With jaw-dropping vistas, unfound wild, ancient tribes and mouth-watering cuisine, it is unlikely that the largest state of Myanmar will ever disappoint. Tour Mandalay’s Shan State explorer attempts to squeeze in a range of exciting experiences that we feel best shows off this magnificent part of the country. With a fair bit of trekking involved it is not for the feint hearted, but that is not to say the route can’t be adapted to suit your individual needs.
An example of a typical Shan State Explorer itinerary can be found below. Please note that this is merely a suggestion and all of the arrangements can be tweaked and tailored to your heart’s content. By clicking on the day, it’s possible to read more about the general logistics and featured excursions.
Day 1 - Yangon (Shwedagon)
After clearing immigration, you will be transferred from Yangon international airport directly to your hotel. If time permits, why not visit the 2500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda this afternoon in time for sunset?
Day 2 - Yangon (Colonial walking tour / Shan noodles / Kandawgyi Lake)
Spend the first half the day exploring some of Yangon’s crumbling colonial relics with your guide. After a quick stop at the bustling Bogyoke market, we would recommend a short walk to Yaw Min Gyi Street for lunch. Here you will find a wide selection of restaurants, with one of Tour Mandalay’s favourites being the Aung Mingalar Shan Noodle shop (PLEASE NOTE: This meal is not included). Later this afternoon, enjoy a leisurely stroll around Kandawgyi Lake and its surrounding gardens. The sunset from here is remarkable, as is the view of the nearby Shwedagon Pagoda when it’s all lit up.
Day 3 - Yangon to Kyaingtong (tour of Kyaingtong's highlights)
Later this morning you will be transferred to Yangon’s domestic terminal in time for your flight to Kyaingtong (Kengtung). On arrival, you will be met by our local representative and escorted directly to a local restaurant in time for lunch (PLEASE NOTE: This meal is not included). The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to explore some of Kyaingtong’s highlights with the help of your driver and guide.
Day 4 - Kyaingtong (Loimwe trek)
Wake up early to explore Kyaingtong’s morning market – a trip here is a great way to truly appreciate the region’s diverse cultural make-up. After enjoying some breakfast at the market, the rest of the day will be spent trekking with the help of your guide. One of the most popular routes is Loimwe, which was once the headquarters of the British District Commissioner in colonial Burma. We would be more than happy to suggest alternate routes, but due to the regions rugged terrain and high altitude, it will be necessary for us to enquire about the group’s general level of fitness first.
Day 5 - Kyaingtong to Inle Lake (at leisure)
You will depart early this morning for your flight to Inle Lake, usually via the border town of Tachileik. On arrival, you will be met by our local representative and transferred directly to your hotel. One of the best ways to explore the region is on a bicycle and these can usually be sourced cheaply and easily through the hotel.
Day 6 - Inle Lake (hot air balloon / tour of Inle Lake's highlights)
This morning you will take to the skies with Oriental Ballooning for a rarely viewed perspective of the lake and its surrounding countryside. The remainder of the day will be spent exploring some of the region’s highlights with the help of your guide.
Day 7 - Inle Lake to Kalaw (Green Hill Valley)
After finishing breakfast you will be driven from your hotel to Kalaw (this will take approximately 1 – 1.5 hours depending on the location of your hotel in Inle Lake). You will then drive to the outskirts of Kalaw to meet with a Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp representative, who will guide you through a dense patch of jungle to the camp. Here you will learn more about the purpose of this extraordinary organisation and the small community of retired elephants they help to support.
Day 8 - Inle Lake to Kalaw (Kalaw trek)
This morning we would recommend eating a bowl of tasty Mohinga (a signature Burmese fish noodle soup) for breakfast followed by a short exploration of the morning market. From here you will then embark upon a half-day trek, the route of which will depend on how energetic you feel. The afternoon will be spent exploring some of the area’s long forgotten colonial relics.
Day 9 - Inle Lake to Mandalay (Golden Palace Monastery / U Bein Bridge)
You will be transferred to Heho airport early this morning in time for your flight to Mandalay. One of the best ways to explore the city’s highlights is on the relative comfort of a rickshaw – this will be sure to incorporate sights such as Shewnandaw Monastery and city’s imposing palace walls. Later this afternoon, drive to U-Bein ‘stilted’ Bridge to enjoy the sunset from a private boat – the silhouette you will see is one of the most photographed images in the country.
Day 10 - Mandalay (Mingun / Sagaing)
You will be collected early this morning and driven to Mandalay’s jetty to board a private river boat to Mingun, a small town famous for its crumbling pagoda ruins (Mingun Pahto) and a 3.7 metre high bronze bell. After lunch (not included), you will then travel 20km south-west of Mandalay to the religious and monastic centre of Sagaing.
Day 11 - Mandalay to Pyin Oo Lwin (Botanical garden / tour of Pyin Oo Lwin's highlights)
Today you will drive to Pyin Oo Lwin, the former British summer capital. Here you will spend a leisurely day exploring the town’s grand colonial mansions, a 175-hectare botanical garden and the busting evening market. We will also stop at a local teahouse at some point to taste a cup of the region’s tasty coffee.
Day 12 - Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw via the Goteik Viaduct (Goteik Viaduct / short tour of Hsipaw town)
This morning you will drive to Naunghkio station in time for the train that will take you across the 100-metre-high Goteik Viaduct. Shortly after crossing, you will then meet with your diver a few stations up before driving to the small, yet lively town of Hsipaw. We would recommend finishing the day with a stroll to a nearby to pagoda to just in time for sunset.
Day 13 - Hsipaw (Shan village trek / Nam Tok waterfall)
Today you will explore some of Hsipaw’s surrounding highlights with the help of your guide. The Shan settlements that dot the outskirts will surely be a highlight, as will the long, yet rewarding trek to Nam Tok Waterfall.
Day 14 - Hsipaw to Yangon (iDiscover)
Fly back to Yangon today, where the remainder of the day is free to spend at leisure. Perhaps you’d even like to test out the iDiscover Yangon walking app. Not only is this extremely cost effective, but it’s also a great way of ensuring you write your own story in this exciting city.
Day 15 - Yangon (fly home)
You will be transferred from your hotel to Yangon’s international in time for your return flight.
If you’re keen to design your own Shan State Explorer itinerary, please get in touch with a member of our team by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images featured in this itinerary (all taken on Tour Mandalay’s travels)