Culture, Adventure & LGBT Festivities in Myanmar

Yangon – Heho – Kalaw – Inle Lake – Bagan - Mandalay

Please note the price includes the following:

  • Accommodation in double occupancy rooms including breakfast (ABF)
  • Transportation for excursions and sightseeing with a private car, driver and air conditioning (as mentioned in above program)
  • Domestic flights including airport transfers and tax 
  • A visit to Mintha Theatre in Mandalay
  • Horse cart in Bagan
  • Sunrise ballooning in Bagan
  • Dinner will be served as mentioned in the program
  • Sandbank dinner in Bagan
  • English speaking station guides at each destination 
  • Government tax
  • Admission and zone fees at each destination for above tour

The price however, does not include the following:

  • International flight tickets
  • Visa arrangements for Myanmar
  • Any personal expenses for souvenirs, lunch, dinner, tips, etc.
  • Meals not mentioned in the program (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
  • Christmas and New Year’s Eve compulsory dinner at the hotels
  • All other services not mentioned
  • Tips for guides and drivers


Day 1

Yangon Arrival

Upon arrival at Yangon International Airport you will be warmly welcomed by our local guide and accompanied to your hotel. Once checked in, you are free to relax and enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure to recover from the international flight. 

In the evening, you will be picked up from the hotel for a private transfer to O’thentic, a gay-owned French crêperie, bistro and wine bar. The friendly staff and buzzing atmosphere are sure to give you the best possible welcome to Myanmar. 

Overnight in Yangon.

Day 2


After breakfast start exploring Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar and its commercial centre.

Start the tour in the heart of downtown Yangon to learn about British colonial-era buildings such as City Hall, Immigration Office and High Court Building. During this historic tour, stop at Mahabandoola Park, home to the Independence Monument for photos and an opportunity to people-watch. 

Afterwards, head towards Scott’s Market for some retail therapy. This covered market is over 70 years old and houses the largest selection of Burmese handicrafts under one roof. Even if you choose not to buy anything, a ramble through the various stands is an experience in itself and a great opportunity to see the range of products made in Myanmar. (Note: Market is closed on Mondays and public holidays). 

Then we will continue to  Chaukhtatgyi Reclining Buddha, a 66 metre-long reclining Buddha image. This is an interesting place to learn about the importance of Buddhism to Myanmar people and gain a better understanding about Buddha’s time on earth. Locals regularly come here to pray.  

Today’s excursion will end with a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda – the ultimate attraction of Yangon and, for some, Myanmar itself. The 2,500 years old gold-plated pagoda located in central Yangon is the country’s most religious site. It is the lifetime objective of all Buddhists in Myanmar to visit this beautiful complex at least once. Enjoy the peaceful and spiritual atmosphere as you walk around Shwedagon, taking in all the sights and incense smells.

Tonight, grab a seat at a local restaurant on 19th Street which is popular among local people to eat barbeque meat and vegetables. A cold draught beer is the perfect accompaniment to wash down your meal in lively surroundings.  

Overnight in Yangon.

Day 3

Yangon - Heho - Pindaya - Kalaw

After breakfast, check out from your hotel and transfer to the airport from where you will take a flight to Heho in Shan State.

Upon arrival at tiny Heho Airport meet your guide and driver for a car transfer to Pindaya, known for its spectacular limestone caves. The drive takes approximately 1 hour and passes through beautiful green countryside, one of the main attractions of travelling through Shan State. 

We will visit Pindaya Cave which contains over 8,000 Buddha images made from alabaster, teak, marble, brick, lacquer and cement. Devotees regularly come here from all around the country to add even more images. As you walk towards the cave our guide will tell you the interesting story behind the statues of a giant spider and prince that you will notice at the entrance to the cave. 

We will then discover a Shan paper umbrella workshop run by a small family in Pindaya town. This is a fantastic, chance to observe the detailed work of these artisans who use natural materials to make their famous Shan paper and unique Myanmar umbrellas. 

After experiencing Pindaya we will, drive to Kalaw (approximately 1 hour), a former British hill station on the western edge of the Shan Plateau that has become one of the most popular towns to go trekking from due to the natural beauty all around. On the way, we will see the stunning Shan mountain range, as well as many farms and villages. 

Dinner will be served at a local restaurant where you can taste delicious Shan food, a favourite cuisine among visitors to Myanmar thanks to its fresh ingredients and distinct flavours. 

Overnight in Kalaw.

Day 4

Kalaw – Indein (2 Days – 1 Night trekking)

After a hearty breakfast to get yourself prepared for the day, we leave the hotel and drive about two hours on a narrow bumpy road through scenic hills to reach the starting point for our trek at Bawningone village, located 1360 metrev above sea level. Today you will trek from here to Pattu Pauk village.

The first stop during the trek will be a Danu Village. The Danu are one of the ethnic groups that orignate from this part of Shan State and their name is said to be derived from the word ‘Donke’ which means ‘brave archers’. After saying hello to local people in the village continue walking 1½ hours to reach Tun Kong, a Pa-o village. The Pa-o are another prominent ethnic group in Shan State and are easily recognisable by their dark outfit and colourful headdress. Learn about their interesting origin story involving a dragon. Along the way you will also learn about the fruits and vegetables that grow at this altitude.

Seeing all those crops is sure to make you hungry so now it is time to have a well-deserved lunch cooked using the freshest ingredients at a local village home.

Enjoy a short rest after lunch before trekking to Pattu Pauk, another Pa-o village. Here you can observe bamboo- weaving in the village. The local people make bamboo baskets and mats. You will see these baskets being used all over Shan State to carry vegetables up and down hills from farms to homes.

This evening enjoy dinner at a local village home which will also be your place of rest tonight.

Total walking duration: 6 hours

Day 5

Arrive Indein

Enjoy a traditional ShanMyanmar- style breakfast this morning to re-energize before the  second day of your trek. Today’s adventure will start from War Gyi Myaung village and end in Tone lae village.

Total walking duration: 5 hours

Upon arrival at the end point of the trek reward yourself with a short break before embarking on a motorboat ride across Inle Lake to reach your hotel. Spend the rest of the day resting those legs after the physical exertion of the trek. 

Dinner will be served at the hotel. 

Overnight on Inle Lake.

Day 6

Inle Lake

Wake up feeling rested and enjoy breakfast at your hotel before setting off on a full day of sightseeing on Inle Lake, which is well- known for its unique one-leg rowers who manage to row their boats and fish while balancing on just one leg., The various floating gardens growing fruits and vegetables, as well as the villages on stilts in the middle of the lake, create an idyllic atmosphere on this body of water that is so full of life.  . 

Our first stop on the lake will be Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, home to five gold -leaf-covered Buddha statues that take on more of a round shape nowadays due to the amount of gold leaf that has been applied to them by worshippers. This is a special place with a special story so make sure you are listening when your guide tells it. Afterwards, step back into your boat for a tour of various floating villages to experience traditional handicrafts being made. Depending on your interest, we will try to visit as many of the following workshops as time permits: 

  • Silk weavers : In Paw Khone Village
  • Gold & Silversmiths : Ywama Village
  • Paper Makers Yama Village
  • Boat Makers : Nam Pan Village
  • Cheroot Makers : Nam Pan Village

In the late afternoon, we will switch the water for the road and hop on to bicycles for the short, uphill ride to Red Mountain Winery to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the lake while tasting local wine (red or white) right where it is made. Myanmar is not famous for its wine but this is an experience not to be missed when visiting the region. 

Dinner will be served at the hotel. 

Overnight on Inle Lake.

Day 7

Inle Lake - Heho - Bagan

Enjoy  breakfast at your hotel and transfer to Heho Airport for your flight to Bagan, one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in Asia and home to over 2,000 temples and pagodas. 

Upon arrival, start a full day of sightseeing with a visit to an elevated viewing point to enjoy a panoramic view over the temples of Bagan (temple climbing was recently banned in order to help preserve the ancient pagodas)., Then discover Shwezigon Pagoda, one of the oldest monuments in Bagan and the prototype on which Burmese stupas have been modelled for hundreds of years. , Gubyaukgyi Temple (Wetkyi-In) is the next stop. This temple is most well, known for its wall paintings depicting scenes from the Jatakas (the life story of the Buddha). Then we will explore , Htilominlo Temple, famous for its traces of old murals, original fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations – ceratinly one of the most beautiful temples in the entire complex. 

To avoid the heat of midday Bagan we will check in to the hotel for some time to cool down and relax. In the afternoon we will, visit Ananda Temple , with its four huge Buddha images in standing position, all facing in different directions. This is one of Myanmar’s most revered temples. 

Later, climb aboard a horse cart for a short ride through lesser-visited parts of the temple complex and to hear some interesting stories from the driver who has been working here for many years. Your driver knows all the best spots to stop for a memorable photo and this is how people used to tour Bagan before cars and e-bikes were introduced.  

In the evening before sunset we will take a boat to a sandbank in the middle of the Irrawaddy River and enjoy a delicious sandbank dinner with multiple courses of local dishes, such as curries and fried snacks. While enjoying the sunset you can also watch a demonstration of ‘chin lone’ (Myanmar football) by local experts, and give it a go if you would like. This is a truly authentic experience that you will not get anywhere else in the world. 

Overnight in Bagan.

Day 8


Early this morning take the opportunity to embark on an adventure of a lifetime by going on a breath-taking ride in a hot-air-balloon over the ancient temples and pagodas of Bagan as the sun begins to rise. Depending on the weather, the flight usually lasts around 45 to 60 minutes. This activity is extremely popular, but rest assured we will pre-book once you confirm your interest.  

After the hot-air-balloon flight, you will be brought back to the hotel for breakfast. 

Then you will visit the colorful Nyaung U Market where dozens of vendors from nearby villages come to sell their fresh produce. It is a great place to experience local life in Bagan. 

Afterwards, it is time for an even more local experience as we visit War Saw village to spend time with local people there. There are several villages dotted around the temples in Bagan that offer a glimpse into daily life in this archaeological wonderland. 

A traditional village lunch will be served at a local house with a variety of local dishes cooked by the family.

In the late afternoon, you will explore more of what the ancient city of Bagan has to offer, but this time with a twist. This afternoon’s tour will take place on e-bikes (electric scooters). Taking an e-bike will surely be one of your most memorable experiences in Bagan. They are a great way to get around without breaking too much of a sweat and are also perfect for going down smaller paths which cars and buses cannot access. This allows you to get well off the beaten path. 

Dinner will be served at Nanda Restaurant with a short traditional puppet show providing the entertainment. 

Overnight in Bagan. 

Day 9

Bagan - Popa - Mandalay

After breakfast this morning continue the dry zone adventure by car with a drive to Mount Popa (around 45 minutes by car), also known as the ‘Flower mountain’. 777 steep stairs lead up to the 737 metre (2,417 feet) high peak of its extinct volcanic vent (‘Taungkalat’). Small pagodas and temples are perched at the summit, from which you have a lovely view over the surrounding area. Mount Popa is the home of the country’s most powerful Nats (sacred spirits). Many Buddhists believe in these spirits and go on pilgrimage to the mountain to make offerings.  

En route, visit Shwe Hlaing Village located just outside of Bagan. The people of this rural village make their living by producing various items from the local toddy palm trees, including palm sugar and palm wine, both of which you can try during your visit. You will have some time to walk around the village and observe the process of making Myanmar sweets and liquor from the toddy climber’s scramble up the tree to the final product itself. 

Lunch will be served at Popa Mountain Resort with a stunning backdrop over the surrounding countryside.

After lunch we will get back in the car for a scenic drive to Mandalay (approximately 3½ hours) with beautiful scenery along to Mandalay. 

Upon arrival in Mandalay, you will be taken to the hotel for check-in and a short rest. .

In the late afternoon we will, visit nearby Kuthodaw Pagoda, renowned as ‘the world’s biggest book’, containing 729 marble slabs inscribed with Pali scriptures, all surrounding a pagoda.

Before sunset we will go up to the top of Mandalay Hill from where you can enjoy breath-taking panoramic views of the city and the Irrawaddy River while watching the sun go down. Friendly locals often gather here and it is the perfect place to cool down and reflect after a warm day.

Dinner will be served at a local restaurant. 

Overnight in Mandalay. 

Day 10

Mingun - Mandalay

After breakfast this morning, we will set off on a half-day excursion to Mingun. Take a short drive from your hotel to the jetty where you can observe the lively activity of boats arriving and departing before boarding your own riverboat to travel to the ancient capital city of Mingun (approximately 1 hour each way).

Upon arrival we will walk around Pondaw Paya to get a clearer idea of what Mingun Pagoda would have looked like in its finished state. The next stop is the unfinished yet magnificent Mingun Pagoda itself, which would have been the largest pagoda in the world had it been completed. Go up the small staircase to the right of the huge monument for a great view over the Irrawaddy River and back towards Mandalay. Then walk to the Mingun Bell, the largest uncracked bell in the world. Afterwards, continue to the white-washed Hsinbyume Pagoda (Myatheindan), a replica of the mythological Mount Meru where your guide will tell you the interesting story behind it and give you time for an amazing photo. Take another staircase, this time spiral in formation, to the top of the pagoda for a different perspective over the surrounding area. Then, stroll back to the boat while stopping at the numerous galleries lining the road. 

We will return to Mandalay and transfer back into the car to travel to Amarapura, the ‘City of Immortality’ and former royal capital. Here we will visit a silk-weaving workshop and end the day with a sunset walk over the 200 year-old U Bein Bridge, the longest teakwood bridge in the world (1.2 km). A photographer will be waiting for you at the bridge to take lovely photos to make this ‘golden hour’ moment a truly unforgettable experience.

Afterwards, it is time to visit the vibrant night market which will be packed with local people out to buy fresh local produce that has come directly off the boats at the nearby jetty, as well as to eat at the many food stalls around the market. Taste some of these delicious local dishes yourself with dinner at one of the food stalls as you watch local people come and go.

After dinner, head to Mintha Theatre to enjoy a classical Myanmar dance show lasting one hour. The show is composed of a series of short dance pieces by performers in lavish traditional costume. All profits generated go towards the Inwa School of Performing Arts to help preserve this authentic culture.

After the performance you will be driven back to your hotel.

Overnight in Mandalay.  

Day 11

Mandalay - Taung Byone Festival - Mandalay

After breakfast, we will set off from the hotel and drive about 1 ½ hours to the place where the annual Taung Byone Festival is held. This popular festival is usually held during the month of August. Every year LGBT groups gather here for a spiritual event focused on the worship of Nats, which are believed to be supernatural beings who lived on earth. Many Myanmar people continue to worship these spirits and believe that the Nats can bring luck and prosperity for the year to come. Local people are also very superstitious and fear that misfortune will come to those that do not pay their respects to the Nats. 

The origins of the word ‘Nat’ are unclear – it may derive from the Hindu word ‘Natha’ which means lord, savior or protector. The Taung Byone Festival is held over three days. The first day is for the Summoning the Nats. The second day is reserved for the Nats' Feast and the third is the day for the Departure of the Nats' departure. Devotees from all over Myanmar come to pray for prosperity,. success and luck for the coming year. In particular, large numbers of the LGBT community from all across the country come to celebrate this festival as it provides an environment in which their way of life is welcomed and celebrated. Therefore, a visit represents a great opportunity to meet people from the local LGBT community.

After sufficient reveling in the festivities we will head back to Mandalay in the late afternoon.

Dinner will be served at the hotel. 

Overnight in Mandalay.

Note: The Taung Byone Festival is only held in August so if the schedule does not match with your travel dates, we will arrange for you to meet members of Myanmar’s LGBT community on this day of the program in a different context.    

Day 12


Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel this morning and then have the rest of the day to enjoy the wonderful facilities of your hotel – lounge by the pool, work out at the gym or treat yourself to a relaxing massage at the spa.

Overnight in Mandalay. 

Remarks: No transportation, guide services, lunch or dinner are included on this day.

Day 13


After breakfast at the hotel you will be brought to Mandalay International Airport for your international departure flight. Say goodbye to your guide and pack up all those unforgettable memories in your head to take back home!