Myanmar with the Shan Hills Treks and the Loikaw Tribes - 16 Days

Tour Code: DF-16D15N-1

Visit a less explored side of Myanmar, shying away from the more obvious highlights in favour of some of the less visited destinations. Escape the growing crowds and discover a side of the country that most visitors haven’t even heard about.

Start ~ Yangon, Myanmar
Finish ~ Yangon, Myanmar
Physical rating: 3 out of 5

The Itinerary

“Mingalabar” – “Welcome to Myanmar” at the airport by your tour guide and your EMH – Enjoy Myanmar Holiday’s transfer team.  We then transfer you to the hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Meal is not included on this day.

After breakfast at the hotel, start sightseeing by:

  • Walking around the city center to enjoy the city being busy with the sellers on the street and also the pedestrians and Colonial Style buildings.
  • Explore BOGYOKE MARKET (SCOTT MARKET) which is the best place for shopping in our country.

Then, make the short journey to Yangon’s Central Train Station to board the ‘circular railway’. This local commuter train service slowly weaves its way through the city’s various neighbourhoods, revealing the lively and colourful life of the inhabitants.

Upon arrival at Hledan, disembark and continue by car to visit:

  • CHAUKHATKYI PAGODA – the colossal reclining Buddha
  • KARAWEIK HALL & ROYAL LAKE for Photo stop
  • Enjoy the sunset at SHWEDAGON PAGODA, the soul of Yangon.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

In the early morning, take a short flight to Bagan.  Once at Bagan, your tour guide will take you around its wonderful scenery and architecture.

Bagan is a truly mesmerizing destination, and a favourite of many travellers.  Renowned as the city of four million pagodas, this is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia.  Today there are more than 2,000 pagodas, temples and monasteries — most built during the Bagan Dynasty, founded by King Anawrahta in 1044.


  • we’ll go to the lively Nyaung U Market. This Nyaung U Market provides a great photo opportunity, and also the chance for tourists to mingle with the local Myanmar people, and watch how they conduct their daily lives.

Next, we will start sightseeing as below:

  • Ananda Temple (the architectural masterpiece of a millennium)
  • Hti-Lo-Min-Lo Temple (a double-storied building with artistic stucco works)
  • Shwe-Zi-Gon Pagoda (considered a prototype of all future such temples)

If time allows, we will visit more places of this UNESCO world heritage site.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast at the hotel, drive to Mount Popa. It is the core of an extinct volcano that lasted active 25,000 years ago; also known as the ‘Mt Olympus’ of Myanmar, the abode of Myanmar’s most powerful Nats (Spiritual beings) and the most important Nat Worship Centre. It will take an hour drive from Bagan passing the palm plantation. On the way to Mount Popa, stop to see skilful toddy-palm climber collecting the wine on top of the tree, toddy palm juice & palm sugar (jaggery) making cottage.

Bagan is not only famous for the profusion of ancient temples, but also for its exquisite handicrafts.

After lunch at a local restaurant, we will drive to the place to watch the time consuming and intricate production of quality lacquer ware. Some of the finest are flexible, and made around bamboo and twisted horse hair. After that, return to the hotel for leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, a drive to jetty to sail to Pakokku, an old British-era trading town where the Colonial influence is still very much apparent in the architecture and atmosphere. The sailing time will be around 3 hours.

Originally a quiet trading post, Pakokku was transformed by the British, and now trades timber and toddy palm sugar from its useful position between the Yaw and Chindwin rivers. The town is a useful transit point for travellers making their way between Mandalay or Monywa and Bagan, and made headlines around the world in 2007 when monks from the Myo Ma Ahle Monastery started the nationwide protests that later became known as the ‘Saffron Revolution’.

Upon arrival, visit the Thiho Shin pagoda, home to an icon presented by the King of Ceylon during the 13th century. Stop at the thanaka market, where local women buy the distinctive paste made from ground thanaka bark, used as both sunscreen and cosmetic and visible on many faces throughout Myanmar.

Having taken a look around – and possibly stocked up on a personal supply of thanaka paste – head for town centre to visit a cheroot factory and observe wood carving and slipper – making workshops. After admiring the local artisans, continue to Kyaukgu Umin cave tunnel, a unique temple carved into a sandstone cliff probably around the 13th century. Legend has it that the maze-like temple doubled as a shelter from invading Mongols, and its 152 metres of winding corridors are decorated with stone sculptures of mythological creatures. In the main hall there is a large Buddha carved from sandstone, and a range of painted murals, never completed, depicting scenes from Buddha’s life.

Leaving the temple, a drive of around 4 hours takes you to Monywa before checking in to your hotel the remainder of your day is at leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, drive to Po Win Taung. Consisting of 947 large and richly decorated sandstone caves, this amazing site is believed to have been formed by volcanic eruptions many thousands of years ago. Today, this area contains what many archaeologists consider to be the richest collection of mural paintings and Buddhist statues in South-East Asia, some dating back as far as the 14th Century.

En route stop to visit the Thanboddhay Pagoda: a grand temple that houses in excess of half a million Buddha images. Dating from 1303 but reconstructed in 1939, this temple bears a close resemblance to Indonesia’s Borobudur.

Continuing towards Mandalay a further stop will be made at the Boditahaung Pagoda, where an area of one thousand sacred Bodhi trees each shades a Buddha image and, on a hillside nearby, an impressive 129 metre high Buddha image stands beside the largest reclining Buddha image in Myanmar (around 100 metres long).

Arrive into Mandalay in the late afternoon and then check in to your hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast at the hotel, we will start sightseeing to the surrounding cities of Mandalay. Firstly, drive to Sagaing hills. The highlights of Sagaing are:

  • Saunders’ Weaving and Vocational Institute, where maintains and develops training weaving and techniques
  • U Min Thonze Pagoda, one of the more distinctive complexes.

Next stop is Inwa (Ava). There we need to take Horse & Cart to visit

  • BaGaYa Monastery built with 276 teak pillars

After the horse and cart tour, we will drive to Amarapuara to visit:

  • Tatkyi village; where the economy of the whole village is based on making clay potteries such as teapots, tea cups, platters, flower vases and much more. You can learn, experience and partake in the process of potteries such as wheel throwing, handbuilding, trimming, decorating and more.
  • Before sunset, we will drive to the famous U Bein Bridge for a stunning sunset view.  This U Bein Bridge is1.2-kilometre (0.75 mi) and built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.  Really nice to walk on the bridge under sunset.

Finally, we will return to the hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast at the hotel, start sightseeing. Immerse yourselves on a boat tour along Ayerwaddy River to visit Mingun. Then continue the walking tour in Mingun. The main highlights are

  • Mingun Bell, weighing 90 tons known as the world largest ringing bell;
  • HsinByuMe Paya also known as Mya Thein Tan Pagoda, a representation of the SulamaniPaya which stands atop Mt. Meru.

Then come back to Mandalay by boat. After lunch, spend your whole afternoon by visiting major sites in Mandalay. Sightseeing for Mandalay will include most of the city’s outstanding historical and cultural sites

  • Mandalay Royal Palace, the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy
  • KuThoDaw Pagoda, known as the world’s biggest book;
  • ShweNanDaw Monastery (Golden Palace Monastery), famous for its wood carving;
  • Evening highlight is Mandalay Hill where you can enjoy 360 – degree view of Mandalay from the top.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Early morning transfer to Mandalay Airport in time for your flight to Heho. Upon arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred through a remarkably scenic landscape on the approach to Kalaw.

Thanks to the forgiving climate the town was popular with the British during Colonial times and is now experiencing something of a small revival, with travellers and trekkers using the town as the ideal base to visit the nearby minority tribes and to trek as far afield as Inle Lake.

Check in to your hotel and the remainder of the day is at leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, transfer by road to the start point for your trek. During the day you will trek past a number of minority villages, home to the Pa-O minority whose cheroot-smoking tribesmen wear black clothes and vivid headscarves. In the morning you will walk for about 2 hours through picturesque undulating green countryside punctuated with fields of corn, potatoes and ginger: agriculture is the main form of income in this region.

Enjoy lunch and a rest at the village of Htun Gone before continuing your trek for a further 2.5 hours taking in the surrounding views of the Shan Mountain Range.

In the late afternoon you will arrive at Pattu Village.

Accommodation: Homestay at the village

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

After breakfast, embark on the last leg of your trek to Inle Lake, passing through Pa-O minority villages and farmland where you may see the local villagers at work plowing the fields or harvesting crops. After an hour or so of treking, views of Inle Lake, your final destination, will appear in the distance.

After a steep downhill section of track, enjoy a break for lunch at the village of Than Daung, before a final 30 minutes walk to the jetty where your boat will be waiting to take you onto Inle Lake. The narrow channels widen as you approach the lake proper, and you’ll soon be crossing the broad & (usually) tranquil waters, with hills and mountains surrounding you in every direction. The panorama is simply breathtaking, a mood only enhanced as you pass the fishermen deploying their unique foot-rowing technique.

The region is home to at least eight different tribes, who live both on and beside the lake. Inhabitants of this region rely on the lake in a variety of ways, be it for transport, food or income. Upon arrival at your hotel, the remainder of your day is at leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Looking down over the lake from the Taunggyi road, Inle lies in an enormous carpet of greenery. Dotted around the lake are the stilt-house villages and floating gardens of the Intha tribe. The Intha technique of leg rowing – where one leg is wrapped around the paddle to drive the blade through the water in a snake-like motion – is unique.

With our Inle Lake boat tour, you will experience a unique way of life that has lived on through generations, whilst exploring the culturally significant surrounds that form part of this beautiful region of Myanmar.  You will be provided with a life jacket and easy seat for each person on the boat.

Inle lake sightseeing will be filled with visit to:

  • PHAUNG-DAW-OO PAGODA, the most important symbol of religion of Shan State
  • NGA-PHE-CHAUNG MONASTERY, attractive wooden monastery

A visit to these sights provides deep insight into how the people on the lake make their livings, you can enjoy Unique One Leg rowing fisherman, Lotus and silk weaving, boat making and cheroot making.

  • After lunch proceed to Indein. And take a short trek to Indein Pagoda. On the way, you can enjoy the serene atmosphere as you wander through artfully scattered 8th century Pagodas in ruins covered by trees and bushes.
  • Then observe Intha tribes Village lives and enjoy the local market along the shore.

Finally, we will return to the hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

After an early breakfast, check out of your hotel and set off for Loikaw. We then commence our travel, stopping along the road for photography as required. Our first major stop will be Kakku, one of Myanmar’s most spectacular sights, a huge collection of 2,478 stupas which are believed to have been commissioned as far back as 2,00 years ago with some dating back to the 3rd Century BC. Upon arrival in Loikaw, we will visit the local monastery and nunnery and enjoy the marvellous sunset view from Thirimingala Pagoda (Taung Kwe Zedi), which is over 100 years old.

Loikaw is the tranquil capital of Kayah State, tucked away in the remote Karen Hills, near the Pilu River; surrounded by scenic mountain ranges, lakes and waterfalls. Closed to visitors for over half a century, this diverse and picturesque region has only recently opened up again. Its lower profile and secluded location means it attracts only a fraction of the tourist numbers that visit Inle Lake each year, allowing those that do venture in to enjoy the sublime scenery in relative solitude. Experience the warm hospitality of the local communities as you learn about the region’s unique cuisine and customs.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Begin your exploration of Loikaw with a visit to Haw Nan Monastery. Built during WWI, by the Chief of Kayah, it is one of the oldest buildings in Kayah State yet still very well preserved. Very few tourists visit and as a working monastery, there’s a good chance you’ll cross paths with a monk and have an unforced conversation (depending on how busy their morning schedule is!).

Leaving Loikaw town behind, an hour drive will take you to the settlement of Pan Pet (technically a village made up of five smaller hamlets). Predominantly inhabited by members of the Padaung, a visit here provides a fascinating insight into the life and culture of this world famous tribe. With the aim of learning more than just why the women of this tribe regularly decorate their necks with brass coils, permission will be arranged to enter the home of a resident in Salong Kana (one of the five hamlets of Pan Pet).

Continue on to the hamlet of Penmasong, before embarking upon a moderately challenging uphill trek to the Rang Ku. En route your guide will share some of the myths and stories often recited by the community’s jungle leader, and point out the various edible plants that grow here, some of which are used for medicinal purposes. A stop will be made to enjoy a locally made packed lunch.

Continue trekking until the summit is reached, with the reward being a rarely photographed view of Pan Pet and its natural surroundings. Then head back downhill to Rang Ku, where there will be the opportunity to further interact with members of the Padaung community, before returning to your hotel in Loikaw.

Your tour will end once you arrive back at the hotel in Loikaw.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Morning transfer to Loikaw Airport in time for your flight to Yangon. Upon arrival in Yangon, you will be transferred to the hotel to check-in. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast

Breakfast and free time until time to go to the airport for departure flight.  Then, transfer you to the Yangon International Airport three hours prior according to your flight departure time.

Meals: Breakfast

Don’t forget you can modify this tour. Whether you enjoy travelling as a part of a small group with other like-minded travellers, or perhaps you are looking for your very own private journey, we have the right option for you. Click on talk to us button to send us your enquiry.