Myanmar (formerly Burma): A Cultural Walking tour

Rudyard Kipling famously described the Burmese nation as ‘quite unlike any other you know about’ and this remains true today. Now renamed Myanmar, the country has remained an enigma, deliberately cut off from the modern world by its own government and little visited by outsiders as a result of sanctions. As the door into this closed world edges open, we have planned a Myanmar walking tour which avoids state-run enterprises, instead putting income directly into the hands of local people; and also creates opportunities for a mutually rewarding exchange of ideas and experiences.

Over 17 days we explore on foot - walking to tribal villages near the colonial hill station of Kalaw and in the forest reserve by Mt Popa; by horse and cart - accessing the hundreds of ancient temples on the immense plain of Bagan; by internal flights on new private airlines (its an enormous country); and by boat - to visit markets and monasteries on Lake Inle, and down the Ayeyarwady (formerly Irrawaddy) river from Mandalay.

HIGHLIGHTS of our Myanmar walking tour include:  

  • The perfect time to visit, avoiding the crowds and benefiting from clear skies, and the festivals & photo opportunities associated with the rice harvest  
  • Walking up to the Golden Rock, Burma's most important place of pilgrimage, and witnessing the devotion of local Buddhist pilgrims  
  • Three days exploring Lake Inle by boat, discovering remote monasteries, exotic markets and the traditional lifestyle of the lake tribes  
  • Low key shopping opportunities (in markets and small artisan stores) for lacquerware, silk, jewellery, woven cottons and tribal baskets  
  • Memorable sunsets - over the great Irrawaddy river, from Bagan's ancient temples and glowing crimson on the golden domes of the Shwedagon pagoda

Guests’ comments on this trip:

‘Excellent trip, we thoroughly enjoyed it. An interesting country and very glad we have seen it before the masses get there. Frances went out of her way to make the holiday wonderful for every member of the party.’

‘This was a wonderful introduction to a breath-taking country that far exceeded our expectations.’

'It was an excellent, extremely comprehensive programme. The country far exceeded my expectations and I enjoyed the variety of visits and means of travel. Frances is a charming, fun and extremely competent tour leader, and very knowledgeable.'

Myanmar woman
Myanmar lake temple
Myanmar Buddha
Myanmar fisherman
Myanmar monks

DAY 1  
D included
After meeting in the afternoon at Yangon (formerly Rangoon) airport we transfer into the city to our first class hotel and have some time to refresh before beginning our explorations - we visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in Burma, and watch the sunset over this great monument.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included 
Morning visits include a monastery and nunnery noted for their good education, the Botataung Pagoda enshrining the sacred hair relic, and an impressive reclining Buddha. In the afternoon, after a rest and swim in the pool at the hotel, we visit the city centre on foot, seeing the fine colonial buildings, the ancient Sule pagoda and the fascinating Chinese market. Dinner introduces traditional Burmese cooking, combining elements of Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisine in a delicious way.

B, L, D included
Setting off early (in an air-conditioned vehicle) we are soon entering another world, the deeply rural, traditional Myanmar where ox carts, paddy fields and straggling villages are the norm. We pause at the Htauk Kyant War Cemetery (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) and then the royal pagoda of the former royal capital Bago. Our destination is the holy mountain of Mount Kyaiktiyo, a stunning, gold leaf - covered boulder miraculously balanced on the edge of a cliff, the most important place of pilgrimage for all Burmese Buddhists.

B, L, D included
We are up at dawn to witness sunrise over the golden stupa, then walk through bamboo and flowering shrubs down the old pilgrims’ trail to the valley (4 hours, optional) where we regain our vehicle and have lunch in a pretty garden with many cashew trees. We return to Yangon, to our original first class hotel, and have time to swim before dinner.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included
A morning flight to Heho enables us to access Kalaw (4,356 ft) a cool hill station founded by British civil servants, now used by the Gurkhas and redolent of a bygone era with its European style villas. A 1.5 hour drive from the airport up to Kalaw leaves us time for an afternoon walk through pine forest and pepper fields to tribal villages. Our comfortable hotel is appropriately colonial in style.

B, L, D included
A morning’s walk takes us through tangerine and avocado groves and fields of ginger up to a Palaung village on a ridge where we may see women weaving. We picnic before returning to the valley on a different path. Dinner tonight is in a restaurant specialising in Shan cuisine.

B, L, D included
We explore more countryside on foot, admiring the water buffaloes, oxcarts and traditional farming methods and learning about tribal animist customs from our local guide before driving to Lake Inle. We board boats to reach our hotel for 3 nights, comfortable wooden cottages raised on walkways above the lake, with marvellous lake views – owned and well run by a co-operative of Pa-O tribal people.

B, L, D included
Travelling by motorized long wooden canoes we visit one of the ‘5 day markets’ that occur around the lake, seeing the famous floating gardens, the 11C pagoda and monastery of Indein Pao and the extraordinary ‘leg-rowing’ technique of the local fishermen. We also see silk weaving on wooden looms in a village of teak stilt houses and at dinner we sample the local wine grown near the lake.

B, L, D included
Our boats transport us through canals to the quieter, southern end of the lake (good for bird watching) where we visit a traditional pottery village and walk in the village of Sankar with its ruined stupas and royal rest house. There is time to watch (and sample) rice wine making and visit some beautiful stupas on a short walk beside the lake. 

DAY 10
B, L, D included
We explore the countryside with its traditional paddy and villages near the hotel, by boat and on foot, and visit a local orphanage before catching an internal flight from Heho to Mandalay, former capital of the Burmese kingdom. After settling in to our exclusive luxury hotel for 3 nights we can relax in the pool before dinner and a display of traditional puppetry and dance.

DAY 11
B, L, D included
We begin the day with a visit to the Shwenandaw Kyaung, or Golden Palace Monastery, a traditional wooden monastery covered with carved panels. At the Kuthodaw Paya we admire the 729 marble slabs inscribed with the 15 books of the Tripitaka (often referred to as ‘the world’s biggest book’) then travel outside Mandalay to Amarapura, celebrated for its supremely photogenic 1,300 yard long teak footbridge over Taungthamen lake.

DAY 12
B, L, D included
The ancient city of Ava (now known as Inwa), an island of paddyfields and palm trees, is accessed by a flatbed ferry and is best seen by a combination of walking and a horse and cart ride, pausing to visit the great teak-built monastery of Bagaya Kyaung and the brick and stucco monastery built by the chief Queen of Bagyidaw for her Royal Abbot U Bok. Returning to the city we stop to admire some of the many traditional crafts such as gold beating, stone carving and bronze casting for which Mandalay is famous.

DAY 13
B, L, D included
We are up early to board the Shwei Kennery ferry and spend the day watching life on the mighty Ayeyarwady river as we travel to Bagan, where over 4,000 red-brick temples make up Myanmar’s greatest architectural site. Our good category hotel offers well-equipped river view rooms and a shady garden and pool.

DAY 14
B, L, D included
We explore some of Bagan’s famous monuments including the Sulamani Pahto with its glazed plaques and fine ornamental work, the 12C Dhammayanghi Pahto famous for the brickwork and the 18C murals in Ananda Ok Kyaung depicting everyday life in Bagan. After a rest and a swim we take a memorable horse cart ride to parts of the site and climb up to a terrace to watch the sunset over the plain.

DAY 15
B, L, D included
An optional morning’s expedition to Mt. Popa, an ancient volcanic plug rising out of the plain and home to the ‘Mother Spirit’ and Nat shrines. We walk in the forest, bird watch and learn the history of this historic mountain, then have lunch with fine views of the plain before returning to Bagan to explore a different area of this huge, intriguing, site in early evening by horse and cart.

DAY 16
B, L, D included
A morning flight takes us back to Yangon and our first class hotel. In the afternoon there is time to explore Scott Market and shop for lacquerware, jewellery, silks and woven cottons, or visit the National Museum. A sophisticated French colonial-era restaurant is the perfect place to end our visit to this fascinating country.

DAY 17
B, L included
We have time for further photographic and shopping forays and a swim before we depart for the airport in the early afternoon.

TBC per person sharing 
TBC deposit per person 
TBC double for single room supplement

Please note that the double for single use room supplement is imposed by the hotel (which does not have any single rooms) and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable.

Price includes
  • all accommodation for Days 1 through 17 on a twin shared basis
  • 3 internal flights: between Yangon and Heho; Heho and Mandalay; Bagan and Yangon
  • all meals with local beer at lunch and dinner as listed (beer is far more appropriate with Burmese food and the tropical climate, and wine is often spoiled by inadequate storage), except in Mandalay, Bagan & Yangon where French or Australian wines accompany dinner
  • all land transportation in private airconditioned vehicles as described
  • horse-drawn cart trips and river crossings on local ferries as described
  • all day boat trip on the Ayeyarwady rivers as described
  • all entrance and sightseeing fees except during free periods
  • tips for porters, boatmen, restaurant & hotel staff (appreciation for tour leaders/managers is entirely at your discretion)
  • services of an English-speaking local guide and a driver (plus our Kudu Travel tour leader)
Price does not include
  • international transportation to and from Yangon
  • trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • passport, visa and health documentation
  • personal expenses (laundry, alcohol besides beer/wine where available with group lunches and dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Yangon airport departure tax, currently 1,000 MMK for domestic flights and US$10 for international flights (may already be incorporated in your air ticket)


On Kudu trips you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 4 nights (days 1, 2, 4 and 16) in Yangon

  • 1 night on Mount Kyaiktiyo

  • 2 nights in Kalaw

  • 3 nights on Lake Inle

  • 3 nights in Mandalay

  • 3 nights in Bagan


Off the beaten track
Please be aware that electricity and water supplies may occasionally be erratic, travel arrangements can be disrupted and standards of driving and vehicle maintenance etc. are not set by Brussels. Kudu Travel will endeavour to do everything possible to ensure a smooth-running tour, but please be ready with your sense of humour and tolerance when travelling in the tropics.

Visa and Health Requirements
All visitors require a valid passport and a visa for entry to Myanmar. 28 day Tourist visas MUST BE ACQUIRED BEFORE TRAVELLING TO MYANMAR - please contact your nearest Embassy of Myanmar for details (note that journalists, writers, film-makers etc are routinely denied entry visas).

Immunisation/boosters against Hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis, Rabies, Tetanus, Typhoid and Polio are usually recommended - please consult your doctor in good time about this (at least 6 weeks before departure) and also the latest situation on essential malaria prophylaxis and anything else they recommend. A dental check up is also a good idea. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO.

It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party
This trip will run with a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 16 guests.