Our Hidden Treasures journey delves into Myanmar’s less-visited regions, exploring newly-accessible areas and supporting inspiring, community-focused projects. Explore hidden gems in Yangon and Nyaung Shwe, then step into remote Kayah and South Rakhine, confident that any money spent during your stay is going directly to local people.
At a glance
- Discover a different side to Yangon
- Watch the sunset from Thirimingala Pagoda
- Trek uphill to Rang Ku village
- Immerse yourself in Kayaw traditions
- Feel inspired at Arakan Nature Lodge
- Glide over Ngapali Beach in a hot air balloon
Yangon - 2 nights
Yangon (formerly Rangoon) was Myanmar’s 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 - towers above the city.
Day 1 - Arrive Yangon, sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda
On arrival in Myanmar, you'll be met by your private guide, who will accompany you to your Yangon 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.
Your day will be at leisure until a late afternoon visit to the magnificent, 2,000-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda - the perfect spot to enjoy the Yangon sunset. Explore the surrounding shrines and makeshift food markets, as the city’s residents flock to this incredible landmark for their daily prayers. As night falls, witness the mesmerising sight of the pagoda’s glimmering surface illuminated by floodlights.
Day 2 - Rangoon Revisited walking tour
Take up the option of breakfast at the chic Rangoon Teahouse, then drive to the recently-opened Secretariat, perhaps best-known as the sombre location of General Aung San’s assassination, to explore the gutted interior of a colonial gem that’s long been off-limits. See social enterprise in action at the Yuwaddy Centre; YHT blue plaque conservation at the Armenian Church of St. John the Baptist; and local-led regenerated at ‘491-501 Merchant Street’, which now houses apartments, restaurants, tea shops and a hostel. Stop for lunch in one of the historic Lokanat Building’s international eateries; pop into the contemporary River Gallery; and visit the evocative Strand Hotel, along with many more of the city’s extraordinary buildings, before looking down over it all from the Independence Monument. Explore the Indian and China quarters, or relax at leisure back at your hotel.
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Loikaw - 3 nights
Loikaw is the tranquil capital of Kayah State, tucked away in the remote Karen Hills, near the Pilu River; surrounded by scenic mountain ranges, lakes and waterfalls. Closed to visitors for over half a century, this diverse and picturesque region has only recently opened up again. Its lower profile and secluded location means it attracts only a fraction of the tourist numbers that visit Inle Lake each year, allowing those that do venture in to enjoy the sublime scenery in relative solitude. Experience the warm hospitality of the local communities as you learn about the region’s unique cuisine and customs.
Day 3 - Fly to Loikaw, sunset at Thirimingala Pagoda
Fly to Loikaw to visit the local monastery and nunnery, and enjoy the marvellous sunset view from Thirimingala Pagoda (Taung Kwe Zedi).
Day 4 - Haw Nan monastery, Pan Phet village trek
Begin your exploration of Loikaw by visiting Haw Nan Monastery, built during WWI by the Chief of Kayah, which is one of the oldest buildings in Kayah State, and still a working monastery. Leaving Loikaw behind, head to the settlement of Pan Pet, to gain insight into the life and culture of the world famous Padaung tribal community. Continue to the hamlet of Penmasong, to embark upon a moderately challenging uphill trek to Rang Ku village, as your guide repeats some of the stories shared by the community leader, and points out various edible and medicinal plants that grow here. Your reward at the summit will be a rarely photographed view of Pan Pet and its natural surrounds. Once you’ve taken it all in, set off back downhill to spend time with the locals in Rang Ku, before returning to Loikaw.
Day 5 - Htay Ko village visit
Spend a day deep in the mountain ranges south of Loikaw, and visit the remote Kayaw tribal village of Htay Ko. Take the slow drive along undulating mountain roads, stopping to take in the wild jungle scenery, before arriving in the village and heading to the community guide’s house - a local guide who can to translate the Kayaw dialect. There’s no set order of events, just a focus is on spending time with the villagers, visiting their homes and learning more about their traditional lifestyle, which could include anything from visiting the workshop of a jeweller (with the opportunity to purchase a personally engraved necklace) to discussing the meaning of life with a coffin maker. Enjoy a simple, locally sourced lunch of rice, foraged vegetables and a selection of meat, then bid farewell to the villagers and travel back to Loikaw.
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Nyaung Shwe - 2 nights
Nyaung Shwe is a relaxed, welcoming town on the northern shore of Inle Lake, with plenty of choice for laid-back travellers. Often overlooked as just a jumping off point for the lakeside resorts, Nyaung Shwe’s unpretentious, backpacker-type vibe makes it an attractive destination in its own right. The down-to-earth Mingalar Market is open each morning, selling freshly caught fish, and fruit and veg from the floating gardens. There’s an excellent range of local cafes and restaurants and, within cycling distance, the Red Mountain Estate vineyard, where you can sample locally-produced wines.
Day 6 - Boat to Nyaung Shwe
Leave Loikaw by road, heading north to Phekhon to transfer to a private boat for your journey to Inle Lake. Stop en route in Sagar for an early lunch and to stretch your legs, then cross the lake to Nyaung Shwe. On the outskirts of town is your accommodation: A Little Eco Lodge. This aptly named, family-run property is committed to eco-tourism principles and was constructed entirely from locally sourced natural materials. It plays an important role in the local community, actively recruiting and training staff from nearby villages. After receiving a warm welcome, the rest of your day will be at leisure.
Day 7 - Cookery treasure hunt, vineyard wine tasting
Take part in one of our favourite travel experiences: a cookery class treasure hunt. With a shopping list and a few basic Burmese phrases under your belt, you’ll head into the nearby village to collect instructions on what to do next from various local families, who’ll each give you the next envelope, along with tea, snacks and plenty of laughs! Having fully immersed yourself in the local community, collect a few last ingredients from the hotel’s organic vegetable gardens, then prepare the dishes and enjoy the fruits of your labour for lunch. In the afternoon head out of town to the haw (palace) of the last prince of Nyaung Shwe: a fine example of Shan architecture and a cultural museum. Continue to the picturesque Red Mountain Winery to explore the vineyard, learn about wine production in the region, and sample the wine.
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Zikhone Beach - 3 nights
Travelling south along a relatively well-maintained rural road, you’ll snake through a scenic farmland landscape, occasionally glimpsing the Bay of Bengal to your right. At the village of Nyaung Chaung, you’ll turn off the main road in the direction of the sea and Zikhone beach. Here, directly on Zikhone’s untouched, white-sands, surrounded by forested hills, you will find your unique accommodation: Arakan Nature Lodge. South Rakhine is one of the poorest regions of Myanmar and this inspiring lodge has created much-needed job opportunities for local people, with any money spent during your stay going directly to the community.
Day 8 - Fly & drive to Arakan Nature Lodge, Zikhone
Fly out early to Thandwe and transfer on to Zikhone beach and your unique accommodation: Arakan Nature Lodge. Billed as Myanmar's ‘first true eco lodge’ it has been constructed using recycled wood and sustainable local materials and runs completely on green technologies and practice. Having checked in, the remainder of your day will be at leisure; take a leisurely stroll along the beach, soaking up the serene surroundings before dinner.
Your stay at Arakan Nature Lodge can be as relaxed or active as you wish. Explore the surrounding hills on foot, cycle through the rural landscape and local villages, take a boat trip to nearby Gwa Island to snorkel in calm waters, or have a go at stand-up paddle boarding. Alternatively, you can while away the hours simply swimming in the crystal clear shallows or dozing in a hammock.
Days 9 & 10 - A few days at leisure
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Ngapali Beach - 2 nights
Ngapali is one of the most impressive beaches in South-East Asia, with long bays of fine white sand leading down to crystal clear waters. Rows of rustling palm trees are punctuated by a few bungalow-style resorts that have sprung up as the country’s tourist industry has flourished, but it still enjoys a relaxed fishing-village vibe, free from noisy beach bars. Rise early to watch the fishermen bring in their daily catch, then float over the coast in a hot air balloon, taking in the panoramic views of jungle clad mountains, meandering rivers and temples as the morning mist lifts.
Day 11 - Drive to Ngapali Beach
After a final hearty breakfast at Arakan Nature Lodge transfer with your local driver to Ngapali Beach, where you can unwind with a few days at leisure exploring, relaxing and laying back on those golden sands...
Day 12 - Beach time!
Your days will be at leisure to relax and reflect on your experiences.
Day 13 - Departure day
Fly to Yangon in time to connect with 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|
Well located in the lower town area of Myanmar’s eclectic former capital, just moments from the riverbank, the Yangon Excelsior is a sharp-dressed addition to the city’s hotel résumé…See more
Loikaw LodgeConstructed almost entirely from locally sourced materials, Loikaw Lodge is a beacon for warm hospitality, responsible tourism, and long-term sustainable travel... See more
A Little Eco LodgeDeep in the rural landscape just outside Nyaung Shwe, the visionary Little Eco Lodge resort comprises a handful of stilted chalets in simple surroundings...locally sourced natural materials; the home-cooked meals served in the restaurant use seasonal ingredients that are grown in their organic garden. But it's more than just a welcoming, eco-friendly place to stay and plays an important role in the local community... See more
Arakan Nature LodgeThis remarkable community-focused eco-lodge is situated by a beautiful beach in Rakhine State... See more
Yoma Cherry LodgeThe friendly welcome given at Yoma Cherry Lodge, its tranquil garden setting and homely traditional architecture all combine to create a charming boutique gem... 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).
The important stuffPlease 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.
- 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.
- 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 noteAll prices are correct at the time of publishing. They are liable to change and can only be confirmed upon submitting an enquiry.
FlightsWe 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.
VisaYou will require a visa to enter Myanmar. Your consultant will be happy to advise you on visa requirements.
PassportPlease 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.
InsuranceYou 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 PreventionYou 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 ProcedureOnly 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 ResponsiblyWe 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.
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.