Study Trip

A Study Trip to Cultural Sites in Central and Eastern Myanmar

Saturday, 2 to Friday, 8 December 2017
Leader: Khun Euayporn Kerdchouay, Senior Consultant


Burmah A Photographic Journey, 1993


Central (Mandalay and Sagaing Regions)


MANDALAY: Splendour of wooden monasteries, architecture of late Ava and Mandalay periods, Mahamuni Buddha Image and Khmer bronze figures.
SAGAING: Capital of the independent Shan kingdom, historic importance, religious center and picturesque and spectacular sites.
POWIN TAUNG: Little known Buddhist  cave complex of post Bagan period.
PYIN OO LWIN: A popular weekend and hot-season getaway at an attitude of 1070 meters.


Eastern (Shan State)


INLE LAKE: The most picturesque lake at 1,328 meters above sea level. Homeland of 7,000 Intha people and 100 monasteries around the lake.
PINDAYA: Limestone caves house over 8,000 Buddha images in an astonishing variety of shapes, sizes and materials.
KA LAW: Hill station on the western edge of the Shan plateau at an attitude of 1,320 meters.


The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Saturday, 2 December: Bangkok – Mandalay (Myanmar)

9:30 a.m. Meet at check in counter of Bangkok Airways, Suvarnabhumi Airport.
12:00 p.m. Depart Bangkok for Mandalay Airport by Bangkok Airways, flight PG 709.
12:20 p.m. Arrive at Mandalay Airport and transfer to the city center by bus (one hour drive)

Mandalay was founded by King Mindon in 1857, and the majority of the monuments there including the palace, the city walls, pagodas and monasteries were built in that year or soon after. The city took its name from the Mandalay Hill which is situated at the north-east corner of the present town.

The hill has for long been a holy mount and tradition has it that the Buddha, on his visit with his disciple Ananda, had prophesied that in the 2400th year of his religion (1857 AD) a great city, a metropolis of Buddhism would be found at its foot. King Mindon fulfilled the prophesy by shifting his capital from Amarapura to the site of the present city. Mandalay has lost its glory and prestige but it still remains the pride of the country as it is the center of Myanmar culture. There are numerous of religious buildings, pagodas and wooden buildings, many of them highly carved and with gilt on a high platforms. Mandalay is the main transport hub for northern Myanmar and offers a panoply of easy day-trip destination, including four former royal capitals of Myanmar.
Afternoon: Sightseeing in Mandalay: visit the Mandalay Palace and the museum, Mahamuni Paya, Shwei-nan-daw Kyang and Shwe In Bin Kyang.
5:30 p.m. Check in at Hotel Sedona.
Evening: Dinner at local restaurant and overnight at the hotel.

Day 2: Sunday, 3 December: Mandalay – Monywa (Monywa District, Sagaing Region)

- Breakfast at the hotel.
8:00 a.m. Proceed to Monywa district by bus.

Monywa is big city with relatively little to see beyond the market and pleasant Chindwin riverside setting, but there are a series of interesting attractions in the surrounding countryside.

Monywa’s biggest draw for culture lovers is the complex of about 500 Buddha chambers at Powin Taung Caves which were carved into a limestone hillside between the 14th and 18th centuries. None of the “caves” are very large or very deep, like in western India or in central Sri Lanka, but a lot of the best caves have retained some colourful, well executed mural paintings. The area of this rural complex is fairly large and little known to outsiders, unspoilt and charming.

Getting there is difficult and takes time. Monywa is about 3 1/2 hours by road from Mandalay (136 km). The caves were dug and painted over several periods and the historical origin of the first Buddhist rock site of Powin Taung is unknown. Today, Powin Taung village at the foot of the site has around one hundred houses and a population of about 500.
Noon: Simple lunch at local restaurant in the village.
Afternoon: Visit many rock cut caves, rock cut Buddha images and view beautiful mural paintings by walking along the path and stairs up and down in the area where the caves and monasteries are situated.
6:30 p.m. Return to Monywa district and check in at Win Unity Resort.
Evening: Dinner and overnight at the resort.

Day 3: Monday, 4 December: Monywa – Sagaing – Mandalay

- Breakfast at the hotel.
8:00 a.m. Check out and depart for Sagaing by bus.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant in Sagaing.
  Sagaing became the capital of an independent Shan kingdom around 1315. Its first period of importance lasted around half a century.In 1364 the founder’s grandson, Thado Minbya, moved the capital to Inwa (Ava). Again, from 1760 Sagaing enjoyed just four more years as capital, but the town’s significance from then on became more spiritual than political. Today it is home of to thousands of monks, nuns and uncountable white and gold stupas on low hills. We will visit some of interesting stupas and monasteries, both inside and outside the city.
Afternoon: Visit Pon Nya Shin Paya, Htuparyon Paya, Ariya-Wun-Tha Kyaung and Min-Bu Kyaung and Thein (Sagaing Hills), and Kaunghmudaw Paya.
6:30 p.m. Return to the hotel in Mandalay and check in at Hotel Sedona.
Evening: Dinner and overnight at the hotel.

Day 4: Tuesday, 5 December: Mandalay – day trip to Pyin Oo Lwin

- Breakfast at the hotel.
- Day trip to visit Pyin Oo Lwin which is a popular hill station about 69 km away from Mandalay. It is well known for its colonial style houses with large compounds.  Pine trees, eucalyptus and silver-oak abound in the town.
The climate is delightfully cool and pleasant the whole year round.
Highlights to visit are Ma Har Ant Htoo Kan Thar, home to a Buddha image originally bound for China, Pwe Kauk Waterfalls, a popular picnic spot where local families come to swim and play in the shallow water, and the National Kandawgyi Garden, (about 50 acres in size containing 4840 trees mostly pine varieties, 575 different floral species and many exotic fruits and flowers).
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Late afternoon: Drive back to Mandalay.
- Dinner at local restaurant, overnight at Hotel Sedona.

Day 5: Wednesday, 6 December: Mandalay - Heho - Inle Lake (Eastern Myanmar - Shan Region)

Early Morning: Breakfast at the hotel and proceed to Mandalay Airport.
10:15 a.m. Depart Mandalay Airport for Heho Airport by K7 267.
10:50 a.m. Arrive at Heho Airport and proceed to Nyaungshwe district by bus (one hour).  Nyaungshwe is the main access point for Inle Lake, located at the northern end of the lake.
- Arrive at Nyaungshwe and visit Shwei-Yan-Pye-Kyaung and Yadana Man Aung Paya.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant in Inle.

Inle Lake is 22 km long, 11 km wide, 1328 meters above sea level and outrageously picturesque.  It has still waters dotted with patches of floating vegetation and busy fishing canoes. High hills rise above the lake on both sides; the lakeshore and islands have 17 villages on stilts, mostly inhabited by the Intha people.

Inthas are thought to have migrated to this area from Dawei (Tavoy) on the Taninthayi peninsula in southern Myanmar. Inthas are Buddhist and there are around 100 temples around the lake. The Inle style of religious architecture and Buddhist sculpture is strongly Shan-influenced. The villagers inhabiting the lake region support themselves by growing a wide variety of flowers, vegetable and fruits, including tomatoes, beans, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, garlic and onions. Many of these vegetables are cultivated on floating islands, where marsh, soil and water hyacinth have combined to form incredibly fertile solid masses which are staked to the lake bottom with bamboo poles. The lake itself is rich in wildlife, especially various waterfowl. Inle Lake has been an official bird sanctuary since 1985. To really experience Inle Lake culture you need to get onto the lake itself.
Afternoon: Proceed to visit many interesting villages and ruins of temples along the side of the lake by a longtail motorboat such as Nga-Hpe Chaung Monastery, Kyaung-Ni-Kyaung, Ywa-Ma, and Monasteries at Nam-Pan.
5:30 p.m. Check in at Hupin Khaing Daung Resort.
Evening: Dinner and overnight at the resort.

Day 6: Thursday, 7 December: Inle Lake – Pindaya – Kalaw

Early Morning: Optional: Motorboat trip by wooden canoes fitted with long-tailed outboard motors out into the lake to see various natural, cultural, religious, historical and commercial sites for 1-2 hours.
8:00 a.m. Breakfast at the resort and check out.
9:00 a.m. Depart the resort for Nyangshwe district by long-tailed boat.
- Proceed to Pindaya Cave.
  The road to Pindaya cuts across one of the most densely farmed areas in Myanmar.  At first glance the patchwork of fields and hedges could almost be a landscape from central Europe. Yet the main reason to make the trip is to visit the famous Shwe Oo Min Natural Cave Pagoda, a massive limestone cavern filled with thousands of gilded Buddha statues.
Enroute: Lunch at local restaurant.

Visit limestone caves on a ridge above Pone Taloke Lake. This winding complex of natural caves and tunnels is filled with Buddha images in an astonishing variety of shapes, sizes and materials. The caves contained more than 8,000 images of the Buddha, some left centuries ago by pilgrims and others newly installed by visitors. There are a series of covered stairways which climb the ridge to the cave entrance. The path continues along the ridge to a third chamber with a large reclining Buddha and more shrines and pagodas along the hilltop. It is a very interesting and ancient pilgrimage site.

Proceed to Kalaw, a hill station by British civil servants fleeing the heat of the plains. Kalaw still feels like a high-altitude holiday resort, the air is cool, the atmosphere is calm. Kalaw has a significant population of Nepali Gurkhas, Indian Hindus and Muslims, who came here during the British period.
Evening: Check in at Kalaw Heritage Hotel in Kalaw.
- Dinner and overnight at hotel in Kalaw.

Day 7: Friday, 8 December: Kalaw – Heho – Mandalay – Bangkok

Early Morning: Breakfast at the hotel.
7:00 a.m. Depart Kalaw for Heho Airport.
9:25 a.m. Depart Heho Airport for Mandalay Airport by K7274.
10:00 a.m. Arrive at Mandalay Airport and transfer to International Terminal and check in for flight to Bangkok by Bangkok Airways.
2:10 p.m. Depart Mandalay Airport for Bangkok by PG710.
4:35 p.m. Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.


Bt. 82,000.- (or Bt. 85,000.- for non-members). Single room surcharge Bt. 14,000.-. A deposit of Bt. 30,000.- and photocopy of passport must accompany the booking. Payment in full is required one month before the start of the trip (i.e. by Thursday, 2 November). Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society”. Alternatively you can deposit/ transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the Thai Military Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7. Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges.


The contribution includes airfares, airport transfer, 6 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 6 dinners, accommodation for two persons per room, entrance fees, tips to local guide and driver and other costs incurred to make this trip possible.

It excludes visa fee, personal expenses, tips for additional service, any chargeable beverages/ drinks (e.g. hotel minibar), payment or offering for photographing and video shooting, individual service apart from the group, other expense of personal nature like telephone calls, laundry etc.

Cancellation charge:

30 days before the start of the trip:                       No cancellation charge
30 – 15 days before the start of the trip:                50% of the tour cost
Less than 15 days or cancellation without notice:    No refund

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary. Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert or Khun Supanut.