Myanmar: Beyond The Ordinary

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
Price & Hotels

Golden Triangle - 2 nights

South-East Asia’s Golden Triangle covers an area of 367,000 sq miles where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet, and the Ruak river joins the mighty Mekong. Though still struggling with its past as a hotspot for illicit opium growing, this beautiful region is blessed with acres of stunning natural scenery, temples that shelter thriving monastic communities, and tribal villages where ancient customs and traditions remain strong. Trek through the remote countryside, gaze upon shining pagodas, and spend a night high in the Thai mountain borderlands looking out over the lush forest.

Day 1 - Arrive in the Golden Triangle

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

Welcome to Selective Asia! This level of personal service (such as private transfers, private tours etc) is what you can expect throughout your trip. A few services (eg boat cruises) will be shared, but we'll always make sure you're aware of these.

The rest of your day will be at leisure to soak up your serene mountain surroundings.

Day 2 - Visit monastic temple community

Includes:

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.

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Kengtung - 3 nights

Kengtung, the capital of Shan State, is a bustling trading hub, close to the Chinese border, that reflects its location’s blend of cultures. The gently rolling landscape is excellent for trekking and cycling, and several villages in the surrounding region are home to Kengtung are Akha hill tribe communities. The Akha tradition relies primarily on farming, and communities live in distinctive stilted bamboo houses across Eastern Myanmar, Laos, Northern Thailand and even into China. Stroll around the picturesque Naung Tung Lake, wander through the colourful morning market and spend time in traditional hillside villages.

Day 3 - Cross into Myanmar, travel to Kengtung

Includes:

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.

Day 4 - Visit Loimwe hill station

Includes:

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.

Day 5 - Hokyin mountain trails trek & village visits

Includes:

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.

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Kalaw - 2 nights

Thanks to the region’s forgiving climate, the small yet beautiful town of Kalaw was popular with the British during the colonial era. The town is experiencing something of a revival as travellers discover it as an ideal base for visiting nearby tribal communities and trekking to Inle Lake. Its lively market is all about the locals - no trinkets for tourists here, just herbs, spices and hearty, traditional food, which you may well end up enjoying for dinner. Step away from the well-trodden trail and unwind in the cool mountain air.

Day 6 - Visit Kengtung market, fly to Kalaw

Includes:

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.

Day 7 - A day with the elephant residents of Green Hill Valley

Includes:

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.

Our Policy on Wildlife Projects and Sanctuaries: click here for our approach to elephant projects.

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Inle Lake region - 3 nights

As you approach the vast expanse of Inle Lake, the narrow tributary channels widen and before you know it you’re crossing the broad, tranquil water, with hills and mountains surrounding you in every direction. The panoramic view is beautiful, and the scale is breathtaking. As you take it all in, you’ll see passing fishermen move their boats swiftly over the lake using their unique foot-rowing technique. The region is home to several traditional tribal communities who live in stilted homes over the water, tending floating vegetable gardens and making a living from the lake.

Day 8 - Train to Inle Lake, explore Nyaung Shwe

Includes:

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.

Day 9 - Overnight trek & Pa-O village homestay

Includes:

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.

Day 10 - Trek to Naungkae, visit Kakku Pagoda, boat & car to Nyaung Shwe

Includes:

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.

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Bagan - 2 nights

Sometimes written ‘Pagan’, Myanmar’s 9th century capital, Bagan, is one of the most significant ancient cities in South-East Asia, right up there with Angkor Wat. Now, 25 years after it was first nominated, Bagan has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With literally thousands to choose from, it's no easy task selecting which temples and pagodas to make a beeline for, so get local recommendations and perhaps take a birds-eye overview from a hot air balloon. Explore the temples by cycle or electric bike and, if you’re in danger of becoming ‘templed out’, wander through nearby interesting villages, discover Nyaung U’s excellent restaurant scene, and find the lively market and tea shop culture in New Bagan.

Day 11 - Fly to Bagan, temple tour

Includes:

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.

Day 12 - At leisure in Bagan

Includes:

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.

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Yangon - 2 nights

Yangon (formerly Rangoon) was Myanmar’s administrative capital until 2006 and remains the country's largest and most influential city. Its dusty streets are lined with an intriguing array of traditional wooden homes, imposing colonial-era relics, buzzing tea houses, and modern - although often already decaying - office blocks. Yangon’s skyline remains far more low-rise and green than many other South-East Asian cities, leaving space to enjoy the views. Rivers, lakes, parks and tree-lined streets separate the built up districts, and the gleaming spire of Shwedagon Pagoda - one of Myanmar’s most iconic sights - peacefully towers above the city.

Day 13 - Fly to Yangon, Shwedagon Pagoda, Go Local evening tour

Includes:

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.

Day 14 - Experience Yangon's circle train, Yangon walking tour

Includes:

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.

Day 15 - Depart Yangon

Includes:

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

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We only provide privately guided holidays - meaning that you will not be expected to share guides or transport for the duration of your visit. You can also start on any day you choose.

Please click on the hotel category buttons below to view hotel details. These are recommended properties only - we have many alternative options for you to choose from if you would prefer. You can mix hotel categories throughout your holiday.

Hotel class Price per person (based on total # travelling)
2 persons 3 persons 4 - 6
Standard £2,911US$3,814 £2,686US$3,518 £2,455US$3,216

Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort

Phu Chaisai, which began as a modest, family-run mountain retreat where city-dwellers could reconnect with nature, has blossomed into one of northern Thailand’s most well-known resorts… See more

Princess Hotel

The best in town is without a doubt, unquestionably a few stars short of deluxe! Whilst the accommodation is certainly basic, it's clean and well maintained... See more

Kalaw Heritage Hotel

High in the mountains of eastern Myanmar, the Kalaw Heritage Hotel is the perfect base for exploring this fascinating region, combining classic elegance with efficient service and up-to-date facilities... See more

Thanakha Inle

The charming Thanakha Inle enjoys a canal side location in Nyaung Shwe with direct access to Inle Lake – just hop on one of the passing boats - and within walking distance of Nyaung Shwe’s local restaurants... See more

Bagan Thande Hotel

Arranged along the riverbank, the Bagan Thande’s wooden bungalows are bright & elegant, their aesthetic traditional but modern enough to keep you comfortable... See more

Hotel G

Downtown Yangon bustles with street markets, food stalls and an upbeat atmosphere. Hotel G is conveniently located right in the centre of the action, just over a mile to Shwedagon Pagoda...

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First Class £3,005US$3,936 £2,779US$3,641 £2,549US$3,339

Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort

Phu Chaisai, which began as a modest, family-run mountain retreat where city-dwellers could reconnect with nature, has blossomed into one of northern Thailand’s most well-known resorts… See more

Princess Hotel

The best in town is without a doubt, unquestionably a few stars short of deluxe! Whilst the accommodation is certainly basic, it's clean and well maintained... See more

Kalaw Heritage Hotel

High in the mountains of eastern Myanmar, the Kalaw Heritage Hotel is the perfect base for exploring this fascinating region, combining classic elegance with efficient service and up-to-date facilities... See more

Thanakha Inle

The charming Thanakha Inle enjoys a canal side location in Nyaung Shwe with direct access to Inle Lake – just hop on one of the passing boats - and within walking distance of Nyaung Shwe’s local restaurants... See more

Bagan Thande Hotel

Arranged along the riverbank, the Bagan Thande’s wooden bungalows are bright & elegant, their aesthetic traditional but modern enough to keep you comfortable... See more

Sule Shangri La

Formerly known as Traders, Sule Shangri La is something of a landmark in itself within Yangon - its 21 floors place it amongst the highest buildings in the city. The views from many rooms are sensational...

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Superior £3,097US$4,058 £2,871US$3,761 £2,642US$3,460

Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort

Phu Chaisai, which began as a modest, family-run mountain retreat where city-dwellers could reconnect with nature, has blossomed into one of northern Thailand’s most well-known resorts… See more

Princess Hotel

The best in town is without a doubt, unquestionably a few stars short of deluxe! Whilst the accommodation is certainly basic, it's clean and well maintained... See more

Amara Mountain Resort

On first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d jumped continent, to a little Northern European village in the woods. The Amara Mountain Resort consists of ten ample but very cute timber-frame cottages... See more

View Point Lodge

Nestled against a peaceful canal on the edge of town, View Point Lodge was established by the same team that set up and still run the the famous 'Le Planteur' Restaurant in Yangon, so there is a real focus on... See more

The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate

Any hotel with a 12th century palace wall within its boundaries is likely to be impressive, and The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate is a case in point. The perfect, cool, airy retreat... See more

Sule Shangri La

Formerly known as Traders, Sule Shangri La is something of a landmark in itself within Yangon - its 21 floors place it amongst the highest buildings in the city. The views from many rooms are sensational...

See more
Deluxe £3,262US$4,273 £3,035US$3,976 £2,806US$3,676

Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort

Phu Chaisai, which began as a modest, family-run mountain retreat where city-dwellers could reconnect with nature, has blossomed into one of northern Thailand’s most well-known resorts… See more

Princess Hotel

The best in town is without a doubt, unquestionably a few stars short of deluxe! Whilst the accommodation is certainly basic, it's clean and well maintained... See more

Amara Mountain Resort

On first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d jumped continent, to a little Northern European village in the woods. The Amara Mountain Resort consists of ten ample but very cute timber-frame cottages... See more

View Point Lodge

Nestled against a peaceful canal on the edge of town, View Point Lodge was established by the same team that set up and still run the the famous 'Le Planteur' Restaurant in Yangon, so there is a real focus on... See more

Bagan Lodge

Providing stylish luxury accommodation just south of ancient Bagan, the Lodge strikes a tempting balance between modern comfort and historic Burmese elegance... See more

Savoy Hotel

Being located just off Rangoon's very own ‘millionaire’s row’ can have its advantages, namely the great restaurants and shopping (or window shopping) opportunities the neighbourhood has to offer... See more

Solo travellers are always welcome - please contact us for a tailored quote.

These prices are shown in GBPUSD.
Selective Asia is a UK-registered company, but our client-base spans the globe, so we bank in both GBP and USD and can therefore provide a fixed price in either currency.
We also have payment facilities in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the EU, and can typically offer better-than-bank exchange rates on the date of payment in these currencies (against a booking priced in GBP).

Itinerary additions


  • Add a few extra days to end of your trip and spend some time relaxing on the picturesque beaches of Ngapali or Ngwe Saung.
  • Kyaiktiyo, or 'the Golden Rock', is just five hours by car from Yangon, and makes for an excellent side trip to marvel at one of Asia's great Buddhist wonders.
  • Take a balloon flight over the temples of Bagan at sunrise to enjoy a bird's eye view of some of Asia's greatest temples.
  • Those wanting more of the adventure should consider Chin State and Mount Victoria - long journeys feature, but the rewards make it all worthwhile.
At Selective Asia we specialise in creating unique, tailor-made experiences. The holiday itineraries provided on this website are intended to help you visualise what is achievable in your destinations of choice, over a given period of time and at an intended budget.
Whilst many clients are happy with of our recommended itineraries in the current form (and at the price quoted), there are those that wish to personalise their holiday in some way, whether it be a change of hotel, an additional destination or even start from scratch. This is when our tailor-made specialists come into their own; with many years of experience both living and working in the region they are ideally equipped to advise on alternatives and to facilitate any necessary changes.

The important stuff

Please note: During high season periods (such as Christmas and Burmese 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.

Inclusive:

  • 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
  • International flight reconfirmation.

Exclusive:

  • Flights to/from Asia. We are an ATOL bonded operator and can arrange flights for all our clients, regardless of whether you are departing from the UK or from almost any other worldwide destination.
  • 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

All prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.

 

Extras

Flights

We will arrange all internal flights used within our holiday itineraries. We can also arrange discounted flights from all UK airports to Asia and we are a fully bonded ATOL operator. If you would like a quote for your international flights then please complete the required section on the enquiry form.

Visa

You will require a visa to enter Myanmar. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.

Passport

Please ensure that you have a valid passport with at least 6 months validity remaining after your return date. You will also need at least one blank page for each of the countries you are visiting.

Insurance

You will require a comprehensive travel insurance that covers you for medical costs associated with hospitalisation, emergency travel and repatriation back to your home country. We offer our customers a specially discounted insurance policy, ideally suited to the needs that a trip such as this creates. Tick the insurance box in the enquiry form and we will send you a quote to suit your needs.

Vaccinations and Malaria Prevention

You will undoubtedly require vaccinations for your visit to Asia. Please consult your doctor or a vaccination clinic for the most up-to-date advice. They will also be able to advise you of the most suitable anti-malarial medication if required. It is important that you do this well in advance of your departure date.

Booking Procedure

Only once you are completely happy with any holiday itinerary we create for you will we ask for a payment. In order that we can secure availability for your booking we would typically require a deposit of 20%.

Travelling Responsibly

We care about the places and the communities that you will travel through. It is important to us that we travel as responsibly as possible throughout Asia and that we are giving something back to the regions and the people that make these journeys so special. Full details on our approach to responsible travel can be found on a dedicated section of this website.

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Lionel – Myanmar tailor-made specialist

'The ultimate Myanmar experience. If you want to break away from the pack, then look no further - you have arrived!'

LionelMyanmar tailor-made specialist

Speak to Lionel on 01273 670 001

Make it yours!

Call us on 01273 670 001

Get in touch

Our tailor-made service costs you no extra

This itinerary is designed to work straight off the peg, but we'll happily tailor it until it's a perfect fit for you, to ensure we’re making the absolute best of your time and funds. All you need to do is ask...

Your own private guides & drivers

You'll typically have your own private guides & drivers throughout your trip. When you will be sharing a service (eg a boat cruise) with others, we'll always let you know.