Peel into Myanmar's essence within a week: a lively Buddhist city of Mandalay with profound history and cultures, iconic landscape of Bagan offering best sunset views and wandering around Yangon to understand the country and its people. Designed for minimalists who would like the best in a short time, this trip, however, is meant to be an everlasting memory.


  • Introduce you to different kingdoms of Mandalay, Amarapura and Bagan
  • Best sunsets of a lifetime: over the U Bein Bridge, over Bagan temples and on the Mandalay Hill
  • Have a cooking class with local villagers in Bagan
  • Hop on the train in Yangon to get around the city

What's Included

  • Approval Letter for Myanmar e-Visa
  • Private transfers and English-speaking tour guides in every destination
  • All guided sightseeing as detailed in the itinerary
  • Hotel accommodation mentioned in the itinerary
  • Internal flights including taxes and fuel as specified in the itinerary
  • Breakfasts at hotels, lunches for every guided day
  • Governmental taxes

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1Mandalay Arrival

One of the two largest cities in Myanmar, Mandalay welcomes you with an undemonstrative smile. Meet with your private tour guide and driver upon arrival. Transfer to hotel and take a short break.
In the afternoon, get on a dirt road to Amarapura Ancient Town. Amarapura was founded by King Bodawpaya of the Konbaung Dynasty as the capital in 1783 and became the worship and academic center for Buddhism. Glory was long gone yet evidence can still be traced here, by a visit to Amarapura Palace.
The biggest draw for travelers to Amarapura is the beautifully-structed U Bein Bridge. You will take a small boat to get around the bridge while your tour guide offers tales. Row to the center of the river to wait for sunset over the water surface.
Get back to Mandalay after sunset.

- Entering Mandalay:

Flights from Bangkok arrive in Mandalay in the afternoon. The city is also connected with Guangzhou and Kunming in China, Chiang Mai in Bangkok as well as Singapore.

- Approval Letter for Myanmar e-Visa:

People of all nationalities, except those from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are required to obtain visa for Myanmar. Our Myanmar tours include the fee for Approval Letter (ranging from USD30 to 50 depending on nationality), which shall be applied and issued at least one month before your travel time, and your travel advisor will send it along with the tour confirmation. Approval Letter will be used for eVisa application for air entry. Take your passport and 1 passport-size photo to get your passport stamped at one of the airports of Yangon, Mandalay or Nap Pyi Taw, with no extra cost at the airport.


2 nights at Mandalay Hill Resort (Handpicked Comfort) / Rupar Mandalar Resort Hotel (Luxury)

Sunset view at U Bein Bridge of Amarapura near Mandalay

Day 2Mandalay

Be an early bird today! We will make our first visit of the day at Mahamuni Pagoda. This site is known for the daily Face-Washing Ceremony that takes place at 0400am. Fresh towels, flowers, food and other offerings are brought by the local devotees. When the drumming kicks in, the presiding abbot will firstly wash the face of the Buddha image, brush its teeth, smear with sandalwood paste and finally springkle with scented water to complete the entire ritual. Only male visitors are allowed to enter the main chamber and females should wait and watch the video in the adjunct foyer.
Used to be part of the royal palace, Shwenandaw Monastery survived from the earthquake as well as the British bomming targeted the Japanese during the World War II. The edifice holds a rich collection of wood carvings and important Buddhist scripts. Afterwards, proceed to Kuthodaw Pagoda and the World's Largest Book, just not far from the Shwenandaw Monastery. The workmanship of this massive complex of Buddhism chambers and pagoda is just staggering and it will be a good photography opportunity for professional photograhpers or shutterbugs alike.
Take an elevator up to the top of Mandalay Hill, where you will get a supberb view of the city at sunset.

- Take off your shoes:

Shoes and stocks are to be removed before entering a religious site. As for sunset view at Mandalay Hill, your tour guide will resort your footware in a bag and offer you wet wipes to clean your feet when you get back from the top.

Two novices in Mandalay A monk is washing Buddha's face at Mahamuni Pagoda in Mandalay

Day 3Mandalay - Bagan (30min by air)

Take a morning flight to Bagan. Transfer to West Pwa-Saw Village, where you will have so much fun at a cooking class with the locals.
Travelers who have no gastronomy expectation for their Myanmar trips are often delightfully surprised by the traditional Burmese culinery, which is distinguishly characterised by extensive use of fish prodcuts (fish oil, fish sauce and etc) and raw veggatables. West Pwa-Saw Village, located close to the main road to enter Nyuang U, is part of the JICA Bagan Tourism Development Project and the funds of the cooking class will be spent on supporting the community for schooling and housing.
Take a look at the busy scene at Nyuang U Market before getting to Bagan. Stop for a brief visit at Shwezigon Pagoda, which is the first Burmese-style pagoda and all pagodas across Myanmar are built based on its grandiose pattern. Constructed in 1060, it is still the most worshiped shrine in Nyuang U of Bagan.

- About JICA Project:

JICA, short for Japan International Cooperation Agency, is a Japan-based international NGO that has been devoting to reducing poverty and pollution, enhancing living environment and education and addressing food safety and human security in over 150 countries since 1974. Its main mission in Myanmar, is to provide assistance to minority ethnic groups, prompt faciltiy for economic development and infectious disease control over malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.


2 nights at Aye Yar River View Resort (Handpicked Comfort) / Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Bagan (Luxury)

Two novices in Mandalay Try out deep-fried shrimps with bean dip

Day 4Bagan

In comparison with Mandalay, Bagan is more like a dizzy day dream that you find it hard not to be hypnotized by the psychedelic site of thousands of pagodas in the morning mist. Today you will visit the World Heritage Site, Bagan Archaeological Zone. Given some pagodas are only a hallow shell, your tour guide will pick some textbook examples, such as Ananda Pagoda, Dhammayangyi Pagoda, Maha Bodhi Pagoda and Dhammayangyi Temple for your visit.
You will return to hotel for a break after lunch and return back to the site in late afternoon. Ride on an ox cart to watch as the sun slowly sets down.

- Hot air balloon flight (Optional):

Flying up in the sky, overlooking all the temples at sunrise, a 1-hour hot air balloon ride can be something special to tell your friends back home. It is available for booking during October to next March, morning time schedule every day and sunset flight upon request.

- Sunrise over Bagan (Optional):

If you don't want to miss out one of the world's best sunrise views, your private tour guide sure knows the best location. This means you will need to get up before 0500am, though.

Beautiful view of Bagan

Day 5 Bagan - Yangon (1h20min by air)

Leaving Upper Burma,an early morning flight takes you to the country's former capital Yangon. Check in upon arrival.
Start an afternoon visit to Yangon's Colonial District where historic buidlings tell a lot of fascinating stories. Wander down to Bogyoke Aung San Market, one of the busiest markets in Yangon with a wind range of local specialties such as gems, wood carvings and trinkets. Here comes the best time to visit Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset, when the glittering pagoda merges in the darkening night sky and you will watch local people doing their end-of-the-day rituals or prayers.


2 nights at Sedona Hotel Yangon (Handpicked Comfort) / Novotel Yangon Max (Luxury)

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

Day 6Yangon

Usually people don't see Yangon as a metropolise as the city is rather laid-back compared to Bangkok, Singapore or Ho Chi Minh City. Today take a train ride around the city to observe the cityscape.
Yangon Circular Train is 45km in length but it takes about 3 hours to complete the loop, which means it is rather slow and you will be granted a great opportunity to watch the local commuters on their ways to school, workplaces or markets. You will start the ride at about 09am from the Main Station. The train stops every 5 minutes and the locals only have a couple of minutes to hop on or hop off. Get off at a local market in the outskirt of Yangon and wander around the market.
Your private driver is waiting for you outside the market and later take you to Thadama Myintzu Nunnery, which is home to 200-some young girls who were saved from sex trade or home abuse. Laughter and chatter fill the compound, and some girls were brought here at the age of 3 and now they have become teachers and sitters for younger girls.
Get back to downtown Yangon and you will visit Chaukhtatyi Paya, enshrining a large reclining Buddha image. Wrap up today's visit with a leg to Aung San Suu Kyi's House where she was held arrest for over 15 years.

- Thadama Myintzu Nunnery:

The head nun head nun Daw Aye Theingi started the project in 2011 with her pervious experience in Shan State (where human trafficking is extremely rampant due to poverty and the continuous fighting between ethnic minorities and the Burmese Army) and along Bago River. There are girls from Shan State and some remote border towns as well as from nearby villages, at the age of 5 to 20. Through a generous donation they now have a decent place to live, get medical care and education. They can choose to stay or move to the city when they reach the age of 18 but most of them decide to stay and help others.

Little nuns and novices No sad faces, you will see how happy they are at Thadama Myintzu Nunnery

Day 7 Yangon Departure

Good time flies fast. Say goodbye to Yangon and fly back home.

Angkor Wat Wonder Awaits You!

Extend your adventure to the wonderness of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap by taking Bangkok as a transit.

5-Day Siem Reap Tour at Depth5 nights handpicked comfort | from USD 838/person

- A local Khmer scholar sharing insights of Angkor Wat
- Sparkling diamonds of the Angkor -- Bantey Srei and Beng Meala
- Meet those who live above water in a floating village
- No time wasted - Airport Fast Track Services only for VIPs
- Helping while traveling - give back to the local community

Tour Map

Map of Myanmar Essence Tour

Asia Highlights Handpicked Hotels

Asia Highlights chooses hotels with a balanced mixture of traditional style and modern comfort, easy access to everything yet quiet enough for a good night's sleep.

Mandalay - Mandalay Hill Resort

- Ranked 11/110 on TripAdvisor.
- Located by the hill foot and overlooking the city.
- Big rooms with view of the Royala Palace, great breakfast and services.

Bagan - Aye Yar River View Resort

- Winner of Certificate of Excellence on TripAdvisor.
- By the Ayeyarwaddy River, wide-open surroundings and setting.
- Swimming pool, spa center, spacious rooms with balcony and soft bed.

Yangon - Sedona Hotel Yangon

- Ranked 13/147 of hotels in Yangon.
- Located by the Inya Lake, offering good view of the lake and the city.
- Spacious rooms, free Wifi, swimming pool and family room available.

Note: Your comfort counts! It's totally possible to change hotels based on your interests and budget. Just let us know your preferences and we will help you choose.

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