Explore Myanmar with Smiling Albino Founder Dan Fraser: New 2014

All that glitters, Asia’s Golden Land: Magnificent temples, remote villages, historic journeys, Colonial hill stations, stupas glittering gold, thousands of Pagodas, leg rowers and smiling faces…

Background

Myanmar, or Burma as it was formerly known, holds great mystery, beauty and legend. From Himalayan Mountains in the north, to stunning ancient temples, enchanting lakes and soulful people, we’ll enjoy an experience in one of the world’s last unexplored corners in style.  In some ways, little has changed since the British colonial times where modern amenities in major centers are light years beyond the simple, inspiring countryside life. The contrast is staggering and residents’ perseverance simply amazing. A journey through this nation takes you places you never thought you’d see, and leaves you awestruck at the resolve of the human spirit.

We’ll take you on an intimate exploration of the remote countryside, to the thousands of pagodas of Bagan and finally the photographic haven of Inle lake. We’ll engage and learn from the Burmese people from floating villages to hill stations, and from markets to monuments.  Rudyard Kipling once described Myanmar as “quite unlike any place you know about”, and we invite you to come and discover the spirit and hidden corners of this nation on the move.

This special Myanmar experience will be hosted by Smiling Albino founder Daniel Fraser.

 

Sunday November 16th 2014
Day 1: Yangon – Arrival

Welcome to Myanmar, we’ll be waiting as the plane touches town to welcome you to a country on the move! We begin our journey at our picturesque hotel with stunning views of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.

We would like to start things off with a getting to know you, and Myanmar, local dinner to set the stage for our exploration.

Meals:  D
Accommodation: Kandawgyi Palace, Deluxe Room

 The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel
The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel

About the accommodations: The Kandawgyi Palace Hotel is situated on the shores of the tranquil Kandawgyi Lake (Royal Lake). It was originally opened in 1934 as the Rangoon Rowing Club. The hotels styling retains traditional Myanmar architecture by using local golden teak blended with brick. Deluxe rooms enjoy views of the famous Shwedagon Pagoda.

 

 

Monday November 17th 2014
Day 2: Spiritual Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda
Shwedagon Pagoda

After a Burmese breakfast, we’ll head off to explore the most important religious pilgrimage site in the country: Shwedagon Pagoda.  Visible from almost anywhere in the Yangon, it was built more than 2,500 years ago when the city was a small riverside village. Today we’ll explore what’s behind the golden façade of the Golden Pagoda while learning the history of the pagoda itself. We’ll also search into the deeper insight of the Buddhist religion and how local spiritual belief is mixed with the belief in nats – the Myanmar spirits.

Our intriguing morning starts from the bottom of the hill and passing through workshops, markets and monasteries.  With a deeper understanding of this special country, we’ll be well prepared for the rest of our journey!

Next let’s calm our hunger spirits with a local lunch, then the afternoon is free to explore downtown on foot with its extensive presence of colonial architecture and heritage buildings.

Meals: B, L,
Accommodation: Kandawgyi Palace, Deluxe Room

 

Tuesday November 18th 2014
Day 3: North-Eastern Shan State: Hsipaw

North-Eastern Shan State- Hsipaw
North-Eastern Shan State- Hsipaw

This morning well shuttle to the airport for our flight to the northern Shan State. After settling into our comfortable guesthouse we’ll go walkabout in the town of Hsipaw and the fascinating Shan and Palaung villages. With its surrounding villages, natural beauty, historic stupas and cottage-industry factories, this region is a rare unspoiled gem.

Today is a genuine discovery of simple village life, we’ll learn in detail about the Shan culture as well as the history of Hsipaw.  This afternoon we’ll walk through panoramic scenes of paddy fields, small creeks and smiling families.  Along the way pass a unique wooden monastery as well as some small home industries like cheroot (cigar) rolling, bamboo weaving “factories”, among others.

This evening is free to enjoy the town, with several good options for local Shan and Chinese dishes.

Trekking: 3 hours
Flight: flight to Lashio. (YH 729 11:00 – 12:45)
Meals: B, L (light lunch on flight)
Accommodation: Mr. Charles, Deluxe Room

Accomodation in Hsipaw
Accomodation in Hsipaw

About the accommodations: This is the place to rest your head in tiny Hsipaw, located on the north end of town a short stroll to the main village street. A tastefully furnished hotel offering simple comforts and conveniences, it covers all the basics in such a rural setting in Myanmar. A great base for exploration.

 

Wednesday November 19th 2014
Day 4: The Train to Pyin Oo Lwin  

After breakfast we’ll head to the Hsipaw railway station. Today’s journey is a duality of spectacular mountain scenery and an exploration of local life.  As the train moves slowly along the historic track we’ll mingle with local travellers passing small villages and towns.  Adding even more local colour, along the way we’ll meet merchants as they board the train to peddle drinks, snacks and other wares.

The Train to Pyin Oo Lwin
The Train to Pyin Oo Lwin

Today’s highlight begins when we start to snake our way down a densely forested gorge that cuts deeply through the otherwise gentle landscape.  As we begin to rise up the other side, the train suddenly slows down to start across the famous Gokteik Bridge. The bridge is over 700 metres long and its construction was finalized by the American Pennsylvania Steel Co. in 1901. When it was completed it was the largest railway trestle in the world.  Having unlocked a life achievement with just completing one of the “must do” train journeys in the world, we’ll arrive at Naung Cho station where we’ll continue the rest of the way to Pyin Oo Lwin by car.

This evening we’ll settle into this old British hill station, formerly known as Maymyo or “May Town” by the British.  It was the principal hill station (don’t let the name fool you, it’s relatively flat here) and summer retreat during the British colonial period. The town is once again becoming a popular getaway so we’ll have the opportunity to experience the old charm before modern expansion brings changes. You’ll have an option to explore on a horse drawn cart giving you a period vehicle to admire the colonial style brick and timber houses. This calls for a beer! Pyin Oo Lwin is also the place to beat the Mandalay heat – bring a fleece as it gets chilly here at night!

Train: 4.5 hours
Driving: 2 hours
Meals: B, L
Accommodation: Royal Park View Hotel, Deluxe Room

Royal Park View Hotel
Royal Park View Hotel

About the accommodation: Located in the garden area of town, this charming boutique property is set amongst colonial houses. A family run hotel with full service restaurant on site.  Each room varies in design, yet all are attractively styled with teak wood and indigenous fabrics. It is well placed for strolling the neighbourhood and visiting the botanical gardens.

 

Thursday November 20th 2014
Day 5: The Road to Mandalay and onwards to Bagan

The Road to Mandalay
The Road to Mandalay

This morning we can explore the Pyin’s remarkable botanical gardens before a picturesque drive to Mandalay.  On the outskirts of the city we’ll visit the famous U Bein Bridge in Amarapura: the longest teak bridge in the world.  While heavily visited, this is a an iconic photo stop worth indulging in.

If time permits visit the most revered Buddha image in Mandalay, the 13-foot Golden Buddha decorated in precious jewels known as Mahamuni Paya.

After ticking off the must-sees we’ll escape the city with an afternoon flight to the ancient city of Bagan, the beloved historic site of Myanmar. Here we’ll settle in, take the evening to relax and prepare ourselves for tomorrow’s exploration of this archaeological wonderland.

Driving: 2 hours
Flights: Mandalay – Bagan (6T 502 – 17:50 – 18:20)
Meals: B
Accommodation: Bagan Lodge, Deluxe Room
SA-Day 05 Bagan LodgeAbout the accommodations: Bagan Lodge is gateway to some of the world’s most magnificent pagodas in the Nyaung U section of town. Rooms and suites evoke the romance of a storied expedition, in posh, air-conditioned comfort. Relish in the comfort of a property with a restaurant, bar, swimming pool and spa.

 

Friday November 21st 2014
Day 6: Biking Bagan

Biking Bagan
Biking Bagan

Today we’ll have an well-paced day of temple exploration by mountain bike. As we’re in the plains now, to avoid the mid-day heat we’ll get an early start (08:30). The terrain is generally flat and through small (unpaved) countryside lanes, we’ll visit some lesser seen temples on the way.  The focus this morning will be to see some of the spectacular scenery of ancient temples. Flexible traveling means you can travel at your own pace stopping for photos and breaks at every whim.

Around noon we’ll arrive at a temple in the Minnanthu area of the Bagan plain, we’ll enjoy a quiet picnic lunch before continuing back through the thousands of stupas.

Meals: B, L
Accommodation: Bagan Lodge, Deluxe Room

 

Saturday November 22nd 2014
Day 7: Bagan Temples and Sunsets

Option – Balloons over Bagan +US$ 285 per person

One of the many highlights when visiting Myanmar. Early morning before sunrise you will be picked up at your hotel and taken to the launch site for a spectacular hot air balloon ride over the temple zone in Bagan. The mostly British balloon pilots are operating each balloon under highest UK safety standards and the views you will get are simply breathtakingly spectacular. After floating in the air and following the wind you will land safely and be welcomed back on the ground by a smiling crew serving cold champagne before bringing you to your hotel. From December to March the winds are just perfect.

Bagan Sunset
Bagan Sunset

This morning we’ll visit the best-known temples of Bagan. Starting with a short pagoda climb to get an impressive panoramic view over the whole Bagan plain, we aim to impress with amazing places like the Ananda, Dhammayangyi and Sulamani. Halfway through we’ll switch to horse carts before returning to the hotel.  This afternoon is some free time to enjoy the pool or discover more of the Bagan temples on your own.

Tonight’s main event is a boat ride on the grand Ayeyarwaddy River. We’ll relax on a sandbank (tides permitting) from the thousands of temples explored and enjoy some sundowners.  With the peaceful river scenery and the sun setting we can reflect, relax and enjoy drinks and light snacks.

Meals: B, L
Accommodation: Bagan Lodge, Deluxe Room

 

Sunday November 23rd 2014
Day 8: To Heho and cycle into Inle Lake

A short flight takes us to Heho, and we’ll journey into Inle Lake the best way possible: by bike!   As you arrive your two wheels are waiting and we’ll start a leisurely 4-hour biking trip down to Indein.  Today isn’t technical however we ride mostly off-road, and the majority of the roads are flat or downhill after we get through a few uphill portions in the beginning.

Inle Lake
Inle Lake

Today’s highlight is passing through numerous Pa O villages in an area where few visitors go – a great experience for our intrepid selves!

We have time to stop on the way to enjoy the fantastic views over the lake and the Shan countryside. Lunch will be in a local village and we’ll end the cycling portion and explore the ancient ruins of Indein. From here, we continue by boat to the lodge, where your luggage is waiting in your room.

Meals: B, L
Flights: Bagan – Heho (6T 351 09:05 – 09:45)
Accommodation: View Point Eco Lodge, Cottage Suite

View Point Lodge
View Point Lodge

About the accommodations: View Point Lodge sits on the edge of the canal leading to the magnificent Inle Lake and reflects the beauty of its name. The scenic surroundings include the canal entering the lake on one side and rice paddies on the other, all overlooking the highest mountains in the region. The Lodge is walking distance to the village of Nyaung Shwe.

Cottage Suites at View Point Lodge
Cottage Suites are built on pilings using traditional Shan construction. The Lodge and Cottages are built with local limestone, mud and rice straw, and reinforced with wooden beams. Only paints made from laterite mud and natural wax decorate the Lodge. Using traditional materials does not mean compromising comforts as all suites have modern bathrooms, wi-fi and LCD TV.  The Lodge blends the best of the Shan traditions and the needs of modern travelers.

 

Monday November 24th 2014
Day 9: A Day on the Lake!

Day on the Lake
Day on the Lake

Inle Lake in is a vast natural lake surrounded by Shan villages. On the lake itself the Intha people have been living for many centuries in villages built entirely on stilts.

Recommendation:  Rise early to watch the morning mist – A quintessential Inle Lake experience

After breakfast we begin in true Inle Lake fashion: by boat. We’ll discover all the lake’s natural beauty, visit the floating gardens, see some famous leg rowers, and have a cup of tea at a local house.

Today will be one long iconic photo moment after another.  The lake is so large and the villages so spread out that Inle never feels too crowded.

We’ll have a little bit of fun with today’s lunch, catered on a rice boat in the middle of the lake. The boat has been transformed into an ephemeral restaurant fully equipped.

On and around the lake, traditional markets are held in different villages according to a 5-day rotating schedule. After lunch we’ll leave solitude behind and visit one of these colourful markets frequented by Shan and Pao people, here we’ll see locals who have come to do their weekly shopping.

Afterwards depending on interest, we can also visit a local cheroot factory (where traditional Burmese cigars are made), floating tomato gardens, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Intha Heritage house – where Burmese cats are bred – and a weaving factory.

Meals: B, L
Accommodation: View Point Eco Lodge, Cottage Suite

 

Tuesday November 25th 2014
Day 10: Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon

Sharky’s restaurant
Sharky’s restaurant

Today we have an early flight to Yangon.  For our farewell meal we’ll have an excellent lunch at Sharky’s restaurant – a local entrepreneur who is famous for growing organic vegetables and producing locally made French cheese, ham and other delicious popular food.

There is time for a foot massage or perhaps shopping for popular things like a longyi (local sarong), umbrella’s, old books, gold leaves, or contemporary paintings.  We can arrange a stroll through the Scott Market or just a place to relax and soak it all in.

We’ll then transfer you to the airport for your flight out of Myanmar. It’s been a pleasure hosting you, and we hope to see you again…

Thwa – Me- Naw (Goodbye!)

Meals: B,
Flights: Heho – Yangon (6T 402 09:35 – 10:45)

 

Cost:
Per Person $3,595 USD based on Twin Share
Single Supplement $1,175 USD

INCLUDING:
– All transfers and transport as per the program:
– All accommodations as per program (based on double sharing room)
– Service English speaking station guides
– All meals as mentioned (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner).
– All entrance fees on tour
– Domestic air tickets within Myanmar

EXCLUDING:
-Flights to/from Myanmar, note the first day begins early. We can arrange a stopover in Bangkok or Yangon before your tour for you.
-The hot air balloon ride over Bagan is not included, we highly recommend it! At time of booking we can provide more info however they do book up fast
– Insurance
– Personal expenses
– All drinks
– Other expenses that not mentioned on the itinerary
– Visa fees and/or visa authorization (we’ll help you arrange these)

SA-The Smiling Albino Service Difference
Thorough Experience

The Smiling Albino Service Difference

We understand implicitly that a perfect adventure is much more than nice hotels, great meals and hassle-free logistics. For a travel experience to be perfect, all pieces must work together like a symphony. It is the fine details which our guests appreciate most, like cold face towels after a hike, electrolyte beverages for your day cycling, and wine uncorked when the moment is right. From local maps to bottled water and colourful anecdotes on the areas we visit, a Smiling Albino adventure is a thorough, intimately hosted experience. We will also provide you with a complimentary mobile phone for your use throughout your stay. You’ll be treated with executive care during your Smiling Albino adventure.

 

 

What makes our adventures unique?

What do we promise you?

What should you bring for this adventure?

We look forward to hosting you!

The Team at Smiling Albino
See a different part of the world, differently

Explore Myanmar with Smiling Albino Founder Dan Fraser: New 2014

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