Myanmar's Art and Archaeology | Small Group Tour
This is a wonderful small group program for seniors and mature couples and solo travellers focussed on the art and archaeology, designed to take you chronologically through Myanmar’s history. From Yangon to Pyay, where the 4th-9th century walled city has received Unesco World Heritage status, on to Bagan’s 10th-13th century pagodas, to Mandalay’s last royal dynasty and the 18th-19th century colonial era returning to Yangon for the colonial heritage and modern art scene.
From A$7,250 AUD
- 1. Spend over two days exploring the best of Bagan's Buddhist monuments
- 2. Visit a range of artisan workshops in Myanmar's last royal capital, Mandalay
- 3. Explore Yangon’s fascinating colonial heritage on a guided tour by the Yangon Heritage Trust
- 4. Hear captivating talks on Myanmar's art, archaeology, heritage and local customs from your Odyssey program leader, an art historian specialising in Myanmar.
|06 February 2022 |
Ends 20 February 2022 • 15 days
Myanmar Art Tour | Small Group Tour
Visitors to Myanmar find a country that is fascinating and full of old world charm. Travellers on this small group tour will enjoy the culture, beautiful scenic destinations and some of the warmest and most welcoming people anywhere in the world. It is designed for the senior or mature-aged couple or solo traveller seeking to learn as they travel.
This small group tour of Myanmar is focused on a detailed study of the country's art and archaeology. The itinerary is designed to take you chronologically through Myanmar’s history. There are also plenty of general sightseeing activities included to avoid ‘pagoda fatigue’, such as visits to local markets and villages as well as a boat trip up the Ayeyarwady River (Irrawaddy River).
Myanmar Art Tour Itinerary
Get a glimpse of the tour itinerary on this small group educational tour of Myanmar. It is a round tour starting and ending in Yangon. The days are reasonably paced to allow you time to learn and explore.
Yangon to Sri Ksetra
Our fully escorted tour commences in Yangon. A talk on Buddhism as practised in Myanmar sets the stage at the beginning of the tour. During your first few days on the tour, we have included visits to the Chauktatgyi and Ngadatgyi pagodas, the National Museum and the famous Shwedagon stupa.
Your tour also includes a day trip to the 14th-16th century capital, Bago, to see the giant reclining Buddha, the Kanbawzathadi Palace and the archaeology museum. From Yangon you travel to the first millennium Pyu city of Sri Ksetra, near Pyay. Sri Ksetra is one of the three ancient cities of the Pyu civilisation. This city is on UNESCO's World Heritage List. In Sri Ksestra you learn about Myanmar's ancient civilisations.
This section of the tour starts with a visit to the Sri Ksetra Museum. During your time in Sri Ksetra you explore this city by tuk tuk, taking in the ancient palace walls, stupas and burial sites. That evening you can watch the sunset at Pyay's beautiful Shwesandaw pagoda.
Sri Ksetra to Yangon
From Sri Ksetra you then continue to travel on to the 11th- to 13th-century capital of Bagan. There are over 3,000 monuments, including temples, stupas, and monasteries here. These 3,000 monuments are scattered over a vast plain, a fascinating sight to see. Over the next two days this small group tour visits the most interesting temples of Bagan. During your visit you will learn about Bagan's art, archaeology and its controversial restoration program. We'll also take in a lacquerware workshop and visit a local village practising traditional artisan skills.
From Bagan you travel to Mandalay to see some of the last temples and monasteries built under royal patronage before the demise of the monarchy in 1885. You also visit several workshops in the city, watching artisans creating marble Buddha images, casting statues in metal, weaving and woodcarving. In these workshops you will learn about the traditional techniques still in use today. On your return to Yangon you take a guided walk through old colonial Yangon with the Yangon Heritage Trust. You also have time to visit contemporary art galleries to take in Myanmar's exciting modern art scene.
You can learn more about Myanmar with our country profile where other tour departures are listed as well. For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re interested in this small group and educational travel style and are keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
Day 1: Yangon
After arriving in Yangon, we make our way to the Bahosi Hotel for an introductory session and welcome dinner.
Day 2: Yangon
Our first day is spent discovering two of Yangon’s loveliest pagodas, the Chauktatgyi and the Ngatatgyi and the downtown riverfront.
After lunch we take in Myanmar’s National Museum, founded in 1952 and housing a vast collection of ancient artifacts, ornaments, works of art, inscriptions and historic memorabilia. Afterwards, we view the Shwedagon pagoda and have dinner at one of Yangon’s many fine restaurants
Day 3: Yangon
Today we take a day trip to Bago. On the way, we stop to visit the War Cemetery. We also visit Kanbawzathadi Palace (which was originally built in 1556 but was rebuilt in 1992 after being destroyed by a fire) and the Archaeology Museum. After lunch, we take in the Shwemawdaw and Kyaikpun pagodas. We then return to the hotel for dinner.
Day 4: Pyay
Today we take a bus to Pyay, with several stops en route. We view the extraordinary Shwe Nat Taung (Golden Spirit Mountain) as well as the Shwe Myat Hman pagoda (“Spectacled Buddha). Upon arrival to the city, we check into the Lucky Dragon hotel, where we enjoy a group dinner and hear a talk on Myanmar’s archaeology.
Day 5: Pyay
Today we tour the first millennium walled city of Sri Ksetra via tuk tuks and visit the Sri Ksetra Museum. This museum tells the story of the ancient Pyu cities, which including some of the earliest Buddhist monuments in the world. After lunch, we visit the wonderful Shwe Hpone Pwint Museum, before taking in an extraordinary sunset at the Shwesandaw Pagoda overlooking Pyay.
Day 6: Pyay
This morning we take the bus to Bagan, stopping for a local lunch en route. After checking into our new hotel, we enjoy another unforgettable sunset at the Lokananda Temple, before coming together for a group dinner and a talk on Bagan’s history, archaeology, and the controversial restoration of the site.
Day 7: Pyay
Today we being our sightseeing in Bagan, taking in the southern monuments, including the East and West Hpetleik, the Nagayon, the Abeyadana, and the Nanpaya. After lunch, we visit Kubaukgyi (Myinkaba), and its wonderful frescosThe rest of the afternoon is free, and we remain at liberty in the evening to discover a local restaurant to eat at.
Today we tour Bagan, taking in the Southern Pagodas, which include the East and West Hpetleik, Nagayon, Abeyadana, and Nanpaya. After lunch, we visit Kubaukgyi (myinkaba), a Buddhist temple built in 1113 AD by Prince Yazakumar, shortly after the death of his father. The rest of the afternoon is free, and we remain at liberty in the evening to discover a local restaurant to eat at.
Day 8: Pyay
This morning we head north to visit the Nyaung-Oo market, before visiting Upali Thein, an elaborate ordination hall constructed in the mid-13th century. We then visit the marvellous Shwezigon pagoda, and choose one of the local restaurants on Yarkinnthar St, aka “Restaurant Row”, for lunch. After wards we’ll visit theTharaba Gate, the Ananda Temple, the Ananda Ok-Kyaung, Kyanzittha’s Palace site, and Bagan’s wonderful Archaeology Museum. In the evening, we come together for another group dinner, including one of Myanmar’s oldest traditional artforms – a puppet show.
Day 9: Mandalay
This morning we have the option of taking a morning balloon flight (for an additional fee) or enjoying free time instead. We leave the hotel soon after lunch, and catch the bus to Mandalay, where we check into the Hotel Yadarnabon and enjoy a group dinner.
Day 10: Mandalay
This morning, we take a boat trip up the Ayeyarwaddy River to visit the enormous Mingun pagoda, its famous bell and the Mya Thein Tan pagoda. Our lecture program today includes a talk on Myanmar’s last royal dynasty and the beginning of the Colonial era. We then return to Mandalay for a group lunch by the river, before setting off to visit Shwe Nandaw Kyaung (The Golden Monastery). We also visit the Kuthodaw and Mandalay Hill,an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists with a fabulous view over Mandalay Palace, before enjoying a group dinner.
Day 11: Mandalay
After breakfast, we head south of Mandalay to the Paleik Pagodas and Hmwe (snake) temple to see the bathing of the resident pythons, an unforgettable experience. After lunch, we explore Inwa by pony cart and stop to see a silk weaving workshop at Amarapura. We experience yet another spectacular Myanmar sunset this evening — this time from the historic U Bein’s Bridge — before enjoying a group dinner.
Day 12: Mandalay
This morning, we visit the famous Mahamuni Pagoda, a major pilgrimage site, before visiting a range of Mandalay workshops to learn about the traditional practices of carving, lacquer decorationbronze casting and gold leaf making. In the late afternoon, we visit the spectacular Shwe Inbin Kyaung teak monastery, before enjoying dinner together.
Day 13: Yangon
After flying to Yangon, we check into our new hotel and enjoy a local lunch together. We then explore the Nawaday Thalar Gallery, Pansodan Gallery, and the River Gallery, all part of Yangon’s thriving modern art scene. In the late afternoon, we enjoy free time and have the chance to explore some of the restaurants in the local area.
Day 14: Yangon
This morning we enjoy a guided walk of Yangon’s colonial heritage with an expert from the Yangon Heritage Trust. We then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant that trains disadvantaged young people from the area, giving them the skills necessary to start their careers. Afterwards, we explore Bogyoke Market and enjoy some free time to explore the city.
We reconvene in the evening for our final group dinner before the tour concludes at breakfast the following morning.
Day 15: Yangon
After breakfast, we say our farewells and the tour draws to a close.
- Group size is limited to 16.
- Tour will include walking up to 1 kilometre a day at a leisurely pace with stairs, uneven surfaces, and boarding of long boats from piers.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 15 nights hotel accommodation
- 15 breakfasts, 11 lunches, and 12 dinners.
- Transport and and excursions as indicated.
- All sightseeing including entrance fees and boat trip to Mingun
- 1 internal flight as detailed in the itinerary.
- Odyssey program leader for the duration of the tour, an art historian specialising in Myanmar
- Services of an English speaking local guide.
- Detailed tour information booklet.
What’s not included in our Tour
- International airfares and taxes.
- Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry.
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, be in good health, mobile and able to participate in 3-5 hours of physical activity per day, the equivalent of walking / hiking up to 8 kilometers per day on uneven ground.
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
Book With Confidence
If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
A History of Myanmar since Ancient Times: Traditions and Transformation
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, known amongst English speakers as Burma, is often characterized as a place of repressive military rule, civil war, censorship and corrupt elections – and despite recent attempts to promote tourism to this little-known country, few people visit this region of Asia.
In A History of Myanmar since Ancient Times, Michael Aung-Thwin and Maitrii Aung-Thwin take us from the sacred stupas of the plains of Bagan to the grand, colonial-era British mansions, revealing the storied past and rich culture of this country. The book traces the traditions and transformations of Myanmar over nearly three millennia, from the relics of its Neolithic civilization to the protests of Buddhist monks in the early twentieth century, the colonial era of British rule and the republic that followed. The authors also consider the present-day life, culture and society of the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia and examine the 2010 elections – its first in over twenty years.
The most comprehensive history of Myanmar ever published in the English language, this book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Southeast Asian history and will surprise, challenge and inform in equal measure.
By Michael Aung-Thwin and Maitrii Aung-Thwin
The Pandaw Story: On the Rivers of Burma and Beyond
In 1995 Paul Strachan invited an unlikely assortment of eccentrics and adventurers to join him in an untried new boat that would venture up the Irrawaddy River, the first time foreign tourists had ventured up the mighty Burmese thoroughfare since the Second World War. Against all odds, the trip was a huge success, word quickly spread and before Strachan knew it he was running a business in one of the world's least business-friendly environments. He named it the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in honour of the Glasgow-based company that ran Burma's river transport when the country was an outpost of the British Raj. The company now trades under the name Pandaw, after the Clyde-built paddle steamer it restored in Burma In turns hilarious, shocking, moving and often highly provocative, this book celebrates the 20th anniversary of the revived Irrawaddy Flotilla Company and the 150th anniversary of the founding of the original Irrawaddy Flotilla. In The Pandaw Story Strachan describes many adventures, successes and mishaps on the rivers of Burma and then, after 2002 on the Kwai, Mekong, Ganges and Rajang rivers all of which he pioneered for river cruising. Few foreigners lived in Burma through these years and this book gives a number of fascinating insights into life in a military dictatorship, offering a uniquely well-informed account of the brutal impasse that for decades has dominated political life in one of the world's least-understood countries. This lively, humorous and anecdotal account gives some insights into the trials and tribulations of doing business in Burma and in South-East Asia more generally, introducing many outrageous and some sinister characters.
By Paul Strachan
Greetings from Myanmar: Exploring the Price of Progress in One of the Last Countries on Earth to Open for Business
In just a few years, Myanmar has gone from destitution, dictatorship, and isolation from the international community to being hailed “World’s Best Tourist Destination”—a seemingly impossible transition that led David Bockino, in 2015, on a search to find out exactly what happened, and how. Traversing the country, he encounters a pompous Western businessman swindling his way to millions, a local vendor with a flair for painting nudes, and long ago legends of a western circus. Sensitively written and expertly researched, Greetings from Myanmar: Exploring the Price of Progress in One of the Last Countries on Earth to Open for Business is the story of a flourishing nation still very much in limbo and an answer to the hard questions that arise when tourism not only charts, but shapes a place as well.
By David BockinoAmazon
The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma
What do we really know about Burma and its history? And what can Burma's past tell us about its present and even its future? For nearly two decades Western governments and a growing activist community have been frustrated in their attempts to bring about a freer and more democratic Burma―through sanctions and tourist boycotts―only to see an apparent slide toward even harsher dictatorship.
Now Thant Myint-U tells the story of modern Burma, and the story of his own family, in an interwoven narrative that is by turns lyrical, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Through his prominent family's stories and those of others, he portrays Burma's rise and decline in the modern world, from the time of Portuguese pirates and renegade Mughal princes through a sixty-year civil war that continues today―the longest-running war anywhere in the world.
The River of Lost Footsteps is a work at once personal and global, a "brisk, vivid history" (Philip Delves Broughton, The Wall Street Journal) that makes Burma accessible and enthralling.
By Thant Myint-UAmazon
Myanmar: A Political History
Myanmar, since its independence from the British in 1948, has witnessed decades of military dictatorship, a plethora of ethnic and political problems, and an arduous struggle to political normalcy and democracy. Reinventing its place in international trade, diplomacy, and geo-strategy, Myanmar today presents a complex pictureand how it engages with its own history plays an important part in this process of transformation.
Myanmar: A Political History examines the politico-historical antecedents of contemporary Myanmar: from colonial rule to the establishment of its first civilian government; the subsequent fall into military dictatorship; and the transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic government. Kipgen weaves in its relations with the United States, Myanmars political, economic, and military connect with China; IndiaMyanmar relations in the context of Indias Look East policy; and Myanmars cooperation problems on human rights within the ASEAN. Lucid and well researched, this book is a valuable guide to those interested in the future of Myanmar as well as South and Southeast Asia, to understand the historical knowledge as to how different political actors played differing roles in the countrys transition across governments.
By Nehginpao KipgenAmazon
Letters from Burma
Letters from Burma - an unforgettable collection from the Nobel Peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi In these astonishing letters, Aung San Suu Kyi reaches out beyond Burma's borders to paint for her readers a vivid and poignant picture of her native land. Here she celebrates the courageous army officers, academics, actors and everyday people who have supported the National League for Democracy, often at great risk to their own lives. She reveals the impact of political decisions on the people of Burma, from the terrible cost to the children of imprisoned dissidents - allowed to see their parents for only fifteen minutes every fortnight - to the effect of inflation on the national diet and of state repression on traditions of hospitality. She also evokes the beauty of the country's seasons and scenery, customs and festivities that remain so close to her heart. Through these remarkable letters, the reader catches a glimpse of exactly what is at stake as Suu Kyi fights on for freedom in Burma, and of the love for her homeland that sustains her non-violent battle. Includes an introduction from Fergal Keane 'Aung San Suu Kyi has become a global symbol of peaceful resistance, courage and apparently endless endurance' Guardian 'A real hero in an age of phony phone-in celebrity, which hands out that title freely to the most spoiled and underqualified' Bono, Time Aung San Suu Kyi is the leader of Burma's National League for Democracy. She was placed under house arrest in Rangoon in 1989, where she remained for almost 15 of the 21 years until her release in 2010, becoming one of the world's most prominent political prisoners. She is also the author of the collection of writings Freedom from Fear.
By Aung San Suu KyiAmazon
Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know
No country in Asia in recent years has undergone so massive a political shift in so short a time as Myanmar. Until recently, the former British colony had one of the most secretive, corrupt, and repressive regimes on the planet, a country where Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was held in continual house arrest and human rights were denied to nearly all. Yet events in Myanmar since the elections of November 2010 have profoundly altered the internal mood of the society, and have surprised even Burmese and seasoned foreign observers of the Myanmar scene. The pessimism that pervaded the society prior to the elections, and the results of that voting that prompted many foreign observers to call them a "sham" or "fraud," gradually gave way to the realization that positive change was in the air.
In this updated second edition of Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know®, Davd I. Steinberg addresses the dramatic changes in the country over the past two years, including the establishment of a human rights commission, the release of political prisoners, and reforms in health and education. More than ever, the history, culture, and internal politics of this country are crucial to understanding the current transformation, which has generated headlines across the globe. Geographically strategic, Burma/Myanmar lies between the growing powers of China and India. Yet it is mostly unknown to Westerners despite being its thousand-year history as a nation. Burma/Myanmar is a place of contradictions: a picturesque land with mountain jungles and monsoon plains, it is one of the world's largest producers of heroin. Though it has extensive natural resources including oil, gas, teak, metals, and minerals, it is one of the poorest countries in the world. And despite a half-century of military-dominated rule, change is beginning to work its way through the beleaguered nation, as it moves to a more pluralistic administrative system reflecting its pluralistic cultural and multi-ethnic base.
Authoritative and balanced, Burma/Myanmar is an essential book on a country in the throes of historic change.
By David SteinbergAmazon
Under the Dragon: A Journey through Burma
The memory of a brief visit to Burma had haunted Rory MacLean for years. A decade after the violent suppression of an unarmed national uprising, which cost thousands of lives and all hopes for democracy, he seized the chance to return. Travelling from Rangoon to Mandalay and Pagan, into the heart of the Golden Triangle, he hears stories of freedom fighters, government censors, basket weavers, farmers and lovers -- ordinary people struggling to survive under one of the most brutal and repressive regimes in the world. Under the Dragon is a perceptive and heartbreaking portrayal of contemporary Burma, a country that is shot through with desperation and fear, but also blessed – even in the darkest places -- with beauty and courage.
By Rory MacLeanAmazon