Antarctica & Arctic
Get off the beaten track and closer to the wonderfully friendly local people with bike rides between Mandalay, stilt villages of Inle Lake and the temple-studded plains of ancient Bagan.
Destinations > Burma (Myanmar) > Cycle Myanmar
13 nights’ accommodation, transfers and sightseeing as specified and English speaking local guides, bike hire, tour leader throughout, all breakfasts and 9 lunches.
Select Sundays; 10 Feb - 20 Dec '19
In the words of Kipling 'this is Burma and it is unlike any land you know about'. This may be even truer today when we will arrive on two wheels in Bagan, one of Asia’s holiest cities, giving you the chance to explore this cultural nerve centre of a country only now emerging from international isolation.
Back to Burma (Myanmar) Tours
Inle Lake - Discover floating gardens, stilted villages and leg-rowing fishermen
Rangoon (Yangon) - Colonial grandeur, guilded temples and street markets
Shan Highlands - Hilltribe villages and former British hill station of Kalaw
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Arriving in Rangoon today we have a chance to relax and freshen up before enjoying a late afternoon visit to the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Burma. Towering some 99 metres over the city, the pagoda's impressive golden stupa dominates the city skyline to the west of Kandawgyi Lake, making it the ideal spot from which to watch the sunset. Originally believed to be over 2,500 years old, this is the oldest pagoda in Burma and certainly one of the most beautiful in the whole of Asia. This visit could be postponed to day 13 if needed.
A morning flight to Heho, followed by a drive to Nyaung Shwe, brings us to the beautiful setting of Inle Lake, one of the highest lakes in the country. Devout Buddhists, the local population live in simple stilted houses, fishing in the lake and growing their food on floating gardens of grass and seaweed. Heading out in a boat later today, we have a chance to witness some of the lake's famous 'one-legged' fishermen at work, as well as paying a visit to Phaungdaw U Pagoda.
No cycling today.
After allowing time for bike fitting and once you are comfortable with your bike for the holiday we start our first ride - around the eastern side of Inle Lake to the village of Nanpan. The ride is pretty flat with some small undulations and along the way there will be views of the lake, villages and surrounding hills. After some free time in Nanpan we make our way back to Nyaung Shwe and the hotel by long tail boats. The rest of the afternoon is left free to either relax, explore Nyaung Shwe or there is even to option to do some local wine tasting.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 40 kilometres (200 metres total accumulated ascent and 200 metres descent).
Today's cycle ride takes us on an undulating route around the lake to the Shwe Indein Pagoda followed by an uphill push to Aung Ban village. We plan to make a stop to visit to visit the pagoda complex built above Indein village, comprising of around one thousand stupas of varying sizes, built in the 17th and 18th centuries. We then cycle mostly uphill to Aung Ban where the ride ends and we stop for a well deserved lunch. Afterwards we will drive to Kalaw, set high on the western edge of the Shan Plateau. Popular with the British during their time in Burma, Kalaw still retains a little something of its colonial charm. This afternoon, time permitting, we then have a chance to continue exploring the town by bike. Attractions include the gold lacquered bamboo Buddha of Nee Paya and the Catholic church of Christ the King.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 60 kilometres (870 metres total accumulated ascent and 470 metres descent).
Following breakfast this morning we head north, leaving the main road to take a vehicle-less track, cycling off road through a lovely rural landscape of farmland and pretty villages. This first section is challenging with most of today's climbing but the views are stunning. After rejoining the road we cycle through a rolling countryside of rice fields and vegetable gardens, accompanied by ox carts full of cabbages and open top vehicles being taken to market by Pao and Danu villagers. After lunch we have one more ascent as we approach Pindaya, a small pretty lakeside town, which sits beneath a limestone landscape dotted with cave shrines and stupas. Before checking in to our hotel we plan to visit the famed Pindaya Caves, a revered pilgrimage site that is home to some 8,000 images of the Lord Buddha. Extending into the limestone hills above the town, the chambers are filled with a rich assortment of iconography that dates back to the middle years of the 18th century.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 39 kilometres (510 metres total accumulated ascent and 550 metres descent).
Drive and cycle to Mandalay Leaving Pindaya we drive back to Kyone junction in order to avoid starting the day with a steep uphill. From here we continue over the hills to Ywar Ngan passing more fields and small lively villages. After lunch we will transfer the rest of the way to Mandalay - approx. journey duration: 5 hours. (ride approx. 54 km). (B)
Mandalay was Burma's last royal capital and, for many, the centre of its most historic and culturally rich region. Today we explore the countryside around the city, starting first with a ride out to Sagaing, some 20 kilometres away. Overlooking the waters of the Ayeywaddy River, Sagaing is considered one of Burma's most important religious centres and its hillside is covered in pagodas and temples. From the Soon U Ponya Shin Paya atop of Sagaing Hill we will enjoy spectacular views of the river and more than 500 pagodas dotted around the countryside. From here we continue along the river to the ruins of the Mingun Pahtodawgyi which, had it been completed, would have been the world's largest pagoda. We will have time to take a look around the site, before taking a scenic Irrawaddy river boat ride back to Mandalay. Today's ride is generally on the flat.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 37 kilometres (80 metres total accumulated ascent and 50 metres descent).
The former royal capital of Amarapura is a short drive south from Mandalay and is perhaps best known for Ubein Bridge - the 1.2 kilometres footbridge that spans Lake Taungthaman. We will have the opportunity to see the bridge from the lake on an optional short boat ride. Returning to Mandalay via the jade market, we then spend this afternoon exploring some of the city's major highlights, including the world's largest book at the Kuthodaw Pagoda, the intricate wooden majesty of the Shwenanda (Golden Palace) Monastery and Mandalay Hill.
No cycling today.
Our morning starts with a vist to the 17th Century Kuang Madaw Pagoda, which houses the biggest dome in Burma - modelled on the Mahaceti in Sri Lanka. We continue by bus to Chaung U village where we begin the day's cycling. Taking the quiet backroads towards the bustling river hub of Monywa allows us to visit some of the most unique Buddhist structures in Burma. A giant 128-metre tall standing Buddha and a 95-metre long reclining Buddha look out over Bodhi Tataung, a garden of over 1000 sitting Buddhas - all facing the same direction. A little further through the villages we arrive at the bizarre Thanboddhay Paya complex, the result of a monk's dreams and visions which resulted in him designing a stupendous pagoda containing 582,363 Buddha images. We continue our journey by bicycle arriving at our hotel mid-afternoon, in time to relax beside the lake. The ride today is mostly on the flat with one long gentle and gradual ascent and descent.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 33 kilometres (70 metres total accumulated ascent and 70 metres descent).
Heading out of Monywa on the bikes, we leave the main road to cycle the back roads towards Pakkoku. Our route takes us along a dusty path through traditional wooden villages, bisecting fields of rice, sesame and peanuts and giving a unique close-up of rural life. Ox carts amble through the villages, some of which conceal impressive frescos inside small temple complexes. Later we rejoin the main road, cross the impressive Chindwin River and cycle to Aung Moe junction, where we end our cycling for today. Later this afternoon we drive to Pakkoku, where we take a local ferry down the Irrawaddy River to the once imperial capital of Bagan, one of the most impressive religious archaeological sites anywhere in Asia.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 55 kilometres (650 metres total accumulated ascent and 625 metres descent).
Bagan rose to prominence during the 11th to 13th centuries. At its height it presented a sea of colour and spectacle, with over 13,000 temples and pagodas spread across its expansive plains. Today just over 2,000 remain and we visit some of the most important ones today. We begin our day with the option of enjoying sunrise from the terraces of the stunning 12th century Dhammayazika Temple, which puts the enormity and majesty of this ancient capital into perfect perspective. We will then cycle along flat and sandy tracks between the temples visiting the distinctive Shwezigon and Ananda Pagodas, as well as the 13th century Wetkyi-in-Gubyaukgyi cave temple. After enjoying the wonders of Bagan, the rest of the afternoon is left free for you to relax or explore further, maybe enjoying the sunset from one of the temples or taking an optional late afternoon boat ride on the Irrawaddy River.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 24 kilometres (on the flat).
This morning we cycle our final ride across the Bagan plateau out to Mount Popa, Burma's sacred abode of the Nats (spirit gods). A volcanic plug that rises to a height of 1,500 metres above the surrounding landscape. The road steadily inclines the whole way on our ride and we use our vehicles to climb the very steep sections to the base of the mountain. Depending on time available and your energy levels there may be the opportunity to climb on foot the 777 steps that lead to the summit and temple. The summit is covered by rare flora and fauna and is designated a national park as well as boasting some fine panoramic views of the surroundings. The small temple on the summit is also home to troops of wild monkeys. After taking lunch we return to Bagan on bike by way of a local farm producing traditional 'toddy' palm juice. There are various options to return by bike either part of the way or the entire route back to Bagan. The remainder of the day is free in Bagan with the option to see the sun set from a temple.
Our total cycling distance today is approximately 49 kilometres (470 metres total accumulated ascent and 30 metres descent).
After flying back to Rangoon this morning we enjoy a tour of the city, taking in the ancient relics housed in the unusual (and hollow) Botataung Pagoda before exploring a little of the city's downtown area. A stroll along Pansodan Street takes in the rich colonial architecture and bustling street markets, whilst the immense Bogyoke Market, formerly known as Scott's Market, is filled with handicrafts from all over the country (closed on Mondays, full moons and public holidays).
No cycling today.
The trip ends in Rangoon this morning after breakfast.
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