Nagaland and Myanmar: A Cultural Odyssey
A small group tour led by Zara Fleming
Wednesday 31 October to 17 November, 2018
You will be accompanied on this journey by Zara Fleming, a lecturer, independent art consultant and experienced tour leader. Zara specialises in the art and culture of the Buddhist Himalayas and Myanmar and has been travelling in the Himalayas for over 40 years. Originally based at the Asian Department of thr V & A, she has specialist knowledge of Buddhist art and lectures at the Arts Society (formerly NADFAS - National association of decorative and fine arts society). She has been responsible for the Tibetan and Nepalese collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum and Assistant Projects Director in Europe for the Orient Foundation.
London • Kolkata • Dibrugarh • Mon • Mokokchung • Wokha, Tuophema • Kohima • Dimapur - Kolkata - Yangong • Bagan • Mandalay • London
(Meals: B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
Depart from London Heathrow or a Regional UK airport by Emirate Airlines flight via Dubai for Kolkata.
You will arrive in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) in the morning and will be met by Zara Fleming and your English speaking local guide. You will transfer by air conditioned vehicle to Hotel Oberoi Grand to check in, and will have the rest of the day to relax and catch up on sleep after your flight. (D)
Kolkata was the capital of British India until 1911, and it remains the capital of West Bengal. A vast and impressive city, the architecture is particularly varied, from the Indo-Saracenic Victoria Memorial to the neo-Classical Marble Palace, and the Gothic St. Paul’s Cathedral to the striking modernism of Kolkata Museum of Modern Art, which is currently under construction.
We recommend that you spend your first morning in the city on the In the footsteps of the Raj walking tour, which starts in Dalhousie Square and lasts three hours. You will appreciate the city’s architectural heritage, and learn a little of its history as you walk. (B,D)
After breakfast and a leisurely morning, you will transfer to the airport to board the Jet I flight to Dibrugarh in Assam. The flight will take just over an hour. You will check in at Hotel Tea County, then in the afternoon you will have the chance to explore the local tea estates, the Jokai Botanical Garden, or the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. (B,L,D)
This morning you will journey by car through the tea estates, rainforest, and hills to the district of Mon in Nagaland. The drive will take about five hours and the road is not so good in places, but there will be short breaks and there is spectacular scenery to see en route .
On arrival in Mon you will check in to the Mon Resort. (B,L,D)
From Mon, you will have a full day excursion to visit the tribal villages of Lungwa, Chui, and Shanganyu. The Konyak people who live in these villages are Nagas, and historically they were head hunters, though this practice has long since died out. The Konyak are physically distinctive on account of their elaborate tattoos, which can cover faces as well as their hands and arms, and many members of the community still wear their traditional attire on a daily basis. Ethnographers and anthropologists have taken great interest in the Konyak’s rich culture, Zara Fleming is interested in their rich culture and will explain more about it. (B,L,D)
Departing early from Mon, it is a six hour drive to Mokokchung, the cultural centre of the Ao people. The population here is predominantly Baptist Christians as missionaries converted local people in the 19th century.
You will reach Mokokchung in time for a late lunch, and then enjoy an afternoon excursion to Ungma. This historic village is of great importance to the Ao people, and it is the best place in Nagaland to learn about their fascinating folklore, customs, and traditions. The Ao people are exceptionally welcoming, and keen to share their culture with visitors.
You will stay tonight at Hotel Metsuben in Mokokchung. (B,L,D)
Today you will have an early breakfast at the hotel and then drive for three hours to Wokha to participate in the Tokhu Emong festival*. Tokhu Emong is the main festival of the Lotha tribe. The people celebrate their harvest with folk dances, singing, storytelling, and feasting. By making merry they are praising God for their abundant blessings. There may also be the opportunity to see the magnificent Amur falcons, who fly thousands of miles from Siberia at this time of year, and rest a while before continuing on their journey to South Africa.
Late in the afternoon, when the festivities have quietened down, you will continue to Tuophema and will stay overnight at the Tourist Lodge.
*Festival dates are subject to confirmation following their local Calender. (B,L,D)
Today you will have a leisurely morning in Tuophema, then depart for Kohima, a two-hour drive away, to arrive in time for lunch. You will check in at Hotel de Oriental, and in the afternoon will have an informative, poignant sightseeing tour of Kohima. The Battle of Kohima (1944) was where the tide finally turned in the war against the Japanese and is regarded as Britain’s greatest Battle victory. The tour will include visiting Bara Basti and the Commonwealth WW2 cemetery, where many British and Indian soldiers are buried. (B,L,D)
Using Kohima as your base, you will travel out to visit three villages, Khonoma, Jotsoma, and Kisama. Khonoma is India’s first Green Village, a moniker it has been given on account of its exceptional biodiversity and conservation initiatives. The flora and fauna here is particularly rich, and Khonoma is also home to the tiger, sloth, and Asiatic black bear. (B,L,D)
Today is a day for travelling. You will transfer by road to Dimapur (two hours drive from Kohima) and board the Air India flight to Kolkata. This then connects with the Myanmar Airways flight to Yangon at in the afternoon.
On arrival at Yangon Airport, you clear customs and immigration, and will then be met by your local tour guide. You will transfer to your hotel, the Sule Shangri-la. (B,L,D)
Your first morning in Myanmar will be at leisure. Yangon is the main gateway and former capital of the country, a city of amazing contrasts.
In the afternoon you will visit the historic Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the most striking religious monuments in Southeast Asia. Towering 98m above the cityscape, legend has it that it is over 2500 years old, but archeologists believe it was first built by the Mon between the 6th and 10th century. It is a testament to the faith of the Burmese and is the most sacred shrine in Myamnar. This magnificent building is covered with hundreds of gold plates, and the top of the stupa is encrusted with 4,531 diamonds, the largest of which weighs 76 carats. One of the most magical times to visit the site is in the early evening as the sun is about to set, and hence the timing of your visit. You will experience the serenity and calmness which abounds at this time of the day. (B,D)
After breakfast you will transfer to Yangon Airport to board a flight to Bagan, the location of one of the most extraordinary Buddhist temple complexes in Southeast Asia. Constructed mainly between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 3000 brick monuments dot the landscape along the banks of the Irrawaddy, as far as the eye can see.
Your tour will focus on the central sites of Bagan, including Gubyaukgyi, Myinkaba notable for its excellent stucco carvings; Gubyaukgyi Wetki-in with beautiful 13th century murals; the impressive Htilominlo Pahto; Sulamani Temple, one of the largest temples in the vicinity; and Ananda Pahto, which is one the best preserved and most revered temples in the archeological zone.
Later in the afternoon you will revisit the site, this time by horse drawn cart. This affords the opportunity to explore some of the lesser visited areas which cannot easily be reached by more conventional modes of transport. You will stop at an appropriate spot to watch the sunset and to take in the enormity of the surrounding area.
You will stay two nights at Hotel Tharabargate. (B,D)
You will begin your second day in Bagan with a morning visit to Phwar Saw Village to witness rural Burmese life. En route you will be able to stop at the interesting market at Nyaung Oo to see the variety of fresh produce for sale, and to gain insight into the bustling commerce of Bagan.
From Phwar Saw, you will go to visit the Abeyadana Temple, constructed in the late 11th century. An interesting pagoda crowned by a bell-shaped stupa, known for its frescoes featuring Mahayana imagery and its beautiful perforated brick windows. In the inner sanctum is a large seated Buddha, flanked by two disciples..
Bagan is not only famous for its temples and pagodas but also for its artistic handicrafts and lacquer ware. After a break for lunch at a local restaurant, there will be the opportunity to visit a workshop where you can watch these items being made. You will finish the day with a relaxing sunset cruise on the Irrawaddy River before returning to your hotel. (B,D)
This morning transfer you will leave Bagan behind and board a short flight to Mandalay, built by King Mindon as his capital between 1857 and 1859. There is a huge amount to see here, so your sightseeing programme will begin as soon as you arrive. One of the highlights of your tour is the Shwenandaw Kyaung (Golden Palace Monastery), an imposing teak monastery-temple which was originally built within the palace complex but subsequently dismantled and rebuilt in its current location. You will also see the Kuthodaw Pagoda, which is said to house the world’s largest book: 729 marble slabs are inscribed with Buddhist scriptures.
After lunch at a local restaurant, you will drive to the Mandalay Hill Resort to check in. The afternoon itinerary includes a visit to the spiritually important Mahamuni Pagoda, which houses one the most famous seated Buddha images in Myanmar. You will also stop briefly at the iconic U Bien’s Bridge, which spans Taungthaman Lake and is the longest teak footbridge in the world. It is often busy with locals ‘commuting’ back and forth, which makes for an attractive photo opportunity. (B,D)
This morning you will travel out of Mandalay to ancient Mingun on the western bank of the Irrawaddy River. Mingun is famous for its huge, unfinished stupa, as well as its impressive bronze bell, which was commissioned by King Bodawpaya in 1808 and weighs approximately 90 tonnes. Getting to Mingun is part of the fun as you will journey by boat along the river. The boat ride lasts around an hour. You will return via country back roads, passing picturesque villages along the way.
In the afternoon, it is time to visit Sagaing, the former capital of the independent Shan Kingdom. The numerous white and gold stupas which adorn Sagaing Hill are an enthralling sight. Sagaing is considered to be the living centre of Buddhism in Myanmar, and the hundreds of monasteries and temples here reverberate with the echoes of cymbals, gongs, and pagoda bells. You will explore the most important temple on the hill, the fascinating Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, as well as the nearby caves at Umin Thounze, which contain more than 40 images of Buddha.
Continuing on to the former royal capital at Ava (Inwa), you will be transported about the picturesque ruins in a horse drawn cart. The pace of travel may be slow, but it is particularly relaxing. Sightseeing will include the teak monastery of Bagaya Kyaung and the former royal monastery temple of Maha Aungmye Bonzan. The day will end with a visit to the top of Nanmyin (Inwa Tower), which affords great views of the surrounding area. (B,D)
In the late evening you will transfer to Mandalay Airport to board the Bangkok Airways flight to Bangkok, and then connect onto the overnight Emirates Airlines flight to London via Dubai. (B)
Arrive London Heathrow in the morning.
- How to Book this Tour
- Travel Insurance
*The US Dollar price is based on the exchange rate in April 2017. Contact us for the most up-to-date price for this tour.
- International flights with Emirate airlines inclusive all taxes in economy class.
- International flight from Kolkata to Yangon.
- Internal flights in India and Myanmar in economy class.
- Accommodation as mentioned in the itinerary.
- Meal Plan: Breakfast and dinner in Kolkata, All meals in Nagaland, Breakfast and dinner in Myanmar.
- All transfers and sightseeing arrangements as mentioned in the itinerary by Chauffeur driven private vehicles.
- Entry fee for monuments and places of interest.
- Service of local English Speaking Guide.
- Services of Zara Fleming as Trip Scholar.
- Mineral water while travelling and on sightseeing.
Cost does not include:
- Visa fee for India and Burma. We will send helpful information on visas on booking.
- Meals other than specified as included
- Travel Insurance. You can obtain a comprehensive travel insurance from Travel & General click here
- Expenses of a personal nature (mini-bar, phone call, laundry, etc.)
- To book this tour , please compete the booking form, sign and e-mail it to us. A non-refundable deposit of £500.00 per person is needed at the time of booking. Balance payments will be due 8 weeks before departure. You can make the deposit payment by debit card or electronic transfers to our bank. Credit card payment will be charge at 2% extra. Our Bank details are on the booking form. Bookings are confirmed on first come first served basis. When the tour is full we will take about 5 additional names on the waiting list to replace their booking with any cancellations etc.
- If you wish to join the tour and fly from any country other than United Kingdom please contact us for land only arrangements.
It is essential to have adequate insurance in place before your departure. This should be appropriate for your age, health and destination you are visiting.
- It includes comprehensive medical and repatriation cover.
- It provides cover for your whole trip (whether one day or over a year).
- It covers you for all activities.
- Disclose pre-existing medical conditions.
- Take your policy number and the 24-hour emergency contact numbers with you.
- If you are making multiple trips we recommend that you take a yearly travel insurance policy.
If you have any question about your cover, please check with your insurer.
For a comprehensive travel insurance quote - please click here