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Trip Inspiration

16 Days in Magical Myanmar

The Very Best of Myanmar

For those looking to explore authentic Southeast Asia, Myanmar is the ultimate destination. Whether wandering the historic temples of Bagan or visiting artisanal workshops in local villages, you can't help but develop a profound appreciation for the country and those who call it home. Its unspoiled beaches, pristine pagodas, and ancient traditions only scratch at the surface of what makes Myanmar absolute magic.

Trip Highlights


  • Yangon
  • Bagan
  • Kalaw
  • Inle Lake
  • Myeik Archipelago


  • Cycle and trek through local villages
  • Explore ancient temples
  • Cook traditional Burmese cuisine
  • Navigate Inle Lake and the communities who live along its shores
  • Travel by train through picturesque mountains
What does “Trip Inspiration” mean?

At Travel Beyond, we believe your trip should be designed just for you, not for the masses. Our travel consultants create a custom itinerary for each client, offering recommendations for places and experiences that best fit your style. The itinerary below was planned for a past client, but we’re sharing it for travel inspiration and as an example of what a trip to Myanmar might look like. Let us know when we can design a trip just for you!

Day 1

Arrive Yangon, Myanmar

Welcome to Myanmar! Upon arrival in Yangon, you will be met for your private transfer to the Strand Hotel. Accommodations will be reserved for two nights, including breakfast daily.

A colonial landmark built in 1901, the Strand Hotel offers visitors the perfect combination of luxury and history. Where famous explorers once met you can now relax by the pool or set off for explorations of Yangon. No matter how the time is spent you will revel in its architectural beauty and top notch service.

After checking in, you will be met by a local private guide for an afternoon heritage walk through downtown, where you will find some of Asia’s most impressive examples of late 19th and early 20th century architecture. Stepping back in time, you’ll explore these beautifully constructed monuments to colonialism, some of which have been neglected, while others have been purposefully restored.

You’ll stop off at the abandoned Ministers’ Building, formerly known as The Secretariat, where the ‘Father of the Nation’, General Aung San, started the path to independence. Built in 1889, this impressive building and its gardens take up a whole block in the downtown area.  Afterwards, you will have time to enjoy refreshing drinks at Gekko, a stylish and popular restaurant and lounge bar on the ground floor of the historic Sofaer Building.

Back at the hotel, enjoy the remainder of your evening at leisure.

Strand Hotel Meals: N/A

Day 2


Following breakfast, you and your guide will set off on an interactive half-day tour to visit the Shwedagon Pagoda and the local community living around this impressive monument.

Your day starts at the base of the hill, from where you will wind your way toward the Pagoda, passing local businesses, workshops, markets and temples. All of these play an essential role in the upkeep and worship of Shwedagon Pagoda.

Reaching the top, you will learn about the structure’s history, developing a deeper insight into Myanmar’s Buddhism and the ways in which animist beliefs still play a part in its rituals and ceremonies.  You will enjoy both a traditional Burmese breakfast and lunch, make offerings to the monks, and visit a traditional fortune teller. Your experience also includes a contribution to local charity initiatives.

Following the excursion, you will return to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Around 4pm, you will have the opportunity to meet with Ma Thanegi, an accomplished author whose topics center on Myanmar’s food, culture and tradition. Over a cup of coffee or tea, spend the next hour asking questions and learning about the country and her political experience.

Born in Myanmar, Ma Thanegi was educated at the Methodist English High School. Originally a painter, she became closely associated with the opposition movement in the uprising of 1988.  She came to know many of the top players and subsequently spent three years in the Insein Jail. Ma has since published a book “Nor Iron Bars a Cage.”

After the discussion, enjoy the remainder of your evening at leisure.

Strand Hotel Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 3

Yangon to Bagan

Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the Yangon airport for your commercial flight to Bagan.

Upon arrival, you will be met by a local private guide to start your explorations of the magical city. You begin by first climbing uphill to visit a pagoda whose views afford the perfect orientation of Old Bagan. From the top, you can gaze out over the ancient ruins rising up from the rice plains. From here, your guide will devise a route to visit the area’s most famous temples, many of which have been around for centuries. Places like the Dhammayangyi, Sulamani, and Thatbyinnyu, will leave you in awe of the skills of the ancient craftsmen who erected them.

Lunch will be served at a local restaurant and in the late afternoon you will continue by horse and cart to the perfect sunset location. Watch as the sun slides below the horizon, illuminating the golden prangs and spires of this age-old kingdom. Enjoy a refreshingly cool drink as you contemplate day’s end and a bygone era. This tour also includes a contribution to local charity initiatives.

Following your excursion, you will be transferred to the Bagan Lodge, your home for the next three nights. Just next door to the archeological sites for which the region is known, Bagan Lodge offers visitors unbelievable access to explore. Spend time wandering through the nearby temples or find refreshing sanctuary by the pool; get in a morning workout or enjoy the wide variety of cuisine available at the various lounges. The personal touches and staff friendliness will make your stay at Bagan Lodge unforgettable.

Bagan Lodge Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 4


Following breakfast, you and your guide will embark on a four wheel drive safari into Myanmar’s Dry Zone, a region that receives far less rain than the rest of the country. Home to approximately one-quarter of Myanmar’s population, you’ll experience not only an entirely different landscape but encounter, first hand, the daily lives of the Burmese people.

Traveling in an all-terrain vehicle, you will first head for Nyaung Gyi village. On the way you’ll pass many local people going about their daily activities – local women carrying bundles of firewood on their backs, slow-moving ox carts, and village roadside markets bustling with people. Upon arrival, you’ll meet one of the blacksmith’s at his workshop. Spend some time observing and learning about his trade.

You will then make your way to two additional villages. In Se Ywa you have the opportunity to stop at several small-industry workshops, ranging from cooking oil production to wooden slipper making. Taung Kong village is known for its ceramics and here you’ll visit a workshop or two to see how various items are made.

 This 4×4 road trip is a great option for photographers keen to capture shots of local life, or for anyone interested in learning more about Myanmar’s people and their culture.

For lunch, you will make your way to Minnanthu, a favorite area in Old Bagan. Less frequented than its more well-known neighbors, this is a beautifully peaceful part of Bagan where the temples are often completely deserted. On arrival your guide will spread out a blanket for a tasty picnic lunch, home-cooked by a local family. Enjoy the rich flavors while surrounded by the ancient ruins.

Following your meal, you will return to the hotel to relax and refresh in preparation for your evening’s boating adventure.

Aboard a private vessel, you will make your way up the mighty Irrawaddy River to an idyllic sandbank situated in the middle of this immense watercourse. Here you will enjoy cocktails and some tasty snacks, as the sun sinks below the horizon. Lounge in comfortable chairs, sip champagne and indulge on snacks while you reflect upon the day’s activities. Contemplate the fading light and soothing sounds of the river, an innately beautiful feature of this ancient landscape.

Following your sundowner, you will return to the hotel to spend the remainder of your evening at leisure.

Bagan Lodge Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 5


You will be picked up at your hotel early in the morning before sunrise, and driven to the launch site for a spectacular hot air balloon ride over Bagan’s temple zone. Operated by mostly British pilots, who adhere to strict British safety standards, the balloons will take you on a flight with views that are breathtakingly spectacular. After floating through the air at the whim of the wind, you will land safely and be welcomed back to the ground with champagne. You will then be transferred back to your hotel for breakfast.

Later this morning, you and your guide will set off once again to visit the charming village of Salay, just an hour and a half south of Bagan. Overlooked by many tourists, it is home to many ancient temples and monasteries and will provide intimate insight into the Myanmar countryside.

You will start around 08:30am with a lively rural market visit, following which you will learn the process of making tamarind flake candies. You then visit the historic Yokesone Monastery, famed for intricate woodcarvings. Continuing on, you arrive at the home of U Ba Gyi, the wealthy merchant behind the construction of this impressive teak monastery, which dates to 1882. A local picnic lunch will be served at an active working monastery before your drive back to Bagan.

In the afternoon, you will head out to learn about a village water well project directly from the locals and a committee who manages the resource.

Bagan is located in the heart of Myanmar’s dry zone or dust bowl and has struggled with severe drought for all of its recorded history. This dry zone in central Myanmar now encompasses an area of about 55,000 Square Kilometers where about 34% of the Myanmar population currently resides. This means that, in the areas around Bagan, thousands of villages lack access to water during the hot summer season from March until May.

Finding a viable source of water is a constant struggle and villagers often travel several hours to acquire what’s needed for drinking, bathing or farming. Although the Myanmar government tries to provide water delivery and several generous organizations have joined in to help, there is still widespread lack of wells.

The program you’ll visit is just one of many working to make this necessary resource more accessible. Meeting the locals, you will see the well in action and hear about how it came to be.

Following the excursion, you will return to your hotel to enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Bagan Lodge Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 6

Bagan to Heho to Kalaw

Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the Bagan airport for your commercial flight to Heho.

Upon arrival, you will be met by a local private guide for a day of  trekking and of elephant encounters. On this adventure you will venture into the forests surrounding Kalaw, where you will meet these pachyderms, their mahouts, and the locals who call this region home.

The excursion begins with a car ride to the starting point of your trek, which is mainly downhill. Walking through the trees, you arrive at the main facility of Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp. Established to protect the natural landscape, preserve the traditions of those living in and around Kalaw town and to care  care for elephants that are no longer fit to work, the specialized staff will explain their project and the daily activities at the camp.

A delicious lunch of Nepalese food will be served and then it will be time to help the mahouts wash and feed the elephants. Spend the afternoon watching these majestic animals play in the water and even take a turn at giving them a bath. You will also meet with a veterinarian to discuss the Elephant ambulance project and  be invited to plant a tree.

Following your time at Green Hill Valley, you will be transferred to the Royal Kalaw Hills Resort where you will stay for two nights. A beautiful cottage house stands at the center of the property, surrounded by lush gardens perfect for an afternoon stroll. Not far from the center of town, you can spend time exploring Kalaw or relaxing on premises. After checking in, enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.

Royal Kalaw Hills Resort Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 7




Following breakfast, you will be met by your local private guide for a half day trekking, tribes and train excursion in Kalaw.

Start off on foot, right from the hotel, and trek around three hours to Myin Dike. En route, you will pass through the village of Danu where you can catch a glimpse of the Danu hill tribes partaking in their daily activities. You’ll notice a mix of forest and fields on which they cultivate products like sesame, tea, cauliflower and rice. Upon arrival in Myin Dike you will climb onboard a train for a fantastic ride. Cruising over the mountains, dense with vegetation and dotted with small hamlets, you make your way to the picturesque colonial Kalaw train station.

The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy at leisure.

Royal Kalaw Hills Resort Meals: Breakfast

Day 8

Kalaw to Inle

This morning, after breakfast, you will be met by your guide for a road transfer to Inle Lake, a massive body of water around which you will find many traditional Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in wooden houses built entirely on stilts.

You will spend the day on a private boat, discovering the lake’s natural beauty, visiting floating gardens, observing the famous leg rowers in action and enjoying tea at a local family’s home. On and around the lake traditional markets are held in different villages according to a five-day rotating schedule, and on this day you will visit one frequented by Shan and Pa’O people living nearby. There will also be a chance to see a local workshop where the Burmese cheroot cigars are made.

You will make a stop at Phaung Daw U Pagoda, a famous pilgrimage site that is home to five golden Buddha statues and have lunch with an Intha family. While enjoying this home-cooked meal, you will be given a window into the homes and lives of those who live along the lake. If time permits, you can also visit a local silk weaving factory.

At the conclusion of your explorations, you will be transferred to Villa Inle Boutique resort. Accommodations will be reserved for three nights. Nestled between beautiful mountains and the lake, one of Myanmar’s greatest, Villa Inle Boutique’s surroundings are matched only by its facilities and service. Wander the gardens, spend time examining the cultural artifacts and artwork on display, or cool off in the infinity pool. You have the remainder of your day to enjoy at leisure.

Villa Inle Boutique Resort Meals: Breakfast / Lunch



Day 9



Following a delicious breakfast, spend the day biking and boating around Inle Lake.

Alongside your guide, your day begins with a boat ride to Indein village, home of the Indein Pagoda, a temple with an impressive collection of stupas, southwest of Inle Lake. Here you will grab a bike and cycle around an hour and a half to  Than Htaung village, where you will walk to a local monastery. Upon arrival, take time to explore the complex and stop to chat with temple monks. Afterwards you will continue, either by boat or bike – depending on the season and the water levels – to Yay Mae Pin village to visit an areca nut plantation.

The last leg of the outing brings you by boat to Khaung Daing, a little village on the northwest edge of the lake. Well off the regular tourist trail, it features some fascinating cottage industries. Here you will stop for a delicious lunch in a local restaurant and then ride onward to Nyaungshwe town. Depending on where you are staying, you will then return by bike or boat to your hotel.

Enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure.

Villa Inle Boutique Resort Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 10


Following breakfast, you and your guide will head out for a full day culinary experience with Tin-Tin, an Intha native who lives on Inle Lake and has been cooking for decades.

Together with your guide, you first visit the local market to find the right ingredients. Boarding a boat, you then head to Tin-tin’s home, from where the class will be taught. Here, she will share many of her traditional Shan recipes and you will learn how to clean and chop the vegetables, and to fry, boil and mix the right herbs and ingredients. The dishes you will be taught include: Shan pumpkin soup, fried rice cake, Shan noodles, steamed Inle fish in banana leaves, vegetable curry cooked Shan style, and tomato salad with pounded peanuts.

Of course, the class ends with a delicious lunch during which you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. You will also receive a kitchen apron, some special local kitchen utensils and a list of all the ingredients, so that you can try the dishes at home. After the tour, the guide and boat will be available for the rest of the day for additional lake explorations, if desired.

Villa Inle Boutique Resort Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 11

Inle to Heho to Yangon

Following breakfast, you will be transferred to the Heho airport for your commercial flight back to Yangon.

Upon arrival, you will be met by a local private guide and transferred to the Strand Hotel for lunch. After some time to rest and refresh, around 2pm, your guide will return to collect you for an afternoon cycle expedition.

You will first head for Pansodan Jetty, where you take the ferry and cross the Yangon River to Dala Township, a largely rural and undeveloped part of the city. Biking west towards Twante, you then arrive in Pyawkalay, a village where you stop at a local tea shop for refreshments.

Re-energized and refreshed, you will hop aboard another ferry to cross the Twante Canal. This brings you to Kanaungto River Island. Completely free of cars, it is the perfect place to explore by bike. Cycle the side streets and through the lush landscape, stopping as needed to soak up your surroundings. On the way back you will stop to see the famous Khen Hock Kheong Chinese temple.

During the tour, you will also visit Chu Chu, an organization that transforms wasted plastic into souvenirs, and Hla Day, a program in which Myanmar artisans, disadvantaged groups and small local businesses work together to design, develop and sell quality handmade products with a contemporary twist.

Following your visit to both, pockets now full of beautiful gifts, you will return to the Strand Hotel for the night.

Strand Hotel Meals: Breakfast / Lunch

Day 12

Yangon to Kawthaung to Myeik Archipelago

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Yangon airport for your commercial flight to Kawthaung.

Upon arrival, you will be met by a hotel representative and transferred to Wa Ale Resort via both car and then boat. Part of the Myeik Archipelago, the resort’s beachfront property provides direct access to Myanmar’s magical underwater world. Built with the environment in mind, each villa fits within the existing landscape, either just up from the water or elevated among the treetops. Prepare for an entirely relaxing and awe-inspiring four nights. The remainder of your day is yours to enjoy at leisure.

Wa Ale Resort Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Days 13-15

Myeik Archipelago

Enjoy your days at leisure to explore the property or partake in any of the numerous activities on offer. Consider a yoga class or spa treatment if you’re looking to unwind; explore the mangrove forest by kayak or stand up paddle board; immerse yourself in the archipelago’s diverse marine life with a snorkel or dive amongst the nearby reefs and caves. No matter where you go, always keep your eyes open for turtles!

Wa Ale Resort Meals: Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner

Day 16

Myeik Archipelago to Yangon

Today, after breakfast, you will be transferred to the Kawthaung Airport for your flight to Yangon.

Upon arrival you will be met by a local private guide who is at your disposal until your departure.

Wa Ale Resort Meals: Breakfast