Cycle through Myanmar in areas closed off to travelers for over the last forty years.
Trip Dates 2021:
November 4 to 14
March 22 – 31
After fifty years of being closed to the world, sleepy Myanmar is now opening to world. Only an hour’s flight from Bangkok is time travel into an ancient and mystical past; a refreshing glimpse of how life was in much of Asia decades ago. Encounter warm and friendly people, stunning ruins, mighty rivers, Himalayan mountain views, historic colonial buildings, teakwood forests, and a unique ambiance that harks back to the past, when ox-drawn carts still trundle along dusty roads and saffron-robed monks spend quiet me worshiping at revered shrines.
Day 1 — Into the past
Arrive into the splendid old capital of Yangon, one of Asia’s ancient treasures and prettiest cities.
After greetings and introductions, we’ll spend the afternoon visiting the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. After, strolling the downtown area, historic sites, and shopping areas, before we celebrate our farewell dinner at one of the city’s popular local restaurants.
Day 2 — The Shan State
In the morning, we’ll set up and test our bikes before departing by van to Kakku, a lesser known but impressive site comprised of several thousand small stupas in the Pa O region. From here, we’ll begin riding back to Inle with a wonderful descent dropping nearly 2,000 feet to the lake basin. After lunch on the lake, loading our bikes onto our boat, cruising across Inle Lake, passing stilted villages with their unique floating gardens. After reaching shore, we’ll mount our bikes, riding through lake front villages, pausing at temples, markets and to meet with local families.
24-35 miles +1,227 feet (long and short options each day)van
Day 3 — Mountains and lakes
Inle Lake to Kalaw
After a leisurely breakfast admiring the sun rising over the lake, we’ll depart by bikes climbing up from the lake on quiet roads for the short but challenging climb into the scenic country side to Kalaw, a hill station filled with interesting mix of colonial-era architecture and hilltribe villages. Depending on the time, we can wander through the market or ride around the city looking at the decaying colonial mansions or hoof it on a leisurely hike through the foothills surrounding the town.
41 miles +2,514 feet
Day 4 — Shan Hilltribes
Kalaw to Pindaya
Today, cycling due north to Pindaya on a rolling empty road flanked by beautiful manicured fields from where much of Myanmar’s produce comes from. The area is rich with a diversity of hilltribes and we will pause to visit some of the villages en route. After we reach Pindaya, strolling the small town’s sites and lake front. Before dinner we will also trek up to visit the famous Pindaya caves, filled with hundreds of Buddha statues. After, we’ll enjoy the sunset from the hill side over the lake.
32 miles +2,234 feet
Day 5 — On the road to Mandalay
Pindaya to Mandalay
The longest travel day of our bike tour goes northwest on a recently-paved, rolling road through mountains and jungle-lined roads to Kyaukse where the bus will transfer us the remaining distance “on the road to Mandalay.” Mandalay is the historic old capital, but remains the center of Myanmar culture and religion. It is also where traditional arts and crafts are centered. Myanmar abounds with historical sites, cultural memorials and Buddhist monuments and we will explore some of them after arrival. In the evening, dinner overlooking the Ayeyarwaddy River.
58 miles | +3,375 feet
Day 6 — A Spiritual Capital
Today, touring Mandalay by foot, the religious and cultural center of Myanmar. From ancient wooden palaces to massive pagodas to serene monasteries, Mandalay has it all. After breakfast, traveling outside Mandalay to the former royal capital of Amarapura, including an interesting stop at the Mahagandayon Monastery, a school for novice monks. Also visit to U Bein Bridge, a 200 year-old bridge and the longest teak one in the world. In the afternoon, sightseeing in central Mandalay, including Mahamuni Pagoda, gold leaf hammering, Shwe Inbin Monastery; Shwenandaw Monastery, noted for its exquisite wood carvings; Kuthodaw Pagoda, renowned for its stone slabs of the Buddhist scriptures, and panoramic Mandalay Hill, ending the day with a sunset view from the peaceful Sagaing Hill across the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Day 7 — Onto the plains
Mandalay to Monywa
After breakfast, we’ll transfer out of Mandalay mid-morning by bus to Ondaw. Today features a ride west into the desert landscape and heartland of central Myanmar where bullock carts outnumber cars. There are several interesting sites to explore on the way to the provincial capital of Monywa including a pagoda with over 300,000 Buddha images and a monumental reclining Buddha. We’ll also stop to visit a village, meeting with a local family in their home and visiting a local school to meet with children before biking onto to pleasant Monywa.
56 miles +887 feet
Day 8 — The Chindwin River Valley
Monywa to Bagan
Heading south out of Monywa we’ll bike a road with light traffic meandering through a rice growing region along the Chindwind River to Pakokku, passing through hilltribe villages where we’ll break for lunch. After reaching Pakokku, we board our boat to cruise on the famed Irrawaddy to Bagan. After arrival in Bagan, we’ll enjoy a short ride to our hotel near the world famous ruins. Dinner and delightful, traditional puppet show in Old Bagan.
74 miles +3,205 feet
Day 9 — Magnificent Ruins
With over forty square kilometers and thousands of pagodas, Bagan is nothing short of breath taking. We’ll cycle the ancient plain, pausing to explore primary and secondary temples. If there is time, we can visit the market which has a pleasant mix of local and tourist shops before returning for dinner along the river. Dinner will include another Burmese cultural show of dance, athletics and puppetry with excellent photo opportunities.
16-31 miles +1,346 feet
Day 10 — The sacred mountain
Bagan to Mount Popa
Mt. Popa and the final day of riding. We bicycle round trip to an extinct volcano, Mt. Popa, which dominates the area. Mount Popa was for centuries where kings of central Burma made pilgrimages to confer with the sacred statues about the future of their reigns.
We’ll climb the hundreds of steps to the monkey-populated hill (feeding them if your brave enough), for a expansive, panoramic views of the surrounding area. Optional return ride to Bagan. Another dramatic sunset in Bagan.
29 miles +1,346 feet
Day 11 — The Finale
Mount Popa to Yangon
Due to the increased traffic in recent years, we no longer ride in Yangon (right). Rather, we’ll spend a relaxing morning packing up our bikes here before we transfer to the airport for our one-hour flight to Yangon.
In the afternoon visiting the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda. After, strolling the downtown area, historic sites, and shopping areas, before we celebrate our farewell dinner at one of the city’s popular local restaurants.
Day 12 — Farewells
Stay on longer for well-deserved R&R on the Thai Islands, the coast of Myanmar, or explore the magnificent ruins of Angkor.
Images of Myanmar
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