19 Days Yunnan (China) – Old Burma Road Overland Tour from Kunming to Yangon

Day 1 Arrive in Kunming
Day 2 Kunming-Shangri-La by Flight
Day 3 Shangri-La
Day 4 Shangri-La – Tiger Leaping Gorge-Lijiang
Day 5 Lijiang
Day 6 Lijiang-Dali

Either by bicycle or a traditional horse carriage (about 20 mins) you go to the bank of Lake Erhai. A short hike takes you to a headland from which you have a beautiful view of the lake. Trip back to the hotel to check out.

Trip to Dali. Dali is situated on the western shore of idyllic Lake Erhai at the foot of the impressive Cang Range, which is up to 4,000 meters high. In the 9th century Dali was the capital of gigantic Nanzhao and later of the Dali Kingdom before the historic city was later overrun by the Mongols. The area around Dali is inhabited mainly by the ethnic Bai group.

You go walkabout through the city center. You visit the market, the Catholic church in Bai style, and the former city gates.

Day 7:  Dali-Tengchong

In the morning, you travel along the Burma Road through wonderful landscapes to Tengchong.

The Old Burma Road was built during the Second World War when advancing Japanese forces cut off the supply routes of southern Burma. With an enormous effort the American army built, under the command of General Joseph Stillwell, a road from Ledo in India right through the north of Burma to Kunming in China.

Visit to the idyllic Wo Fo Si Temple with a recumbent jade Buddha that came from Burma.

Through glorious landscapes along the winding section we reach first the impressive and fertile Nujiang Valley. Nujiang River (in Burma Thanlwin or Salween) flows from Tibet through China and Myanmar, where it empties into Lake Andaman after flowing 2,800 km.

We cross over Nujiang River and go on through the impressive Gaoligong Massif to Tengchong.

Overnight stay in Tengchong.

The area around Tengchong is known for its seismological activity. The city is surrounded by more than 90 extinct volcanoes, and the many hot water springs are popular destinations for the Chinese. Early in the morning you travel to the nearby hot water springs.

After a walkabout through the many bubbling and steaming pools we travel on to the Tengchong Museum, which is waiting for you with an informative exhibition on the Old Burma Road.

After that the trip continues through the diverse mountain landscapes of south-west China to Ruili. If you still feel energetic you can have a look at the busy night market of Ruili in the evening.

You stay overnight at the border town of Ruili, Yunnan Province.


Travel the Old Burma Road: A Burmese girl wearing Tanaka

You cross the border into Burma that was not opened to tourists until a few years ago. After going through the border formalities we reach the Burmese town Muse, which since the opening up of the border has mainly given attention to trade with China. In the surrounding villages live many minorities of the Lisu, Kachin, Palaung and Shan which have kept up their traditional lifestyles. On the track of the famous-infamous Old Burma Road we continue our journey to Lashio. The city of Lashio is still the end point of the Burma Railway and was, until the Japanese invasion in 1941, the setting out point of the legendary Burma Road.

Continued trip through ever-changing landscapes of the Shan Highland to Hsipaw. The easy-going village of Hsipaw is situated amid a glorious landscape on the bank of Dutthawaddy River. Hsipaw became famous for the book of Inge Sargent, Twilight Over Burma, My Life as a Shan Princess.

During a walkabout through the village you pick up a lot of good information on the life customs of the indigenous Shan people. You visit a factory where cheroot cigars, which in the meantime are known beyond the Burmese borders, are rolled. We also have a look at the local popcorn production and after that visit a “weaving mill”, where bamboo is processed. Overnight stay in Hsipaw.

Day 10: HSIPAW

Encounters with the local population is a cornerstone of our trips along the Old Burma Road from China to Burma

In the morning you visit Hsipaw Haw (also called East Haw). Hsipaw Haw is a beautiful old colonial house surrounded by tamarind trees and was once the residence of the Shan prince Sao Kya Seng, who was abducted in 1962 by the government of the time under Ne Win. The tragic fate of the last Shan prince is written up in the wonderful book of his Austrian wife Inge Sargent, Twilight Over Burma, My Life as a Shan Princess. The laid-back atmosphere of Hpisaw invites you to a lengthy dalliance and is a welcome interruption of your journey along the Burma Road!

You undertake an excursion to the glorious surrounds of Hsipaw. In a local boat you travel downstream on the Dutthawaddy to Jyo Pagoda. Further travel to a Shan monastery, more than 150 years old, built by one of the Shan princes. The rest of the afternoon is at your free disposal to explore Hsipaw under your own steam.

Overnight stay in simple accommodation in Hsipaw.


Travel accross the Gotheik Viaduct near Hsipaw during your journey along the Burmaroad

In the morning drive to the railroad station. We get into the train going in the direction of Maymyo (Phyn-Oo-Lwin) and travel on what is probably one of the most impressive train sections in all of Asia: the train goes, among other things, over the 700 meter Gotheik Viaduct spanning a gorge 300 meters deep.

The fascinating railroad bridge was built over a century ago by the Pennsylvania Steel Company. At that time it was the second highest railroad bridge in the world and was regarded as a pioneer achievement in the art of bridge construction. The trip at walking pace offers breathtaking views of the landscape. At about 2 p.m. we reach Naung Cho, where we alight from the train and continue by car.

We reach the former British summer capital Maymyo: a picturesque mountain place that is a popular destination for excursions because of its pleasant climate. Apart from the botanical garden set up by Colonel May, many architectonic relics from the English colonial period are still standing. Interestingly enough, in Pyin-Oo-Win you encounter, as well as Bamars, many Nepalese and Indians, whose fathers settled there after the Second World War. Overnight stay in Pyin-Oo-Lwin.


The many colonial buildings in Pyin Oo Lwin are still a reminder of the British colonial past

In the morning we visit the busy and colorful morning market of Maymyo, where members of the various ethnic groups, now settled in the surrounding mountains, go about their shopping.

As well, we visit Kandawagyi Park, a lovely botanical garden which was laid out by the former governor of Burma, Sir Harcourt Butler, in 1915/16. We take a walkabout through the park and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

In horse carriages we do a tour of the serene city with its brightly colored mixture of peoples. The many and wonderful colonial houses that we drive past are till today silent witnesses to the once strong presence of the English colonial power. The leisurely trip also leads past Purcell Tower, a gift of Queen Victoria. We also pay a visit to the 100-year-old church.

We travel on through a diversified landscape to Mandalay.


Journey along the Old Burma Road: The old U-Bein bridge, made entirely of Teakwood

Mandalay is the second biggest city in Myanmar. The city was founded in 1857 by King Mindon and served till 1885 as the seat of the kingdom and as the capital of the country.

Transfer to the pier. You go for a cozy boat trip on the Irrawaddy to Mingun (about 45 minutes). In 1790 King Bodawpaya had the Mingun pagoda built. With a height of 150 meters and a lateral length of 150 meters it was supposed to become the world’s biggest pagoda. But because of the king’s death it was never completed. Right nearby there is the Mingun bell regarded as the world’s biggest intact bell. From Mingun we go downstream at a relaxed pace to Ava.

By horse carriage we take a tour through the impressive ruins of Ava, which served as the capital of the Ava Kingdom from 1364 to 1527. In doing so we go past Nanmyint, the former city watchtower. Because of its leaning stance Nanymint is described as “the leaning tower of Ava”. Trip to Amarapura, where we visit Mahagandayone monastery.

The U-Bein bridge, 1.2 km long, dates from 1851 and is regarded till today as the world’s longest bridge made of teak. Whoever wishes to, can try a mouthful of the well known Mandalay rum which has been produced here since 1886!


The Irrawaddy River is the most important and largest River in Myanmar

Breakfast in a relaxed atmosphere. After that we go in the direction of Bagan at a leisurely pace in a boat on the Irrawaddy.

With a length of 2,170 km the Irrawaddy is the biggest and most important river in Myanmar. The Irrawaddy starts north of Myktyina through the junction of the two rivers Maika and Malika, which for their part have their source in the northern state of Kachin and partly in China.

We take a break in Pakkoku, where you visit the temple caves at Kyauk Gu Ohnmin. We also visit a factory where the well known Burmese slippers are produced.

At about 5 p.m. we reach Bagan. We are met at the pier and transferred to the hotel.

Overnight stay in Bagan.

Day 15 Bagan One Day temple complex tour
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Enjoy a exciting morning Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bagan.

Ordinarily an average of 45 mins of flight duration is expected. However, the entire experience will last about 2 1/2 hours. On landing, our fully trained Myanmar ground crew will pack the balloon whilst passengers enjoy a glass or two of celebratory champagne.

Balloons over Bagan is a private Myanmar company that is committed to the preservation of Bagan and its environment. A contribution from each flight will be donated to community programmes that directly benefit the local population.
Bagan, where you will be amazed by its thousands of Buddhists pagodas spread in the area of the Ancient City of ‘Bagan’. These pagodas used to own by individual families during its prosperous time.
Your will visit the Nyaung Oo Market where local people buying food in daily life, visit the Shwezigon Pagoda which is the largest pagoda in Bagan painted with real gold. Have a rest in hotel in the hottest time in afternoon. Then enjoy a Horse Cart Ride for the sun set, you will climb up to the top of the Shesandaw Pagoda for sun set then take the horse cart back to hotel. It is a unforgettable feeling of taking the horse cart ride on the off road treks through the pagodas when its quiet in dusk.

Overnight in Bagan.

Day 16: Bagan – Inle Lake (B)
After breakfast at hotel, pick up from your hotel and transfer to Nyaung Oo airport for flight to Heho airport. Visit to Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery and next to the Red Mountain Estate & Vineyard and Winery, view from the top will see overview to Inle Lake and beautiful mountains. Free and Leisure at the rest of the afternoon and Overnight in Nyaung Shwe Hotel.

Day 17: Inle Lake full day boat tour (B)
Today take a full day tour of Inle Lake by private boat with chances to see villages, the unique leg-rowers fishermen and the floating gardens, built up from the strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored with bamboo poles. The tour also includes visits to the silver smith factory, the silk weaving village, the Cheroot making factory, the boat making workshop, the jumping cat monastery and the most famous Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda where the Buddha images have been covered in so much gold that they look like balls of solid gold. And visit to Indein Village ancient Ruins pagoda of Nyaung Oaks, Shwe Indein Pagoda. After that transfer back to hotel and check in. Stay overnight at Nyaung Shwe.

Day 18: Inle Lake – Yangon by flight (B)
After breakfast at hotel, check out hotel and transfer to Heho airport and take the morning flight to Yangon.

Today start drive to Kyeet Myin Dine railway station and takes 15 minutes to ride Myanmar Circular Train. Stops at Yangon railway station and visit Scott Market. Then walking tour starts from Sule Pagoda. On the way, you can see Yangon City Hall, Independence Monument, Mahabandoola Park, many colonial buildings and ends at Strand Hotel. Continue to Kandawgyi Park and next stop is Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda with colossal reclining Buddha. Later afternoon, enjoy sunset at magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda.

Day 19 Departure from Yangon
See off.