Southern Myanmar: Uncover the Hidden Trail
Myanmar by open truck, bikes, boat
Yangon – Kyaikhtiyo - Mawlamyine-Bilu Islands - Hpa-an - Bago - Yangon
If you are interested in participating, please contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Itinerary subject to change.
Travel to the Myanmar countryside and immerse yourself in the culture and beautiful nature of Golden Rock, Mawlamyine and Hpa-an. Travelling by road from Yangon, this tour is ideal for those seeking to visit an unexplored corner of the country. For those wanting to step away from the main sites and discover traditional rural Myanmar lifestyle, Hidden Myanmar is the perfect adventure for you.
November 8 (Day 1) - Arrival - Yangon
- Upon arrival, your guide will greet you at the Yangon International Airport and provide transfer from the airport to your hotel.
- Country orientation by Aye Aye with afternoon high tea.
- Meals are on own arrangement on the first day.
- Overnight at Chatrium Hotel.
November 9 (Day 2) - Yangon - Downtown tour with Little India and China Town, experiencing local life (Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner provided)
- Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city. Its impressive colonial and spiritual heritage makes it one of the most fascinating cities in Southeast Asia.
- Start by the historic post office, and walk to Sule Paya in the middle of the town, passing by the Strand Hotel, Mahabandoola Garden and Independence monument. Visit Little India and Chinatown, and see a colorful array of restaurants, temples and markets.
- Lunch at local restaurant.
- Continue to a local tea shop for to experience an integral part of Myanmar life: drink tea and select from an array of snacks as you enjoy the atmosphere.
- Proceed to MEDA Yangon office for country overview and introduction of the project by the MEDA Myanmar team.
- Continue to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddha temple in Myanmar. Local legend states the original structure was built 2,500 years ago, then renovated several times until taking its current shape in the 15th century. The eight-sided central stupa is 99 meters tall and gilded with gold leaf. It is surrounded by 64 smaller stupas. Your guide will show you around the massive complex, explaining why this temple is so revered. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa from the vantage point.
- Back to your hotel. Overnight at your hotel.
November 10 (Day 3) - Yangon – Hpa-An by coach (B,L,D provided)
- After breakfast, we drive to Hpa-An (six hours), a small town surrounded by beautiful limestone rock formations that is the capital of Kayin State.
- Upon arriving in Hpa-An you will visit the village of U Nar Ouk. During the colonial times, U Nar Ouk ran a local ferry boat company and fell into competition with the famed Ayeyarwaddy Flotia group. A price war ensued, resulting in ferry travel for all locals. This business tale is famous in Myanmar and taught in the text books of all primary schools.
- We will visit the monastery, built and donated by U Nar Ouk, where you still can see many ancient arts and crafts for decoration.
- Local lunch along the way.
- If time allows, you will transfer to the jetty and take a free boat ride across the river to the foot of Par Pu Mountain. You can take an optional 30-minute walk to the top for stunning views of Hpa-an below.
- Overnight at Hotel Gabanna.
- Distance and journey time: Yangon up to Hpa-An, 285 km
November 11 (Day 4) - Hpa-An (B,L,D provided)
- The capital of Kayin State, Hpa-An is emerging as one of the most appealing tourist destinations in Myanmar. Notable for its spellbinding surrounding scenery, the town is a gateway to natural wonders. Guests will travel to some of the area's most spectacular sights in an open-air tuk-tuk.
- After breakfast, visit Hpa-An by coach. Hpa-an is surrounded by natural lime-stone caves, hot springs, pagodas and temples. There are several villages very close to Hpa-An (within 30 minutes drive); we will visit a village to meet with woman involved in savings groups.
- City excursion starts with Kyauk Ka Lat Monastery, which is surrounded by the water of the natural lake. From the monastery, you travel to Kant Kaw Ta Htaung, where a thousand Buddhas sit under the Kant Kaw trees. The Buddha complex is located at the foot of Mount Zwekabin, a landmark of Hpa-An. If time allows, we will continue to visit Kaw Kon Cave, where you can see many terra cotta tablets on the cave walls that date back to the ninth century.
- Lunch and dinner at a local restaurant.
- Overnight at Hotel Gabanna
- Distance and journey time:
- Trekking: up to 4 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
- Today is an opportunity to learn about a day in the life of a rice farmer – at that time of year, the rice fields will be beautiful and there will be some opportunities for transplanting rice. Many of the target villages have their own (antique!) rice mills to try out. Early morning start; helping in the field, feeding the animals; then demonstration of the rice mill, then prepare lunch together.
- Afternoon: Round table discussion with some of the small business owners receiving support from the MEDA project. Learn about their business models.
- Overnight at Hotel Gabanna
- Pick up from your hotel after breakfast.
- Bike along a picturesque route to the Sadan Cave through Eain Du (three hours). Typically only accessible from November to March, the cave will bring out your inner Indiana Jones. Sadan starts off as a typical Myanmar cave, full of Buddah images and even a reclining Buddah. As you make your way deeper into the cave, a natural tunnel comes into view. Follow the row of lights through the tunnel for about 15 minutes. As you reach the end, you will see a magnificent view of a hidden lake and meadow.
- Stop for refreshments at the tea shop at the lake's edge. Hire a local boat man to take you on a tour (clients sit on the bamboo floor of the boat as there are no seats). Take the boat around the small lake and then through another cave accessible only by boat.
- From Sadan you can ride your bike back to Hpa An or take your coach. (Cave to Mawlamyaing is 30 minutes by coach).
- In the late afternoon, you will arrive in Mawlamyaing and proceed to traditional Mon-style, and Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, the city's tallest and most visible stupa.
- Continue to the beautiful Seindon Mibaya, a wooden monastery over 100 years old.
- Walk along the town’s Strand Road for a glimpse of the impressive Kaladan Mosque, which was built during the colonial era when many Indians came to work for the British in Mawlamein.
- End the day at the top of a temple for a view point that overlooks the town, the Thanlwin River and Belu Island as the sun sets in the background.
- Traditional Mon style dinner at Pa Mon restaurant.
- Check into your hotel.
- Dinner and overnight at Queen Jamavedi.
- NB: Since the coach is with the group, if someone doesn’t want to bike they can go by coach.
- Distance and journey time:
- Transfer from Hpa-An to Mawlamyine
- Cycling distance: up to 44 km
- Difficulty: Medium
- Instead of biking, the group can have the experience of riding in a local light truck.
- After breakfast, transfer to the jetty from your hotel.
- Take a private boat or ferry to Bilu Island (45 minutes), where you board a lite truck for an island excursion;
- Visit the homes of friendly villagers.
- Visit home industries such as rubber-band making and cigar pipes.
- Lunch during your visit in the village.
- Overnight at Queen Jamavedi.
- After breakfast, your guide will come and pick you up from your hotel and drive to Kyaik Hti Saung. From there, you will start your adventure to the rice fields. From the top of Kaylather Hill, we have awesome views to Mataben Sea and Bay. Then continue to Kyaik Hto, and from there take an open truck to the Golden Rock.
- From the base of the mountain you will be transported by a local, open-air truck along a winding road (45 minutes) where you will be dropped off at the junction camp to travel the final distance to Golden Rock on foot. The uphill trek is along a paved trekking path and offers great views of the surrounding area. For an easier alternative, four porters can carry you uphill in a specially made sedan chair, allowing you to enjoy the views without all of the hard work! (Extra cost not included.)
- After about one hour of walking, reach the Golden Rock. A huge boulder covered by over 60 tons of gold leaf and delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff, Golden Rock is one of Myanmar's main pilgrimage sites. The pagoda here is said to hold a hair of the Buddha, and Buddhists from across the country come here to pay homage.
- Lunch at Khine Khine Kyaw Restaurant.
- Dinner and overnight at Mountain Top Hotel.
- Distance and journey time:
- Transfer from Kyaik Hti Saung Village to Base Camp Golden Rock: 3 hours
- Cycling distance: up to 70 km
- Difficulty: Medium
November 16 (Day 9) - Kyaikhtiyo – Bago (by bike) (B,L,D provided) - 105 km
- After breakfast, (here the group can get up early around 5:30 and then see the monks procession up on the pagoda before heading back to Bago) spend the morning relaxing and resting your legs and then drive to Bago. The scenery is gorgeous as you travel through the countryside and through small townships on the way. Bago is located 80 kms northeast of Yangon and served as the capital of the Mon Kingdom of Lower Myanmar during the 15th century.
- Lunch at Kyaw Swa in Bago.
- Upon arrival on Bagon, transfer to your hotel. In the afternoon, visit Hintha Gone Pagoda, where you can have an experience of Myanmar people who believe in Nat. From the top you can see the panoramic view of Bago with the background of Shwemawdaw Pagoda. Continue to the Mon-style Shwemawdaw Pagoda, one of the most venerated in Myanmar, whose 114-meter spire is taller than the one at Shwedagon Pagoda. Those who wish can try the astrologer. Then visit Shwethalyaung Temple, which houses a beautiful 55-meter-long reclining Buddha. While in Bago we’ll also take time to visit the city’s local sites, including the town market and a Mon neighborhood.
- Dinner at local restaurant.
- Overnight at Bago Star Hotel.
- Distance and journey time: Transfer from Hpa An to Bago: 180 km; 4 hours
November 17 (Day 10) - Bago - Yangon (by coach) (B,L,D provided)
- After breakfast, you will transfer out of the city of Bago. On the way stop by Kyat Khet Wine monastery and then visit the busy Bago market before heading back to Yangon.
- Enjoy a local lunch en route.
- Distance: 96 km
- Farewell dinner with MEDA staff (BBQ dinner)
- Overnight at Chatrium Hotel
November 18 (Day 11) - Yangon Departure
- After breakfast, the group will have a chance to explore Yangon on their own. Today, they have a standby coach with guide. Those who wish can do a Heritage Walk with Yangon Heritage for an additional $30 US. (Reserve with Yangon Heritage Walk in advance.)
- Transfer for return flights from Yangon International Airport
Our Bicycle Information
We will use mountain bikes such as Trek, Blanchi, etc with very lightweight frames, 24-speed gearing and hydraulic disc brakes. The frame sizes are 15-23 inches with Alpha silver alloy. Please note that while we can’t guarantee a certain model of bike for your tour, our oldest bikes are 2015 models. Helmets will be provided.
We will provide bicycle mechanics and all you need to cycle in comfort. Our coach bus will accompany us as we cycle so that if you do not wish to cycle the entire distance, you can ride part of the way on the bus.