Best of Thailand and Myanmar tour – escorted vacation travel featuring top guides, small group size, authentic local cuisine, luxury accommodations.
18-day Best of Thailand & Myanmar Tour
Bangkok – Yangon – Bagan – Inle Lake – Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin – Chiang Mai – Bangkok
Combining Thailand and Myanmar in one trip makes perfect sense, not only because Bangkok is an ideal jump-off point for visiting Myanmar but also because the cultures and histories of these countries are very much intertwined.
For decades Thailand has been one of the world’s most popular travel destinations. Its friendly people, rich culture, beautiful landscape, colourful customs, decent infrastructure, tasty cuisine and relatively stable political system all contribute to its high ranking as a tourist destination among international visitors. On this remarkable journey of cultural discovery, you will visit Bangkok, the nation’s capital, and Chiang Mai, a strategic city in northern Thailand known for its artistic and cultural heritage.
Just a few years ago, a mobile phone SIM card in Myanmar cost over 2,000 U.S. dollars but nowadays you can have it for $2. Indeed, much has changed in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, since late 2010 when the country began to take steps towards democracy. Sanctions against Myanmar have been lifted and the world is rushing in to do business here. If you haven’t been to Myanmar, now is time to explore this extraordinary land.
- Small group (20 max)
- | Experienced tour leader
- Expert local guides hand-picked by company owners
- No forced shopping stops
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers included
- Authentic local cuisine
- Unlimited supply of bottled water
- Free Wi-Fi in all hotels
- Village and school visits
Meal Code: B = breakfast / L = lunch / D = dinner
Scroll down for dates, prices, hotel list and visa requirements.
Day 1/Mon: Departing Home City
Your Thailand and Myanmar tour begins with your transpacific flight departing from a city of your choice. You’ll lose a day upon crossing the International Date Line.
Day 2/Tue: Arrival in Bangkok
Welcome to Bangkok! Meet your guide on arrival and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Day 3/Wed: Bangkok (B/L/D)
Located in Chao Phraya River delta, Bangkok is the capital and the most populous city of Thailand, with a population of 8 million within the city proper or nearly 13% of the country’s total. The city is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon.
We begin our sightseeing today at the royal Grand Palace. Established in 1782, the palace was dramatically expanded throughout successive reigns. The king and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), resides at Chitralada Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events.
We then proceed to the National Museum, which is the largest museum in Southeast Asia and features exhibits of Thai art and history.
Afternoon sightseeing takes in Wat Arun, a Buddist temple on the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Wat Arun is among the best known of Thailand’s landmarks.
Finally, we go on a long tail boat for an hour-long cruise on picturesque Chao Phraya River and the Klongs (canals) of Thonburi on the west side of the river. There will be chance to observe and photograph the serene family homes and temples along the waterways.
Day 4/Thu: Bangkok – Yangon (B/D)
Free morning for packing and relaxing.
Transfer to the airport to board our late afternoon flight to Yangon. Meet the local guide on arrival and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Day 5/Fri: Yangon (B/L/D)
Yangon is the former capital and the largest city of Myanmar. Once known as Rangoon (“end of strife”), it was founded in the 11th century starting as a fishing village and was transformed into a commercial and political hub after it was seized by the British in 1852 during the Second Anglo-Burmese War.
Our morning sightseeing includes Sule Pagoda and Independence Park by the City Hall. Sule Pagoda has been a focal point for contemporary Yangon and Burmese politics. As we drive along the streets, the guide will point out major buildings constructed during the British colonial era.
Later today we visit the Shwedagon Pagoda. Situated on a hilltop, the spectacular Buddhist temple thought to be more than 2,500 years old is the city’s most significant landmark.
Day 6/Sat: Yangon (B)
Our morning sightseeing includes Sule Pagoda and Independence Park by the City Hall. Sule Pagoda has been a focal point for contemporary Yangon and Burmese politics. As we drive along the streets, the guide will point out major buildings constructed during the British colonial era. After a stroll along lovely Kandawgyi Lake, we spend the rest of the day exploring Yangon on our own. We recommend the famous Scott Market which is very popular among jewelry and handicraft shoppers.
Day 7/Sun: Yangon – Bagan (B/L/D)
The early morning flight to Bagan takes 1 hour 20 minutes. Bagan is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region. From the 9th to 13th century, the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first kingdom to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom’s height, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day. The plain east of the curving Irrawaddy River is one of the most wondrous sights in Myanmar.
The most prominent monuments we will visit in Bagan include Shwesandaw Pagoda and Ananda Temple. We will also learn about the local lacquerware during our visit to a traditional workshop. Viewing the vast forest of spires of temples from above is another highlight of our visit to Bagan.
Day 8/Mon: Bagan (B/L)
We start the day with a stroll through a local market. We then proceed to Shwezigon Pagoda built by King Anawrahta in the early 11th century. This is followed by a stop at Khay Min Ga Temple for a panoramic view of the pagodas and temples in the area. We return to the hotel after lunch. Later we drive to Bupaya Pagoda or Mingala Zedi Stupa to watch sunset over the Irrawaddy River.
Day 9/Tue: Bagan – Inle lake (B/D)
After a relaxing morning, we fly to Heho, gateway to the tranquil Inle Lake. The lake is lined with simple villages on stilts and dotted with unique floating gardens tended by farmers in their boats. The state of Shan, where the lake is situated, is known for its traditional papermaking and we can witness this craft during a workshop visit. This evening, we enjoy a traditional dinner accompanied by a cultural performance.
Day 10/Wed: Inle Lake (B/L/D)
This morning we explore the Indein Stupa Complex, a stunning forest of 1,000 ancient towering spires. We then get in a small boat to visit one of the lake’s villages perched on stilts. After lunch, we visit a charming silk-weaving village and stop by at one of the village’s floating gardens.
Day 11/Thu: Inle Lake – Mandalay (B/L/D)
Free morning to relax. Fly to Mandalay in late afternoon.
Mandalay is the second largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. Located 716 km north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, the city has a population of 1.3 million and is the economic hub of Upper Burma.
After hotel check-in we drive to the top of Mandalay Hill for a panoramic view of the historical city in glorious sunset.
Day 12/Fri: Mandalay – Pyin Oo Lwin – Mandalay (B/L)
After breakfast, we embark on a 67km drive to Pyin Oo Lwin. The scenic hill town was once known as Maymyo, named after Colonel James May (later Major General) of the 5th Bengal Infantry stationed there in 1886. The town located at 1,070 metres above sea level was developed during the colonial era and used by the British to escape Rangoon’s summer heat and humidity. Many of the locals in Pyin Oo Lwin still prefer to call their town Maymyo. Although the British have been long gone, the bungalows, villas and public buildings built by them still remain.
We will drive past numerous British buildings and visit one or two of them along the way, but the main reason we come here is the well maintained Kandawgyi Botanic Garden. The National Kandawgyi Garden complex is a 435-acre botanical garden first established in 1915 as the Maymyo Botanical Gardens by Alex Roger, a Forest Officer. The original site was 30 acres and modeled after the Kew Gardens of England with the help of an amateur gardener called Lady Cuffe. On December 1, 1924, the site, with a total area of 240 acres at the time was declared the Government Botanical Reserve. This is also the year when the Burmese Ministry of Forestry designated the Botanical Gardens a “protected forest area”. In the year of 2000, the garden underwent a major renovation. Since then it has been heavily used by the Burmese government to promote ecotourism. The Botanical Gardens has more than 480 species of flowers, shrubs and trees. The $5 admission fee (locals pay less) covers the butterfly museum, the orchid garden and the aviary.
Day 13/Sat: Mandalay (B/L)
Our full-day sightseeing in Mandalay includes Mahamuni Pagoda, Mandalay Palace, Kuthodaw Complex and a boat cruise on Irrawaddy River that takes us to Mingun Pahtodawgyi ruins and U Bein Bridge.
Mingun Pahtodawgyi is an incomplete monument stupa in Mingun, approximately 10 kilometers northwest of Mandalay across the Irrawaddy River. The ruins are the remains of a massive construction project begun by King Bodawpaya in 1790 which was intentionally left unfinished on advice from his astrologers. The Pahtodawgyi is seen as the physical manifestations of the well known eccentricities of Bodawpaya, who set up an observation post on an island off Mingun to personally supervise the construction of the temple.
U Bein Bridge is a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura, not far from Mandalay. The 1.2-kilometre bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. Construction began when the capital of Ava Kingdom moved to Amarapura, and the bridge is named after the mayor who had it built.
Day 14/Sun: Mandalay – Chiang Mai (B/D)
Free morning to explore on your own. We transfer to the airport for late afternoon flight (1hr25min) to Chiang Mai, the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand.
Day 15/Mon: Chiang Mai (B/L)
Nestled in high mountains and 750 kilometres north of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is the capital of Chiang Mai Province. The city served as capital of the Kingdom of Lanna (1296–1768). Known for its artistic and cultural heritage, the city sits astride the Ping River, a major tributary of the Chao Phraya River. The Chiang Mai Metropolitan Area has a population of nearly one million, more than half the total of Chiang Mai Province.
Afternoon schedule features a scenic drive to Doi Suthep National Park, home to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep – a temple perched at the top of a peak more than 3,500 feet above sea level.
After breakfast we drive 50km north of the city centre to visit an elephant camp. Considered Thailand’s national animal, these giant beasts are an integral component of Chiang Mai’s economy. During the hour-long show, the elephants perform a string of tricks, such as logging wood at the command of their mahouts. We then climb onto one of these gentle giants for a trek rumbling through the jungle. The ride is safe; however, a liability waiver must be signed first.
Later today we stop by at an orchid nursery farm to be delighted by the beautiful blooms of a big variety.
Day 16/Tue: Chiang Mai (B/L/D)
Today we embark on a full-day excursion to Chiang Dao located 80km north of Chiang Mai to visit hill tribes of different ethnic groups including Karen (long neck), Lisu, Akha, Lahu and Palong. These ethnic groups who sustain mostly through farming co-exist peacefully while at the same time each observes their own unique way of life. They have handmade crafts to sell to visitors but they are by no means aggressive vendors as you often find elsewhere.
Day 17/Wed: Chiang Mai – Bangkok (B)
After breakfast, we spend the morning exploring Chiang Mai on our own. Transfer to the airport for our short flight (1hr 15min) to Bangkok, where we stay at Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport which is just a short walk from the airport’s main terminal. The balance of the day is at leisure.
Those departing Bangkok late the next day and wishing to explore Bangkok further may ride the airport express train to downtown, which takes only 20 minutes.
Day 18/Thu: Bangkok – home city (B)
Your Thailand and Myanmar tour ends this morning. Walk back to the airport terminal to check in for return flight arriving home the same day.