“Our top selling Burma tour reveals SE Asia as is used to be. It's packed with magical encounters - from hill tribes where time has stood till, to Bagan's mist-shrouded stupas.”
Yangon/Rangoon | Rangoon River cruise | Shwedagon Temple | Mandalay | U Bein Bridge | Pyin U Lwin | Boat tour on Irrawaddy River | Bagan | Shan Plateau | Mount Popa | Kalaw | Hill tribe villages | Pindaya | Inle Lake | Excursion by horse and cart
Description of Small group holiday to Burma
This small group two week Burma/Myanmar holiday starts in the former capital city of Yangon, aka Rangoon, where we spend time taking in the country’s cultural and historical heart, such as the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda. The best way to see all of this wonderful city and its environs is on board the traditional railway that slowly circumnavigates bustling suburban villages. From here we fly north to the iconic city of Mandalay, continue by river to Bagan and travel through this magnificent country to the shores of Lake Inle. We conclude with a flight back to Yangon.
As well as enjoying some of Burma’s traditional tourist sites, we also include some lesser known spots and experiences in our itinerary. The former includes the hundreds of temples of Bagan which seem to dominate the horizon for miles around, the colonial hill station towns, or Lake Inle. We spend two days in and around Lake Inle, travelling daily by boat, to see the iconic fishermen, the floating gardens, homes, cottage industries and local markets, with a chance to stop at lakeside temples and villages. We visit the culturally rich world of Palaung and Danu hill-tribe villages, and up into the dramatically beautiful Shan Plateau, enveloped by the Shan Highlands.
One of the most striking things about Burma is that it has held on to its traditional lifestyles, and transport is one of these. On this trip we will, therefore, travel not only by train and plane but also by rickshaw, horse and cart, Irrawaddy River boat, bicycle and on foot. Not because this is the touristy thing to do, but because in some cases it is the only way to do it. Such as in the ancient capital of Inwa (or Awa) where the ruins are best explored by horse and cart. Or in the hills around Lake Inle, we can best discover the ruined city of Shan Bagan and vegetation covered stupas en route, by hiking there.
Throughout this Burma tour we will be enjoying wonderful Burmese food at local markets or small family owned restaurants and local tea shops. As well as staying at small locally owned accommodations, all made possible by the fact that we keep our tour groups very small, between 4-12 people.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Guided small group tour. 4-12 people, no min/max age.
Moderate, with one 4-hour hike.
Hotels and guesthouses.
Solo travellers welcome. Single rooms available with surcharge.
Accomm., local and international flights, transport, transfers, local guide, listed activities.
All meals except 3 lunches and 3 dinners.
“You hear the monks chanting to the temple bells and the young nuns, who are just little girls, are quite often singing the prayers.”
Learn more about this itinerary in Responsible Travel's interview with Wi Ord a tour leader on this tripRead full interview here
Responsible tourism: Small group holiday to Burma
If governments see that creating and maintaining National Parks can create revenue, then it is an incentive for them to preserve such areas and create new ones instead of short term gain from logging, plantations etc. And if local communities can see that National Parks, Forest Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries etc bring in revenue for local communities and employment for local people then it is an incentive for them to respect such protected areas and participate in tourism schemes. We therefore feel it is essential to incorporate as many such protected areas into our itineraries as possible – not only to show the scenery and exotic flora and fauna to visitors, but also to encourage authorities and local people to establish and take care of.
We have included destinations not usually included in Burma itineraries such as Aung Ban, Kalaw, Pindaya, Pyin U Lwin as well as including less ‘touristic’ sites such as local markets in the more frequented destinations such as Mandalay and Yangon. We are also hoping to shortly introduce an extension of our itinerary to Sittwe and Rakhine State. Great care has been made to insure that a maximum of expenditure goes to privately owned and local companies, hotels, restaurants etc and a minimum amount to government owned properties such as unavoidable entrance fees to sites such as Bagan, as well as actively endeavouring to avoid places or companies that may be privately owned but have close contacts with the government.. Indeed certain state-run museums and sites we judged non-essential have been deliberately omitted from out itinerary.
Additional specific schemes supported on this itinerary include; Visits to local handicraft manufacturers and ‘cottage industries’ in for example Inle and Pindaya. Visits to local markets. Use of local forms of transport where practical such as cyclos/rickshaws and ox or horse carts. Visits to hill-tribe villages – Palaung and Danu and a visit to a Palaung school where we are looking at possibilities of material assistance in terms of books, pencils, sports items etc
All our group sizes are genuinely small, with scheduled tours usually limited to just 10 persons. Experience has shown that this offers major benefits in various areas, and is integral to our concept of responsible tourism.
- Socially, small numbers create a much more cohesive group with far less chance of cliques or 'groups within groups' – it's often been described by those who travel with us as "more like a group of friends and not like a tour group at all". - Service is inevitably improved with a high ratio of guides and tour-leaders to customers and we are able to offer a more personalized service. Information and directions are passed on far more easily and a high level of flexibility can be maintained, which isn't possible with larger groups. - Transport; we are able to use smaller types of transport as well as making public transport more practical. i.e. pick–up trucks and minibuses instead of large coaches. This has practical as well as ecological benefits - Restaurants and Accommodation; we use smaller, locally run restaurants and accommodation that larger groups wouldn't be able to do - again another essential element of our tours. - Interacting with local people; another significant advantage is when visiting local people, villages, tribal groups and so on, a smaller group has far less impact, is far less intimidating and there's a much greater chance of a warm welcome and opportunities for genuine interaction. (No villager is going to invite 16 people in for a cup of tea!) - Nature and the Environment: Similar benefits arise with respect to any nature based activities: hiking, snorkelling, bird watching etc. Not only do smaller groups have less negative impact on the natural environment but, as above, it is easier for a guide to transmit instructions and knowledge. There is also far more chance of spotting birds and wildlife with lower numbers.
Providing a balance between the well known 'must sees' and the off the beaten track 'best kept secrets' is what we're all about. Not only taking in the famous sites and well known destinations, but also the rarely visited ones not usually included in tour itineraries, but which we believe provides a more authentic insight into the countries visited.
Not only does this mean you will visit sites which are more remote and which most people don't get to see, but also that the people living in these less frequented areas will also get to benefit from the tourist dollar. The vast majority of tourism in SE Asian countries only touches a few key sites: e.g. in Burma only a very small percentage of visitors get to see anything other than Bagan, Inle, Mandalay and Shwedagon.
People in other parts of Burma seeking work would converge exclusively on those destinations, leading to social problems and depopulation in these rural areas and creating a serious imbalance in wealth between regions.
Local food and meals are an essential part of any culture therefore an essential part of enjoying new and different cultures is discovering their traditional food. That's why on all our tours, meals are, as much as possible, based on authentic regional food eaten in local restaurants, and whenever possible, we avoid eating in hotels and flashy tourist establishments. We believe that the food eaten in a bustling night market is going to be the real McCoy!
This means better and more authentic food, and also means our custom is going directly to small cafés and market vendors rather than big businesses - and again provides more opportunities for interaction with local people.
By eating in this manner we are encouraging local people to offer local alternatives to visitors and indeed to increase pride in their traditional cuisines. It's a sad state of affairs, and perhaps a reflection on many tourists, that in many areas, local people are of the impression that all foreigners want to eat pizzas and drink Nescafe!? It's nice to show the locals otherwise.
By explaining our methods and the reasons behind them, local agents, guides and hotels are encouraged by us to adopt further responsible tourism practices themselves. Our guides and drivers are provided with additional training in this respect. We carefully select the places we visit to ensure that none are involved in exploitative practices of its people or the environment.
Providing suitable, relevant information for our customers; to help them gain a wider understanding of our style of tourism that focuses on learning, genuine interaction with the local communities, reciprocity and cultural exchange processes. To be aware of the potential impact of tourism on the local society, culture and environment, and to behave and dress appropriately with a respect and appreciation for local customs, mores and traditions and a respect for the ecology of areas visited. bringing associated economic benefits to those areas.
Our guides and leaders thus facilitate communication of our values to both travellers and local communities, educating them in sustainable tourism practices
Reviews of Small group holiday to Burma
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 07 Mar 2017 by Kevin Hewison
The most memorable was the large number of pagodas in Bagan, the difference between Myanmar pagodas and this in Thailand, Laos. The shear beauty of Inle lake. The variety of food in the different regions. The friendliness of the people.Read full review
This is a holiday of memories to last. Enchanting gentle people, beautiful countryside, amazing temples, vibrant markets,crafts and long past building and agricultural practises. Read full review
Reviewed on 05 Dec 2016 by Viv Burney
Most memorable: The people - we called them the "smiley people" - and the interaction with the Burmese. Read full review
Reviewed on 01 Apr 2016 by Lesley Sage
We wholeheartedly recommend how this trip enabled us to have the privilege of 'being in at the roots'.Read full review
Reviewed on 26 Mar 2016 by Corinne Male
Best bits: Drinking green tea with the lotus weavers on Lake Inle? Lovely women.
Just the friendliness of the Burmese people everywhere, I suppose.Read full review
Reviewed on 09 Mar 2016 by Helen Forde
Excellent; well organised and flexible about arrangements. Good answers to our questions about the country, the economics and the politics.Read full review
Reviewed on 17 Jan 2016 by Eleanor Stewart
Wonderful! We loved the country and the people, so friendly and kind. We can make no criticism. Read full review
Reviewed on 14 Feb 2015 by Helen White
Don't hesitate - just go! The operator are an independent company who care that you get the best holiday possible. And they are small enough to make sure you see some of the top sights, but also get you in to see off the beaten track places.
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Reviewed on 24 Nov 2015 by John Lippiett
We probably would have given it 5 stars if it wasn't for the expansion of the rating to say that it was 'simply the best holiday I have ever been on'! We have been on other wonderful holidays, but this was up there with the best.Read full review
Burma is such a fabulous country to visit - our itinerary included one or more highlights every day. The crowning glory of our tour was our guide Po. He looked after our group of six as if we were family. Read full review
Reviewed on 19 Jan 2014 by Jane Edington
It was all new and exciting for that reason …… very heart warming to see what is flourishing in Myanmar and also fearful that some not such good things come with the advent of more tourism. Our trip to Pagan and Inle Lake are the highlights for me.Read full review
Reviewed on 30 Dec 2014 by Edwin Faulkner
Excellent, the guide was very good and prepared to vary the itinery to fit in extras to suit the group. e.g. Mandalay Palace, a village wedding, and a group winnowing their grain in the field as we passed.Read full review
Reviewed on 15 Nov 2014 by Duncan Taylor
Excellent. At times the pace was demanding, but there was so much to see and take in I wouldn't have wanted to ease up more.Read full review
Reviewed on 20 Mar 2014 by Janet Sutherland
The most memorable parts are hard to choose between the wonder of Shwedeagon Pagoda with all it's glittering gold, river journey down the Ayeyarrwady and first sight of Bagan, then cycling around it, relaxing time on Inle Lake, and visiting the botanic gardens in Pyin U-Lwin and the hills of Kalaw.Read full review
Reviewed on 11 Mar 2014 by Anonymous
Excellent....Each day was amazing with many highlights - the country is beautiful and the people are warm and welcoming - our tour guide was superb and the restaurants chosen provided a wide variety of very good foodRead full review
Reviewed on 04 Mar 2014 by Andre Marais
The most memorable parts were visiting Burma - finding my wife's old house in Rangoon (sadly now a "squat"..); Bagan, Inle, the Thande Beach extension. The excellent local guides.Read full review
Reviewed on 25 Feb 2014 by Karen Johnson
The outstanding memories of the holiday? The people, the sights, the colours, the smells and again the people. They are unfailingly patient and polite and what lovely smiles..... Read full review
Reviewed on 22 Feb 2014 by Rosemary Mynors
It was a fascinating trip. Trekking around Kalaw and Lake Inle were the most memorable partsRead full review
Reviewed on 10 Jan 2014 by Julie Milewski
An excellent experience...Seeing the people of Burma in so many settings, especially those living by fishing off Lake Inle and the rice farmers of Shan province. The Burmese we met were smiling, friendly, welcoming, despite years of hard living by our standards. The opportunity to see this country at this stage in it's turbulent history was humbling. Read full review
Reviewed on 03 Jan 2014 by Derek Turner
Difficult to pick out one from many memorable moments but probably the visit to Shwedagon temple in Yangon. But in many ways it is the people themselves who linger in the memory, outstandingly friendly, helpful and seemingly cheerful, though many have on the face of it little to be cheerful about.Read full review
Reviewed on 21 Mar 2014 by Anne Jacobs Van Merlen
The discovery of Bagan was the most memorable part of the holidayRead full review
Reviewed on 10 Dec 2013 by Rosy Everitt
Amazing and awesome...the most memorable part of the trips was How warm and welcoming everyone was and how beautiful Shan state is...I was in awe of the Shwe Umin cave temples, boasting over 8,000 Buddha statues.Read full review
Reviewed on 27 Jul 2013 by Alexander Barr
The whole holiday was brilliant and it took time to "sink in " what an outstanding package we had. Tour - well put together, gave a unique view of Burma to the first time visitor.
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Reviewed on 29 Nov 2013 by Allan Wild
This is probably the best holiday I have ever had. How much of that was due to the inherent beauty of Myanmar.Read full review
Reviewed on 22 Nov 2013 by Rob Smith
A really memorable trip to a very different and varied country. The most memorable part of my trip to Burma was our time spent on Lake Inle travelling on the small Burmese boats in the sunshine, visiting various local businesses and engaging with the local people Read full review
Excellent - the tour was well planned, the group worked well together and the Burmese countryside, monuments and people were amazing. The best part was wandering through the markets with their vibrant colours and smells, the fascinating foodstuffs and materials for sale and above all the friendliness of the people.Read full review
Reviewed on 18 Feb 2013 by Maeve Anslow
I had a superb time and recommend this trip highly the best thing was meeting the lovely people of Burma and seeing a country right on the cusp of change.
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Brilliant....Sunrise over Bagan, drifting along Inle Lake, exploring the markets ... all amazing experiences, but overall just being in Burma/Myanmar at this exciting time of change and feeling so welcome and safe. Read full review
Reviewed on 16 Jan 2013 by Deborah Smith
Very good in terms of arrangements, variety of transport, quality of hotels....The Burmese people were a delight.
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Reviewed on 10 Jan 2013 by Brid Nolan
It was a privilege and a delight to go to Myanmar and meet some of its people at this time of hope and change. Going to the Shwe Dagon temple complex at sunset, to watch its magical transformation from sunlit yellow gold to electrically lit white gold was one of the many highlights.Read full review
Reviewed on 17 Dec 2013 by John Griffiths
Pyin U Lwin Hill Station visit and the friendliness of the people were the best parts of the trip. A superb tour leader helped make it more enjoyable.Read full review
The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is overwhelming -- truly awe-some. Two days of jaunting about on Inle Lake was a wonderful experience ... such beauty, so much that is interesting. So much to learn about Southeast Asia -- Buddhism, ancient and modern history.Read full review
Reviewed on 30 Aug 2012 by Alison Norris
My most memorable part of this holiday was touring on the Famous Inle Lake. The weather was beautiful, and as we travelled across the water the surrounding hills came into being as the sun warmed the waters and the mist rose...Read full review
Reviewed on 15 Aug 2012 by Richard Savage
The most memorable parts were watching the sun rise over the plain of pagodas in Bagan, visiting the teak monasteries at Ava (by pony-trap) and Mandalay & discovering a whole eco-system living on and around Inle Lake. Read full review
Reviewed on 12 Feb 2012 by Ehud Cohen
The most memorable part was to meet the friendly Burmese people in the street and talk with them. Shwedagon pagoda and Inle lake were highlights as well.
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