Cycling Myanmar
Cycling Myanmar
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FAR EAST Travel

Cycling Myanmar

OVERVIEW

Start
Mandalay, Myanmar
Finish
Yangon, Myanmar
Destinations
Mandalay, Monywa, Bagan, Popa, Meikhtila, Kalaw, Nyaung Shwe, Inle Lake, Yangon
Style
Hard Adventure
Theme
Explorer, Adventure
Code
FETMYCY12
Ages
Min 12, Max 65
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Myanmar is a country with a deep and fascinating culture. Beginning and ending in Yangon, discover the spiritual heavyweight of Shwedagon Pagoda, journey through Bagan and its thousands of pagodas, cross the longest teak bridge in the world near Mandalay and enjoy life lakeside at Inle Lake, where floating markets, leg-rowing fishermen and ethnic minorities make for a unique destination. Mix in delicious food, breathtaking landscapes and people both curious and welcoming, and you have a place that will keep you coming back for more.

Tour Highlights


 Exploring Burma by bike will allow you to see and experience the very best of the country.

 Opportunity to meet the friendly locals along the way.

 The tour took in Myanmar’s finest landmarks including the surreal Pindaya Caves, a subterranean collection of more than 8,000 Buddhas; an overnight hike to the Yasakyi Monastery in the hills above Pindaya; Mandalay and the world’s longest teak bridge at U Bein; Mount Popa and Tuang Kalat Temple perched atop a volcanic plug; and of course the wondrous vista of Bagan with its 2,000 stupas.

 An excellent blend of active adventure and cultural immersion.

MAP

ITINERARY

Cycling Myanmar

Upon arrival meet your guide and driver and transfer to Mandalay. Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar and was the country's last royal capital. Visit the Mandalay Palace walls, where King Thibaw, the Last King of Myanmar once ruled. You will then visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, known to locals as the ‘biggest book in the world’ for its 729 marble slabs of Buddhist scriptures. Lunch at a local restaurant. After checking into your hotel and freshening up a bit, take a ride to the top of Mandalay Hill for a sunset to cap off your first day in the Golden Land. Dinner at Canal.

Overnight in Mandalay.

It’s time to begin cycling! After breakfast at the hotel, your guide will take you on a bike ride to Mandalay’s outskirts. Heading to the southwest of the city, your first destination is the 18th century capital of Amarapura (17 kms/ app 1 hour). Stop here to visit U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year-old teak bridge.  The bridge spans over 2 kilometers in length and offers fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams.

Continue by bike across the Irrawaddy River to Mingun (33 kms/ app 2 hours). Visit the main sites of Mingun beginning with the famous Mingun Pahtodawqyi.  This huge brick structure was left unfinished after an astrologer predicted the King’s would die should the temple be completed.  In the 1800s, an earthquake left several large cracks in the structure.  Continue your visit at the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda whose distinctive style is meant to resemble the mythical Mount Meru. Then see the Mingun Bell which weighs 90 tons and is considered the world’s largest uncracked ringing bell. Then return to Mandalay by boat.

Overnight in Mandalay.

Distance Cycling: 45km

Today we transfer about an hour to the small town of Myin-Mu and then start our ride to the authentic Burmese town of Monywa. This is a pleasant ride on a tarmac road with little traffic as we cycle through the Chindwin Valley through tiny villages and plantations which produce a range crops from orange orchards to sugar cane. On the way, we cycle a bit off road and will stop at the tallest standing Buddha image in Myanmar, Laykyun Setkyar. The Buddha image is 116 meters and is quite a site and makes for great photographing as it stands just behind one of the largest reclining Buddhas in the country. As you approach Monywa, you will stop at the Mohnyin Thambuddhei Paya. This temple dates back to 1303 and his famous for housing more than 500,000 images of Buddha. Cycle into the tiny town of Monywa and check in to your hotel for the evening.

Overnight in Monywa.

Distance Cycling: 60km

You will start the day with a transfer to Yezagyo (approximately 2 hours) after visiting Po Win Taung Cave. And then continue cycling to Pakkoku. The scenery varies from small villages to open plains as you cycle on undulating hills while going deeper into the Burmese countryside. As you cycle towards the Irrawaddy River, there will be plenty of villages to stop and opportunities to interact with locals who rarely come into contact with foreigners. On the banks of the Irrawaddy River, you will reach the small river town of Pakkoku. For centuries the only way to reach Bagan, the original capital of Burma, was by boat. Until recent years when bridges and roads were built, Pakkoku acted as the gateway to Bagan.At Pakkoku, you will board a boat for a relaxing 2 hour ride down the Irrawaddy. At the jetty, the support vehicle will be there to pick you up and transfer you to your hotel. Spend the afternoon away from the heat and maybe take a dip in the pool.

Overnight in Bagan

Distance Cycling: 45km

After breakfast at the hotel, spend a full day biking around the ancient temples. Start with a visit to the colourful Nyaung Oo Market where the locals come to buy and trade fresh produce and handicrafts. Continue to Shwezigon Pagoda, known for its magnificent golden stupa, and Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jatakas murals paintings. Your final visit this morning is at the elegant Htilominlo Temple noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations. This afternoon, observe the process of traditional lacquerware, one of Myanmar's best-known handicrafts and a specialty of Bagan. Then, visit Ananda, an architectural masterpiece reflecting the early-style of Bagan temple construction and containing four impressive standing Buddha images. Continue to nearby Ananda Okkyaung, one of the few surviving brick monasteries from the early Bagan

Overnight in Bagan.

Distance Cycling: 30km

As our biking route leaves Bagan and heads further into the countryside, you will begin your ride by weaving through some of the lesser visited temples of the region. This afternoon you’ll feel the road rising as we ascend towards the national park that encompasses Mount Popa, the now extinct volcano. Hundreds of macaque monkeys are known to inhabit this region, but they are not the only ones that live here. Mount Popa is also known as the abode of the Mahagiri Nats (local spirits). So important are these spirits to the people of this region, they are worshipped every year during a festival that takes place from May to June.The final stretc of our ride ascend steeply before landing us at Popa Mountain Resort. If you are feeling energetic, why not climb to the sacred summit of the Gods (Mount Popa’s peak). On the flat plateau lies Tuang Kalat Buddhist monastery —a focal point for annual pilgrimages to Mount Popa.

Overnight at Popa Mountain Resort.

Distance Cycling: 51km

This morning check out from Popa Mountain Resort and ride to Meikhtila. The road is good and the traffic light, varied scenery and lots of stops make it an enjoyable ride. The terrain starts out quite hilly but there are options to ride in the support van if you wish. Along the way, you will pass by villages and you will have plenty opportunities to observe traditional lifestyles of the rural Burmese. Their life is lacking in many modern amenities yet the concepts of mutual help and cooperation are central to village life. Along with the Nats in Mt. Popa, there are a number of social and religious customs which prevail exclusively in this region of Middle Burma.   

Overnight in Meikhtila.

Distance Cycling: 100km

Today cycling continues to the former British hill station of Kalaw (approx. 100 km). On today’s ride, you will be able to see firsthand the diversity and regionality of  Myanmar. You will begin riding along the toddy palm tree lined plains of the Ayerwaddy valley until you reach the bamboo and pine tree forests of the Shan Hills. Kalaw is a charming little town with a mix of local and colonial-style houses. The slightly higher elevation means that the air temperature is usually much cooler than much of the country. After checking in to your hotel you may wish to enjoy a stroll around town or simply relax at your hotel.

Overnight in Kalaw.

Distance Cycling: 100km

Today’s ride covers a greater distance as you make your way to Inle Lake. We start with a great downhill ride to Aungban before we ride up into the hills once again. There is a stretch of flat road around the Heho plains with a great vantage point that overlooks the vast Inle Lake with the Shan Mountain range as its backdrop. You will continue riding up and down through undulating hills and into Nyaung Shwe Valley. On the way you will pass small tea plantations along with Shan, Pa-Oh, and Inthar towns and villages. In the afternoon you will arrive in the small village of Nyaung Shwe, the gateway to Inle Lake. Along the way, stop at the wooden Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery which features beautiful carvings and a collection of Buddha images. Once reaching Nyaung Shwe, take a short walk around town and visit to the colorful market if it is being held that day.

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe.

Distance Cycling: 90km

After breakfast ride along the lake to Nyaung Shwe. You’ll start on your bikes heading first to the village of Khaung Daing. We start by crossing over the town’s main canal to the rice paddies. Take time to explore this village- known for its production of soya bean products. From there we head East along the lake’s shores before reaching Kaung Dhine village. The people living here are known for their delicious soy bean crackers, tofu and other treats. Walking around the village you can observe all steps of the process of creating these local items.  Afterwards board your private boat. Head out to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar’s most beautiful sites. Pass villages built on stilts over the lake, inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. From the middle of the lake, continue to the western banks of the lake and travel down a small canal to Indein. Indein is a Pa-Oh village which is known for its stupa-covered hill at Alaung Sitthou. Spend time exploring Indein on foot, strolling around the village, visiting a local school and making your way to the top of Alaung Sitthou where you can wander amid the weather-beaten stupas and enjoy magnificent views of the lake below.Boat ride back to Kaung Dhine for a return ride to Nyaung Shwe. 

Overnight in Nyaung Shwe.

Distance Cycling: 30km

After breakfast, transfer to Heho airport for your flight to Yangon.  Upon arrival meet your guide and driver. Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, is a relatively quiet and charming city with an impressive colonial and spiritual heritage. It’s a great starting point for a Myanmar holiday. Transfer downtown for a historic walk.  The leisurely stroll takes around one hour and passes by fading colonial buildings such as the Post Office, City Hall, Customs Office and local residences. You’ll visit Mahabandoola Park and Sule Pagoda before stopping for a cup of tea or coffee at a Let Ywae Sin Tea Shop, a local favourite. In the early evening head to Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s holiest monuments with its central stupa soaring 99 metres into the air. The 2,600 year old pagoda is the oldest in the world and is covered with 60 tons of pure gold leaf. Tour this fascinating monument, witnessing local pilgrims and learning about Burmese Theravada Buddhism all the while enjoying the beautiful colours of the sunset. Farewell dinner at Monsoon.

Overnight in Yangon.

This morning/afternoon is at your leisure until transferring to the airport. If time permits, explore downtown Yangon on foot, walking through streets filled with faded colonial atmosphere and bustling local markets. 

This afternoon, there may be time to visit the Bogyoke Market before transferring to the airport for your onward flight.  Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott Market) is the perfect place to peruse the stalls for lacquer ware, jewelry, handicrafts, and other Burmese souvenirs.  (Note: the market is closed on Mondays and public holidays).

END THE TOUR.

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