China, Burma & Thailand
Observe the evolution of these three rapidly evolving nations - each of which have brought their distinct cultural identities with them as they forge ahead into the modern era. Contrast day-to-day life in the emerging superpowers of China and Thailand with the rustic charm of Burma - a country that has only recently opened its doors to travellers once again. Beginning in the thriving metropolis of Kunming, head out into rural China and discover timeless countryside that is studded with temples and quiet villages. Cross into Burma and be amazed by the gleaming vistas of Bagan, dazzled by the âGolden Cityâ of Mandalay and curious toward the nationâs former capital - Yangon. End the trip in Thailand, where the neon lights and buzzing streets of electric Bangkok provide a fascinating glimpse into Thailandâs progression from backpacker haven into a true South-East Asian heavyweight.
- Discover Kunming, the modern capital of China's Yunnan
- Relax in Dali's cobbled Old Town
- Hike through the rural heart of Burma's Shan state
- Wander around Burma's last royal city, Mandalay
- Cruise along the Irrawaddy River on a boat
- Explore the archaeological wonders of Bagan
- Visit tiny tribal villages and enjoy the tranquility of Lake Inle
- Marvel at golden-gilded Buddhas in Yangon
- Admire the sunset from Mount Kyaiktiyo
- Travel overland through Burma's southern Mon state
- Be bowled over by the buzzing hive of activity that is Bangkok
|Physical||Cultural||Max Group Size||21||Duration||28 days|
|Category||Bronze||Keep it simple, keeping inclusions to a minimum. These trips represent exceptional value and having a lot of free time to do what you wish.|
Day 1 - Kunming
Visit the historic Yuantong and Tanhua Buddhist temples in Kunming CNY 6
Visit the Yunnan University Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology in Kunming, and learn all about the history of the province
Learn all about the area's minorities at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, and visit the nearby markets
Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province is known in China as "the city of eternal spring" due to its temperate climate. It's a thoroughly modern city, home to a population of about 6 million - but despite its size it's actually pretty laid-back and is an enjoyable place to while away an afternoon. The Yuantong temple is definitely worth a visit, at over 1000 years old it is the largest Buddhist temple complex in Kunming, or treat yourself to a hair cut from one of the outdoor barbers who offer their services around the Tang Pagodas.
Day 2-3 - Dali
Day 3-4 - Dali
Day 4 - Ruli
Hike on the scenic mountain of Cangshan and explore the walkways, forests and temples in the area CNY 40
Learn how to make dumplings and traditional Yunnanese cuisine at one of Dali's fantastic cooking classes CNY 150
Discover the ornate 9th-century Three Pagodas of Chongsheng, some of the tallest pagodas in China's
history and the symbol of Dali CNY 120
Head out by bicycle to explore the region in depth and visit various Bai villages and Qing Dynasty bridges en route CNY 50
Experience the incredible ancient art of cormorant fishing with the fishermen of Xizhou on Lake Erhai
Everybody loves Dali. Aside from the beautiful setting with its stunning mountain backdrop, the town is home to the minority Bai people, which makes for some colourful history and culture, not to mention its traveller friendly western style beer gardens and restaurants. With its temperate climate and beauitful natural setting it's the perfect place for some rest and relaxation - be it Cormorant fishing on lake Erhai Hu or enjoying a tradtional Chinese massage.
Day 5-6 - Hsipaw
On the following day we will have a free day for exploration of the area, and will hopefully have the opportunity to take a boat trip on the lake or head out on a day trek to the hill-tribes of the area.
In Hsipaw we will stay in a hotel.
Trek out to remote hill tribe villages around Hsipaw in Burma's Shan State
Included in Kitty Take a boat trip from Hsipaw to explore the nearby Shan villages MMK 10000
Visit the Sawbwa Palace, once the seat of local authority in the Shan State Hsipaw sits in the valley surrounded by hills which makes it a popular place for trekking. It was once the centre of a small, Shan state of its own but is probably one of the most well known, wealthy and powerful 'saopha' states. The
Saophas were important in regional and national politics from the 11th century until the 1960's. The old Shan palace where the princes of Hsipaw once lived is in the north of town, although it is closed to the public you may be able to view it from the road or river.
Day 6 - Ruili
Day 7 - Pyin U Lwin
Explore the old hill station town and the botanical gardens at Pyin U Lwin MMK 5000
Take a train along the famous railway between Hsipaw and Pyin U Lwin, a remarkable piece of engineering that brought trade and control to the region during the colonial era $ 2
Trek out to the nearby Anisakan waterfalls (if time allows) MMK 10000
About Pyin U Lwin:
The scenic town of Pyin U Lwin is located about an hour from Mandalay and began as a British military outpost. Later, because of its cool and temperate climate it became a hill station and was the summer capital of Burma, where many people (particularly wives and children) would go to escape the summer heat. There are many attractive colonial buildings and an impressive botanical gardens
Day 8-10 - Mandalay
explore the incredible city. In Mandalay we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Day 9 - Pyin U Lwin
Day 10-11 - Mandalay
Day 11 - Monywa
Take a boat trip to see the colossal uncompleted stupa at the Mingun archaeological site near andalay MMK 5000
Head out on a day trip to some of the main sights of Mandalay, including Mandalay Hill, the Kuthodaw
and Mahamuni Pagodas, the Shwenandaw Kyaung Golden Monastery and U Bein bridge Included in Kitty
See the famous anti-government comedy show from the Moustache Brothers MMK 8000
Freely explore the area surrounding Mandalay, particularly the beautiful monasteries and temples in the villages of Sagaing and Old Ava MMK 16000
Visit the Gold Pounders' district and the famous Jade Market in Mandalay to shop for local handicrafts and learn about their manufacturing techniques
Freely explore the huge complex of the Mandalay Royal Palace, and visit the many fascinating buildings within
Head out for an colourful evening performance of traditional Burmese music and dance at Mandalay's Mitha Theatre MMK 800
In 1857 King Mindo founded a new royal capital at the foot of Mandalay Hill, from where the city took its name. On the death of the King the monastery in which he died was dismantled and removed from the Royal Palace as it was thought it would bring bad fortune. It was rebuilt outside the palace walls, so
when The Royal Palace was destroyed by fire at the end of the 2nd World War the Monastery with its intricate wooden carvings were saved. The city itself is relatively modern, a hub of economic trading as well as being considered the cultural and religious centre of Burma. Mandalay is famous for its hill with its abundance of monasteries and pagodas and is a major site for Buddhist pilgrimages. For those that wish to climb be prepared for the 1,729 steps to the top. The climb up takes you past many
historic stupas and Buddhas of great significance to the pilgrims. There are many stalls that line the route to the top of the hill and the views from the top are incredible, with far reaching views across the plains of Mandalay and the Irawaddy River. At the foot of Mandalay Hill is found the world's largest book; 729 white stupas house the text of the Tripitaka, Theravada Buddhism's most sacred text. The
world's largest iron Buddha is also found here. In Monywa we will stay in a local hotel. Drive time - 6-7 hours (depending on the length of our visit to the pagoda and temples).
Day 12 - Pakkoku - Ayeyarwady River - Bagan
Visit the incredible Hpo Win Daung cave temples and explore their Buddha staues and painted murals Included in Kitty
Visit the stunning 14th-century Thanboddhya Pagoda and see its colossal golden stupa and incredible 580,000 Buddha statues Included in Kitty
See the Laykyun Sekkya Buddha statue near Monywa, which at 116m is the second tallest statue in the world (if time allows)
About Monywa:Monywa is found on the banks of the River Chidwin and is home to the Buddhist
temple of Mohnyin Thambuddhei Paya, an incredible site thought to contain over 500,000 images of Buddha. The area is also a hub of agricultural production with the surrounding valley producing a wide range of crops, particularly beans and palm sugar. It is also a centre for the production of cotton and the local patterned longyi/sarongs are reknowned for the strength and quality of their material â 80% of Burma's cotton production is from Monywa. Today we make our way to the ancient town of Pakhan Gyi and the attractive town of Pakokku , where we board a boat to take us on a journey down the Ayeyarwaddy River to Bagan. In Bagan we will stay in a local hotel Drive time - 4 hours to Pakokku.
Take a boat trip down the mighty Ayeyarwady River to arrive in Bagan Included in Kitty
Bagan is one of Asia's greatest attractions, easily rivalling the Great Wall of China or Angkor Wat, yet it is very little known. The site consists of a huge plain that is covered with literally thousands of temples that stretch as far as the eye can see, set amidst an attractive landscape of fields, small villages and
sandy tracks. The temples were built from the 9th - 13th century and are ornately covered in beautiful carvings whilst the interiors are decorated with extensive frescoes.
Day 13-14 - Bagan
Take a day tour around the multitude of historical sites in and around the ancient capital of Bagan Included in Kitty
See the sunrise over Bagan from an unforgettable morning balloon flight (weather-dependent) $ 330
Take a day trip out of Bagan to see the phenomenal Taung Kalat monastery, constructed on the summit of the near-vertical Mount Popa MMK 40000
Further explore the ancient city of Bagan independently by bicycle or horse-drawn cart MMK 8000
Day 15 - Kalaw
Head out for a day of hiking in the stunning hills surrounding Kalaw MMK 5
Visit the fascinating Pindaya Caves near Kalaw and marvel at the array of statues within MMK 10000
As a former British hill station, Kalaw provides much needed relief from the heat of the lower lying areas while the surrounding hills are the home to various ethnic minority groups, including the Palaung, Danu and Pa-O. The town is situated up in the hills, surrounded by pine forest, and has many attractive colonial buildings. There is also a lively market which is well worth a visit.
Day 16-18 - Inle Lake
Explore the famous floating markets of Inle Lake by longtail boat Included in Kitty
Explore the area by foot and head out on a day hike in the beautiful hills around Inle Lake MMK 10000
Hire a bike to explore the wineries and hot springs near Inle Lake MMK 4000
Learn how to prepare a variety of local Shan specialities at a cooking class near Inle Lake MMK 15000
Head out on a bird-watching tour along the lessfrequently visited areas on the shores of Inle Lake MMK 12000
About Inle Lake:
Inle Lake is stunning, surrounded by distant hills which make for a beautiful back drop to the hustle and bustle of lake life. The area is home to the Intha people, who live both in towns around the lake and on the lake itself. Many local houses and temples are built on stilts in the shallow waters of the lake
and floating islands are built from water hyacinth and water weeds. These gardens allow the farmers to grow fruit and vegetables â the sight of floating apple orchards are certainly something different!
The produce from the gardens, with rice from the paddy fields around the lake and lake fish means that the people are pretty self sufficient. The local food reflects this self sufficiency and a popular local dish is htamin gyin - rice kneaded with fish and/or potato into round balls, served with hnapyan gyaw -
twice fried - Shan tofu, fermented bean cakes, fried onions, tomato, chilli and tamarind. The local fishermen are renowned for their distinctive rowing style, where they stand at the stern of the boat on one leg whilst the other leg is wrapped around the oar. This style of rowing developed so the fishermen could get a better view and allow them to navigate through the shallow and plant-dense water â something that is far harder to do whilst more traditionally seated. This leg rowing style is however only practiced by the men; women are seated cross legged to row. Small boats provide the easiest way to get around the lake and lakeside settlements and it can get quite busy at times as people get on with their daily lives. Tourism has become an important part of the local economy and traditional crafts such as the weaving of Shanâbags, silk longyi (sarongs) as well as cheroot rolling, carvings and work from black and silver smiths are now produced for the tourist trade as well as local use.
Day 17-18 - Inle Lake
Day 19 - Naypyidaw
See the bizarre capital of Naypyidaw, suddenly built between 2002 and 2006 by Myanmar's military
government Included in Kitty
Day 20 - Yangon
Hotel for the night: Asia Plaza Hotel
No. 277 Bogyoke Aung San Road,
Tel - +95 1 391071 or +95 1 391070
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Although not the capital of Burma, Yangon is its largest and most important city, a bustling and lively place that throngs with people, temples and markets. Chief of its many attractions is the Shwedagon Paya, an exquisite temple that is covered in gold leaf and which is always full of pilgrims paying their respects. This is the perfect place for people watching and you can spend a wonderful afternoon hear, chatting to monks and local people as you watch the sun set over the city. There are also a number of beautiful colonial buildings, a lively Indiatown and Chinatown and a great market that is full of many stalls that sell just about anything you could wish for.
Day 21 - Yangon
Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda and the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.
Day 22 - Mt Kyaiktiyo
Enjoy a tour of Yangon, including the Kandawgyi Lake and the famous Shwedagon Paya temple Included in Kitty
Explore Yangon's famous Bogyoke (Scott's) Market We take a local pick-up truck up the first two-thirds of the mountain, and then continue the final part of the ascent on foot along a steep and winding path. We end up on the top, next to the Golden Rock. In Mt Kyaiktiyo we will stay in a local hotel. Drive time - 4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Take a local passenger truck up to the incredible Golden Rock, one of Myanmar's holiest shrines Included in Kitty
About Mt Kyaiktiyo:
The Golden Rock and Pagoda are an inspiring Buddist Pilgrimage site. The Pagoda is perched on top of the huge granite boulder painted gold by the many pilgrims. The boulder is said to be held in place by a strand of the Buddha's hair that stops this huge boulder from tumbling down the sheer cliffs below.
Day 23 - Mawlyamine
In Mawlamyine we will stay in a local hotel. Drive time - 6-7 hours (depending on the length of our visits to the sites near Hpa-an).
Visit the beautiful tiled temples inside the caves of Kawt Ka Taung Included in Kitty
Visit the seemingly impossible Kyauk Kalap rock near Hpa-an Included in Kitty
Day 24 - Dawei
Visit the Allied War Cemetery at Thanbyuzayat en route to Dawei Included in Kitty
Day 25 - Dawei
Relax and explore the beautiful Maungmagan Beach on the Andaman coast of southern Buma Included in Kitty
See the amazing 75m-long reclining Buddha at the Lawka Tharaphu Pagoda in Dawei
Day 26 - Kanchanaburi
Today we will cross into Thailand via the brand new border at Htee Kee, and drive to the town of Kanchanaburi. In Kanchanaburi we will stay in a local guesthouse. Drive time - 6-10 hours (please note that this is a very new border to open up and we are likely to be one of the first foreign vehicles to use it, so there may be delays here hence the wide range for the estimated drive time).
Day 27 - Bangkok
Visit the notorious Bridge over the River Kwai and the Thailand-Burma Railway centre, and learn all about the history of the Japanese occupation during the Second World War Included in Kitty
The chaotic headlong pace of Bangkok doesn't match up with many people's idealised vision of the exotic capital of Siam. Scattered with high-rise buildings of concrete and glass, the city is a sprawling plain that's home to a population of at least nine million, and it often feels even bigger. But under the shadow of the skyscrapers you'll find a heady mix of frenetic markets, noisy traffic, hushed golden temples and early-morning alms-giving ceremonies. One way or another, the place will probably get under your skin - and if you don't enjoy the challenge of slogging through jams of buses and tuk-tuks, which fill the air with a chainsaw drone and clouds of pollution, you can spend time exploring the
impressive temples and museums or shopping 'til you drop.
Day 28 - Bangkok
Perhaps get a traditional Thai massage at Bangkok's oldiest massage school in the temple of Wat Pho THB 500
See Bangkok from a different perspective on a canal boat tour THB 1500
Explore the vast royal complex of the Grand Palace, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (the most sacred temple in Thailand) THB 250
Explore Bangkok's incredible Wat Arun temple, one of Thailand's most picturesque temples
Take a cycling tour of Bangkok or the surrounding countryside THB 1000
Discover the many interesting exhibits from all over Thailand at Jim Thompson's House, the museum at the former home of the famous American ex-pat THB 100
Learn all about Thai history and culture at the Bangkok National Museum, the largest and most comprehensive museum in South East Asia THB 40
Climb the steps of the Golden Mount to see the panoramic view of Bangkok from the Wat Saket temple