Burma holiday, rivers & railways

“You’ll experience the sights and sounds of the real Burma on this 14 day holiday, taking to the rivers and railways to explore some of its lesser-visited rural communities & historical gems.”


Yangon | Bogyoke Market | Pyin Oo Lwin hill station | Goktiek Viaduct | Mandalay | U Bein Bridge | Ayerwaddy River cruise | Yandabo Village | Bagan: temples and pagodas | Mt Popa | Pindaya Caves | Shan Hills | Inle Lake | Sagar & the sunken stupas | Thaya Gone village visit

Description of Burma holiday, rivers & railways

Travel to Burma to discover a land of sprawling temple complexes, crumbling colonial buildings and a friendly populace still relatively unfamiliar with foreign visitors. This 14-day Burma holiday starts with an exploration of the bustling streets of Yangon, home to the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, the country's most revered Buddhist temple. Travel to the cooler climate of Pyin Oo Lwin, the former British hill station, before taking the bumpy but exciting train journey across the scenic Goktiek Viaduct which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, a must-do experience in Burma.

Discover Mandalay, home to the 'worlds biggest book' found at Kuthodaw Pagoda, and stroll across the U Bein bridge to watch the fishermen wading in the waters below. Barding the luxury RV Paukan cruise boat and glide downriver discovering rural river life along the way. Enjoy time exploring the extensive plains of Bagan, home to over 2,000 temples and pagodas, all that remains from over 4,000 Buddhist temples originally commissioned between the 11th and 13th centuries. End with time on Inle Lake, home to the iconic leg-rowing fishermen and a host of floating villages and cottage industries producing everything from lotus flower scarves to the local cheroots. Discover the lake's way of life and the importance of the floating gardens as a source of revenue to the local Intha people and relax at your lakeside hotel.

This holiday takes you to the real Burma, allowing time to see the highlights but also get off the beaten track and discover some of the rural communities and historical sites often ignored by the bulk of visitors. Burma: a country that should be on the top of everyone's bucket list and which will offer an experience you will never forget.

Travel Team

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Burma holiday, rivers & railways


Our ground agents are dedicated to reducing their environmental impact in all their Asian destinations. Where the scheme exists they support a social enterprise called Naga Biofuel which collects used cooking oil from hotels to recycle into biodiesel and bio degreaser for engines of all sorts before selling it at lower prices to environmental NGOs. In the regional offices staff are asked to reduce the air-conditioning to actual temperature instead of having it on max (which tends to be the norm in Asia!) regardless of the weather. They are also asked to completely turn off all computers and printers at the end of each day (there was a tendency to leave them on standby) resulting in a huge saving of energy. Drivers are asked not to leave vehicles idling while waiting for clients.

Our ground agents are in the process of establishing a carbon offset programme in place to allow clients to offset their carbon usage. This is being done through an organisation called GERES, a not-for-profit organisation with over 40yrs experience in the field which aims to help preserve the environment, limit climate change and its consequences, reduce fuel poverty and improve living conditions.

This holiday stays in the Villa Inle Resort & Spa which is a new addition to Inle Lake and has worked hard to create a hotel which fits harmoniously into the environment. During the construction phase the hotel planted a huge number of indigenous trees including 1,000 banana trees, 500 lime trees, 500 mango trees and 2,000 teak trees. Not only do these help the environment they also provide an important source of produce for the hotel kitchens. The gardens are also all organic thereby avoiding adding unnecessary pesticides and herbicides into the natural environment. Recycling of most materials including paper, plastic, cans and glass is practiced in the resort and used cooking oil is used to make candles. The hotel is staffed by 90% locals thereby keeping the majority of staff salaries in the local economy.


Our local Burma agent has been operating socially responsible trips to the country for many years and has a wealth of experience and expertise in the region. They have a strong responsible travel ethos and, in the wake of their exceptional efforts raising nearly $200,000 towards the Nargis Cyclone Relief Effort in Burma (which was used to help rebuild schools, clinics and houses), they established their own charitable foundation. With a realisation that tourism can change local lives for better and for worse, our agents have established a responsible travel ethos creating authentic travel experiences which mutually benefit locals and visitors.

The village of Ah Lett Chaung is located on the banks of the Yangon River and was one of the villages heavily affected by the cyclone seeing the destruction of many homes, farms and gardens and the pollution of drinking water supplies causing the spread of many diseases. With the aid of our agents, the village clinic was re-built and is still in operation treating 70-80 patients per week for a minimal fee. Clinic staff also regularly visit neighbouring villages where no clinic exists.
Since 2011, our ground agents have taken over the provision of salaries to the doctors, nurses and a security guard and a representative visits regularly to oversee the allocations of funds. The next goal is to improve the provision of safer drinking water to the village.
For all bookings made through us a donation is made which covers one field visit or training session to surrounding villages on aspects of sanitation and hygiene, an important factor in helping avoid the spread of disease in rural communities.

Our ground agents also support a community library in a village near Ngapali Beach, Burma. The community has 2,500 inhabitants and very remotely located with limited school facilities available. With their understanding that education is important for the village children the villagers set about establishing a small library through donations but lacked the further vital funding to be able to stock and maintain it. After visiting the village, our ground agents offered to support the project and funded the purchase of 800 books as well as tables, chairs and shelves and the training and ongoing paying of 2 villagers to manage the facility. Visiting to read the books and journals is free to all but a small fee is chargeable to borrow an item with the funds going back to the library.

Other projects undertaken by our local agents to encourage responsible and sustainable tourism in Burma include tree planting in Bagan and fund raising to build schools in remote rural areas such as Inle Lake, providing the funding for children to attend school longer or even go to university. In addition to clean, hygienic and well-constructed classrooms, our agents aim to ensure clean drinking water and sanitation facilities are available in order to help improve the health of local children.

Fair salaries are paid to all employees and regular training is provided to support future career development. Only local guides who are aware of local customs and cultures are employed which not only keeps the funds paid to staff within the local community but also helps avoid any potential cultural clashes between visitors and locals. All guides are also required to sign an agreement with our ground agents agreeing not to take visitors in their charge to unplanned sites such as schools, orphanages etc or to ask for donations or tips. Guides are required to turn off vehicles when idling to minimise unnecessary emissions.

1 Reviews of Burma holiday, rivers & railways

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 19 Nov 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

It's difficult to choose one moment. The train ride from Pwin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw was wonderful. Spending days on Inle Lake was fabulous. Seeing the ancient city of Bagan from the basket of the hot air balloon was magic!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Try not to do too much on any given day. Take some time to sit and watch people as they go about their daily lives. Don't stick strictly to any given

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Local people were employed as guides and drivers. We supported local crafts people as much as possible. However, it is difficult to ease the impact on
the cultural and physical environment when tourism is encouraged 'in a big way' in such a fragile developing country.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


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