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Day by Day Itinerary

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

A century ago, Rudyard Kipling described Burma as a place “quite unlike any land you know about.” Isolated from the world in the recent past, Burma—now known as Myanmar—remains a magical destination, yet one shrouded in mystery. When you visit Burma with OAT, you will watch the sun glinting off a 2,500-year-old temple clad in 60 tons of pure gold in Rangoon … witness “one-leg” rowers casting fishing nets and farmers tending to floating gardens on Inle Lake … see a procession of saffron-robed monks walking across the world’s longest teak footbridge near Mandalay … meet with members of hill tribes who cling to ancient ways of life and animist traditions in Kalaw … view thousands of mysterious pagodas dotting the golden plains of Bagan … and much more. Join OAT and discover the most unspoiled corner of Asia—a place quite unlike anywhere else on Earth.

Rangoon Inle Lake Expand All
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    We depart the U.S. on an overnight flight across the Pacific and cross the International Date Line.

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    Arrive in Rangoon late in the evening. An OAT representative will meet you at the airport and assist with your transfer to our Rangoon hotel. Travelers on our optional Vientiane & Luang Prabang trip extension arrive earlier in the day.

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    After breakfast we have a Welcome Briefing and then begin our discovery of Burma’s largest city and former capital. Also known as Yangon, the architecture of many buildings in the downtown district of Rangoon reveals vestiges of British colonial rule. Our first stop is Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to an enormous reclining Buddha whose crown is encrusted with diamonds and precious gems.

    Explore Rangoon on a guided walking tour

    Then we'll return to our hotel and enjoy lunch on our own. This afternoon we'll come together to witness the most sacred Buddhist site in all of Burma—Shwedagon Pagoda. Also known as the Golden Pagoda, the 2,000-year-old hilltop temple complex covers more than twelve acres and dominates the Rangoon skyline. We’ll view the gold-draped, gem-studded pagoda at sunset, when the fading light shimmers off its 326-foot-high spire. Few places in the world radiate such a palpable sense of beauty and serenity as Shwedagon Pagoda.

    This evening, we celebrate the start of our Burma discovery during a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

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    Today we’ll enjoy a guided tour of Rangoon. We’ll begin by walking through the city center, taking in the bustling markets and colonial buildings. Our tour takes us near the Sule Pagoda, which serves as the heart of the city—both geographically and metaphorically. According to legend, this large golden pagoda was built more than 2,500 years ago during the time of the Buddha. Since then, a number of important political events and rallies have unfolded at the base of the pagoda, including the 8888 uprisings and the 2007 Saffron Revolution.

    To learn more about the 8888 uprisings, so called because they occurred on August 8, 1988, we’ll travel by bus to Inya Lake—where many of the protestors were killed and arrested. The uprisings were spearheaded by students who stood against the Burma Socialist Party regime but soon spread to other parts of the country. Together, students, monks, children, doctors, and others fought for democracy, and their legacy lives on the shores of Inya Lake today. We’ll mingle with some of the local students, and maybe sample a snack from one of the neighborhood eateries, before continuing for a view of the residence of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s beloved human rights activist. Behind this humble exterior, she was held under house arrest for nearly two decades. We’ll return to Rangoon for lunch and then an afternoon at leisure.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    Early this morning, we’ll transfer to the airport for a short flight to central Burma. Our destination is Bagan, also known as the “City of Four Million Pagodas.” Many of the pagodas and temples are small and simple—but the number of them is staggering. Although Bagan’s centuries-old shrines, pagodas, and stupas do not actually total in the millions, there are well over 2,000 of them scattered along the remote 16-square-mile plain, flanked on one side by the Irrawaddy River. This qualifies Bagan as the largest temple city on the planet, as well as one of the most important archaeological areas in all of Asia. The majority of ruins in Bagan were constructed between the eleventh and 13th centuries, a time when Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire.

    After a brief stop at Shwe Sandaw Pagoda, we head to a village market in the town of Nyaung-U: a great opportunity to mingle with the locals and wander among stalls that feature locally-grown crops, rattan items, tea leaves, and colorful traditional clothing. Then we make a short stop to see Shwezigon Paya, a beautiful gold-domed pagoda constructed early in the twelfth century that is believed to enshrine a bone and tooth of Gautama Buddha.

    Next, we witness the beauty of Ananda Pahto, a terraced temple peaked in shimmering gold that is considered a symmetrical masterpiece. Built around 1090 by a Burmese king inspired by tales of visiting Indian monks, Ananda’s perfection qualified it to serve as a prototype for successive Burmese temples. Inside its whitewashed walls are four large statues of Buddha, each with a different facial expression.

    After lunch at a local restaurant, we’ll check into our hotel, followed by some time at leisure. Then, we’ll head to a nearby jetty, where we’ll board a boat to gain a new vantage of the Irrawaddy (also called the Ayeyarwady). The people and the country’s economy depend on this natural resource, as you will undoubtedly observe by the countless number of barges, bamboo rafts, and fishing boats that ply the waters around us. From on board, we will be able to observe how everyday life plays out along the riverbanks.

    This evening, we’ll enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

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    Discover Bagan's thousands of pagodas during a hot air balloon ride

    You may wish to rise early this morning for an optional hot-air balloon ride, a memorable opportunity to enjoy a bird's-eye view of the sun rising over the ancient temples of Bagan. Afterwards, enjoy a Champagne toast and return to the hotel for breakfast.

    After breakfast, we’ll all head to a Bagan workshop to learn how to make a popular dish called pone ye gyi, a flavored soy-bean sauce. After this glimpse of modern life in the area, we return to the ancient world to tour Gubyauk Gyi Temple, which dates back to the 13th century AD. We’ll venture inside to see its colorful frescoes and stuccowork. Then we witness locals making palm sugar, before enjoying lunch at a nearby restaurant and an afternoon at leisure.

    Another treat is in store for our small group this evening, when we visit a local family as guests in their home for dinner. Your Trip Leader is sure to provide you with insights into local customs and traditions before your visit.

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    After breakfast, we gain another unique perspective of Bagan when we travel by horse-drawn carriage ride through the archaeological zone. Witnessing the morning sun illuminating the ancient temples of Bagan is an unforgettable experience. We’ll see Damayangyi Temple and visit Khayminga Temple for a panoramic view of our surroundings. Then we’ll return to the hotel for lunch on our own.

    Your afternoon is at leisure to explore on your own or relax at our hotel. Dinner is also on your own this evening.

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    After an early breakfast, we transfer to the airport for a 30-minute flight to Mandalay. We'll explore several highlights of Mandalay, which briefly served as capital of the last Burmese kingdom in the mid-19th century. We first visit the Mahamuni Paya, home to a highly venerated Buddha image, one of the most sacred in Burma. Over the centuries, devout Buddhists have been applying gold leaf to the 13-foot-high seated Buddha; that gold surface is now estimated to be about six inches thick. Then we visit Myawaddy Nunnery. Here, we’ll gain insights into Burma’s Buddhist traditions, observe more than 200 of the nunnery’s novice nuns during their lunch, and perhaps have a chance to participate in an informative discussion with the abbess.

    Today, enjoy lunch on your own and some time at leisure, before we visit Mandalay Royal Palace, where Burma’s last two kings lived. Tonight, we’ll dine together at a local restaurant.

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    Following breakfast this morning, we depart for Mandalay Hill. Upon arrival, we’ll ride an escalator to the top, where Mandalay Hill Monastery offers sweeping views of the city below from the platform of the pagoda. Next we visit Kuthodaw Paya, often referred to as “the world’s biggest book” due to its marble slabs inscribed with the entire collection of early Buddhist writings (which, if read for eight hours a day, would take more than a year to finish). We’ll then explore Shwenandaw Kyaung, a traditional Burmese wooden monastery before traveling to a nearby gold-leaf workshop, where we’ll learn how sheets of gold are beaten into gossamer-thin pieces. Placing gold leaf on a Buddha image brings great merit to the faithful, so the layers of gold leaf on Buddha images throughout Burma get thicker and thicker with the passing years.

    After lunch on your own, enjoy a free afternoon to explore Mandalay. Dinner is also on your own this evening.

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    See the largest fully functioning bell in the world in Mingun

    After breakfast, we enjoy a pleasant boat ride a few miles upriver from Mandalay to the village of Mingun, home to a massive unfinished pagoda and the largest, un-cracked, fully-functioning bell in the entire world. Cast in bronze in 1808, the gigantic Mingun Bell is 13 feet high and weighs in at about 90 tons. The bell was meant to be a part of the Mingun Paya, which would certainly have been the world’s largest pagoda had King Bodawpaya not died in 1819 before its completion. An 1838 earthquake split the one-third-completed monument, reducing everything except its enormous base to rubble.

    Next, we return to Mandalay by boat along the Irrawaddy and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Take some time at leisure this afternoon before a short drive to another ancient royal capital, Amarapura. Upon our arrival, we’ll visit the world’s longest teak bridge. The U Bein footbridge stretches almost three-quarters of a mile over Thaungthaman Lake, and is heavily utilized by the local monks in maroon robes who carry alms bowls back and forth to monasteries. Constructed of more than 1,000 teak posts, the U Bein has withstood the elements for over two centuries. We hope to catch a memorable sunset by the bridge before heading back to Mandalay for dinner at a local restaurant.

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    We rise early for our flight to Heho. Upon arrival, we visit a local village inhabited by members of the Pa-O tribe, one of the many ethnic minorities in Burma. After a tour of the village, we transfer to Kalaw, situated along the edge of the Shan Plateau in eastern Burma. Popular with trekkers, Kalaw is surrounded by hill-tribe villages and also serves as the gateway to Inle Lake. The town is comprised of a mixed ethnic population—including descendants of the Nepali Gurkhas and Indian Hindus brought here by the British during colonial rule to build roads and railways.

    After an included lunch at a local restaurant, we head to our hotel to check in and enjoy some time to relax. Later in the afternoon, we’ll visit Shwe U Min Pagoda, a cave filled with golden Buddhas. Then, we’ll climb approximately 280 steps to get to Theindaung Monastery, where we can enjoy panoramic views of the town. After that, our efforts will be rewarded with a hearty dinner at one of Kalaw’s local restaurants.

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    A diverse variety of ethnic hill tribes reside in small villages nestled among the hills that surround Kalaw—including the Palaung, Danu, Pa-O, and Taung Yo tribes. After breakfast, we first make a stop at the Kalaw morning market. Then, we set out to experience A Day in the Life of Myin Ma Htie village, home to members of the Danu hill tribe. Our discoveries include a meeting with a Buddhist monk for meditation and an enlightening discussion; a visit to a village school (when in session)—which is supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation—to meet with Danu schoolchildren; a village walk; and trip to a surrounding vegetable plantation that supplies the village with food. Then we get an authentic taste of tribal life by helping prepare a traditional lunch with our Danu village host. A conversation with village elders and a demonstration in making local rum drinks conclude our time in Myin Ma Htie.

    Late this afternoon, we drive to Inle Lake, where we check in to our new hotel. Before our included dinner at the hotel's restaurant, we'll have the opportunity to take a scenic canoe ride on Inle Lake.

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    Discover life along Inle Lake

    Today’s discoveries on Inle Lake begin with a boat ride to Nga Hpe Kyaung, a stunning wooden temple and Buddhist monastery built on stilts. You may hear people calling this “Jumping Cat Monastery,” because in the past, the monks there used to train their cats to do tricks. Then we continue to Nampan, a village built on stilts over the water. Here, we’ll visit workshops to learn about cheroots, popular cigars made by hand and wrapped in tree leaves, and see how Inle Lake canoes are built.

    After lunch at a nearby restaurant, we continue to the village of Tha Ley to view the eleventh-century Phaung Daw Oo Paya, one of the most sacred sites in Burma. Four ancient Buddha images reside in a pavilion inside the pagoda—images that are so laden with gold their features are unrecognizable. During an 18-day pagoda festival each fall (featuring many leg-rowing contests), the images are ferried around the lake aboard a gilded barge shaped like a hintha, or swan.

    Dinner is on your own this evening.

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    After breakfast, we depart by boat to visit some local workshops that produce Shan paper and traditional umbrellas. Here, we'll meet with some women of the famous Padaung hill tribe, and we'll be able to discuss with them their ancient tradition of wearing heavy brass ornaments around their neck and limbs. Then we visit Inthein (or Indein), a lakeshore village where we view the mysterious hilltop ruins of hundreds of hundreds of ancient pagodas cloaked in thick vegetation, followed by lunch in a local restaurant.

    This evening we enjoy a festive Farewell Dinner at our hotel.

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    After breakfast, we transfer to Heho for a flight to Rangoon. Upon arrival, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Then we wander through the some 2,000 stalls of Bogyoke Aung San Market. Also known by its old British moniker, Scott Market, Bogyoke is a great place to interact with locals while haggling for all manner of Burmese handcraft items. Please note: If the market is closed on the day we visit, we will enjoy alternate activities. After our market visit, we can relax at our Rangoon hotel and prepare for our later flight.

    This evening, we head to the airport for our return flights home. If you are continuing on the post-trip extension to Northern Vietnam: Hanoi & Halong Bay, you’ll fly to Hanoi.

Extensions

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Ratings based on percentage of travelers who rated these features "Excellent".

Overall Trip Excellence
76%
Trip Leader Excellence
79%
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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

Pacing

  • 5 locations in 14 days with one 1-night stay
  • International flights from Los Angeles to Rangoon depart around midnight, crossing the International Date Line; and 4 internal flights, 3 of which require early wake ups

Physical requirements

  • Not appropriate for travelers using wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids
  • You must be able to walk 2-3 miles unassisted and participate in 5-7 hours of physical activities each day, including steps and hikes over hilly terrain
  • Agility and balance are required for embarking our riverboat, canoes, and motorboat

Climate

  • Daytime temperatures range from 70-90°F
  • February through mid-May is the warmest season, followed by the rainy season, which ends in September

Terrain

  • Travel over some bumpy unpaved roads, walk along city streets and ancient ruins, and visit monuments, often with uneven paths and walkways with no handrails

Transportation

  • Travel by 45-passenger coach, 20-passenger riverboat, canoe, and 6-passenger motorboat
  • 4 internal flights of approximately 1 hour each (or less)

Accommodations & Facilities

  • All accommodations feature private baths and Western-style toilet facilities
  • Throughout touring, only Asian-style toilets (squat-style rather than seats) may be available

Cuisine

  • Meals will be based on the local cuisine; Western food is limited

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary:

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens will need a visa (or visas) for this trip. In addition, there may be other entry requirements that also need to be met. For your convenience, we’ve included a quick reference list, organized by country:

  • Thailand: No visa required.
  • Burma: Visa required.
  • Laos (optional pre-trip extension only): Visa required.
  • Cambodia (optional post-trip extension only): Visa required.

Travelers who are booked on this adventure will be sent a complete Visa Packet— with instructions, applications, and a list of visa fees—approximately 100 days prior to their departure. (Because many countries limit the validity of their visa from the date it is issued, or have a specific time window for when you can apply, we do not recommend applying too early.)

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your adventure, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Trip Leaders and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Extensions

Pre-Trip

  • Vietnamese junk

    In the privacy of our OAT small group, we cruise the island-studded waters of Halong Bay on a traditional wooden sailboat known as a junk. We'll appreciate its modern touches, including private baths with showers and air-conditioned cabins. Onboard, we can relax on the sun deck or enjoy a drink from the bar.

Main Trip

  • Sedona Hotel Yangon

    Rangoon, Burma | Rating: Superior First Class

    The Superior First-Class Sedona Hotel Yangon is situated near the shores of scenic Lake Inya, and serves as a convenient base of exploration for your discoveries in Rangoon, including Shwedagon Pagoda and the city center. The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, floodlit tennis courts, and a number of on-site restaurants serving a variety of cuisine, from Chinese to Italian. Each air-conditioned room includes satellite TV, a minibar, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate

    Bagan, Burma

    The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate is situated in Old Bagan itself, offering fantastic views of the more 4,000 temples and pagodas that surround it. It offers two restaurants with a variety of cuisines, as well as the chance to relax at an outdoor pool or indulge in various spa treatments. The 83 air-conditioned rooms feature telephone, satellite TV, in-room safe,  wireless Internet, minibar, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and hair dryer.

  • Sedona Hotel Mandalay

    Mandalay, Burma

    Set on four acres of manicured gardens, the Sedona Hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, tennis courts, restaurant, and bar. The 247 air-conditioned rooms feature satellite TV, minibar, safe, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Pine Hill Resort

    Kalaw, Burma

    The Pine Hill Resort is a basic, bungalow-style hotel featuring hilltop grounds outside of Kalaw, but within walking distance to market and shops. There is a restaurant at the hotel, and its 36 rooms feature a telephone, minibar, fridge, satellite TV, and private bath.

  • Pristine Lotus Spa Resort

    Kaung Daing, Burma

    The 53-room Pristine Lotus Spa Resort is set on a landscaped hillside next to Inle Lake. There are indoor and veranda restaurants, a lakeview terrace, and a hot springs spa on the hotel grounds. Rooms include a telephone, minibar, satellite TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath.

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  • Avion Apart Hotel

    Bangkok, Thailand

    Conveniently located near Bangkok’s international airport, Avion Apart offers an ideal resting place before and after your international flights. Perhaps you'll stretch your legs in the onsite fitness center or take advantage of the outdoor pool or the business center. The hotel’s 270 air-conditioned rooms each offer satellite TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and a private bath with a hair dryer.
  • Sabaidee@Lao Hotel

    Vientiane, Laos

    Centrally located in Vientiane, this 80-room hotel is a short walk to Nam Phu Fountain, Mekong River, and many shops and restaurants. Within the clean and modern hotel, you’ll find a restaurant and outdoor beer garden. The air-conditioned rooms feature satellite TV, high-speed wireless Internet, and en suite bathroom with shower and hair dryer.

  • The Grand Luang Prabang

    Luang Prabang, Laos

    Situated on the grounds of the Xiengkeo Palace, the Grand Luang Prabang offers a tranquil setting with views of the Mekong River and surrounding mountains. All 80 rooms feature traditional colonial décor, air-conditioning, cable TV, and private bath. During your stay, enjoy the on-site bar and two restaurants, manicured gardens, and a large outdoor swimming pool.

  • May De Ville Grand Hotel

    Hanoi, Vietnam

    Conveniently located in central Hanoi—within walking distance to the Ngoc Son Temple, Hoan Kiem Lake, and other local attractions—the May De Ville features a restaurant, salon, and sauna. The hotel’s 81 air-conditioned rooms are outfitted with satellite TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, safe, Internet, and private bath with hair dryer.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two adventures to maximize your value. Here are more ways to create the OAT adventure that’s right for you:

  • Extend your adventure and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip extensions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your adventure
  • Choose to “break away” before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of OAT adventures to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium economy class
  • Extend your Land Tour-only Travel Protection Plan coverage and protect the air arrangements you make on your own—including your frequent traveler miles

The air options listed above will involve an additional fee of $100 per person for confirmed requests (as well as incremental airfare costs based on your specific choice).

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $3395
w/ standard air $4495

Partner since: 2011
Total donated: $45,187

Making a difference in Asia

Simply by traveling with OAT, you support the work of the nonprofit Grand Circle Foundation. Alan and Harriet Lewis created the Foundation with the mission of changing people's lives through travel — which includes both the travelers who journey with OAT, and the local people who welcome us so warmly into their homelands.

Learn more about our work in Asia, and what you'll experience during your itinerary:

A Day in the Life of Myin Ma Htie Village

Myin Ma Htie Village

Each Day in the Life is specially tailored to showcase daily life in your destination—in this case, Myin Ma Htie Village. You’ll get to know the local people through conversation and sharing a meal together, gaining an authentic glimpse of what life is really like here—and not just the typical tourist’s version.

Read More

A Day in the Life of Myin Ma Htie Village

Each Day in the Life is specially tailored to showcase daily life in your destination—in this case, Myin Ma Htie Village. You’ll get to know the local people through conversation and sharing a meal together, gaining an authentic glimpse of what life is really like here—and not just the typical tourist’s version.

Meet the People of Myin Ma Htie Village

Myin Ma Htie Village

Your Day in the Life experience will bring you to the village of Myin Ma Htie, Burma (also known as Myanmar). This northern area of Burma is home to a wide variety of ethnic tribes, including the Palaung, Danu, Pa-O, Taung Yo, and Danaw tribes. In Myin Ma Htie, we’ll have a chance to see how the daily life of one of these tribes—the Danu—differs from that of the lowland peoples we've encountered.

Here, our day begins with a visit to the village grocer to see what types of goods are available for sale, and perhaps an invitation into the home of the village chief. Next, we’ll speak with a Buddhist monk, with an option to practice a short mediation with him.

A special highlight of every Day in the Life is a visit to a local school, because it's always enlightening to see how other cultures educate their children. Our time in Myin Ma Htie then continues with a walking tour and a truck ride to visit a nearby plantation that supports members of the community.

We may see some of the same fresh produce as we next prepare lunch with the Danu villagers. After we taste the fruits of our labors, we’ll conclude our visit with a round-table discussion and a demonstration in making a local rum-based drink.

By the end of your Day in the Life, you'll have experienced something that most visitors can rarely say they've seen: an honest look at another culture that isn't dressed up for the sake of tourism. As responsible travelers and true world citizens, we feel it's just as important—if not more so—than monuments, wildlife, or scenery. We like to think of it as bridging the gaps between cultures … one Day in the Life at a time.

Grand Circle Foundation

Supporting a World Classroom: Burma

Myin Ma Htie Village Middle School

By seeing how children are educated all over the world, we gain a rare understanding of different cultural values—as well as the common values that unite us all. That’s why Grand Circle Foundation supports the Myin Ma Htie Village School, the Myin Ka Primary School, and the Aye Yeik Mon Orphanage.

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Supporting a World Classroom: Burma

By seeing how children are educated all over the world, we gain a rare understanding of different cultural values—as well as the common values that unite us all. That’s why Grand Circle Foundation supports the Myin Ma Htie Village School, the Myin Ka Primary School, and the Aye Yeik Mon Orphanage.

"We loved visiting the school and observing how the children were being taught."

Dennis Livingston
Brookline, Massachusetts

Aye Yeik Mon Orphanage

Partner since: 2011 • Total donated: $21,666

Aye Yeik Mon Orphanage

Aye Yeik Mon is an orphanage for girls only, located in the city of Mandalay in Burma, and provides housing and assistance for more than 200 girls.

Grand Circle Foundation first partnered with the orphanage in 2011 when we installed four Asian-style toilets. The Foundation has since made strides through the generous donations we've received. In the following years, we've replaced the roof, renovated the dormitory, and provided new mattresses for the students. We’ve also purchases 60 new beds, 20 sets of tables and chairs, and 60 sets of drapes.

Myin Ka Primary School

Partner since: 2013 • Total donated: $1,600

Myin Ka Primary School

In 2013, Myin Ka Primary School became Grand Circle Foundation’s newest partner in Burma. Since our partnership, we’ve installed two Asian-style toilets at the school. The prospects of this new partnership are bright. The foundation looks forward to the future in lending much-needed support to the students at Myin Ka Primary School.

Myin Ma Htie Village Middle School

Partner since: 2011 • Total donated: $14,621

Myin Ma Htie Village Middle School

By funding improvements in local schools and orphanages, Grand Circle Foundation’s World Classroom initiative is focused on supporting society’s most precious resources: its children. The Foundation first partnered with Burma’s Ma Htie Village School in the beginning of 2012. The school serves more than 300 children (from kindergarten to Grade 9) of the Danu hill tribe. Since our partnership, we installed two Asian-style toilets and a water purification tank.

School in session:

Generally, June 1-February 22. Closed for religious holidays.

Gifts to bring if you're visiting:

  • Pencils and colored pencils
  • Beginner-level English storybooks
  • Coloring books
  • Games
Grand Circle Foundation

Alan and Harriet Lewis founded Grand Circle Foundation in 1992 as a means of giving back to the world we travel. Because they donate an annually determined amount of revenue from our trips, we consider each one of our travelers as a partner in the Foundation’s work around the world. To date, the Foundation has pledged or donated more than $97 million in support of 300 different organizations—including 60 villages and nearly 100 schools that lie in the paths of our journeys.

Read More

Save 10% when you reserve by 8/31/14

It’s simple with our Good Buy Plan: The earlier you reserve and pay in full by check or electronic funds transfer, the more you’ll save on your 2015 departure of Burma: Land of Golden Temples & Floating Gardens—a value of up to $450 per person.

This example demonstrates how you can save, based on a 8/26/15 departure:

  ORIGINAL PRICE
per person
SAVE 10%
when you reserve
by 8/31/14
SAVE 6%
when you reserve
by 10/31/14
Land Tour only price: $3395 $3056 $3191
Add international airfare out of Los Angeles or San Francisco: $1100 $990 $1034
Total price per person $4495 $4046 $4225

Use our Dates & Prices feature to begin planning your trip, determine your savings with our Good Buy Plan calculator, and Request A Call to speak with our expert Travel Counselors.

Private Departures—New for 2015

Now you can reserve a Private Departure of Burma: Land of Golden Temples & Floating Gardens for your exclusive group of as few as 4 travelers. Enjoy a truly special adventure—starting from only $750 per person.

On your private departure, you can …

  • Travel in an exclusive group of friends or family members
  • Bring along several generations of your own family
  • Tailor the pacing of activities
  • Work with your Trip Leader to create unique experiences and special memories

"We wanted to take a family trip and called OAT to see if we could arrange a private departure. We has a great adventure—one that was extra special as it was just with family. We had all the lodges to ourselves and great guides. Everything ran like clockwork. I couldn't think of one thing to make the trip better."

P. Smilsky
11-time traveler
Eastham, MA

Group Size Additional Cost
4-6 $1600 per person
7-9 $750 per person

For more details, call our Group Sales Team
1-800-353-6262 and select Option #3.
Your representative can also tell you about the benefits of reserving a group of 10 or more.

This program is available on new reservations in 2015 only, and cannot be combined with any offers, including our Vacation Ambassador Referral program. The additional cost of a Private Departure is per person, on top of the departure price and varies by trip. Private Departures do not include any changes or additions to our standard itineraries. Age restrictions may apply to some itineraries and must be at least 13 years old to travel with Overseas Adventure Travel. Ask your Group Sales Team for details. Additional taxes and fees will apply. Standard Terms & Conditions apply. Every effort has been made to present this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.

Enhanced Itinerary

Based on feedback from our travelers, we’ve made a series of itinerary enhancements to our Burma: Land of Golden Temples & Floating Gardens adventure—changes that not only feature additional cultural discoveries, but a more relaxed traveling pace that will allow you to better enjoy your experience. These enhancements begin with January 2015 departures.

Less flying, more exploring

Instead of beginning (and ending) our Burma adventure with flights to and from Bangkok, your discoveries now begin and conclude right in Rangoon (Yangon). By eliminating two overnight stays in Bangkok, travelers will now be much better rested for their in-depth discoveries of Burma.

By streamlining our adventure this way, travelers will also get to spend more time in Rangoon, Burma’s former capital and home to country’s most sacred Buddhist shrine—the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda.

See more of Burma

Not only will travelers now enjoy more free time and included activities in Rangoon, but throughout our adventure in Burma, we’ve added more meals at local restaurants.

Fewer meals at hotels and more meals among the Burmese people at local venues will add an immeasurable measure of cultural richness to your time in this unspoiled and magical corner of Asia.

A better travel value

With less flying time to worry about, your trip is now focused entirely on Burma—and with more time in Burma, your adventure is a better overall travel value.

The Women of Burma’s Paduang Hill-Tribe

How standards of beauty have shaped their identity throughout time

by Meredith Rummelfarger

For as is often the case with Burma in general, these women themselves are at the center of controversy.

From the covers of National Geographic to specials on the Discovery Channel, the women of eastern Burma’s Paduang hill-tribe are no strangers to media coverage. Images of these so-called “long-neck” or “giraffe” women are instantly recognizable, with their coiled neck rings creating the illusion that their necks have been lengthened—which, contrary to popular belief, is not actually the case. The rings apply pressure on the clavicle and upper ribs, which deform the bones in such a way as to appear part of the neck. Young girls first receive their coils during religious rituals at just five or six years of age. Each subsequent year, the coils are replaced with longer ones until they create 20 pronounced rings.

Origins

Anthropologists have pondered several theories to explain the origins of the practice, including protection from both tiger bites and slave traders—the latter choosing not to capture the women because they find them unattractive. According to the women who wear them, however, the main purpose of the rings is to maintain the Paduang cultural identity—and to conform to well established standards of beauty and status. For the same reason, Paduang women also adorn their arms from the wrist to the elbow, and their legs from the ankles to the knees. Although not quite as publicized, these rings are an equal source of pride for Paduang women. Another cherished custom includes dressing in white until marriage—at which point, from her wedding day onwards, a woman begins wearing brightly colored clothing to make a clear statement that she has been spoken for.

Recent religious influences

In recent years, Paduang beliefs have been influenced by Christianity—thanks to the efforts of Roman Catholic missions—as well as Buddhism. But the majority of members maintain animist beliefs. Their major festival, Kay Htein Bo, takes place annually over three days at the end of March or beginning of April. To commemorate the belief that the creator god gave form to the world, a celebratory post called the Kay Htoe Boe pole is planted in the ground. People dance around it to give thanks for blessings during the year, worship the eternal god, ask for forgiveness, and pray for rain. It is also common a practice to do a “reading” or “consulting” of chicken bones to predict what the year ahead will bring.

The Paduang today

For many Paduang women, the prediction of happier times ahead would be welcome, indeed. In the late 1980s, the political turmoil and military regime in Burma led residents of many hill tribes, including the Paduang, to abandon their homeland and seek refuge across the border in Thailand.