vignette of burma day 10

Burma inspirations

Back to Burma

An introduction to Selective Journeys

Myanmar, or Burma as it was once known, is a land full of culture and ancient beliefs. It is a destination to be absorbed, slowly and without haste. Time is not important here. Gradually emerging from a troubled history, the country has, unshakably, held firm to its strong Buddhist beliefs. Its unique ambience harks back to more tranquil times and it continues to capture the hearts and minds of travellers as it has done for centuries. Burma (Myanmar) holds endless wonders, waiting to be revealed. Myanmar is referred to Amarapura, the Land of Immortality, and Yadanarbon, the Land of the Gems. Today it is known as Suvanabhomi, the Golden Land. Experience the rich heritage and natural resources of Myanmar with our Selective Journeys, and you will see just why these titles are such a true reflection of this fascinating land.

King Sihanouk’s Funeral in Phnom Penh on Friday 1st February 2013

Walking The Blessing Trail

Early morning call to prayer, burning incense, palm reading, colorful Hindu temples and Buddhist monks in deep red robes - downtown Yangon is ibrant and this walking tour unveils a diverse side of Myanmar that few tourists get to experience. Although Myanmar is predominately Buddhist, there are several forms of religion practiced in the country, most of which were introduced by immigrant populations. Exploring the diverse religions in downtown Yangon provides an insight into the rich tapestry of cultures in Myanmar and unveils a side of the city rarely explored by visitors. Start your tour at Kheng Hock Keong Temple, Chinatown's largest temple, and continue walking through western downtown. Along the way visit mosques, churches, Hindu temples and even a synagogue before finishing at Sule Paya. Your guide will explain the rich diversity of the religions in Yangon and teach you about offerings and blessings in each place of worship. Beyond the major regions, you will also discover local Burmese traditions such as ancestor worship, Nat worship, astrology and even the lottery! While walking through this lively section of town stumble upon local markets selling everything from fresh produce to temple offerings to traditional medicine. Sit and enjoy tea on a leafy side street, sampling local snacks and meet friendly locals.


Balloons Over Bagan

Imagine floating over thousand year old pagodas and the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River, as the sun sinks slowly behind distant mountains. Balloons over Bagan gives visitors a unique opportunity to see this ancient kingdom from above. The sunrise and sunset champagne flights last just under one hour and take off daily from October through to the end of March. The balloons are guided by gentle winds not exceeding 15mph, allowing passengers a serene and peaceful bird’s-eye-view of ancient temples drifting by. Using his skills, the pilot is able to guide the balloon to a gentle landing on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River, or in an open field, where the crew and the celebratory glass of champagne will be on hand.


Cooking With The Inthas

Immerse yourself into the life of the Inthar people, who live in stilted homes perched above Inle Lake’s tranquil waters. While Inle lake is renowned for its peaceful atmosphere with immense fresh floating orchards, it’s not the only thing this laidback land has to offer its visitors. Behind the rustic doors of its typical wooden stilt houses is an amazing world of Intha culture. People say to explore a culture; the quickest way is through its cuisine. During the tour, you will take a comprehensive and interactive journey through the livelihood of the local Inthar people of Inle Lake. Dressed in traditional Inthar clothing, join local fisherman and have a go at fishing on the lake. Visit the local market and observe the way locals choose to buy and sell fresh food. Finally join the local Inthar family in their kitchen to cook local dishes then sit on the floor at a round table and dine in the local way.


The Art of Meditation

Practice meditation in one of Myanmar’s most sacred places, with this exclusive Sagaing excursion. In a forest monastery on the famous Sagaing Hill, relax the mind and rejuvenate the spirit with a one-hour session using traditional Burmese meditation techniques. Considered by many to be the centre of Buddhism in Myanmar, Sagaing is the perfect place to practice meditation. There are more than 600 monasteries, nunneries and stupas in Sagaing and around 5000 monks living within its borders. During your visit stop at a tranquil forest monastery with many individual niches for meditation. Learn traditional techniques used by the Burmese Buddhists for meditation, then it is time to relax your mind and practice meditation.

Two women carry a basket across U Bein bridge

Colors of the Countryside

Explore the colorful countryside surrounding the busy city of Yangon. Travel by ferry across the Yangon River to the town of Dhala, where a trishaw ride exposes the natural beauty and local customs of this rural town. Although close to Yangon, the pace of life is dramatically different. Stop at the local monastery to learn about the cultural and spiritual beliefs of the people before returning to Yangon. The boat ride to Dhala takes 15 minutes and offers great views of the waterways as well as a fun chance to interact with the curious locals as they make their way across the river. Upon reaching Dhala, travel by local trishaw through the town. The scenic town is remarkably different from nearby Yangon, with many trees, local neighbourhoods and quiet side streets filling the area. While in Dhala visit the market and interact with the friendly locals. After visiting the village and market, proceed to the monastery to learn about monastic life in Myanmar. The monastery also serves as a community centre and is an important part of rural Burmese life.


Swe Daw Lay Suu Legendary – Bagan

Discover one of Bagan's most famous legends as you follow in the tracks of King Anawrahta and his precious white elephant. By boat, car and jeep visit four auspicious sites and travel amid rural villages, bringing the legend to reality while getting a chance to see Burmese local life. The tale states that the King was given a replica of Lord Buddha's tooth and he placed this on the sacred elephant's back and set him free. The elephant stopped at four places around Bagan, and later the King built stupas at each of these locations. Thus the local Burmese believe that by visiting all four of these places in one day your wish will be fulfilled.


Local Ride Yangon’s Circle Train

Take a ride on the circular train for a journey to the outskirts of town, observing the lively and colorful life of the rural Burmese people en route. Disembark to visit Insein market, where a variety of street vendors sell colorful wares. Meet with the friendly locals before returning to Yangon to explore downtown area. Take a short walking tour through Chinatown and Little India, two fabulously diverse and vibrant neighbourhoods of Yangon. You will see street markets, snack vendors and many places of worship as you walk along the street.

U-bein bridge in Amarapura

Mandalay’s Royal Capitals

Step back in time as you visit the legendary ancient royal capitals around Mandalay on this guided full-day excursion. Travel by horsecart through the villages and temples of Ava, explore the markets and monasteries of Sagaing and walk across the world’s longest teak bridge in Amarapura. Cross a bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. Covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries, Sagaing Hill is widely regarded as the religious center of Myanmar. It is home to 3,000 monks and 100 meditation centers and you will visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin and U Min Thone Sae. Visit Sagaing’s local market, a typical Burmese market that few tourists visit. Here you will find a range of items for sale including locally made pottery, silver and other handicrafts.

Then continue south of the city to Ava, the capital from 14th to 18th century, where a short ferry ride will take u across to visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery and the remains of the Royal Palace and Fort. Finally stop at Amarapura, a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’. After touring this tranquil site, continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year-old teak bridge which is 1.2 kilometers in length making it the world’s longest teak span. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and the fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams.


Vintage Rail Ride From Bagan To Mount Popa

Travel on a vintage steam train from Bagan to Kyauk Padaung near Mount Popa. The train manufactured in England in 1947 was used on Myanmar’s railway system for 55 years between 1950 and 2005 before retiring. It has now been brought back into service and provides a unique experience, gently trundling along the plains at 10mph, allowing passengers plenty of time to photograph the surrounding golden landscape. The train has just three carriages carrying a maximum of 120 passengers. The ride provides a glimpse into rural life with historic associations stretching back to mid-20th Century and is a wonderful experience for any traveler.


The Burmese Marionette

There are many endearing character traits to Burmese life and the marionette is one that always one to capture the traveller’s imagination. It is generally believed that the Burmese marionette was developed to depict Buddhist tales as live dancers were considered to impure to impersonate the principal characters of the former incarnations of the Buddha. Watch the intricate craftsmanship at a puppet maker’s home as they hand craft each puppet before taking a break to sit down with the family and talk about life in Burma over lunch. Later continue to Htwe Oo Myanmar Traditional Puppet Show. The stories told depict traditional life in Myanmar and recount a compelling history. After the show dine at House of Memories restaurant in an old colonial style mansion. The beautiful house still has much of its original antique furniture – doubling as a museum for colonial artefacts with a room named after General Aung San that was once his private office.

What our clients say

Just to say a very big thank you for arranging our wonderful holiday in Nepal. We had a marvellous time and were so beautifully looked after. The magnificence of the mountains together with the kindness and consideration of everyone we met hopefully will call us back before too long. 10 days was just too short.

K Bennet - India & Nepal Holiday