Myanmar and Laos - the Mysterious Face of the Golden Triangle
A unique experience in the Golden triangle – Myanmar, Laos and Thailand
If you love traveling then probably you have already been to Thailand – well known and very hospitable tourist destination. And if you have been there then most probably you made a detour to Cambodia in order to see one of the world’s wonders – Angkor Wat. But if you are a genuine explorer you should not miss the hidden delicacy of Indochina – the not so popular yet, but still very interesting countries Myanmar and Laos. And we will be delighted to show them to you! Myanmar is still isolated more or less from the rest of the world due to the government of the military junta, but it has managed to keep the charm of its traditional culture. Internet is a rare thing and men wear skirts. The daily wage is only 2 USD, but people’s smile worth millions! And Bagan – the plain, covered by forests of sharp top ancient temples – is probably the most surrealistic view on the planet. Inle Lake with its floating gardens and villages will surely change your idea for exotics. So exotic and exciting is the sailing along Mekong river through the jungles of Laos towards the inclined monastery roofs of the ancient Laotian capital Luang Prabang – the hidden among mountains cozy town. So, do you feel already keen to join us?
♦ Shwedagon pagoda – the 98 m high stupa in the center of Yangon is the most sacred pagoda in Myanmar
♦ Bagan – the capital of the ancient Burmese kingdom, where in the middle ages more than 4000 temples were built
♦ Inle Lake – lake Venice, the only place in the world, where boatmen row with their legs
♦ Luang Prabang – the old capital of Laos with its tens of ancient monasteries
Day 1: Yangon
Arrival to Yangon (most likely your trip from Europe should start the day before) in the early afternoon and transfer to your hotel. Sightseeing begins with a visit to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to the 70-meter reclining Buddha. We continue to Kandawgyi Park, where we can see Karaweik barge - a replica of the royal barge. We visit also the famous Shwedagon Pagoda - the most revert Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 2: Yangon
Transfer to Yangon Railway Station to take a unique ride on the city's circular train ride via the outskirts of the town (about 20-30 min). This slowly travelling train gives you the unique oportunity to observe the colourful lufestyle of the local people. We get off the train at the Kyi Myin Daing market and then transfer back to Yangon. The sightseeing continues with a drive along the famous Strand Road and a visit to the harbour, the 2000-year old Sule Pagoda and Mahabandoola Park. We continue to a local tea shop for some tea drinking. Free time for shopping at the Bogyoke market (closed on Mondays and public holidays). Last on our list for the day is a visit to the vibrant Chinatown Night Market. Overnight in Yangon.
Day 3: Yangon - Bagan
Morning flight to Bagan, Myanmars ancient capital dotted with thousands of pagodas and flanked by the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River. We visit Shwezigon Pagoda, its graceful bell shape became a prototype of later Myanmar stupa, and then continue to Wetkyi-in Gubyaukkyi, a cave temple with exquisite Jatakas mural paintings. We continue to the eminent Ananda Temple with a 51-meter shimmering gold tip, Manuha Temple, Nanpaya Temple and Gubyaukgui, which is protected by UNESCO for its mural paintings. We finish the day with a visit to the famous Shwesandaw Pagoda and follow the steps up to one of the high terraces to enjoy a great view over the plains and the city. Overnight in Bagan.
Day 4: Bagan
After breakfast we visit Minnanthu village by horse cart. Visit Tayoke Pyay, Payathonzu and Nandamanya Temples (noted for exquisite 13th century murals) and Kyat Kan Cave Monastery, a famous meditation centre in Bagan. In the afternoonwe continue to the farming villages around Bagan that will give you an insight to the rural life of the local people. Afterwards we head to the beautiful Nat Htaung Kyaung, a monastery famous for wood carvings and collection of ancient Buddha statues and lacquer boxes. In the end of the day we enjoy the sunset at one of the monuments near the Ayeyarwady River. Overnight in Bagan.
Day 5: Bagan - Mandalay
After a short flight to Mandalay, the spiritual heart of Myanmar, we head straight to Mahamuni Pagoda one of Myanmar’s most revered Buddha images, a 4-meter-high statue covered with a thick layer of gold leaf. We spend the afternoon exploring the Shwenandaw Monastery, noted for its exquisite wood carvings, and the Kuthodaw Pagoda, where Buddhist scripture are carved on 729 marble tablets, billed as the “biggest book” in the world. We finish our sightseeing on Mandalay Hill, an ideal spot to enjoy the sunset over the town. Overnight in Mandalay.
Day 6: Mandalay - Amarapura - Ava - Sagaing - Mandalay
A full day trip to the ancient cities of Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing. We visit country’s largest monastery “Maha Ganyon Kyaung”, home to several thousand young monks, renowned as a centre for monastic study. By a short ferry boat ride we cross Myintge River (Myintge canal) to Ava, where we visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery (the Me Nu Ok Kyaung. We continue to Sagaing Hills, with numerous pagodas and over 600 monasteries and nunneries dotted along the Hills. Visit the impressive 29.3m-high Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin pagoda, and U-Min Thounzeh (30 Caves). A stroll along the 1.2km long teak-pole U Bein pedestrian bridge before we return to the hotel in Mandalay for overnight.
Day 7: Mandalay - Heho - Inle Lake
Fly to Heho in the Southern Shan State, the gateway to the captivating Inle Lake. We embark on a private motorboat on a sail trip among stilted villages, floating gardens, unique pagodas, and traditional flat-bottomed boats powered by leg-rowing fishermen. We visit Phaung Daw Oo pagoda and its five holy Buddha images. We see Nampan floating villages that hosts many local artisans. Out tour continues to Inn Paw Khone weaving village and finally visit Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, one of the most impressive of the many monasteries on the lake with its 150-200 pillars with elaborate wooden carvings. Overnight at hotel on the Inle Lake.
Day 8: Inle Lake - Indein
Boat trip on the lake. Visit Pa-Oh village of In Dein on the western bank of the lake. We pass by the busy village of Ywama - the largest on the lake, and continue to Nyaung Ohak Monastery, where we wander through a stair path lined up with many hundreds of wooden columns before we reach the impressive Shwe Inn Thein Paya complex with more than 1000 stupas, built in the 17th and 18th century. After a stroll in the pagoda complex we take the boat back to Inle Lake and the hotel.
Day 9: Inle - Heho - Tachileik - Chiang Khong (Thailand) - Houeisay (Laos)
Transfer to the airport for morning flight to Tachileik and then transfer to the border check point Tachileik – Mae Sai in Thailand. Meet the guide at the border and then transfer to Chiang Khong (Thailand). Then we cross the border to Houeisay, where we overnight.
Day 10: Houeisay - Pakbeng. Mekong Cruise.
We embark on a boat for the Mekong river downstream cruise to Luang Prabang via Pakbeng, a small village between Houeisay and Luang Prabang. On the way, stops are made to observe rural life along the Mekong, and to explore minorities. Arrive in Pakbeng before sunset and accommodation at a hotel.
Day 11: Pakbeng - Luang Prabang
Continue for a second leg to Luang Prabang. On the way stop to visit Pak Ou caves in the side of a lime stone cliff. Arrive in Luang Prabang in late afternoon, and transfer to the hotel for check-in. Luang Prabang is a small, dream-like town on the Mekong and Nam Khan Rivers, in a beautiful mountain setting. From 1353 until 1545 it was the capital of Lane Xang before power was transfered to Vientiane.
Day 12: Luang Prabang
After breakfast, we take a sightseeing tour of the sacred city of temples. Visit former King Palace, Wat Visoun temple, Wat Aham temple, Wat Xiengthong temple, Phousi Hill, where 328 steps lead to its top that dominates the sky-line of Luang Prabang with a great panoramic view over the city.
Day 13: Luang Prabang - Vientiane (Flight)
Today don't miss to wake up before dawn to witness and participate in offering alms to hundreds of saffron-robed monks – an awe-inspiring sight. This early morning ritual dates back generations in Laos. Watch the town come to life in the morning then return to the hotel for breakfast. Depart for a one hour drive south to one of Luang Prabang’s most picturesque sights, the Kuang Si waterfall. Stop en route at Phosy market where you can observe the locals trading in fresh produce. On arrival, take a leisurely hike through the national park towards the Kuang Si waterfall.
For the more adventurous, continue to the top of the main waterfall where you may choose to swim in a large pool then you transfer back to your hotel by private vehicle. After noon flight to Vientiane. Overnight in Vientiane
Day 14: Vientiane
After breakfast, we take a sightseeing tour of Vientiane, to visit the museum of Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple to survive the Siamese war of 1828 , its cloister contains more than 8000 Buddha statues; Wat Ho Prakeo, the former home-temple of the Emerald Buddha statue or Pra Keo, today it contains a collection of Buddha statues, antiques and artifacts found in around Vientiane; That Luang Stupa, Symbol of Lao nation the single most important monument in Laos, it was built to cover the original small stupa containing a piece of the chest bone of Buddha; Patouxay (Arch de Triumph), built quite recently in commemoration of those who died during the wars in the past and it is today the land-mark of Vientiane. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 15: Vientiane - Bangkok - Departure
Transfer to the airport for departure
Price includes: ►14 nights in a double room at 3-star hotels with breakfast ►3 lunches on day 10, 11, 12 ►transport and entrance fees according to program ►boat trips as per program ►local English speaking guides ►all domestic flights ►mineral water during the car trips ►carriage tours as per program
Price does not include: ►international flight tickets ►drinks and meals not mention the program ►personal expenses ►visas to Laos, Myanmar and Thailand ►tips ►departure airport taxes if required ►optional tours that can be ordered and paid on spot (f.ex. Balloons over Bagan)
Price of extra services: ►Single room supplement: till 30.04.2016: 520 EUR; May-September: 440 EUR; October-December: 550 EUR ►Supplement for 2 or 3 persons travelling together (single room supplement is not included if any): till 30.04.2016: 310 EUR per person; May-September: 320 EUR per person; October-December: 335 EUR
Visa: Please check whether you need a visa to Thailand, Myanmar and Laos before departure. Most West European citizens don’t need a visa to Thailand. Citizens of 100 countries from all over the world are entitled to e-visa to Myanmar, which can be obtained earliest 90 days before departure (Penguin will send relevant information upon booking the tour. The cost for the visa is 50 USD, the stamp can be received at Yangon Internation Airport. Visa to Laos can be obtained upon arrival, price (per October 2015): 30 USD. Please, send a colour scanned copy of your passport to Penguin upon ordering the trip
Practical information: ►The most used currency for exchange and shopping is USD. Credit cards can be used in Thailand and for drawing money from ATMs in Laos but cannot be used in Myanmar. ►Surcharges for peak season and compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons (f.ex. Christmas, New Year, Lao New Year) may apply.
Recommended travel period of the year: November - March