Rides will be taken at a relaxed pace, in keeping with the rest of the holiday, and enable you to see day-to-day life firsthand. Whilst in the hill villages you are likely to meet locals on their way to market, be approached by curious schoolchildren eager to practice their English, and see crimson-robed monks collecting alms. In the busy more touristy areas we have also taken time to ensure you get more from your holiday by cycling to off-the-beaten-track sights and carefully timing visits to major sights such as the Shwedagon Pagoda (Yangon’s famous golden pagoda) and U Bein Bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world. This is a diverse trip with the perfect combination of cycling, cultural sights, and village life, designed to be enjoyed by all levels of cyclists at a comfortable pace.
Day 1: Arrival - Afternoon City Tour :
Upon arrival at Yangon international airport, you will be welcomed by your local guide and transferred to your hotel. There will be an afternoon visit to some of Yangon's highlights starting from the colonial-style city center and the landmark Sule Paya stupa - built over 2,000 years ago. From the nucleus of the city, you travel to the top and visit one of the world's most spectacular monuments, the Shwedagon Pagoda, a gleaming bell dome structure that dominates the city's skyline on Singuttara hill. Legends state that the sacred hairs of the Buddha are enshrined here. You will then explore some hidden market streets, monastic compounds, and artisan stores before returning to your hotel.
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be transferred to Yangon airport for your flight to Nyaung U (Bagan). You will then begin your cycling journey into the ancient kingdoms of Bagan. You will cover around 20-25 km today. This is leisurely and relaxed-paced cycling, exploring some of the back roads and tracks, and making stops at various temples. The terrain is mostly flat and unpaved. One of the sites that you can visit today is the gold gilded Swezigon Stupa, purported to contain a holy tooth relic of the Buddha. Not far from the stupa, the Myingaba Gu Byaukgyi Temple is a sight to behold, housing Bagan's best-preserved mural paintings of the Buddha's Jataka re-incarnations. Next, you will have the opportunity to learn how Bagan's famous lacquerware crafts are produced in Myingaba Village before continuing to visit Htilominlo Temple to learn how Burmese sand paintings are created. The day's temple tour ends with a visit to the beautifully symmetric and majestic Ananda Temple with its four standing Buddha images that seem to gaze at the viewer with fixed serenity wherever the viewer stands. You end the day with magnificent sunset views from a temple terrace as the sun dips behind the temple ruins.
Whilst there are conflicting accounts of the number of temples located across the 16 square miles (41 square kilometers) of Bagan (varying from 1,800 to 4,000) the importance and splendor of this archaeological site is indisputable. It has now been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The majority of monuments that you see today date from between the 11th and 13th Centuries when Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire. Although with a cursory glance one architectural form may dominate, there is a fascinating variety, from giant monolithic structures to small stupas standing not much taller than a human and with interiors filled with statues or with walls adorned in beautiful paintings. The original settlement in Bagan was famously 'cleared' by the government during the late 1980s/early 1990s. Villagers were forced to relocate to 'New Bagan'. Today, therefore, apart from temples 'Old Bagan' is primarily the site of a few hotels, tourist restaurants, and the grandiose (if somewhat out of place) archaeological museums. The other main settlement in this area is the river port of Nyaung U.
This morning there is the option of taking a balloon ride over Bagan. Please contact our office for more details.
Bagan is an amazing area with so much to see that it is just too much for one day, which is why you will also spend today exploring this magical site by bike. This allows you to go further afield and visit the sites that people can't reach by bus and is too far away for walkers to visit. This should allow you to really get a feel for Bagan and allow a glimpse back to a bygone era with horses and carts and oxen working in the fields.
Your guide will tailor the length of the ride depending on the sites you visit and the length of time spent exploring these majestic structures. Your lunch stop will be at a special location among the temples in an off-the-beaten-track neighborhood of Bagan. You will either have lunch under the shade of a large tree or in a village house, where your hosts will be a local family, for the chance to taste real Bagan food and to learn more about the life of village people. In the afternoon you will return to your hotel and maybe take a dip in the inviting pool before another delicious dinner.
Overnight: Umbra Hotel Or Similar, Bagan
Day 4: Bagan Fly To Heho, Cycle To Pindaya - Explore Shaw Oo Min Cave Complex on By 40 -50 Km
After breakfast at your hotel, you will be transferred to the airport for a short 30-minute flight to Heho, a quiet transit town with one of the few airport links in the beautiful hills of Shan State.
With your support vehicle behind, you will start your ride straight from Heho airport and soon arrive at the bustling Heho market. From here you continue along a scenic secondary road across the picturesque Shan Highlands to reach the famous Shew Oo Min Cave at Pindaya. Set high on a limestone ridge, the enormous cave is unique in housing thousands of Buddha images donated by Buddhist devotees over many centuries. There are many smaller caverns at the complex also filled with Buddha statues as well as numerous stalactite formations. Aside from the caves, there are many small shrines and pagodas strung out along the ridge. Your hotel is located close to the foot of the cave complex.
After breakfast at your hotel, you transfer to Aung Ban where you will begin today's ride to Inle Lake. Much of the route today is on highland roads with a couple of challenging uphill sections. You will have lunch at the Viewpoint restaurant and then continue your ride to Inle Lake, now mostly easy-going and downhill. You ride alongside the lake to arrive at the village of Khaung Daing, on the eastern shore of Inle Lake. This village is known for its production of soybean cakes and noodles. Here you will have the option of cycling the remaining 15km to the hotel along a quiet paved road or, if you are tired, you may travel in the vehicle instead.
Inle Lake is a magical place. Its calm waters are dotted with Intha stilt house villages, floating vegetable gardens, and fishing canoes against the backdrop of the beautiful Shan Hills. Motorized boats are the means of transport across the lake, although the Intha people get around in traditional flat bottomed boats using a unique and skillful form of leg rowing.
Today you can rest your cycling muscles with an excursion by boat to Inthein village. To reach Inthein you cross the lake and travel along a long channel leading inland from the main lake. This journey is particularly scenic - you will see life along the shores with farmers bringing their oxen or buffalo down to the water to cool off. Above the jetty at Inthein stands the ancient pagoda complex of Shwe Inn Thein Paya, which you climb to via a long, covered walkway. This lovely pagoda complex was built mainly in the 18th and 19th centuries and features many pagodas of different sizes which are in varying states of repair and disrepair - it is all very atmospheric. There are great views from the top across the lake and valley. You can descend via an alternative route bringing you back to the village through a mature bamboo forest.
Later you will have lunch at a stilt house with a local Intha family where you can try some traditional local food. Your hospitable hosts will then introduce you to their village life - fishing, tending their gardens, and the tradition of leg-rowing, where the balance in their canoes on one leg.
Returning across the lake from Inthein you should have time for a visit to an interesting village or two, or to one of the many pagodas along the lakeshore. Finally, you will enjoy a beautiful sunset across the lake.
This morning you will be transferred to Shwe Nyaung railway station where you board a train for the scenic three-hour ride to Aung Ban. On the way, you pass lush paddy fields and small villages as the train gradually climbs 400m/1,312ft up to the cooler Shan plateau, known for its fertile land.
From Aung Ban, you will cycle across the rolling landscape and farming regions to the former colonial British hill station of Kalaw which is populated by Danu, Palaung, and Pa O minority groups. Kalaw is situated in a protected valley at an altitude of 1,320m/4,330ft.
You will join in the ubiquitous tea culture of the Burmese people at a local tea shop and sample freshly cooked local snacks before heading out of Kalaw town to Myin Ma Hti limestone cave, which houses various holy shrines and Buddha images.
From here you will cycle to visit some local villages near Kalaw.
If you wish to take a break from cycling another alternative is to take a forest hike and climb up to a viewpoint on top of the mountain and enjoy a drink at a Nepalese family's café before you descend to a reservoir lake through the forest-covered path.
After breakfast at your hotel, you will transfer to Heho airport for the one-hour flight to Mandalay. You will cycle straight from the airport to the ancient kingdom of Innwa (Ava) this is a beautiful ride passing local villages and old temple sites. Inside the city walls, you will make stops at Nan Myint watchtower, and a 300-year-old teak wood monastery.
You will take a lunch break in Innwa and then cross the Myint Nge River by ferry and cycle to Amarapura, the site of the last kingdom before King Mindon moved the capital to Mandalay. From here you will continue to visit the U Bein Bridge. In 1851, at the time when Amarapura was still the royal capital, U Bein Teak Bridge was built. Stretching some 1,200m/3,900ft across Taungthaman Lake this impressive structure is the world's longest teak bridge, supported by over 1,000 separate wooden posts. You will spend some time here enjoying the sunset, with the option to walk out to the center of the bridge and perhaps enjoy some refreshments at a tea stall. You will then be transferred back to your hotel for your evening meal.
Overnight: Ayeyarwaddy River View or Similar, Mandalay
Day 10: Mandalay Cycling To Mingun - Sagaing - 35 Km
After breakfast at the hotel, you will ride your bikes through Mandalay to the river jetty and embark on a one-hour boat journey across the Ayeyarwaddy River and you will cycle to the rural village of Mingun. The scenery along the Ayeyarwaddy is timeless - oxen working the fields, water buffalo wallowing in the mud, golden pagoda spires, fishermen, villagers bathing in the river, and of course, every type of boat and river craft imaginable
Alighting from the boat you will pay a visit to the 50m/165ft high, brick-built Mingun Paya, which dramatically cracked in half by an earthquake in the 1800s. This giant, unfinished pagoda would ultimately have become the world's largest had its instigator, King Bodawpaya, not died before completion. Another attraction is Mingun's bronze bell, believed to be the largest un-cracked one in the world.
Your bike ride follows a paved road with light traffic traveling through friendly villages over rolling hills until reaching the site of the ancient kingdom of Sagaing. From the Sagaing Hills, you will enjoy views of the hillside dotted with countless pagodas. Later you and transfer back to Mandalay. There may be time to visit the Snake Pagoda, Mahamuni Buddha's Temple, and the Shwe Kyaung Royal Palace building. Later, you will transfer back to Mandalay.
After breakfast at the hotel, you will drive to Pyin Oo Lwin and board a local train for the journey to Naungpeing Village. The view from the train is fascinating and the scenery is beautiful, passing through rural countryside with close-up views of small villages, hilltop pagodas, and people working in the fields. You may make a stop along the way, offering a chance to stretch your legs and witness the lively exchanges between train passengers and sellers hawking their wares, which vary from rice and noodle dishes to snacks of hard-boiled quail's eggs and even local herbal remedies. Before too long the train slows and the dramatic Gokteik Railway Viaduct comes into view. In 1901 when the Pennsylvania Steel Company built the viaduct it was the second-highest bridge in the world, spanning a deep gorge 102m/335ft to the river below. The train slows right down to make the 690m/2,264ft crossing, giving you plenty of time to capture some spectacular photos and enjoy the creaking of the girders beneath!
Alighting from the train at Naungpein Village, you transfer by car back to Pyin Oo Lwin. The tranquil beauty and cooler hill temperatures of Pyin Oo Lwin appealed to the British Administration, who developed it into a summer retreat from the hot, dusty plains of Mandalay in 1896 after defeating the last king of Myanmar. But it is renowned amongst the local Burmese for the flowers, fruits, and vegetables that grow so well in its cooler climes.
You can now hop back on your bikes for a local ride, and a visit the renowned botanical gardens - the National Kandawgyi Gardens. Here you can feast your eyes on the wonderful variety of flora that can be found in the region.
Today will start with a cycle ride around town to see some of the main colonial buildings and churches of Pyin Oo Lwin (formerly known as Maymyo when it was a British Hill Station). Outside the central area, the influence of the British becomes more apparent as you see the brick and timber houses complete with English-style gables, turrets, and chimneys. The Candacraig Hotel is one such house. It was made famous by Paul Theroux's book, The Great Railway Bazaar. Sadly this property has fallen on hard times and whilst not without charm is quite run down, although there are plans for its renovation.
You then cycle through nearby Alaskan town. You transfer part of the way down to a good road and then cycle to your lunch stop. After lunch, you will take a forest walk to a scenic waterfall. Situated at the head of a deep ravine, the lowest part of the waterfall drops dramatically into a pool of crystal clear water in which it may be possible to swim. Later you transfer to Mandalay.
After breakfast, you transfer to Mandalay airport and fly back to Yangon.
Following lunch, you travel to Pasondan Jetty and cross the Yangon River by local ferry to reach Dala Village. Dala provides a striking contrast to Yangon with its limited urban development and village feel. You'll explore by trishaw, a three-wheeled bicycle taxi that maneuvers through small lanes, market streets, and friendly village neighborhoods. You can observe the daily activities of Burmese locals and get a feel for the authentic rural lifestyle of Burma. En route you make a stop in a pagoda and finish the trishaw tour with refreshments and a few people watching in a local tea shop. Finally, you return to your hotel in Yangon.
If you did not visit Shwedagon Pagoda on Day 2 you will have time to do so later this afternoon.
Tonight will be your last night in Burma and a great opportunity to relive your fantastic cycling holiday through this truly amazing country.
Today you will have breakfast and then be free to relax until you are transferred to Yangon airport for your overnight flight back home.
- Burmese cycling tour guide
- Bicycle hire and helmet
- Support vehicle
- All internal flights and hotel/airport transfers
- All road transport by private vehicles
- Sightseeing where specified
- Good standard hotel in Yangon, twin share B&B basis
- Comfortable hotels outside of Yangon with all meals included
What’s not included
- Travel insurance
- Optional trips
- Visa for Burma
- Lunch and Evening meals in Yangon
- International flight tickets
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