Bike, Trek and Train Exploration

10 Days, 9 Nights

Discover Myanmar’s fascinating culture and religion in downtown Yangon, a colorful hive of activity and home of the mighty Shwedagon Pagoda. It is from here that you’ll begin your journey by plane, bike, motorbike, boat, stagecoach, train and on your own two feet from the plains of Bagan to the royal palace of Mandalay and beyond, to the verdant wilderness of the Shan highlands.

Trip Highlights

  • Trek the highlands of Shan State and mingle with locals at mountain homestays
  • Take a train journey into the wilderness via the historic Gokteik Viaduct
  • Kick back and relax on a sunset cruise on the Irrawaddy River after exploring Bagan’s temple ruins
Price
$2850 USD per person
Trip Activities
Cycling, trekking
Trip Length
10 Days, 9 Nights
Physical Level
Enthusiast
Start/End
Yangon, Myanmar
Accommodation
Hotel (7 nights)
Monastery Stay (1 night)
Homestay (1 night)
Age
Minimum 16 years of age
Meals not included
Lunch, Breakfast Day 1
Dinner Day 3
Dinner Day 5
Lunch, Dinner Day 10
Flights Included
Yangon to Bagan
Mandalay to Yangon

Day-by-day Itinerary

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Day 1
Yangon
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

Arrive in Yangon and meet us in the hotel lobby at 16:00 to get to know your fellow travelers. (Note: Our meeting time might change based on the estimated time of the sunset.) We’ll head together to Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s holiest site—maybe you’ve heard of it? You’ll explore this massive Buddhist monument with a local guide as the sun begins to set. Seeing the 99-meter-tall, gold-gilded central stupa will be your first introduction to the deep spirituality of Myanmar—and what an introduction it is.

Tonight, join us for a Burmese-style dinner at a local restaurant.

Meals
  • Dinner
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Day 2
Yangon to Bagan
Activities
  • Cycling: 6 hours
Transfers
None
Description

Today we’ll rise early for our morning flight to Bagan from Yangon International Airport. As we touch down in Bagan, the ancient capital of Myanmar, more than 2,000 pagodas and temples will greet us. The adventure team will also be waiting to greet you.

After taking a moment to refresh at the hotel, we’ll reconvene in the lobby for a briefing on trip logistics and a few other Myanmar-specific issues, such as money exchange and cultural tips. Then it’s time to hit the road and spend the afternoon cycling among the ancient temples of Bagan. Our route will cover some of the major monuments as well as some lesser-known sites as we avoid the main roads and stick to smaller, more local lanes.

In the afternoon, you’ll have the chance to see artisans at work at a lacquerware workshop, and to mingle with Bagan’s everyday residents at some local villages. In the evening, we’ll give our legs a rest and indulge in a sunset cruise on the Irrawaddy River—with cocktails in hand, of course. Afterwards, join your adventure guide for dinner.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
Day 3
Bagan
Activities
  • Cycling: 50 km
Transfers
None
Description

Today, we’ll venture farther out on Bagan’s stupa-studded plains, weaving through rice paddies, toddy palm plantations and farming villages. This detour through workaday Bagan will give us insights into the customs and lifestyles of Myanmar’s Dry Zone, a vast swath of arid land that roughly 52 million Burmese call home. Local farmers here have dug irrigation channels that divert water from the Irrawaddy River and found ways to make use of the arid soil. We’ll also explore a small village to see some of Myanmar’s most unique sustainable architecture. The village is home to Bagan’s first ‘bottle buildings’—entire schools and libraries made from bricks of discarded plastic waste!

Tonight, enjoy dinner and some free time at your leisure. For those who prefer a cultural activity, you can join an optional cooking class at a local family’s house.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation
Day 4
Bagan to Mt Popa
Activities
  • Cycling: 68 km
Transfers
None
Description

Today will be a challenging day in the saddle as we make the journey to Mt Popa, home of Myanmar’s nat spirits and a major pilgrimage site.

We’ll set off early in the morning, pedaling on a sandy path through small villages for the first 15 kilometers. This is a great way to see the lifestyles of Myanmar’s Dry Zone, as we pass irrigation canals and farms growing chilies, garlic and other crops.

After a short break in the shade of Tantkyi Taung hill, we’ll cycle on to a tarmac road that will lead us to Mt Popa. For the first stretch, we’ll ride over rolling hills, with the occasional truck full of pilgrims zipping by.

Then we’ll hit a steady, 8-kilometer climb to Popa Lann, a strategically located town that takes advantage of the elevation and cooler temperatures to grow fruits such as dragonfruit, jackfruit and strawberries. We’ll stop at a home where a local family will host an early lunch—a great chance to interact with local residents.

Finally, we’ll hop back on our bikes for the steep ride to our hilltop hotel. When you arrive, you’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of the plains and the nat shrine of Taung Kalat. An optional visit to the shrine is possible for those who wish to learn about nat worship, a belief system unique to Myanmar. Just beware that it’s a 900-step climb to the top! Or, if you’re feeling done in for the day (and we don’t blame you), take the evening to relax and go for a swim in the hotel’s spring-fed pool.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5
Mount Popa to Myingyan to Mandalay
Activities
  • Cycling: 78 km
Transfers
  • Van: 3
Description

We start the day with a downhill ride back to the plains. After coasting down from Mt Popa, the road flattens out, with just a few gentle inclines to the town of Myingyan. We’ll be in the heart of the Dry Zone today with little shade, so we’ll make plenty of stops for water. The scenery is fascinating: miles of desert-like fields with the occasional house or small village popping up on the roadside. We’ll reach Myingyan for a late lunch. From here, we’ll pack up our bags and drive the rest of the way to Mandalay.

In Mandalay, the rest of the evening is free to spend as you wish. Your hotel is located close to Mandalay’s Royal Palace, the last palace to be built during Myanmar’s monarchy. You can meet your fellow cyclists for dinner or take a stroll along the moated palace.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch
Accommodation
Day 6
Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin
Activities
  • Cycling: 18 km
Transfers
  • Van: 2
Description

We’ll take an exploratory ride of Mandalay this morning, visiting the main sites and local villages. See Shwenandaw Kyaung, the last remaining building of the royal palace, and Kuthodaw Pagoda, which houses 729 stone tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures, making it the world’s biggest book.

Next, we’ll head out of the busy city to the surrounding rice paddies and villages. You’ll get a taste of local life in this rural area and experience teashop culture on a break at our favorite teashop. Return to town for a quick shower and to check out. After lunch, depart by private vehicle and head for the Shan highlands to the town of Pyin Oo Lwin. Also known as Maymyo (meaning May’s City), this town was used by the British as a hill station to escape the heat of Mandalay. Join us on a short orientation tour through town in the afternoon, and spend the rest of the day at your leisure.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Hotel Aster
Day 7
Train across the Goteik to Kyaku me
Activities
  • Trekking: 2 hours
Transfers
  • Van: 5.5
Description

Today is an adventure of a different kind. We’ll take horse-drawn stagecoaches on a short journey to the train station. Then, board a local train bound for Hsipaw via the Goteik Viaduct. Myanmar trains are notoriously slow and bumpy and this one is no exception! However, the views and experience are well worth the bumpy ride.

On a scenic, 4- to 5-hour train ride, we’ll pass through remote villages to reach the viaduct, which was the highest railway trellis in the world when it was completed in 1900. These days it still offers jaw-dropping views of the gorge and its surroundings. After crossing the viaduct, we’ll disembark and continue by car to Kyauk Me, arriving at around 13:00 for lunch.

Then we’ll set off by motorbikes or small trucks to the starting point of our trek. It’s a fairly short walk today through the cool elevation of the Shan highlands, made of numerous mountain ranges that stretch from China’s Yunnan Province into Thailand and Myanmar.

We’ll stop overnight at a homestay in the first village. Our hosts will make dinner for us and you’ll have time to drink in the quiet of the hills before we turn in for the night. (Note: This homestay accommodation is basic. Our hosts will provide a thin mattress, pillow and blankets. Several people will share a room. A squat toilet and bucket-shower facilities are located outside.)

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Monastery Stay
Day 8
Kyauk Me
Activities
  • Trekking: 6 hours
Transfers
None
Description

We’ll wake this morning to the sounds of the village coming to life: roosters crowing, farmers on their way to the fields and kids playing before they head to school. After breakfast, we’ll say goodbye to our hosts and continue on our trek through mountain landscapes and Shan villages. We’ll stop often for photos and take our time to enjoy the vistas of narrow valleys and dark green peaks that surround us. This evening, we’ll once again be invited into a local house or monastery for dinner and a good night’s sleep.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Homestay
Day 9
Kyauk Me to Mandalay to Yangon
Activities
  • Trekking: 2 hours
Transfers
None
Description

Today we’ll get an early-morning start to our trek. After roughly 2 hours of walking through remote reaches of the Shan highlands, we’ll reach our motorbikes, which will transfer us back to Kyauk Me. From here, you can relax and get your last glimpses of Shan State as we travel by private car to Mandalay Airport. After catching an evening flight back to Yangon, we’ll treat you to dinner to toast our biking and trekking adventure.

Meals
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation
  • Hotel
Day 10
Departure
Activities
None
Transfers
None
Description

Today, we’ll say goodbye and wish you a safe return flight or onward journey.

Meals
  • Breakfast
Accommodation
None

Trip Information

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Inclusions

8 nights accommodation as mentioned in a shared twin/shared double; 1 night in trekking package

English-speaking Adventure guide for days 2-9

Mechanic on biking days for groups of 5 guests and above

Bike and helmet rental on biking days (2-6)

Snacks on cycling and trekking days

Private transportation for all included excursions (Except train trip which will be on the public train) and support vehicles on cycling days

Overnight trekking package with local trekking guide (required), accommodation and meals

Entrance fees for all included excursions

Meals as mentioned in program

Domestic flights as mentioned in program (Yangon – Bagan on day 2, Mandalay – Yangon on day 9)

Tips for all included meals + 2 drinks (soft drink, juice or local beer)

Myanmar sales tax

Bank transfer fees

Exclusions

Tips for guide, mechanics, drivers and porters

Airport porters: 50 cents US per bag per check in / check out - Hotel porters: 50 cents US per bag per check in /check out

Drivers: 2-3 USD per person per day

Mechanics: 2-3 USD per person per day

Guides: suggested 5 USD per person per day

Other drinks at meals (wine, espresso, etc), laundry, shopping and other personal expenses

Any excursions not mentioned in program

Arrival and departure transfers