Min Gala Ba! Welcome to Myanmar. Yangon is the country's biggest city and was the capital from 1885 until just a few years ago (the capital is now Naypyidaw). Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. To get your bearings in this wonderful city, perhaps take a walk to Sule Paya, then down to the Victorian Strand Hotel to admire the colonial architecture and the bargaining madness of Bogyoke Market.
Fly to Heho this morning (approximately 1.5 hours) and transfer via private bus to Loikaw (approximately 5 hours). This afternoon take a vehicle transfer to Taung Kwe Zedi, also known as the Broken Mountain Pagoda. Here you can take in a nice view towards the town and, if the skies are clear, enjoy a spectacular sunset.
After breakfast at the hotel, drive out to a local village (approximately 1.5 hours). Here you'll see a few sights and enjoy some tea at a Kayan house. After this, it's time for your day trek (approximately 5 hours). You'll be given a packed lunch for the journey. The trek is organised by an NGO-supported, community-based association which has sought to develop sustainable tourism in the area. Start by walking through lush and shady forest where edible plants and medicinal herbs grow (these are used by community members in a ‘jungle larder’). A highlight of today's trek is stopping in at the original settlement of Pan Pet, which is perched on a mountain top. After lunch, continue to Rang Ku village where your walk finishes up. Meet some fun-loving and artistic Kayan locals (popularly known as 'Long Neck Karen') and learn a few words of their language as you interact with them. There are also opportunities to buy local handicrafts. Drive back to Loikaw, stopping at Ngwe Taung Dam for a short walk.
Drive to Kalaw via Phekhone (approximately 4 hours). Along the way you will enjoy the sight of marvellous landscapes, and stop in at the unique Myin Ma Hti. This natural cave houses an interesting array of ancient Buddha images. At the entrance of the cave there are many stalactites, and cool water drips steadily. Many of the stalactites bear a likeness to things in life and have been named accordingly. After some exploring, continue your journey to Kalaw, a town known for its striking original colonial architecture.
Transfer by car from your hotel to your trek starting point. It takes about 40 minutes to get to La Mine Taung Yoe village. After walking (approximately 2 hours) from La Mine village, arrive to Pin New, the Pao village where you can see traditional hand weaving. From there it's a further stretch (approximately 30 minutes) to Pauke village, which is famous for bamboo basket making. From there you will continue to walk (approximately 1 hour) to the village of Kone Hla (Danu) for a lunch stop. In the afternoon, continue trekking (approximately 2 hours) to the final destination for the day, Pattubauk Village. Stay overnight in a village monastery or local house.
Enjoy some breakfast, then continue trekking to Inle Lake. Pass along beautiful, ambient trails and through different Pao villages. Stop to take in panoramic views along the way. Walk to Kyaut Su (approximately 1 hour) and take a short break, then continue to Nan Yoke Village (approximately 1 hour). From here, walk to Tone Le jetty (approximately 2 hours), or slightly further to Indein jetty (approximately 3 hours). At this point, transfer to a boat and cruise to the beautiful Inle Lake.
See Inle Lake from a unique perspective with a morning of kayaking at Nampang. After an early morning pickup from the hotel, jump in a long-tail boat and cruise across the lake (approximately 45 minutes). Head for a beautiful old teak house built in traditional Intha style in the village of Nampan, at the southern end of the lake. Drop down your bag, kit yourself out and then transfer to the quiet village of Inn Paw Khone where the kayaks are waiting, and avoiding the busy areas around the lake. Grab a partner and start paddling gently south for the next couple of hours, away from any boats full of travellers and into the peace and tranquility of stilt villages and floating tomato gardens, all against a backdrop of the beautiful Shan Mountains. Every now and then there’ll be a chance to stop and perhaps visit a house, walk in a village to learn more about their lifestyle, or maybe see some traditional food production methods. When the kayaking comes to end, climb back into the long-tail boat and return to Nampan, where a fabulous traditional Shan lunch will be waiting – a really special experience. After lunch, take a boat to Phaung Daw Oo Paya, a beautiful pagoda and the most religious site in the region. To complete this active day, grab a bike and cycle through this beautiful countryside from Mine Thauk to Nyaung Shwe (14 km, 8.7mi).
Fly to Kengtung and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free time for sightseeing in Kengtung. Visit the standing Buddha at the place where Kengtung was founded about one thousand years ago. You can take the option of visiting the Roman Catholic Mission church, and see the sunset from the 'one tree hill' where a 245-year-old tree stands. This tree is believed to have been planted by king Alaungmintaya, the founder of the third Myanmar empire.
Start out by private vehicle (approximately 1 hour), into the Pintauk area with views of the surrounding rice fields. Visit the nearby Akha and Enn tribal villages. The Enn tribe live on the higher slopes and still hold different beliefs as well as having distinctively different costumes and sometimes black teeth. The walk today is approximately 4 hours in total. Return to Kengtung late in the afternoon.
Drive to Tachileik, with its huge and colourful market, then cross the border into Thailand. You will be entering the area of Chiang Rai, Thailand's northernmost province which boasts mountain ranges, flower fields and lush tea plantations. Chiang Rai boasts a relaxed atmosphere, a great night market, and a variety of good restaurants. This charming city has a small-town feel and is a great place to explore on foot. On the way to Chiang Mai (approximately 3 hours), make a stop at the privately-owned Wat Rong Khun, more commonly known as the White Temple. This contemporary temple, started in 1997 and expected to be a work in progress for another 60 to 70 years. The temple is constantly being added to and its strange design features references to Buddhist mythology, human sin and pop culture icons such as Michael Jackson, Harry Potter and Superman.
After breakfast this morning, and a safety briefing and bicycle fitting, saddle up for a cycling adventure into the streets of Chiang Mai and beyond. Journey south through pleasant green fields, following the Ping River downstream. Make a stop at a former leper colony turned rehabilitation centre, where you’ll get to know some of the daily life of the missionaries who worked here over a hundred years ago. The trip continues along various fruit orchards, and cycling down small country roads, meandering around the villages on the outskirts of Chiang Mai, where you’ll encounter the Thai way of life and the real rural Thailand. Explore the temple ruins of Wiang Kum Kam, the former capital of Lanna, before you cycle back to Chiang Mai around 1pm. Enjoy a free afternoon to take in the friendliness of the people, the interesting old town bound by moats, and the many fascinating temples of Chiang Mai. This evening, maybe celebrate the end of your adventure with an optional dinner with the group – perhaps sample some delicious traditional northern Thai food in the vibrant night markets – the signature dish is kao soy, yellow wheat noodles in a curry broth, traditionally served with chicken or beef.
Your trip comes to an end today and you are free to depart at any time. If staying longer we recommend checking out some of the Urban Adventures in Chiang Mai.