The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!
More Information

Interested in learning more about Discover Thailand?

Call Me For More information Send Me More Information Share With My Friends Add Trip to Travel Planner

Call me for more information on Discover Thailand

I am interested in learning more about this destination I have a question about an existing reservation

Call me for more information on Discover Thailand

* = Required

Call me for more information on Discover Thailand

* = Required

Send Me More Information on Discover Thailand

To receive a detailed day-to-day itinerary for this trip, please select an action below.

Email Mail

Send Me More Information on Discover Thailand

Send Me More Information on Discover Thailand

* = Required

Share Discover Thailand with my friends

Please Note: At least one email address is required
* = Required

Discover Thailand 2015

From Only:

Trip Extensions

Pre-trip: Burma & the Irrawaddy River

Before you travel to Thailand, visit Burma, currently known as Myanmar, a forest-clad country of mountain ranges and river systems, with an abundance of golden pagodas.  After a period of isolation, Burma has again opened itself to visitors, while remaining one of the least Western-influenced countries in Southeast Asia. Come experience its magical sights, friendly people, and its own distinctive culture.

It's Included:
Roundtrip airfare from Bangkok, plus 3 internal flights
Accommodations for 2 nights in Rangoon, 2 nights in Bagan, 2 nights in Mandalay, and 1 night in Bangkok
13 meals—7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 2 dinners
19 small group activities
Services of a resident, English-speaking OAT Trip Leader
NEW for 2015: Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
All transfers
  • hidden

    You fly overnight from the U.S. to Bangkok, losing one day en route as you cross the International Date Line over the Pacific.

  • hidden

    You arrive in Bangkok late this evening. You are met at the airport by your Trip Leader and escorted to your hotel.

  • hidden

    Today we depart for the airport to catch a flight to Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar). When we arrive, we transfer to our Rangoon hotel and check in. Enjoy free time and lunch on your own.

    In the early evening, we gather together for an orientation walk and a Welcome Dinner at a restaurant in town.

  • hidden

    After breakfast, we will set out to explore the city in a private coach with our local guide. We'll start at Shwedagon Pagoda, often called the Golden Pagoda for its glittering spire that dominates the city's skyline. Shwedagon is the most sacred pagoda in Burma, housing relics of the past four Buddhas: namely the staff of Kakusandha, the water filter of Konagamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa, and eight hairs of Gautama.

    We'll continue by coach to the city center, where we'll disembark to enjoy a walking tour around the area of Sule Pagoda, the City Hall, and the Independence Monument in Mahabandoola Park. We'll walk along Strand Road where we'll find remnants of colonial-era buildings, as well as modern architecture. Then we'll proceed to the Kalaywa Tawya Monastery, where the Buddhist Scripture is still studied and taught today.

    After lunch on your own, you have free time at leisure, or you can join the optional Rangoon: Past & Present tour. We'll visit the National Museum, a five-story building that displays Burma's history, culture, literature, and people. We'll witness the splendid Lion Throne of Burma's last monarch, King Thibaw, on the ground floor.

    Then we'll depart for Rangoon's busy waterfront, walk along the jetty, and see the local people going about their daily lives. We'll continue to Chinatown, browsing aisles in its bustling market and exploring side alleyways. Your optional tour also includes dinner at a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    Following an early breakfast this morning, we transfer to the airport for a brief flight to Bagan, known as Burma’s “City of Four Million Pagodas.”

    Although Bagan’s are not actually numbered in the millions, there are literally thousands of them scattered over this remote plain—making this one of the most important archaeological areas in Asia. Please note that you must remove your shoes and socks to enter Bagan’s ancient temples, and it is respectful to wear modest dress.

    First we'll visit Damayazaka Pagoda, and then we explore Nyang-U market, where locals sell their home-grown produce and crops. Then we will witness Shwe Zi Gon pagoda, the most beautiful gold-domed pagoda, before seeing Ananda, the largest and most significant temple. It stands out from the other pagodas, having more ornate trappings and graceful spires recently coated with gold leaf. Inside its whitewashed walls are four large statues of Buddha, each with a different facial expression.

    We pause for lunch at a local restaurant and some down time at our hotel, and then enter the Gubyaukgyi Pagoda in Myingaba town (rather than a conventional town, Bagan is actually a loose collection of villages), where we see some of Bagan’s finest and most detailed murals. This small temple also offers some of the best-preserved stucco sculptures on its exterior.

    In the late afternoon, we experience an archaeological site up close on a horse-cart ride among the pagodas and shrines. Most of these structures are red brick and date back a thousand years to the Bagan era.

    We dine as a group at a local restaurant this evening.

  • hidden

    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.

    The rest of the morning and early afternoon is at leisure with lunch on your own. Or, you may join another optional tour to visit Mount Popa, a sacred peak that is associated with a uniquely Burmese spiritual tradition: the nats. Like gods or saints, nats are powerful spirits who can punish or protect. Our tour takes us to the temple of the nats, perched high on a volcanic outcrop of Mount Popa. To reach the temple, we drive through fertile farmlands growing sugar palms, nuts, sesame, and rice. We pause for lunch and then visit the mountaintop Taung Kalat Temple, home of an extensive collection of nat statues, a resident colony of Macaque monkeys, and striking views. Then we tour the Medicinal Museum & Plantation to learn about the plants used by the mountain herbalists for cures and as offerings. We finish with a walk through a local market before returning to Bagan.

    In late afternoon, all travelers board a boat at a local jetty to view the locale from another vantage—the waters of the Irrawaddy River (also called the Ayeyarwady River). 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.

  • hidden

    We have an early breakfast this morning and transfer to the airport for a half-hour flight to Mandalay. When we land, we’ll visit the ruins of Inwa, which was founded in 1364 and lasted nearly 400 years as a royal capital. Highlights include the “leaning tower of Ava,” Maha Aungmye Bonzan (a brick-and-stucco monastery), and the elegant teakwood monastery Bagaya Kyaung. We return to Mandalay to eat lunch at a local restaurant.

    After settling in at our hotel, we explore more of Mandalay, including Shwenandaw Monastery and Kuthodaw Pagoda. Time permitting, we’ll also visit Mandalay Hill for a panoramic sunset view.

    We return to our hotel, and dinner this evening is on your own.

  • hidden

    This morning after breakfast, we board a boat for a ride upriver to the village of Mingun. Here we get a glimpse of the local culture and stop to see one of the world’s largest ringing bells, still uncracked and weighing in at 90 tons. Bells are a common feature used in many of Burma’s religious rituals. It is said that people ring this bell after performing a good deed so they can share with others the merit they earned. Burmese Buddhists consider it one of the world’s sweetest sounds.

    We’ll return to Mandalay for lunch at local restaurant, and then go to see a gold-leaf workshop, where sheets of gold are beaten into gossamer-thin pieces. Placing gold leaf on a Buddha image brings great merit to the faithful, so there is a steady growth of gold layers on Buddha images throughout Burma. We’ll have a chance to witness the results of this practice as we stop at by the Mahamuni Buddha, the most sacred shrine in upper Burma, covered with so much gold leaf that its body has lost all proportion.

    Next, we’ll visit the longest wooden bridge in Burma. The U Bein footbridge stretches almost three-quarters of a mile over the shallow Thaung Thaman Lake. It is constructed of teak planks and has withstood the elements for more than two centuries.

    We return to our hotel, and dinner is on your own again this evening.

  • hidden

    • Meals included:

    Today, we fly to Rangoon, where we proceed to Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda, which houses a 225-foot reclining Buddha. Next, we enjoy an included lunch and take time to browse the craft stalls of Scott Market. In the evening, we fly to Bangkok and transfer to our hotel, where we continue from Day 2 of our Discover Thailand itinerary.