The Road to Mandalay

Saturday 2nd February to Tuesday 19th February 2019
18 - Days


Prices from: £4300


With the emphasis on comfortable accommodation and special rail travel you’ll savour this other-worldly journey into Britain’s colonial past.


Departure Date: 02-Feb-2019
Book Now

Myanmar is fast transforming into a dynamic modern nation without losing its peaceful heart and ancient serenity. Many of the journeys on this exclusive tour would on their own be classed as the ‘trip of a lifetime’. From the ancient temples of Bagan to the muddy flats of the Gulf of Mottama, this is a unique country where preserved monuments and symbols of World War II exist side by side with revered and timeless Buddhist pagodas. On this epic tour you’ll discover Myanmar’s diverse landscapes, its pine forests and beaches, arable plains and scrubland, all from the comfort of vibrant steam and diesel hauled trains. And you’ll always receive a warm welcome from laid back locals keen to engage in the world beyond their borders. ‘This is Burma’, wrote Rudyard Kipling over a century ago, ‘… quite unlike any land you know about’. He would be delighted to discover that Myanmar still retains the power to surprise and delight the keen and adventurous traveller.

Saturday 2nd February
Flight to Yangon from London Heathrow
You depart London Heathrow in the morning for an indirect flight to Yangon, capital city of the Yangon (Rangoon) region of Myanmar, formerly Burma.

Sunday 3rd February
Arrival in Yangon; Afternoon sightseeing and dinner at the Karaweil Palace
You arrive in Yangon in the morning and transfer to the 4-star Chatrium Hotel in the company of your English-speaking guide. After settling in you have a free afternoon to relax, or alternately visit the Chaukjtatkyl Pagoda, with its 66-metre-long reclining Buddha statue, and later at sunset the gilded Buddhist Shwedagon Pagoda. This is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Myanmar people and houses lots of relics. Dinner tonight is at the magnificent Karaweik Palace Restaurant in Yangon. (D)

Monday 4th February
Steam hauled trip from Yangon to Bago
After breakfast your steam train adventure begins at Yangon Railway Station. Taking a while to leave Yangon behind, you pass a number of massive brick factories and industrial areas before rolling by some of Myanmar’s typically scenic quiet towns and villages. Your train stops for water at Dar Pein before continuing to Bago, where you’ll spend the night. Arriving in Bago, you’ll have some time to spend at the local depot where the steam locomotives are kept and maintained. Overnight accommodation will be at the Kanbawza Hinthar Hotel this evening, with dinner at the Hanthatwaddy Restaurant. (B L D)

Tuesday 5th February
Steam hauled from Bago to Taungoo via Pyuntaza
In the morning you leave Bago behind and set off for Pyuntaza, which in colonial times emerged as an important railway centre. Today the town is home to stored locomotives and an assortment of extra tenders, with an eclectic mix of railcars, tank wagons and a lone carriage. After exploring the depot, you’ll continue your journey to Taungoo, a city known for its numerous areca palms used to produce betel. You stay overnight and have dinner at the Royal Kaytumadi Hotel. (B L D)

Wednesday 6th February
Steam from Taungoo to Pyinmana; overnight in Naypyitaw
After a sumptuous breakfast at your hotel today you head north towards the logging town of Pyinmana. During World War II this was the base of the Burma Independence Army, and it holds a special place in the national consciousness. There’ll be plenty of photo run pasts staged for your steam train on the way and a packed lunch provided during the journey. You arrive at Pyinmana Railway Station in the early evening, before transferring to the modern 4-star Thingaha Hotel in Naypyitaw, the new capital of Myanmar. Dinner is at your hotel this evening. (B L D)

Thursday 7th February
Diesel hauled from Pyinmana to Nyaung U and on to Bagan
This morning you leave the contemporary capital of Myanmar diesel-hauled and travel to the ancient city of Bagan. This was the former capital of Bagan Kingdom, the first empire to unify the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. Bagan is home to one of the world’s greatest unsung archaeological sites, set on a verdant 26 square-mile plain, part-covered in stands of palm and tamarind, housing thousands of ancient Buddhist temples. En route you’ll pass rice fields and plantations of beans, sesame and sugar palm trees, while nearer to your destination the dramatic landscape changes to semi-arid grassland and scrub. You’ll stay overnight in the heart of Bagan at the Hotel at Tharabar Gate where you’ll dine this evening. (B L D)

Friday 8th February
Sightseeing in Bagan and a sunset cruise
After breakfast, you begin a sightseeing tour of Bagan in the company of your guide. You’ll visit a local market, and also the Lacquerware Workshop, where you can observe the process of making traditional lacquerware, one of the best-known Myanmar handicrafts and a speciality of Bagan. You take lunch at a local restaurant and in the afternoon enjoy a horse cart ride around the temples, before you head to the Ayeyarwaddy River jetty to board a boat and savour the sunset. You stay overnight again at your hotel in Bagan and enjoy a spectacular puppet show dinner there. (B L D)

Saturday 9th February
Bagan to Mandalay cruise; cultural talks and demonstrations
Today there’s an early transfer to the jetty for a cruise to Mandalay. During your trip, there’ll be demonstrations of traditional Longyi (robe) and Thanatkha (makeup) for you to enjoy. In the afternoon, there’ll be informative activities designed for you to discover more about Myanmar heritage and culture. Breakfast and lunch will be served on the cruise, and on arrival in Mandalay you’ll transfer to the Mandalay Hill Resort for overnight accommodation. Dinner will be taken this evening at a unique Myanmar restaurant. (B L D)

Sunday 10th February
Sightseeing in Amarapura and Mandalay
After breakfast at your hotel you travel to the ancient royal capital of Amarapura, the ‘City of Immortality’. Here you visit Mahagandayon Monastery, a school for young monks, and stop by a traditional silk and cotton weaving workshop. Later you return to Mandalay and see some of the attractions there, including Mahamuni Pagida, its holiest pilgrimage site. You’ll explore several local artisan workshops and discover hand-woven embroidery in silk and cotton, seeing first-hand the wonderful process of making gold leaves, bronze casting, wood and stone carving, and puppet making. You then enjoy a sunset visit to the 1.2 km U Bein Bridge spanning the Taungthaman Lake. You stay overnight again at your hotel in Mandalay. Dinner today will be at the local ‘A Little Bit of Mandalay’ Restaurant. (B L D)

Monday 11th February
Sightseeing in Pyin Oo Lwin
In the morning you travel by coach to Pyin Oo Lwin, often referred to as Maymyo. The town was once the capital of British Burma, an influence still evident in its architecture. The remainder of the afternoon will be spent exploring the National Kandawgyi Botanical Garden, a 440-acre green expanse established in 1915. Originally modelled on Kew Gardens in England, the garden is home to 344 species of forest trees, 42 species of indigenous orchid, 25 species of rose and 6 species of lily. Tonight, you’ll have dinner and stay over at the Aureum Resort, Pyin Oo Lwin. (B L D)

Tuesday 12th February
Visit to the Goteik Viaduct and return to Mandalay
Today you travel by train on the three-hour journey to Naung Pane, during which you’ll cross the majestic Goteik Viaduct. Constructed across a 300-metre-deep gorge in 1899, it was built by Pennsylvania and Maryland Bridge Construction and at the time was considered a masterpiece of engineering. In Paul Theroux’s travelogue ‘The Great Railway Bazaar’ he described it as ‘a monster of silver geometry in all the ragged rock and jungle, its presence…bizarre’. Following this adventure, you head back to Pyin Oo Lwin and transfer by coach to Mandalay. You dine and stay overnight at the Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel in Mandalay. (B L D)

Wednesday 13th February
Diesel hauled journey from Mandalay to Bago
Today’s epic 12-hour journey diesel-hauled from Mandalay to Bago is an epic experience of the real Myanmar. Admire the rural scenery and sleepy villages on the way to Bago and get a glimpse of daily life in Myanmar, from women selling huge platters of food balanced on their heads and locals washing in streams, to farmers cultivating rice and pasturing livestock. You stay overnight and dine in Bago at the Kanbawza Hinthar Hotel. (B L D)

Thursday 14th February
Steam train from Bago to Abya and Mokpalin; visit to the Golden Rock
After breakfast, you transfer to the station and join your steam hauled charter train for a trip to Abya. En route your train will stop for photo run pasts including at the Payagi Stupa, for a classic juxtaposition of the rural Myanmar countryside with its colonial railway legacy. From Abya you continue steam hauled all the way to Mokpalin. You then transfer to Kyaikhtiyo and visit Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda (Golden Rock), one of the country’s most auspicious Buddhist pilgrimage sites. This huge boulder is covered by gold leaf and delicately poised on the edge of the cliff. It is said to balance on a hair of the Buddha. Whilst there you take a ride to the top of the mountain for spectacular views over the surrounding plains. You dine and stay over at the Mountain Top Hotel, Kyaikhtiyo, tonight. (B L D)

Friday 15th February
Theinzeik to Zin Kyaik steam hauled
After breakfast, you transfer by road coach to Theinzeik to re-join your steam hauled special train and head for Zin Kyaik. On the way, you’ll pass through Thatin, once the capital of the Mon Kingdom, and Yinnyein, which is located at the confluence of two rivers. When you arrive at Zin Kyaik you transfer to Mawlamyine, capital of Mon State, and check into the hotel Mawlamyine The Strand there for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Saturday 16th February
Memorial trip to Thanbyuzayat; sightseeing in Mawlamyine
After breakfast, you transfer to Thanbyuzayat, at the western end of the Burma-Siam railway built during the Japanese occupation during World War II. The War Cemetery here is a moving memorial to the 3770 Commonwealth and Dutch troops who gave their lives during its construction. If there’s time you can visit the Death Railway Museum, where a Japanese steam train from that era is on display and a plaque announcing the start of the line, which continued into Thailand. After lunch in a local restaurant you’ll discover Myanmar’s British history on a tour of Mawlamyine’s crumbling mansions, Mahamuni Pagoda, and the Seindon Mibaya Kyaung monastery, finishing the day at the Kyaikthanlan Pagoda, supposedly Rudyard Kipling’s inspiration for his poem ‘Road to Mandalay’. In the evening, you can take a leisurely stroll along the famous Strand and absorb the sights and smells of Mawlamyine’s buzzing night market. Dinner at a local restaurant and overnight accommodation at your hotel. (B L D)

Sunday 17th February
Mottama to Zingkyaik steam hauled and Zingkyaik to Yangon diesel hauled
This morning you travel by coach across the Salween River to Mottama, for a special steam hauled train to Zingkyaik, with a packed lunch served on board. The flat coastal plain here borders the Gulf of Mottama, one of the world’s largest areas of permanently muddy water. There’s nowhere quite as muddy or as dynamic anywhere in the world! From Zingkyaik you travel onwards to Yangon diesel hauled. On arrival in Yangon you transfer to the Chatrium Hotel for dinner and overnight accommodation. (B L D)

Monday 18th February
Sightseeing in bustling Yangon
Following breakfast, there is free time this morning to relax. Later you have a scheduled sightseeing tour of Yangon on foot, including visits to Sule Pagoda (built 2600 years ago), Myanmar’s Independence Monument, and Grand Colonial buildings like the City Hall, the Supreme Court and the Baptist Church. You’ll visit Pansodan Jetty and more colonial buildings before stopping for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, your guide will take you to the Bogyoke Aung San Market, after which you finish your epic tour with a stroll in Kandawgyi Park, admiring the views over the Royal Barge with Shwedagon Pagoda in the distance. You have dinner at the House of Memory Restaurant. Overnight accommodation will once more be at the Chatrium Hotel. (B L D)

Tuesday 19th February
Return to the UK
Following an early breakfast, you transfer to the airport for your indirect flights back to the UK, arriving at London Heathrow in the early evening. (B)


Details

Price

  • Tour price £4895
  • Single supplement £780
  • Ground only (Yangon – Yangon) £4300

All prices shown are per person.

Price Includes

  • Return indirect flights from London to Yangon
  • 16 nights hotel accommodation with breakfast
  • 15 lunches and 16 dinners
  • Transfers and sightseeing by private air-conditioned vehicles
  • Private diesel and steam hauled charter trains as detailed in the itinerary
  • Chartered cruise from Bagan to Mandalay
  • Sunset Boat and a short Horse Cart ride in Bagan
  • Pyin Oo Lwin Horse Cart ride
  • Pyin Oo Lwin – Naung Pane (Goteik Viaduct) – Lyin Oo Lwin private charter train
  • The services of a tour manager and a local English speaking guide in Myanmar

Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner

 

Map feature coming soon!