Myanmar Travel from 10 to 23 March 2017

Faithful to its mission and eager to deepen the knowledge of the countries of the Far East, the Society of Friends is pleased to present a destination that has never featured in its travel program.
You are therefore invited to visit Burma, a country whose recent opening will allow you to appreciate the authenticity of a culture long neglected by mass tourism.
This situation is not likely to continue, we considered the moment favorable to the discovery of this state of Southeast Asia.
With a duration of 14 days, this trip is planned from 10 to 23 March 2017 and will benefit from the presence of Anne Fort, Heritage Curator, responsible for Vietnam and Central Asia at the Cernuschi Museum.

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DAY 1 Friday 10 March

Schedules subject to change
Flight TG 931 (A380) PARIS BANGKOK 12h30 / 06h00riving the next day and continuing on the flight.

DAY 2 Saturday 11 March
Flight TG 2309 BANGKOK / MANDALAY 09h50 / 11h15

Transfer to town (51 km, 1h of road).
Installation at the hotel to refresh and have lunch.
Mandalay, the last capital of Myanmar, before the arrival of the British, has remained since a great cultural center. It is the most Burmese of large cities, the one where you will best discover the soul of the country despite its modernization. Its cultural and religious past is still alive, its Buddhist monasteries are among the most prestigious in the country and nearly 60% of Myanmar's monks reside in the region. It is also renowned for its crafts (marble sculpture, tapestries and embroidery ..). The hill at the foot of which extends the immense enclosure of the royal palace constitutes the point of attraction of Mandalay. The city extends to the south and east of the fortress, limited to the west by the Irrawaddy, the river over which there is intense life.
Visit the pagoda of the great sage Mahamuni. The centerpiece of this site is a highly venerated statue of Mahamuni that was brought from Mrauk U in Rakhine State to Myanmar in 1784. This four-meter-high statue, depicting Mahamuni seated, is in bronze but, over the years, thousands of devout Buddhists have completely covered it with gold leaf, forming a layer fifteen centimeters thick.
Continuation to the hills of Sagaing, place of retreat for Buddhist devotions. 600 convents and monasteries are spread over the Sagaing hills: a high place of Burmese monarchism, and many paths run between pagodas and monasteries. After a steep climb, and a flight of stairs, you can go to the place called "Trente Lions", where the view unfolds in 360 ° on all the hills of the Sagaing Bridge, at the Monastery of Menu, to 'at the Inwa semaphore, ideal for a sunset.
Dine at the Green Elephant, charming restaurant in a colonial house with a superb terrace, Burmese specialties.
Night at the Dingar hotel ***

DAY 3 Sunday 12 March

MANDALAY / Mingun, Ava, U Bein
Breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to the jetty on the banks of the Irrawaddy and board a local boat for a morning excursion to Mingun, an ancient city near Mandalay. (45 min to 1 hour navigation trip). Visit of the unfinished Mingun pagoda, which would have been the highest in the world if this project had not been abandoned after the disappearance of King Bodawpaya in 1819, then the earthquake of 1838. Look at the largest bell in the world made by Bodawpaya. This gigantic bell, intended for its gigantic zedi, weighs ninety tons, and is considered the largest hanging bell in good condition.
Chinese cuisine lunch on board.
After lunch, cross a small river by local ferry to reach Ava, the ancient capital of several Burmese kingdoms between the 13th and 18th centuries, formerly known as Inwa.
You will continue in horse-drawn carriages (2 pers. / Horse-drawn carriage) to explore the site: The remains of the Royal Palace, the watchtower and the beautiful teak monastery of Bagaya-Okkyaung. At the end of the afternoon, walk on the U Bein bridge, built in 1782 when Amarapura was the capital, superb teak pavement of nearly a kilometer that crosses Lake Thaungthaman. This 1,2 km footbridge has stood the test of time for two centuries and remains the longest teak bridge in the world. Already at that time, the city was famous for its silk and cotton mills.
Return to Mandalay for a Burmese specialties dinner at a local restaurant.
2nd Night at Dingar hotel ***

DAY 4 Monday 13 March

MANDALAY / MONYWA (100 km, travel 3h)
Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure by road towards Monywa (3h approx. Located on the eastern bank of the Chindwin River, this city is the second largest city in Upper Myanmar.
19 km south-east of Monywa, stop to visit the Thanboddhay pagoda, this incredible building whose architecture was designed according to the Buddhist cosmogony. This pagoda is built to recall Mount Meru and has several features of Borobudur in Java. Inside the maze lined with mirrors is populated with hundreds of thousands of Buddha statues of all sizes, coming from continual donations. Don't forget to take a stroll among the banyan trees at the feet of which hundreds of Buddha images have been placed.
Continuation to Monywa. Monywa is a large quiet village where it is good to stop over. It is a large transit center for teak exploited upstream of the Chin Dwin river, but it is especially the surroundings that make it interesting.
Breakfast in a local restaurant.
Then, transfer to the pier and cross the Chindwin River by ferry, and installation aboard 4 × 4 or Jeep for 1 hour trip by a forest road (40 km), and a short walk to the Po Win Taung shrines and Schwe Ba Taung. These caves with Buddhist statues and paintings dating from the 5th century are a very important pilgrimage center and are among the most fascinating sites in Upper Burma. If time permits, visit the Shweba hill and its complex of monasteries carved into a rock wall, XNUMX minutes from Po Win Taung.
Return to Monywa.
Transfer to the hotel and installation in your rooms.
Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Night at the Win Unity hotel ***

DAY 5 Tuesday 14 March

Breakfast at the hotel.
Departure by road to Pakkoku (about 2 hours journey), a small port located on the banks of the Chindwin river. The city was built around the same time as Pagan. Just like this one, many of the monuments that made him proud have disappeared over time. Depending on the weather, stop in a village on the road.
Breakfast in a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, transfer to the Pakkoku pier, boarding a local boat for about 2 hours of navigation on the Ayeyarwaddy to Pagan: a mini-cruise that will allow you to rest while observing life on the river and its banks.
Arrive in Pagan at the end of the day, enjoy the sunset on the bustling banks of the river.
Pagan (Bagan), classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco, is the most amazing site in Myanmar, if not all of Southeast Asia. The golden age of Pagan began with the conquest of Thaton in 1057, the religious fervor at the origin of this gathering of buildings lasted two and a half centuries then began to decline before being invaded by the Mongol hordes of Kubilai Khan.
On the edge of Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy), stand thousands of stupa and temples. From whatever side you look, you are surrounded by ruins of all sizes that rise to the heavens like Ananda or lovely little zedi lost in the middle of the fields. Most of these remains are steeped in history. We could easily spend a week or more visiting the Pagan region as these many sites and villages are worth a detour!
Transfer to the hotel and installation in your rooms.
Dinner in a local restaurant.
Night at the Umbra Bagan hotel ***

DAY 6 Wednesday 15 March

Breakfast at the hotel.
Day dedicated to the visit of the grandiose site that is Pagan. A special atmosphere imbued with magic reigns on the premises. You will discover among others: The market of Nyaung Oo. The Schwezigon Pagoda, located between the villages of Wetkyi-in and Nyaung U. This beautiful zedi started by Anawrahta was not completed until the reign of Kyanzittha who would also have built his palace nearby. You will then discover the ruins of the Royal Palace and the Tharaba Gate. Visit of the most beautiful, largest, and most revered Ananda Temple, a jewel of Burmese architecture with its 4 huge statues of Buddha; and Ananda Okkyaung, one of the last brick-built Ananda monasteries, unfortunately suffered extensive damage from the 1975 earthquake, but has been completely restored. Then, Htilominlo where the modenature of a colossal architecture is underlined by magnificent stucco work, on the exterior arches and pilasters, and by friezes with decorative patterns enamelled in green.
Breakfast in a local restaurant.
Visit of the Lacquer Museum, and the Archaeological Museum.
Transfer to the foot of the temple of Thabtyinnyu, the highest in Pagan with its 61m height! The quadrangular base is built on 2 levels, and houses a colossal seated Buddha, and the entrance is exceptionally from the west. Horse-drawn carriage ride among the temples of the Pagan Plain (2 people / carriage) until sunset: a magical moment for this end of the day.
Sunset at the top of Shwesandaw. Founded in 1060, it is the epicenter of Anawratha's Bagan. With its five square terraces served by axial staircases, its two octagonal plinths, topped with an imposing bell surmounted by parasols, Shwesandaw emerges as the first, and grandiose, model of the stupas of Pagan.
Dinner accompanied by a traditional puppet show at a local restaurant.
2nd Night Umbra Bagan hotel ***

DAY 7 thursday 16 march

Breakfast at the hotel.
Second day visiting the Pagan site.
Discovery of the Mynkaba-Gubaukkyi Temple, one of the oldest temples dating from 1113, with its impressive murals and frescoes.
Then to the temple of Manuha, built around three giant seated Buddhas, and a reclining Buddha at the back. They are so huge that the walls have to be razed to get around them. It is also a great place of pilgrimage. Finally, its neighbor Nanpaya, one of the few temples with stone sculptures.
Breakfast in a local restaurant.
Afternoon free for a personal discovery of the site at your own pace.
Dinner in a local restaurant.
3nd Night Umbra Bagan hotel ***

DAY 8 Friday 17 March

Breakfast at the hotel.
Transfer to Pagan airport. Flight to Heho.
Morning flight, schedules subject to confirmation to date
Private tour, east of the lake, of the Kakku site: 2478 stupas in tight rows on a rectangle measuring 70 by 200 m. An extraordinary density of pagodons and an enigma for archaeologists. This inestimable achaeological treasure is the historical and artistic memory of the Shan people and the main place of gathering and pilgrimage of the Pa-o ethnic group.
Breakfast in a local restaurant.
After lunch, discover a village chosen by the guide on site, who lives to the rhythm of ancestral customs (the Pa-o are pretty eye-catching in this respect) and Buddhism. Kakku is in Pa-o territory, the black Karen, who is known for their indigo costume and their bright turbans. An English Pa-o guide (required) will assist the French-speaking guide. Then you will take the road towards Taunggyi (40 km, 1h).
Taunggyi was created by the British in 1894. Capital of the Federation of Northern Shan States, it is home to many administrations, a renowned university, Saint Joseph's Cathedral, and 4 mosques for the Chinese community, as well as Chinese Buddhist temples. It is a melting pot place for the whole Myelat region, and we can meet minorities besides the Shans and the Burmese, Sino-Burmese and Muslims-Burmese.
Free time to feel the local atmosphere.
Dinner in a local restaurant.
Night at Aye Thar Yar Golf Resort *** +

DAY 9 Saturday 18 March

Breakfast at the hotel.
Continuation by road towards Pindaya (99 km, 2h30 journey). The large lake overlooking the Shan village of Pindaya, in the shade of the large banyans, contributes to its peaceful atmosphere. The artisans make there umbrellas from mulberry paper and traditional hats. A very important sanctuary, the nearby shwe U Min caves are home to more than 8000 effigies of Buddha, collected by pilgrims. The freshness of the surrounding tea plantations offer exceptional panoramas. Visit of the famous caves of Pindaya which sink into the limestone ridge overlooking the lake. From the lake, the path is long before reaching the foot of the cliff where the caves are located. Inside, 8.094 Buddhas, of different materials (alabaster, teak, marble, brick, lacquer and cement), have been arranged over the centuries in the cave chambers, so as to form a labyrinth.
Breakfast in a local restaurant.
Then you will take the road towards the village of Nyaung Shwe (“golden banana tree”), located at the northern end of the lake. Stop at the remarkable Schweyanpyay monastery, built entirely in teak. It is the most charming monastery in Burma. In the pagoda, a stele reports that the set was built in 1885 and put an end to a long quarrel between the chief Shan Saw Saw Maung, adopted son of King Mindon, to his brother Saw Saw Ché.
Arrival in Nyaung Shwe at the end of the day.
Ngaung Shwe or the "lake gate". This village at 1000 m above sea level was the capital of a great sawbwa shan in the XNUMXth-XNUMXth century, and the tourist success of Inle Lake has revived its image, extending to the south and east of the channel which leads to the Lake, built in a checkerboard pattern around Yadana Manaung, its main pagoda. And it's very pleasant to stroll and dawdle around the Palace, the old pagodas, or on the banks of the canals.
Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Night at the Paradise hotel *** +

DAY 10 Sunday 19 March

Breakfast at the hotel.
Visit of the morning market which is held according to the Burmese lunar calendar.
Inle Lake (22 km long and 11 km wide, at an altitude of 1.328 m) has an irresistible charm. On its waters of absolute calm, the boats of the fishermen glide between the spots of floating vegetation. On both sides rise high hills. On the shore and the islands, seventeen villages, populated mainly by Intha, were built on stilts. All the activity of the Shan people is centered around Inle Lake. Visit of the Shan village of Indein and its forest of stupas, in an enchanting site surrounded by water and bamboo. To get there, we cross a “Poitevin marsh” spanned by donkey bridges. The site is announced from afar, with its hill topped by a grove of white stupas. It is one of the oldest Buddhist foundations in the lake, attached to Saw Mon Hla, a Shan princess married to King Anawratha of Bagan. Repudiated for witchcraft, she returned to her native country. After losing her earrings in a river near Shwe Sayan, she let fall here a much more precious possession that the king in love with her had given to her: relics of Buddha, also slipped into her earlobes. .
Lunch with the locals.
In the afternoon, walk in Thei Lei Oo village, one of the most beautiful and authentic villages of Inle Lake, which brings together several traditional farms, populated by Inn Tha and Pa-o minorities, practicing the organic cultivation of organic way of rice, sugar cane, and other vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, an astonishing variety of beans, cucumber and flowers, but above all the cultivation of garlic on straw, and the manufacture of "Mandalay Rum" .
Return to Nyaung Shwe.
Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Night at the Golden Island Cottage I (Nampan) *** hotel

DAY 11 Monday 20 March

LAKE INLE / Sagar (Sankar) - LAKE INLE
Breakfast at the hotel.
Early departure around 7am from your hotel by motorized canoe for a day trip to the southern part of Inle Lake, which has long remained inaccessible. Discovery of the magnificent lake landscapes surrounded by green hills to access Sagar (Sankar) which was a princely Shan city from the 16th century. Now Sagar is just a remote village of Pa-o farmers with a few ruined, overgrown stupas.
Go up the small river Belu Chaung to the village of Sagar (2 hours of navigation from Kyauktaing).
Picnic lunch at Sagar Monastery.
Discovery of the Takkhaung Mwedaw complex. Its pagodas similar in style to those of In Dein and Kakku evoke the glorious past of Sagar which was the capital of a Sambwa Shan (one of the many mini-kingdoms that made up the Shan states). Some pagodas are buried in the vegetation, others half submerged under the waters of the river.
Return to Inle Lake and transfer to your hotel.
Dinner at the hotel restaurant.
Night at the Golden Island Cottage I (Nampan) *** hotel

DAY 12 Tuesday 21 March

Breakfast at the hotel.
Early transfer to Heho airport (approximately 1h30 journey). Take off to Rangoon
Flight HEHO / RANGOON (Timetable subject to change, to be confirmed later: 09h35 / 10h45 or 11h15 / 12h25).
First steps in the Burmese economic capital which has kept the old-fashioned charm of the 19th century, where Burmese and Victorian architectures mingle with its colonial buildings. Rangoon was for a long time an agglomeration of villages, spread around the 2 poles of the city: Schwe Dagon, its heart and the port, its lung. In 1756 Rangoon became the port of Burma. In 1825 the British made it their capital and the leading rice exporting port in Asia.
Lunch at the Moon Soon restaurant.
Orientation tour on foot of the city center and its old colonial districts; then discover the lively Chinatown district with its streets lined with stalls offering all kinds of fruits, vegetables and other goods ... Then it is by Trishaw that you will reach the Sule Pagoda and its golden zedi. It owes its originality to its octagonal shape, from the base to the bell and the overturned bowl. Culminating at forty-six meters, it is surrounded, like many Burmese zedi, by small stalls and other secular activities. At the end of the day, visit the majestic Shwedagon Pagoda until sunset. It dominates the city from its golden dome. For Burmese Buddhists, the Shwedagon is the country's most sacred Buddhist shrine, a place that all Burmese dream of visiting at least once in their lifetime. The imposing golden stupa rises to 98 meters high. According to legend, this zedi (full stupa) is 2.500 years old, but archaeologists are almost all unanimous in putting it back to the Mon period, between the 6th and 10th centuries.
Farewell dinner in the historic House of Memories restaurant.
Night at the Jasmine palace **** hotel

DAY 13 Wednesday 22 March

Breakfast at the hotel.
Visit the National Museum (closed on Mondays) which displays the treasures of the royal family: objects inlaid with precious stones, jewelry collections, furniture and court clothing. Its centerpiece is the throne of king Thibaw Min, in the form of a lion, eight meters high.
Lunch at Rangoon Tea House restaurant.
Discovery on foot of the old colonial districts before joining the Bogyoke market (closed on Mondays, full moon days and public holidays) sometimes referred to by its English name of Scott Market. 70 years old, it has a wide choice of handicrafts. In its maze of alleys, you will unearth many Burmese souvenirs: lacquer objects, shan embroidered bags, T-shirts, little cigars (cheroots), scarves, silver and jade jewelry. Last look at the city during the transfer to the Rangoon airport. Group registration and boarding formalities.
Takeoff to Paris via Bangkok on Thai Airways International flights.
Services and a night on board.
Schedules subject to change
Flight 306 TG RANGOON BANGKOK: 19H50 / 21H45 arrived on the same day
Transit and continuation
Flight TG930 (A380): 00h05 / 06h50 arrived on the same day

DAY 14 thursday 23 march

In Bangkok, correspondence for Paris.
6:50 am: Arrival in Paris, Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport, in the morning.


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