MYANMAR – Gastronomy – 10 Days – 9 Nights

Food plays an important role in the local lifestyle- it serves not just as sustenance but bears social and religious significance. Throughout the next 10 days you will not just taste and prepare food but also partake in daily rituals that revolve around food.

 

Day 1: Arrival in Yangon
Mingalabar and welcome to Myanmar! Upon arrival at the airport you will be warmly welcomed by your guide who will take you to your hotel for check-in. For a great introduction to the food culture of Myanmar, you will head to Yangon’s bustling and vibrant center. A walking tour will start near Theingyi Zay, an all-day bustling market. Walk through the streets of ‘Little India’ where a mix of Bamar and Indian-influenced dishes are prepared by vendors and stop to sample a dosa or fried bean treat. Continue toward China Town where colorful stalls feature fruits, flowers and vegetables. Then stop for a refreshing faluda or other sweets at Shwe Pu Zun, a famous Yangon dessert shop, and then continue to a shop selling Myanmar’s beloved tea leaf salad.
For dinner your palate will be introduced to a variety of foods from different regions in Myanmar. The restaurant Taing Yin Thar, meaning ‘National’, showcases great flavours from remote areas of the country such as Rakhine, Kachin and Karin as well as traditional Bamar dishes.

Meals included: Dinner at Taing Yin Thar restaurant
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Note: check in time is 14:00. Early check in is subject to availability.

 

Day 2: Yangon – Street Food Tasting
In the morning you will experience the wide variety of Myanmar street food with visits to fresh produce markets and sampling all types of dishes both sweet and savory. Start with a trip to one of the city’s major markets on 18th street with fruit, vegetables and spices vying with meat and fish for the attentions of the discerning shoppers. Join the locals as they partake of a delicious breakfast of noodles, samosas or something sweeter like a doughnut or pancake. You will take a short drive to Seikkan Tha Street, another morning market area with many stalls selling palata (thick pancakes), flowers and fruits. After all those delights, a visit to the popular Maung Aye Tea Shop and a cup of Myanmar tea will doubtless be highly welcome. Suitably refreshed, you will set off for the Shwe Myot Taw Indian restaurant, famed for its palata and padauk yeik before heading towards one final market – Ye Kyaw – with yet further displays of the variety of food available in Yangon. Next on the agenda will be lunch at the highly popular Feel Myanmar Restaurant where you will try one of the fabulous local curries and its accompanying vegetables sauces and soups.
In the afternoon, you will continue your discovery of Yangon with a visit to Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 72-meter long reclining Buddha statue that features detailed carvings on his feet. Afterwards, you will continue through town and make a quick stop by the Royal Lake located in Kandawgyi Park, which is very popular with local residents. Catch a view of Karaweik Hall, a reproduction of a royal barge and enjoy a spectacular view of the Golden Shwedagon Pagoda. No Myanmar expedition can be considered truly great if it’s lacking a visit to the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Witness the colors transform on the 100-meter chedi which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. Shwedagon is largely considered to be the most important religious site for the Burmese.

Option: culinary degustation at Le Planteur
Enjoy an exquisite meal at Le Planteur, one of Yangon’s best restaurants. Le Planteur is not only a restaurant but an oasis in the city centre. Experience fantastic ambiance in a blend of colonial design with charming Myanmar influences combined with great food.

Option: local BBQ dinner at China town
After sunset, you will head on to Chinatown for a change of scenery. Mingle with the locals and enjoy a delicious local BBQ at the street side as you will watch the hustle and bustle of the nightlife in Yangon.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch at Feel Myanmar Restaurant
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

 

Day 3: Yangon – Bagan
In the morning, you will be taken to the airport for your domestic flight to Bagan. Upon arrival in Bagan, you will start your discovery of the city. Your first port of call will be an elevated location amid the temple plains to see the fields and pagodas of Bagan. From here, you will have a look around the Ananda Temple – one of the most exalted of Bagan’s temples. Continue to various other temples dotted around the temple plains to experience a variety of architectural styles in the area as well as the artistic wonder of the 9-14th centuries.
You will then leave the normal tourist beaten path and board a private river boat. Throughout your Irrawaddy river cruise you will be treated to fabulous scenes of life on and by the water. There will be a stop at a riverside village to allow you to go ashore to observe the lives of the river’s residents. The friendly people mostly work as farmers and fishermen. After returning aboard the cruise, you will finally reach Kyauk Gu U Min on the eastern side of the river from where it is only a five to ten-minute walk to the temple. This beautiful temple has exquisite stone carvings depicting religious figures and flowers. The temple itself is built into the side of a cliff and behind the main hall of the temple is access to a quiet and tranquil cave. Inside the cave, there are several small recessed alcoves. After your exploration of Kyauk Gu U Min, you will return to the boat for a relaxing cruise back to Bagan (around 1 hour).

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch at The Moon (vegetarian)
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

 

Day 4: Bagan – Cooking Class at a local house

Option: hot air balloon ride over Bagan
The morning will start with an exciting hot-air balloon ride above the Bagan countryside. You will observe one-of-a-kind views when the sun begins to rise over the Irrawaddy River and various stupas in the region.

In the morning, you will be off to the vibrant Nyaung Oo Market, where the locals come to trade fresh produce and other goods daily. Afterwards, you will be invited to a local home to join a Myanmar traditional cooking experience. Meet the friendly host who will briefly explain her market finds of the day, and if you’re in luck, some seasonal vegetables from Bagan region will be on the menu. After almost 2 hours of cooking, it will be time to enjoy the meal together in the home garden. Explore the authentic taste of each dish and don’t be shy to clean up your plates. Empty dishes are a Myanmar way to show your appreciation to the host.
You will then head out in to the countryside to a toddy farm. There you will see the local farmers at work harvesting the juice from the toddy trees and then processing it.
From here, you will journey by horse cart for an excursion passing among some of the tallest temples of Bagan noted for its remarkable brickwork, among others. Take pleasure in an extraordinary sunset from the upper terrace of one of the surrounding temples.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch at a local house
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Notes:
– Please notify us in advance if you have allergies or special diet
– Note: The hot air balloon ride is only available from October/November to March

 

Day 5: Bagan – Mandalay – Amarapura
A short morning flight will take you from Bagan to Mandalay. Upon arrival, you will be taken to Mandalay city (1-hour drive). Before starting any sightseeing, you will stop at the popular Shwe Pyi Moe tea shop for a tea or coffee and some snack. Indulge in delicious mee shay, the Mandalay signature noodles, as well as Indian-style dosa. Having fueled up, you will walk up to Mandalay Hill, rising 240 meters above the city. On top, the reward is a full panoramic view, the hazy blue outline of the Shan Hills to the east, the Mandalay Palace to the south and the Irrawaddy River to the west. Then head to the south of Mandalay Hill to Kyauktawgyi pagoda, known as the pagoda of the Great Marble Image. Admire the huge Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. It’s said that the colossal marble block took 10,000 men almost two weeks to transport it from the riverside to its current location. Proceed to Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. You will then be off to the Shwenandaw Monastery, the Golden Monastery which is the only enduring structure from the Royal Palace of the 19th century. After this full morning it will be time to check in at your hotel.
Your Mandalay guided tour will resume in the afternoon with a visit to the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda houses one of the country’s most honored Buddha images, completely covered in gold leaves that are applied every day to the statue by male devotees. There are also many craft workshops in Mandalay and, should you wish, you will have time to stop for a visit to one. You will then leave the city to visit Amarapura, Myanmar’s penultimate royal capital. First, you will stop at a silk weaving workshop known for their exquisite merchandise. You will continue to Mahagandayon monastery, home to more than a thousand young monks. At sunset, you will want to stroll along the legendary U Bein Bridge, before heading back to Mandalay.
Dinner will be a fun local experience at Yunnan Barbeque, a large hall with dozens of tables. Mandalay residents gather here nightly to drink cold draft beer and eat varieties of barbecue as well as noodle dishes, such as the tasty, slightly-spicy malahin flat noodles. Enjoy the food and atmosphere on this fun evening out.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch at Daw Lay May, dinner at Yunan BBQ
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Note: Hotel rooms will be available from 14.00; early check-in is subject to availability

 

Day 6: Cooking class in Mandalay – Sagaing
The day will begin with a visit to Mandalay’s vibrant morning market. The market is a hive of activity in the morning with vendors selling mainly fresh produce and meat, as well as other goods. Should you wish to buy some fruits or household items your guide will assist and advise you on a monastery or nunnery in today’s touring at which to donate. Then continue to Auntie Alice’s house, where your delightful host will await you to show you her cooking skills during an interactive cooking class. You will assist Alice in preparing traditional Myanmar dishes while she will explain the local methods and recipes handed down by generations. After cooking, you will sit down to a feast of your home-cooked creations.
In the afternoon, continue across the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. Sagaing Hill is generally seen as the spiritual hub of Myanmar and claims residence to around 3,000 monks and nearly 100 meditation shrines. You will visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin, U Min Thone Sae and Shin Pin Nan Gyaing, before continuing to Sagaing’s local market. You will head over to a small pottery village that is recognized for manufacturing ubiquitous water pots to observe the tradesmen here applying their traditional methods for producing their goods. You will return back to the eastern side of the river in the late afternoon and head back to your hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch at Alice’s
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Note: The cooking course lasts around 2 hours

 

Day 7: Mandalay – Heho – Inle Lake
In the morning, you will be taken to the airport for your domestic morning flight to Heho. From Heho, you will experience a lovely scenic one-hour drive leading to Nyaung Shwe, gateway village to Inle Lake. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to visit rural workshops that specialize in traditional Shan paper and unique handcrafted umbrellas. Make sure to stop at the teak monastery of Shweyanpyay to witness the intricate wood carving artwork and craftsmanship of the monks there. Upon arrival in Nyaung Shwe, you will visit the local morning market where people gather every morning to buy and sell fresh produce from the lake and its surroundings. Continue by local trishaw down to the bustling canal, which is a hive of activity in the morning. Watch as baskets laden with produce are transferred from boats to trucks and bikes. You will make a stop at the “tomato house”, a warehouse-like structure where the tomatoes are sorted and priced for sale. Then continue past some of the many monasteries and nunneries in the town, stopping for photos as you go. Before heading out on the lake itself, you will enjoy a delicious traditional Shan lunch at View Point, the best restaurant around Inle Lake.
You will then board a private motorboat and begin heading out onto Inle Lake. Along the way you will pass several villages that are built on stilts over the lake, and that are inhabited by the local Intha people. Observe the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen and see their “floating gardens”.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch at View Point
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel
Distances: 32 kilometers – 1 hour

 

Day 8: Inle Lake
Onboard a wooden motorized boat, you will pay a visit to the lake’s morning market. The market’s location rotates between the lake’s villages in a 5-day schedule and is also visited daily by the lake’s inhabitants. There are also many traditional crafts originating on Inle Lake and, should you wish, you will stop for a visit to one making incredible woven items from lotus silk, pirogue workshop (depending on the time of year), a cigar making workshop, blacksmiths or even silver smiths. If time allows you will also pay a visit to the local silversmith.

Option: Ephemeral lunch on rice boat
Another culinary experience not to be missed on Inle Lake! Have a mouth-watering typical Shan lunch on a rice carrier boat in the middle of beautiful surroundings of Inle Lake. The boat has been transformed into a fully equipped ephemeral restaurant. Relax and enjoy an exquisite lunch while exploring the life on the lake from your floating private restaurant.

In the afternoon, you will also visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery, which houses loads of early Shan Buddha Images. You will then proceed to the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the lake’s main haven that contains five sacred images of Buddha decorated in gold leaf. The day will come to a close with a return trip by boat back to your hotel.

Meals included: Breakfast
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

Notes:
– The market is open every day apart from dark moon and full moon calendar days
– The lunch on a rice boat option is subject to weather conditions

 

Day 9: Inle Lake – Indein
In the morning, a 1-hour boat ride down a small canal will take you to the Pa-Oh village of Indein, positioned on the western shores of Inle Lake. Take a leisurely stroll around the village before ascending the moss-covered stairway to the top of a hill. Once arrived at the summit, you will be greeted by an iconic Buddha image enshrined among hundreds of stupa ruins and overgrown shrubbery. There, from the peak, you will also be rewarded with mesmerizing views of the placid surroundings. You will then travel by boat to an Intha family’s residence where you will lend a hand in the preparation of a traditional feast. The Inthas are an indigenous Burmese tribe living on Inle Lake. Most of the Intha are farmers, and spend their time nursing their hand-constructed floating gardens. The gardens actually rise and lower with the water level of the lake. Enjoy an enchanting meal with an Intha family.
On your boat ride back, should time allow, you will stop at the Inthar Heritage House to learn more about the history and culture of the lake’s indigenous people and enjoy a delicious coffee and cake. The boat will take you back to your hotel for some well-deserved relaxation.

Meals included: Breakfast, lunch at a local house
Accommodation: Overnight at the hotel

 

Day 10: Inle Lake – Heho – Yangon departure
After breakfast, you will be taken to Heho airport by a combination of boat and car for your domestic morning flight to Yangon. Depending on your flight schedule, you will have time to explore Bogyoke Market, better known under the name of “Scott Market” to stroll through the stalls filled with handicrafts and do your last minute shopping. You will then head out to Yangon International Airport on time for your flight back.

Meals included: Breakfast
Distances: 32 kilometers – 1 hour

Notes:
– The car and the guide will be at your disposal until departure flight time
– Scott market is closed on Mondays and during the holidays