Day 1 :Arrival Day in Yangon ( Dinner )
Today is intended simply as an arrival day. We will have a welcome dinner this evening and meet the crew who will be looking after us during our cycling days. We will stay in the downtown area for easy access to the railway station the following morning.
Day 2 :Train to Kyaikto, Cycle 14km ( B , L , D)
The train departs at around 6:30am, so it’s fortunate that the train station is just a short walk from the hotel. We are in the upper class cabin, which is a curious term for it, given its dilapidated condition, but this is Myanmar and investment in the rail system is not something that has been paid a lot of attention for the last few decades. Even so, the train journey is a memorable one. You are sure to make lots of local friends on board who will take delight in speaking with you on subjects ranging from history, current political affairs, to the English Premier League! The scenery is varied, from the urban areas of Yangon to the sparse areas around the edge of the delta zone. All things going according to plan (or timetable), the train will arrive at midday in Kyaikto. After checking into our simple, but clean accommodation, we cycle over to Mt. Kyaiktiyo, where we see the Golden Rock, a huge granite boulder with a tiny Pagoda atop. The boulder is covered in gold leaf and looks as though it may tumble down the hill at any moment, although it’s unlikely that it will happen while we make our visit as it has been in place for a very long time.
Day 3 :Cycle to Tha Thon 72km( B , L , D)
The next 5 days is a ride for pioneers. As Myanmar has only recently opened its doors to the world, our route for the coming days has not seen many travellers and certainly not many on bicycles. The riding today is mostly flat as we ride quite close to the coast and at times close enough to get a view of the water. As the day continues, we cross a river inlet and continue on down a slightly busier road to reach Tha Thon. This is a small town and our accommodation befits pioneers such as yourselves. It is clean, but simple.
Day 4 :Cycle to Hpa An 80km( B , L , D)
Today we ride inland on a smaller road. The landscape changes and we start to see more hills. The greenery also increases as we enter a more remote, less populated area. We arrive into the small town of Hpa An in the late afternoon. This is a town of only 50-60,000 people, located on the Thanlyin River and is the capital of the Kayin State. Our accommodation this evening is once again quite basic.
Day 5 :Cycle to Mawlamyine 75km( B , L , D)
Today is another day through sparsely populated areas. The landscape begins to flatten again and the rice paddies start to replace the drier farming zones. We cross a river late in the day and then ride into what will seem like a bustling city after the places you have been for the last two days. Mawlamyine was the first colonial capital of British Burma from 1826 for around 20 years. Remnants of those days can still be seen and some very good English is still spoken in these parts by the older people who, in some cases, are descendants of those first British colonialists. The hotel this evening is a touch more comfortable that previous nights.
Day 6 :Day Ride to Bilugyun Island 65km( B , L , D)
Rather than check out and move on from this lovely spot, we take a day ride to explore a sizeable island sitting just off Mawlamyine. It is separated from the mainland only by rivers, so a short ferry crossing takes us to the island where we take a ride to explore. In the afternoon, your guide will give a walking tour of some of the important points of Mawlamyine town.
Day 7 :Cycle to Thanbyuzayat 90km, Transfer to Mawlamyine( B , L , D)
Our last day of riding takes us further south on a mixture of back roads and slightly busier, main roads. Our destination today is the terminus of the Thai-Burma Railway, known locally as the “Death Railway”. An Allied War Cemetery here is the resting place of more than 3000 Allied POWs. We take time to pay our respects and in the afternoon we pack up the bikes and drive back to Mawlamyine.
Day 8 :Transfer to Yangon( B , L , D)
Due to the cancellation of all flights from/to Mawlamyine, we will be taking a drive today to return to Yangon. This will take around 7 hours. In the afternoon a walking tour introduces you to the downtown area of Yangon, with its collection of crumbling colonial-era buildings and vibrant street scenes. We walk through Chinatown, Little India and finish up on The Strand where we can stop in for a coffee at the Strand Hotel. We then board a bus and drive just a short way to the most famous and impressive religious monument in the country, Shwedagon Pagoda, a towering Buddhist Pagoda covered in gold leaf. Sunset here is an amazing experience.
Day 9 :Fly to Inle Lake ( B , L )
Flight schedules are subject to frequent change, but it is anticipated that we will have a 7 or 8am flight to Heho. We then have a drive of an hour or so to reach Nyang Shwe, the main town for the Inle Lake area. Our hotel here is a simple affair, but located within the town which is an interesting place to explore on foot. The rest of the day will be free for you to relax and explore this lovely little town and the surrounding farmland.
Day 10 : Boat Inle Lake ( B , L )
In the moring, boat sightseeing with open long boats that fit four people to a boat. We explore the lake where we see the floating gardens that support life on the lake as well as the famous fishermen with their distinctive leg twisting style of rowing. We visit a vibrant, roving market which location each day according to the date. Villagers from the surrounding area look forward to market day as it’s not only an opportunity to trade, but also to socialise, play some games and generally enjoy themselves after a hard week in the fields. We miss the touristy souvenir shops and head straight to the west bank of the lake where we unload the bikes and pedal our way back to town on another small road. The views today are stunning with many photo opportunities.
Day 11 :Cycle to Pindaya 70km( B , L , D)
It’s time to start riding some hills. The climb today is split into two sections of approximately 6km each and while it is continual climbing, it’s not too steep. We plateau in sections and after about 30km we find an unpaved back road that we will take most of the way to Pindaya. The scenery from here on changes from dramatic mountains to rolling hills with patchwork fields. We are on a downwards trend at this stage and the last section into town is a pleasant downhill coast. Pindaya is only a very small town, but is famous for its Golden Cave, full of gold covered Buddha images. The cave is the subject of a legend involving a handsome prince and a giant spider that takes a number of princesses hostage in the cave. Never mind though, it’s a story that ends well, just like your ride today. We stay in a friendly local guesthouse which is simple but clean.
Day 12 ;Cycle & Transfer to Mandalay 100km( B , L , D)
We are in for an epic ride today, as we leave the Shan Hills, but not before we spend at least 70% of our ride, traveling through some really beautiful countryside with limestone crags off in the distance and picturesque farmland. We stop at a small village half way for lunch and then push on to the edge of the plateau. For those who like a descent, a great 20km downhill section awaits, before we pack up and drive the last section into Mandalay. Please note that this drive is around 3 hours. It’s not ideal but it’s the only option as there is no accommodation between the two points and the bike ride is well worth the discomfort of the drive. We have dinner along the way.
Day 13 :Cycle Pyin Oo Lwin 30km( B , L , D)
We drive up out of the central plain and into the northern section of the Shan Hills. Here we discover the former hill station of Maymo (now known as Pyin Oo Lwin). In the afternoon, we take a ride around town to learn some of the history that this place holds.
Day 14 : Train on Goktiek Viaduct and Transfer to Mandalay( B , L , D)
In the late morning we will take a ride on one of Asia’s last great train lines. A short way in we pass over the Goktiek Viaduct which at the time of construction in 1900 was the largest railway trestle in the world. Constructed from Pensylvania Steel it stands strong to this day. We alight from the train early afternoon and after a bite to eat, we drive back down to Mandalay.
Day 15 :Cycle to U Bein Bridge & Ava 50km, Transfer to Monywa( B , L , D)
A slow morning is in order after a late arrival the night before. We first take a drive south and then get back on the bikes for an unforgettable ride on small trails through the ancient court of Ava and onto U Bein Bridge. Ava was the capital prior to Mandalay and today consists of scattered ruins and a tower interspersed with vegetable gardens and banana trees. We exit Ava on a ferry and then continue our ride. We pass through a Muslim enclave that is said to be the home of Mayor U Bein himself, the instigator of the bridge project that bears his name. We approach the lake on small boats down the canal, feeding into the lake where we have a great view of the teak bridge. After lunch, we take a drive out of Mandalay division and onto Monywa, an agricultural trade centre to the north west Mandalay. The hotel today is clean and comfortable with a pool, but standards in service befit its relatively remote location.
Day 16 :Cycle 60km, Transfer to Bagan( B , L , D)
A great ride awaits us this morning. We first take a ferry across the Chindwin River and then cycle down lovely, quiet, sealed roads past old pagodas and sleepy villages. We visit a small village for morning tea, then continue on towards a small town called Yasagyo where the Chindwin and Irrawaddy Rivers converge. At this point of the day a drive is necessary to reach our destination of Bagan. Our accommodation this evening is one of the more comfortable on the tour with a pool.
Day 17 :Cycle the Pagodas of Bagan 30km ( B , L )
Today is an amazing experience as we explore the Bagan Plain. Cycling is really the only way to see this sandy flatland, home to four thousand or so pagodas. We won’t visit each of them, but will take in the more impressive and historically important ones. The riding is a lot of fun, mostly on small trails. After lunch we return to the hotel for some down time
Note: Balloons Over Bagan is a unique and amazing experience and one that is in high demand. Prices are not yet released for 2014, but we can expect it to cost around $350 per person. The flight is at sunrise and is done in true style by an experienced and professional, British owned outfit. Please inquire at the time of registration if you would like to take this option.
Day 18 :Bagan Departure -Tour Concludes in Mandalay or Yangon ( B )
After breakfast transfer to airport. Included in the tour is a flight to either Mandalay or Yangon to meet your connecting international flight. The tour concludes upon arrival at either of these airports.