ago. As a special highlight, we will have an opportunity to interact with some university students who will join us on the motorcoach and walk with us this morning. The Group Leader will guide us during a field trip to experience the cultural and ethnic diversity of Yangon City, formerly known as Rangoon. Via motorcoach, we will traverse Pansoedan Street, passing by St. Mary’s Cathedral, the old parliament building, and the Strand Hotel. We will then walk to see the magnificent, golden Sule Paya (Pagoda), a Burmese stupa more than 2,000 years old, and continue our walk in Little India. Here you will see real daily life with people of many different ancestries living and working amid a hodge-podge of buildings where wires criss-cross the streets like vines. Be careful not to step in the displays of food!
 Lunch: At a local restaurant, Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water.
 Afternoon: In the late afternoon, we will explore Shwedagon Paya (Pagoda), Burma’s most sacred Buddhist shrine and a true wonder of the religious world. The complex contains hundreds of stupas, statues, and temples spanning more than 2,000 years of religious art and architecture. The central tower is covered with hundreds of solid gold plates, while the top is adorned with thousands of diamonds. Relatively few tourists visit here and it is primarily a gathering place for monks, worshippers, and local families.
 Dinner: This evening’s dinner provides another opportunity to savor the local flavor at a local restaurant with Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Depart Yangon / Fly to Heho / Transfer to NyaungShweunch / Inle Lake / Hotel Check-in
(Saturday, October 18)

Note: Flight is approximately 1.5 hours; motorcoach transfer approximately 1 hour. Inle Lake field trips involves getting into/out of small motorboats.

 Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.
 Morning: Following hotel check-out, we transfer to the Yangon airport. During our drive, we will see the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the democratic opposition as chairperson of the National League for Democracy. Suu Kyi was extensively detained under house arrest from 1989-2010. During her time as one of the world’s most prominent political prisoners, she was honored with many awards including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited her in 2011, a symbolic diplomatic gesture that paved the way for President Obama’s official trip the next year, when he presented her with the gold medal. Suu Kyi has announced that she wants to run for President of her country in 2015. We then fly to Heho and transfer through picturesque hills of the Shan State to the small town of NyaungShweunch, gateway to Inle Lake.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant, Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water.
 Afternoon: The Group Leader will provide background information en route to Inle Lake to enhance your learning experience. At the lake, one of Myanmar's most spectacular sights, we will explore via private motorboats.This highland lake of about 45 square miles, situated at nearly 3,000 feet (900 meters) above seat level, is the center of life for local Intha people and different ethnic minorities. Floating gardens of fruits and vegetables cover about 25% of the surface area. In addition to these floating gardens, you will also see “leg rower” fishermen on their traditional boats andvillages on stilts. A special highlight is visiting NgaPheChaung, a Buddhist monastery -- also on stilts -- where monks have taught cats to jump through hoops. We then proceed to our hotel for check-in, where you will have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.
 Dinner: At the hotel, enjoy a 3-course meal with starter, main course, and dessert plus coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Pristine Lotus Spa Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Inle Lake Floating Market By Long Tail Boats / Inn Dein Village / Inn Paw Khone Village
(Sunday, October 19)

Note: Early departure for field trip that involves walking across planks and getting into/out of small wooden boats.

 Breakfast: Our breakfast includes eggs, toast, butter, jams, and juices plus coffee, tea, water.
 Morning: The community market on Inle Lake is held in five locations that rotate on a daily basis. We will depart the hotel early and board private longtail boats to watch as villagers buy and sell their produce. Goods for sale typically include textiles, tools, carved wooden objects, and cheroots -- cigars with the ends cut off and stuffed with a blend of sweet ingredients -- from the local factory. We continue through narrow canals, observing villages and houses on stilts, to Inn Dein, a hillside village dotted with small stupas dating back to the 15th century. We will take a guided walk through the village, visit the local school, meet villagers, and see some of the more than 1,000 Shan style stupas on the lush hills. With many of them showing centuries of wear, you will feel as if you have stepped back in time.
 Lunch: Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: We continue our exploration of life on Inle Lake at another stilted community, Inn Paw Khone, a “silk village” notable for its weavers who work on looms made of bamboo poles to produce beautiful fabrics to make longyi -- the traditional waist to feet cloths worn by both men and women -- and other items. In addition to silk and cotton, the weavers produce special fabrics made with strands from the stems of lotus flowers. At the conclusion of the field trip, we return to the hotel where you will have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.
 Dinner: Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, and water at the hotel.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Pristine Lotus Spa Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Depart Inle Lake / Fly to Mandalay / Maha Ganda Hyaung Monastery
(Monday, October 20)

Note: Flight time is approximately an hour; departure time around Noon may vary. The afternoon field trip involves climbing uneven stairs and walking 1.5 to 2 miles including a wooden bridge.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We begin the morning with a discussion on the impact of tourism on the people of Burma and their economy. After checking out of the hotel, we transfer back to Heho airport for our flight to Mandalay’s Tadaoo Airport, and upon arrival hop aboard a motorcoach and head for town.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Amarapura today is a township of Mandalay due to urban sprawl, but it was twice a royal capital. The town is a center of traditional arts and crafts, especially silk weaving and bronze casting. It is also significant as the home of two iconic sites we will see. Guided by our Group Leader, we will explore Maha Gandayone Monastery to see where the monks love and work. For those we may meet, the Group Leader will translate your greetings and questions. Maha Ganda Kyaung monastery, the largest in the country, is home to 1,500 monks who study and practice Dhamma -- the way taught by the Buddha in which Awakening is the culmination of gradual progression. We will then walk along U Bein, the world’s longest and oldest teak bridge. Built with wood reclaimed from a former royal palace, it has more than 1,000 pillars and stretches nearly a mile (1.2 kilometers) over Taungthaman Lake. Proceeding to our hotel for check-in, you will have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.
 Dinner: At the hotel, Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Shwe Pyi Tha Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: History of Mandalay / Long Tail Boat to Mingun/ Pagodas and Workshops
(Tuesday, October 21)

Note: Long tail boat ride is approximately 1 hour upstream. The field trip in Mingun involves a leisurely walk of about 2 hours to explore the village.

 Breakfast: Our breakfast includes eggs, toast, butter, jams, juices, coffee, tea, water, and more.
 Morning: We will have an early start as a local expert presents an overview of the royal capitals of Mandalay. Next, we transfer by motorcoach to the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River, observing morning life of the local community. This is the country’s principal river and most important commercial waterway. We then board a long tail boat and embark on a ride up the river to Mingun. Enjoy the river and passing scenery in the morning light. Upon arrival, we will explore Mingun, an ancient site that is home to what King Bodawpaya (c. 1740-1819) intended to be the largest pagoda in the world. Had it been completed, the stupa would have been taller than the Great Pyramid of Egypt, but the king’s massive -- and massively unpopular -- building project, undertaken with slave labor, put a serious strain on resources and was eventually left unfinished. Its 12-foot high bronze bell weighs more than 200,000 pounds. After it was cast, Bodawpaya had the master craftsman killed so he could produce nothing greater! It lacks a ringing mechanism because the entire project was abandoned as soon as the king died.
 Lunch: Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: We return to Mandalay via boat and later in the afternoon visit Shwe Nandaw Monastery (Shwe Kyaung), Kuthodaw Pagoda, and Mahamuni Pagoda -- three of the most extraordinary examples of sacred architecture anywhere. We will also observe a fascinating aspect of local religious craftsmanship, a gold leaf workshop.
 Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Shwe Pyi Tha Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 9: Pyin Oo Lwin Hill Station/ National Kandawgyi Gardens / Fine Arts Performance
(Wednesday, October 22)

Note: Drive time to Pyin Oo Lwin is approximately 2 hours.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will spend the day exploring Pyin Oo Lwin, known to locals as May Myo -- May Town -- for the first British administrator, a Col. May. Once a small military outpost, it developed as a “hill station” during the British colonial era thanks to the cool air at an altitude of 3,510 feet (1070 meters). May Myo became an educational center under British rule and is also notable for colonial style architecture from that period as well as colorful horse-drawn carriages/pony carts. Many Indian and Nepalese soldiers who served in the British armed forces remained after Burma gained its independence, resulting in a substantial population of their descendants today. The modern parts of town appear much like any crowded urban area in Myanmar today. We will also go just south of Pyin Oo Lwin with our local expert to the National Kandawgyi Gardens, formerly National Botanical Gardens, founded in 1915. Modeled after Kew Gardens in London, the botanical collection includes many species of ornamental and exotic trees plus flower gardens lush with dahlias, roses, and orchids in extensive, beautifully landscaped grounds.
 Lunch: As a special highlight, we will have lunch in the garden of a local home (weather permitting) to enjoy local cuisine with soft drinks, coffee, tea, water (alcoholic beverages not available).
 Afternoon: Free Afternoon: Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions. You might like to take a ride in a typical Pyin Oo Lwin pony cart. We then return to Mandalay.
 Dinner: Our dinner at the hotel is enhanced by a performance of traditional music and dance with a puppet show by students from the Mandalay Fine Art School.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Shwe Pyi Tha Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Depart Mandalay / Transfer to Monywa
(Thursday, October 23)

Note: Driving time to Monywa is approximately 3 hours. The hotel (the best in town) is basic with few amenities.The field trip to caves carved in the hillside involves many steps up and down. The Group Leader will provide more specific advice on site.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we board the motorcoach and depart for Monywa, a center of culture and agricultural trade in the Chindwin Valley. En route, we will stop to view Sagaing Hill, dotted with pagodas and monasteries, for photos.We then continue to Monywa and check in to our hotel.
 Lunch: Local cuisine plus coffee, tea, water at the hotel.
 Afternoon: Monywa is a trade center for agricultural produce from the surrounding Chindwin Valley, but the key reason for our field trip this afternoon is the rare opportunity to explore the caves of Hpo Win Daung (“Mountain of Isolated Solitary Meditation”), approximately an hour away. The 947 caves here were carved out of sandstone cliffs from the 14th-18th centuries. The complex is considered a religious and artistic treasure with a multitude of elaborate, Buddha-inspired rock carvings, statues, and wall paintings -- the most extensive in Southeast Asia.
 Dinner: At the hotel, local cuisine plus coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Win Unity Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Depart Monywa / Thanboddhay Pagoda / Boditahtaung Pagoda / Pakkoku to Bagan
(Friday, October 24)

Note: The drive to Bagan is approximately 7 hours including rest and lunch stops.

 Breakfast: At the hotel, enjoy a breakfast with eggs and toast, butter, jam, juice, and coffee, tea, water
 Morning: We check out of the hotel then drive to the Monywa market, where the Group Leader guides our exploration. This comprehensive market trades everything needed for daily living, with many items imported from India. Next, we visit the extraordinary Thanboddhay Pagoda outside of town, the only one of its kind in Myanmar. Sometimes called the “Disneyland” of Buddhism by foreigners for its vibrant colors, opulent gilding, extravagant designs and figures, the reconstructed complex dates from 1939, built on foundations of a 14th century temple. The ornate main pagoda and complex of smaller buildings are covered and filled with images of the Buddha. One count put the total number at 582, 257! Another astonishing example of Buddhist art, architecture, and reverence is Boditahtaung Pagoda with the largest reclining Buddha image in Myanmar, 328 feet (100 meters) long and 88 feet (27 meters) high. The reclining figure signifies the Buddha's final nirvana and release from physical existence.
 Lunch: We will stop for a light lunch in Pakokku.
 Afternoon: Our drive to Bagan continues through scenic countryside dotted with villages, plantations, rivers and quaint bridges, and cottage industries. Upon arrival at Bagan, we will check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.
 Dinner: At the hotel, Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Bagan Thande Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Architectural Evolution of Bagan / Early Period Temples
(Saturday, October 25)

Note: The field trip to the temples involves walking up to 2 miles. Visitors must be barefoot to enter.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: In the 9th Century C.E., Bagan was the royal capital established by King Anawratha, who unified the country under Theravada Buddhism. During its first few hundred years, Bagan saw the construction of more than 10,000 Buddhist monasteries, pagodas, and temples. Today, a little more than 2,000 remain, making it an archaeological rival of Angkor Wat. We start the day with a presentation by our Group Leader about the architectural evolution of Bagan, followed by a field trip to explore temples that represent the early Bagan period. First temple is Temple of Gubyaukgyi of Myingaba Village, with its well preserved colored paintings inside that date back to its construction in 1113. The temple is typical of the Mon style in that the interior is dimly lit by perforated rather than open windows. Next continue to ManuhaPaya, known as the Mon King Temple, which is said to represent his view of being imprisoned. Then lastly, visit Nan Paya, a rare early period Sandstone temple with the best examples of the early Bagan carvings.
 Lunch: Local cuisine plus coffee, tea, water at a neighborhood restaurant.
 Afternoon: We return for to the hotel for some rest and relaxation during the hottest part of the day. Then, later in the afternoon, we continue our exploration of the temples of the Early Period at the Shwezigon Pagoda. Shwezigon was completed in 1058 C.E. as the most important reliquary shrine in Bagan, a center of prayer and reflection for King Anawarahta of the new Theravada faith. We will learn about the Burmese belief in “nats” (spirits), officially replaced by Buddhism, though the belief continues among many people today. We then hop aboard the motorcoach for a quick trip to a temple terrace and view the sunset over this ancient city.
 Dinner: At the hotel, enjoy the flavors of Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Bagan Thande Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Bagan Transition and the Middle Period
(Sunday, October 26)

Note: The field trip to the temples involves walking up to 1.5 miles. Visitors must be barefoot to enter.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: The Group Leader will provide background on temples of the Transition and Middle Period before we head out via motorcoach to the Shwe San Daw Pagoda. Built about the same time as Shwezigon by the same king, this is the highest temple visitors are allowed to climb, with steep flights of stairs up five terraces. But you don’t have to go all the way to the top for memorable views to see how architecture at Baganevolved in height and style. We continue to Ananda Temple -- considered the most beautiful in Bagan -- a repository of traditional Burmese arts from architecture to blacksmithing, glazing, sculpture, wood carving, and more. As we walk, you will be able to see evidence of the innovative building techniques that allowed it to survive through ages and earthquakes.
 Lunch: Local cuisine plus coffee, tea, water at a neighborhood restaurant.
 Afternoon: At a 4th-generation lacquerware factory, learn about this nearly extinct art and craft, and what it takes to create masterpieces. Meet the owner, who will show you the various quality levels and the complete process involved. In the late afternoon, we will take horse carts to Htilo Minlo Temple, a prime example of late period architecture, built in 1218 C.E. The story of its inspiration, which you will hear, is fascinating. We then board our motorcoach to visit a local village and learn about village life there. We will also walk through the unusual Payathonzu Temple (13th Century) that was left unfinished and abandoned, perhaps due to the Mongol invasion.
 Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Bagan Thande Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 14: Bagan Novice Initiation Ceremony / Sunset Cruise on the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River
(Monday, October 27)

Note: This initiation ceremony is sponsored by Road Scholar. The Group Leader will advise you of how to participate. This traditional ceremony is not a tourist spectacle, but an integral part of Burmese culture and a right of passage for boys. Because the ceremony can be quite expensive for a family, Road Scholar makes a financial contribution and our participants become guests.

 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: We will board our motorcoach and travel to a village monastery for a very special and unusual experience, observing and participating in a Buddhist novice initiation ceremony Called Shin Pyu. this is one of the most important days in the life of a boy or young man: becoming a novice monk for at least a week and beginning to study the Dhamma (Buddhist teachings). This highly significant ceremony involves the local community, beginning with a colorful procession of folk musicians, dancing girls, and of course, the prospective novices dressed like fairytale princes. The procession ends on the crowded steps of the monastery, where villagers will be out, singing and clapping, dressed in traditional costumes. The initiates are hoisted on shoulders and carried triumphantly into the monastery where they are stripped of their finery and subjected to the first part of their initiation, having their heads are shaved. After the ceremony, we will meet with a monk to learn more about Buddhism.
 Lunch: Local cuisine plus coffee, tea, water at a neighborhood restaurant.
 Afternoon: In the late afternoon, we ride the motorcoach to Ayeyar Jetty where we will board a private local boat for a slow cruise down the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River. As we cruise, you will be able to observe the lifestyle of the fishermen and riverside villages.
 Dinner: At the hotel, Asian cuisine plus coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: At leisure.
Accommodations: Bagan Thande Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Fly to Yangon / Free Afternoon / Political Change in Burma
(Tuesday, October 28)
 Breakfast: Early at the hotel.
 Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we have an early morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Yangon. Upon arrival, we will board a motorcoach for a field trip to the National Museum of Myanmar, a repository of important ancient artifacts, art, and historical and cultural memorabilia including the “Lion Throne” of the last king, royal regalia, and a display of ethnic costumes. We then transfer to Bogyoke Aung San Market (formerly Scott Market under the British), Yangon's main bazaar with more than 2,000 shops. Here you will have free time for personal independent exploration.
 Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.
 Afternoon: We re-group and transfer to our hotel for check in, followed by free time to explore on your own. In the late afternoon, we gather for a presentation on the changing political climate in Burma by a local expert.
 Dinner: For our farewell dinner at the hotel, enjoy an “international” buffet plus ice cream and cake, a complimentary glass of wine, soft drinks, coffee, tea, water.
 Evening: At leisure. Say farewell to new Road Scholar friends and prepare for departure in the morning.
Accommodations: Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake Yangon
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 16: Departure from Yangon
(Wednesday, October 29)
 Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.
 Morning: Airport transfers.
We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please be in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network, where you can share memories, pictures, and comments. Best wishes for all your journeys!
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Bagan Archaeological Museum
Built in 1996, the museum features many fine pieces from Bagan (reclining Buddhas, original images, inscripted stones and murals and an unexpected modern art rendering of the temples). This collection provides an alternative perspective of Bagan. The museum is located within walking distance from the hotel. Open daily 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Admission $3 U.S. (museum times and price subject to change)
  Yangon Bogyoke Aung San Museum
Located in Bahan Township, the quiet and secluded museum is the former home of General Aung San and his wife, Daw Kin Kyi. It contains remnants of another era. The house itself dates back to the 1920s and the rooms, stairways, railing and furniture are fairly intact. There are some old family photos that also include daughter Suu Kyi as a child. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Admission $3 U.S.
  National Museum
The National Museum of Burma is located on Pyay Road in a splendid five-story, purpose-built construction set in landscaped grounds. The museum offers an interesting sample of Burmese archaeological items, as well as a nice exhibit of Burmese musical instruments. Open daily 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Admission: $5 U.S.
  Yangon Circular Train
The train’s circular route takes approximately 2 1/2 hours to complete, nonstop. View from the windows or choose to get off at one of the stops to explore. The train connects the residential neighborhoods to the more rural paddy fields and provides insights to daily life that few foreign visitors see. A train ticket costs approximately $1 U.S. round trip. A map is available for 50 kyat. Board at the nearest railway station stop.
  Mandalay Mandalay Cultural Museum
It features a collection of Mandalay regalia, royally commissioned art and palm leaf manuscripts, coins, and Bagan period Buddhas. Open daily 9:30 a.m. –4 p.m. Admission included with your Mandalay pass.
  Mandalay Palace and Fort
The overwhelming center piece of Mandalay, the palace fort compound is surrounded by an immense wall that is nearly two miles long and 26 feet high, guarded by a moat 76 yards wide. Visitors enter from the east gate only. This is a nice place for a stroll, the palace is not original (rebuilt in the 1990s) and houses many military offices. Open daily 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission included with your Mandalay pass.
  Optional Road Scholar Mandalay Insider program
For those interested in a structured afternoon, join us to learn about needlework, embroidery work and design. Visit the studio of Sein Myint, a nationally renowned artist, to see the artistic creations he designs and how his skilled staff turns the designs into masterpieces. Explore his private collection of antique embroidery. Continue on to visit Mahamyni (Buddha with a great face). This statue has been doubled in size with gilding added by pilgrims. End the afternoon by going to the top of Mandalay hill to enjoy the sunset. Transportation is included at no additional cost.
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A History of Myanmar Since Ancient Times, Traditions and Transformations

Author: Michael A. Aung-Thwin

Description: Michael Aung-Thwin takes us from the sacred stupas of the plains of Bagan to the grand colonial-era British mansions in this tale of Burma’s storied 3,000-year history and rich culture.

Burma, Rivers of Flavor

Author: Naomi Duguid

Description: A culinary adventurer, Naomi Duguid presents the food, local markets, people and culture of Burma in this exceedingly informative (not to mention beautiful) cookbook and cultural guide. The 125 personable recipes (most get at least a page) are interspersed with tales and photographs from her many travels in the region. Her first solo venture (she parted ways with husband and co-author Jeffrey Alford a few years ago), Burma, Rivers of Flavor, like Beyond the Great Wall and Mangoes & Curry Leaves introduces a new world through its food.

Burma/Myanmar, What Everyone Needs to Know

Author: David I. Steinberg

Description: One in a series of brief, balanced, and authoritative guides by Oxford University Press.

Burmese Days

Author: George Orwell

Description: Orwell, a veteran of the Colonial police force in Rangoon, writes with irony and insight in this sharp novel of politics, folly and the British.

Collected Short Stories, Volume 4

Author: W. Somerset Maugham

Description: Maugham can evoke turn-of-the-century colonial Asia like no other. This collection of stories features many set in Malaysia, Borneo and other southeast Asian locales, including the well-known tale "The Letter."

Freedom from Fear and Other Writings

Author: Aung San Suu Kyi, Michael Aris (Editor)

Description: This collection of speeches, letters and interviews by and about Burma's Nobel Prize-winning human rights leader, edited by her late husband and with forwards by Vaclav Havel and Desmond Tutu, provides essential background to her role in Burmese politics and the situation of the country today.

In Buddha's Land

Author: Moe Min

Description: This beautiful, illustrated portrait of monuments, monasteries and rituals is both a striking visual overview of Buddhism as practiced in Burma, and a splendid introduction to the country.

Insight Guide Burma

Author: Insight Guides

Description: An illustrated overview of Burma with essays on history, archaeology and culture.

Letters from Burma

Author: Aung San Suu Kyi, Heinn Htet

Description: A collection of candid and affectionate letters on Burmese culture, daily life and politics written by the country's iconic Nobel Prize-winning human rights leader who was held under house arrest by the military junta for many years.

Myanmar (Burma) Map

Author: Nelles

Description: A double-sided map of Burma at a scale of 1:1,500,000, with an inset of Rangoon.

The Burma Chronicles

Author: Guy Delisle

Description: Posted to Burma with his Doctors Without Borders wife and young son, Delisle captures the absurdities, challenges and routines of everyday life in Burma in bold black-and-white panels in this droll graphic travelogue, his third.

The Glass Palace

Author: Amitav Ghosh

Description: In this panoramic novel full of tales and anecdote, Ghosh follows the lives and fortunes of Rajkumar and his family over three eventful generations in Burma, India and Malaysia.

The Lady and the Peacock, The Life of Aung San Suu Kyi

Author: Peter Popham

Description: Currently on her first visit to the United States in decades, the Burmese activist has been busy indeed, meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, with Hillary Clinton and many others, making speeches at Harvard and Yale, and receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, awarded to her in 2008. Peter Popham's timely biography follows the arc of Suu Kyi's life from her childhood in Rangoon, formative years in India and Oxford, marriage to Michael Aris and her return to Burma, where she has become a potent symbol for the Burmese people. The British journalist doesn’t dodge from Suu Kyi's moral decision to remain in Burma, even as her husband was dying in 1999, and her children Alexander and Kim remained behind in Britain.

The Piano Tuner

Author: Daniel Mason

Description: In this transporting first novel, a mild-mannered tradesman is seduced by late Victorian Burma. Mason's complex, absorbing tale dives into the world of 19th-century colonial Burma, its traditions, trappings, personalities and politics.

Twilight over Burma, My Life as a Shan Princess

Author: Inge Sargent, Bertil Lintner (Introduction)

Description: A memoir (though told in the third person) of Inge Sargent, an Austrian who in 1953 married Sao Kya Seng, the princely leader of Shan, an ethnic enclave in the hill country of northeastern Burma. A fascinating story.

Where China Meets India, Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia

Author: Thant Myint-U

Description: Home to 60 million people and bigger than France, Burma -- as Thant Myint-U so effectively argues --- is hardly small or politically isolated; it is at the center of Asia. Mr. Thant mixes anecdote, travel, memoir and history in this compelling personal portrait -- and Cri de Coeur for western engagement in the region.

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