Our Myanmar: Beyond The Ordinary holiday uncovers a relatively unknown side to the country, taking you off the beaten path to explore remote states, see elephant conservation in action, and board a local train to Nyaung Shwe, before dropping in to admire Bagan’s iconic UNESCO World Heritage temples and Yangon’s urban buzz.

At a glance

Trek between Hokyin Mountain villages

Taste Khow Soi-shan noodles in Kalaw

Wander with elephants in Green Hill Valley

Rattle by train to Inle Lake

Cycle between Bagan’s temples

Get the local lowdown in Yangon


Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • 1

    On arrival in Thailand, you’ll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your Golden Triangle hotel.

  • 2

    Spend the morning wandering at the nearby temple of Tham Pa Asha Thong, founded by the enigmatic monk, Phra Khru Bah Nuachai Kosito, who was also a champion Muay Thai fighter. In addition to training many of the monks in the art of Muay Thai, he introduced horses to the monastery to ease the journey to its location at the summit of a very steep hill. The monks who reside at the temple today still travel by horseback to collect their morning alms. There will be plenty of time to explore the temple and discover more about monastic life, before returning to your resort where the remainder of your day will be at leisure to enjoy the facilities or to walk in the nearby countryside.

  • 3

    Travel to the Myanmar border and Mai Sai, a busy trading town and a popular spot with visitors in need of a visa extension. Having cleared Thai border formalities, cross the bridge into Myanmar at Thachileik. Once through Burmese immigration, your waiting guide will accompany you north to Kengtung where the rest of your day will be at leisure.

  • 4

    Head out to the former colonial hill station of Loimwe. Translating as ‘misty mountain’, Loimwe sits at an altitude of around 5, 240 feet, where the climate moves from pleasantly cool in summer to chilly in winter. The town becomes particularly picturesque in December when the cherry trees are in full bloom. Meander through the quiet streets, walk in the surrounding countryside enjoying the views, and spend time in nearby traditional villages. Before returning to Kengtung in the late afternoon.

  • 5

    Make the short drive from Kengtung to Pankwe village to begin your trek. The distance you walk will be down to you, with several flexible and moderately graded routes to choose from, taking you between four villages on Hokyin Mountain. Your guide will translate as you chat with the villagers, learning about their culture and way of life. Enjoy more spectacular scenery on your journey back to Kengtung.

  • 6

    Start out early to Kengtung’s bustling central market, where locals from the surrounding villages come to sell their crops and handicrafts. Visit the workshops where the region’s Kyaingtong-style lacquerware is made, wander around the stately Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, and try the Shan regional speciality, Khow Soi-shan noodle soup, in a lakeside tea house cafe. Late morning, fly to Heho, and travel through a breathtaking landscape on the road to Kalaw.

  • 7

    Travel through the Shan Hills to the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp at Magwe: a retirement camp for elephants that were once worked in the region’s logging industry. Set within a beautiful conservation area known for its orchids, teak, bamboo forest and butterflies, the Green Hill Valley area is also excellent for trekking. On arrival, meet the team for an introductory overview of the project, the conservation, and their work within the local community. Walk a short way to the elephant village to meet the mighty residents and assist the mahouts in feeding them, before following them down to the river to participate in the elephant bathing. Re-plantation is another major focus at Green Hill Valley, and you’ll have the chance to contribute by planting a local tree, before returning to Kalaw where the rest of your day will be at leisure.

  • 8

    Set out early to wander through Kalaw market, then head to the station to catch the train to Inle Lake. Train travel in Myanmar is still very much an adventure, offering the opportunity to travel as the locals do in ‘rough and ready’ style. Travel past vast pine forests and patchwork fields, stopping en-route at Aung Ban and Heho, before disembarking at Shwenyaung station and continuing by car to Nyaung Shwe, a charming town on the shores of Inle Lake. Often overlooked en route to one of the lakeside resorts, those that spend a night or two in Nyaung Shwe are rewarded with a laid back, backpacker-esque atmosphere, a thriving local market and easy access to a range of activities including trekking, cycling and vineyard visits. Enjoy local fare in an excellent range of local cafes and restaurants, and celebrate in the champagne bar.

  • 9

    Embark upon an overnight trek through the hills around Inle Lake, in partnership with the CIT (Community Involved Tourism) group. Through a range of local trekking experiences they help bring much needed income to remote Pa-O communities, creating job opportunities and supporting village traditions. Transferred early by motorised long-tail boat to Magyigone Village, on the eastern shore of the lake, to meet your local guide and start your trek. Pass through rural countryside, bamboo forest, and farming villages, pausing to appreciate the panoramic views as you walk. Enjoy lunch in Moekaung village and continue to the Pa-O village of Hti Ne, your destination for the night. Explore a hidden limestone cave, or simply stroll around the village chatting with the locals, before enjoying a traditional Pa-O style meal and settling down for the night in a community house.

  • 10

    Bid farewell to your hosts and walk for around 1.5 hours to the village of Naungkae, where you can meet and mingle with the villagers before driving on to Kakku. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, then explore the Kakku Pagoda, built in the same style as the Indein Pagoda on the banks of Inle Lake. This unique temple complex includes more than 2000 stupas and remained a local secret for centuries. Today, you can explore the entire site, more often than not in near solitude. Take a boat to Seson Shan village before continuing, via Taunggyi (if its a market day), and the Sulamuni Pagoda, to Nyaung Shwe where the rest of your afternoon will be at leisure.

  • 11

    Enjoy a morning at leisure until your flight to Bagan to explore the temples and, in true Selective Asia style, we can show you a gem or two that are truly off the tourist trail. After a day among the ancient spires, continue on to a lacquerware shop to learn about this age-old process, before taking recommendations from your guide on the best spot to enjoy lunch. A couple of our current favourites are The Secret Home, for Burmese specialities home-cooked to Ma Kyi Kyi’s family recipes, and Sanon – a training restaurant offering career opportunities to marginalised local youth. In the afternoon, perhaps visit the iconic Ananda temple to see 1424 Buddhas mounted in the walls, and the magnificent golden stupa of Shwezigion Pagoda. Enjoy sunset at the temples, or return to your hotel for a dip in the pool and a well earned sundowner.

  • 12

    Your day will be at leisure to continue exploring the temples. You could float over the spires in a hot air balloon, cycle between them on two wheels, or join a local family for tea in a nearby village. In the evening, we recommend trying one of New Bagan’s street side restaurants for a true taste of the local specialities.

  • 13

    Fly to Yangon, where your day will be at leisure until a late afternoon visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda. This spectacular, 2,000 year old temple is undoubtedly the one most readily associated with the ‘Land of the Golden Spires’, and the perfect spot to enjoy the Yangon sunset. In the evening, it’s time to ‘Go Local’ with one of our Burmese friends. Take a stroll with your companion, stopping for a drink in a local café or bar, before immersing yourself further into the country’s culture and enjoy the company of a local friend, who’ll be ready to show you a side of Yangon that only locals know. Perhaps enjoy some street food and live music, join your companion at their local temple, or even to share a drink and some food with their family or friends.

  • 14

    Head into bustling streets of India Town, to barter with the vendors at the lively morning market before heading to the station to board the ‘circular railway’ commuter train to Hledan, home to Yangon University. Continue by car to the Chaukhtatgyi Paya to visit the huge reclining Buddha, and later return downtown to the Sule Pagoda, known as the ‘gathering point’ by the city’s residents. The ancient pagoda is one of the city’s great political landmarks, and has fortune-tellers residing in the small surrounding rooms. Wander west on foot towards Mahabandoola Park and Myanmar’s Independence Monument, from where you can see many grand colonial buildings, then on to the river bank, to see the Custom House, the British Embassy, the General Post Office and literary The Strand Hotel. Stop in a traditional tea shop to enjoy a cuppa with the locals.

  • 15

    Enjoy a morning at leisure until it’s time to catch your onward flight.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

Booking Policy

  • English speaking, local guide
  • All accommodation listed
  • Land transportation by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Any domestic flights listed (unless marked otherwise)
  • All admission fees at attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All meals listed

  • Entry visas
  • International airport departure taxes
  • Any meals not listed in the itinerary
  • Drinks, other than water on activity days
  • Personal expenses (laundry, telephone, drinks, tip…)
  • Travel insurance
  • All other services not listed in ‘inclusive’

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and New Year) hotels often levy a surcharge and these are not included in the above prices. Your consultant will be happy to advise you of these.

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    • James
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