Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Myanmar & Cambodia: Burmese Empires & Khmer Kingdoms


16 days From $7,680

November 9 2019

Myanmar and Cambodia, the former kingdoms of Mon and Khmer, embody two of South East Asia’s most ancient and intriguing cultures. Throughout their long histories, Buddhism has been a major creative source of artistic and intellectual inspiration – and still finds powerful expression today in a wealth of exotic architecture, iconography and rituals. Our interest-filled tour focuses on the cultures that laid the early building blocks of Burmese civilization and the core role of Buddhism here in historic lands newly engaging with the outside world.

Former capital Yangon (Rangoon of old) offers a lively introduction to Myanmar’s many colors and contrasts to come in a dazzling spectrum of saffron-robed monks, resplendent pagodas, golden temples and ancient royal sites as we visit Bagan, capital of the first Burmese kingdom, and Mandalay, the last royal capital – and explore beautiful Inle Lake with its traditional stilt-houses and temples rising from the water.

Equally striking contrasts are the keynote in Cambodia en route to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap through scenes of active Buddhist monasteries, vibrant markets and spectacular palaces – culminating in the Khmer temple complex at Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument. As we travel there’s every opportunity to enjoy traditional music and dance and to discover local cuisines and unique handicrafts.

What's included?

  •  Expert Scholar & Tour Manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  Local Transport
  •  Entries & Tips

Led by...

Miranda Bruce-Mitford

Miranda Bruce-Mitford specializes in social anthropology, Burmese language and literature, Buddhist Art & Architecture of South and Southeast Asia, and Oriental religious studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London University.

Book Now $7,680
Includes deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $1,450

Tour highlights:

  • Uncover the historical, ethnographic and religious influences that have shaped the history of these ancient lands
  • Marvel at the ethereal beauty of Yangon’s glorious Shwedagon Pagoda
  • Take a horse and cart across verdant rice fields at the deserted royal city of Ava to visit a traditional wooden monastery
  • Spend an afternoon on Inle Lake observing the famous Intha ‘leg rowers’ and floating gardens bursting with vegetables and flowers
  • Enjoy two wonderful days of in-depth exploration amid the huge Angkor temple and sanctuary complex

Tour details

Dates November 09 2019 - November 24 2019
Duration 16 days
Cost $7,680
Single supplement: $1,450
Deposit: $1,250 , balance due by 17 August 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code A19KHM

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

November 9 2019: Itinerary

We arrive in Yangon, Myanmar’s historic former capital, and transfer to our first hotel. We take the rest of the day to relax after our flight, before enjoying our first group dinner.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Yangon Excelsior Hotel

A morning orientation tour introduces to the heart of Yangon, Myanmar’s riverside commercial and cultural power-house that confronts the newly-arrived visitor with a colorful canvas of incongruities. A fusion of stately if slightly faded British colonial architecture, serene Buddhist pagodas and burgeoning new high-rises defines the city’s skyline - while at street-level the contrasts of exotic open-air markets and congested tree-lined avenues, traditional tea houses and shiny new restaurants bespeak a city whose mood is steeped in history yet alive with change. We discover the many intriguing faces of Yangon, old and new, as we explore the heart of the city, with stops at two of Myanmar’s most important Buddhist shrines: the soaring Shwedagon Pagoda, with its a shimmering gilded stupa, 325 feet high; and the golden chedi at Sule Pagoda, a serene 2,000-year-old religious enclave amidst the bustle of the modern city. After lunch we enjoy a free afternoon for relaxation - or to see more of Yangon on an optional walking tour

All meals included

Hotel: Yangon Excelsior Hotel

A morning flight (85 minutes) takes us north to Mandalay on the Aywerwaddy River, our base for the next two nights. Myanmar’s second city, Mandalay began life as a 19th century royal capital and is now an important Buddhist center. Our program begins with a comprehensive local tour, with visits to the vibrant Mahamuni Pagoda, whose seated Buddha is a venerated image popularly believed to be some 2000 years old, and the Shwe-im-bin, constructed from wonderfully carved and engraved teak. After lunch we call at the gilded Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose countless shrines house hundreds of marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings (earning Kuthodaw the title of “the world’s largest book”). Nearby is Shwenandaw Monastery, another fine teak building rich in carved paneling - and in the only part of the royal palace complex to survive WWII bombing. There’s an opportunity to admire the wooded slopes of photogenic Mandalay Hill, dotted with pagodas and monasteries and a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort

This morning a short drive south and a local ferry across the Aywerwaddy bring us to the island setting of historic Innwa (formerly Ava), now a peaceful rural backwater, but whose ancient city walls and array of religious monuments recall the past glory of a 19th century royal capital. Traveling by horse-drawn carriage, we visit the ornate royal monastery of Maha Aungmye Bonzan temple (nearly 200 years old and built, unusually, of stucco-covered brick) and Bagaya Kyaung, an atmospheric working monastery constructed of teak in the 19th century. We return to Mandalay to spend the afternoon at Mandalay Palace, an impressive reconstruction of the 19th century royal palace compound largely destroyed in WWII. Afterwards we call at Shwe Kywe Kyin Monastery to hear the monks chanting evening prayers - a memorably spiritual experience.

All meals included

Hotel: Mercure Mandalay Hill Resort

Today we embark on a leisurely 2-night Aywerwaddy cruise to Bagan aboard a charming luxury vessel. We make a shore visit at Mingun to see the vast Mingun Pahtodawgyi ( “the world’s largest unfinished pagoda”) and the Mingun Bell, a colossal bronze affair weighing 90 tons. In the afternoon we pause at a local riverside village before returning on board for dinner and overnight.

All meals included

Hotel: RV Paukan

We drift downstream at a lazy pace, enjoying the unspoilt beauty of the wide river and the pattern of everyday life on its banks. After breakfast there’s time for an optional visit ashore to Sagaing, an attractive little town and important monastic centre. In the afternoon we pause at Yandabo, a village community specializing in traditional pottery-making - and where the 1826 peace treaty of the first Anglo-Burmese war was signed. We return to our vessel for dinner and overnight.

Note: The visit to Yandabo is highly dependent on the water level and river conditions. The ship Captain is the sole person to authorize the stop.

All meals included

Hotel: RV Paukan

This morning early-risers enjoy a river sunrise before we disembark at Ye Kin Jetty to spend two nights in Bagan. Ancient Bagan is regarded as one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites, rivalling Machu Picchuand Angkor Wat. At the height of the Pagan Kingdom, between the 11th and 13th centuries, thousands of Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains. The well-preserved remains of over 2,200 examples still survive within the 26 square-mile Bagan Archaeological Zone, despite earthquakes and Kublai Khan’s invading Mongols. Today we visit a selection of the finest of these, among them the dazzlingly gilded Shewzigon Pagoda, a huge early-11th century structure, and the Indian-influenced Gubyaukhyi, a 13th century cave temple with interiors adorned with murals of the “Jataka Tales” telling of the previous lives of the Buddha. After lunch we visit the Mon-style temples of Nanpaya, Manuha, Nagayon and Abeyadana: all from the 11th century but each different in character, the last with beautifully-restored Mahayana wall paintings.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Aye Yar River View Resort, Bagan

After an early-morning carriage ride to one of the Bagan pagodas to witness the sunrise we depart for Myinkaba, a village that predates the founding of Bagan. Here we visit the first of two transitional temples, the Gubyaukgyi Myinkaba Temple (Indian in style and with notable stucco work and paintings) and the golden-spired 11th century Ananda Temple, displaying unusual high-relief plaques depicting Buddhist scenes. Bagan is also known for its lacquer-ware and our afternoon includes a stop to see its production and engraving. Our day ends with a visit to the vernacular-style Bagan Archaeological Museum, home to numerous interesting artifacts.

All meals included

Hotel: Aye Yar River View Resort, Bagan

After a 40-minute morning flight to Heho we transfer to our hotel on the peaceful shores of picturesque Inle Lake, where a two-night stay offers ample opportunity to enjoy these peaceful surroundings. Lying between protective mountain ranges, Inle is best-known for the wooden floating villages and gardens of its local Intha people, whose lifestyle is shaped entirely by water. We join them on an afternoon spent on the lake - a chance to see the local fishermen rowing in the traditional local way (standing with one leg wrapped around an oar) and admire floating gardens bursting with vegetables and flowers. We visit the wooden Phe Kyaung Monastery, built on stilts over the lake and renowned for its “jumping cats” (feline residents trained by the monks to jump through little hoops for food) and the lakeside Phaung Daw Pagoda, the Inle area’s most important religious site.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Sanctum Inle Resort, Nyaung Shwe

A relaxing day lies ahead as we tour the delightful hill country to the north and east of Lake Inle, visiting three of the area’s notable religious monuments. We cross the lake by boat to Nyaung Shwe, from where we enjoy a 20-mile scenic drive through pine forests to mountain-ringed Taunggyi, a former hill-station and capital of Southern Shan State. On our way we pause first at Shweyanpyay Monastery, a gem-like 150-year-old monastery built on stilts and constructed of red-painted teak wood; and afterwards at Taunggyi’ dazzling white-and-gold Sulamani Pagoda. We then head south (road conditions allowing) to the spectacular site of Kakku Pagodas - a veritable forest of 2,478 pagodas aligned across the hillside in tidy rows (but in a seemingly random variety of styles), some dating back to the 3rd century BCE. On our return journey we visit the sunny slopes of the Aythaya Vineyard Estate near Taunggyi - a not-to-be-missed opportunity to enjoy a wine-tasting in the Sunset Wine Garden!

 

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Sanctum Inle Resort, Nyaung Shwe

After flying from Heho to Yangon this morning we enjoy a relaxed lunch away from the airport, returning later for our two-hour evening flight to Phnom Penh.

 

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Palace Gate Hotel & Resort, Phnom Penh

Though the Cambodian capital is no longer the timeless backwater of old, its restless extrovert mood of a community eager to embrace change sits in colorful synthesis with another more traditional Phnom Penh. One whose glimmering Khmer pagoda spires, monks’ fluttering saffron robes, classic French colonial facades, Southeast Asian shop houses, local markets and wide Mekong riverfront still spice this vibrant city with an enduring oriental mystique. On this morning’s tour we focus first on the Royal Palace, whose classic Khmer roofs and elaborate gilding make this the capital’s finest architectural landmark. Built in 1866 on the site of an old citadel, the palace boasts many impressive features - among which we see the ceremonial Throne Hall, capped by a 190-feet high tower and gilded roof tiles, and the Silver Pagoda, with a floor covered by five tons of gleaming silver. We then exchange grandeur for the everyday to browse or bargain in the amazing bazaar Psah Toul Tom Poung or “Russian Market”, popular with locals and visitors alike. The rest of our day is free for independent sightseeing.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Palace Gate Hotel & Resort, Phnom Penh

We devote this morning to the National Museum of Cambodia, whose dynamic pagoda-style structure houses a huge collection of over 14,000 Khmer sculptures, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic items. After lunch a short flight brings us to the town Siem Reap. Nestled between rice paddies and the Siem Reap River, this is our base for the next four nights, just 20 minutes from the world-famous temple ruins of the Khmer Empire.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Lynnaya Urban River Resort, Siem Reap

We have three fascinating days ahead for exploration of the enormous (nearly 500 acres) UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor complex. Dating from the 7th century, and built over a 600-year period, these iconic temples form one of South East Asia’s most inspiring archaeological sites - unrivalled and unforgettable in their extent and concept. We spend our first day touring the less-visited temples of the Roluos Group, offering insights into some of Angkor’s oldest structures. We then move on to Angkor Thom to view the central 54-towered Bayon Temple, the adjacent city square and Terrace of Elephants, cremation platform and royal palace compound. We also visit the 10th century Hindu temples of Prasat Kravan, with unique brick sculptures, and Eastern Mebon, guarded by elephants.

 

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Lynnaya Urban River Resort, Siem Reap

Today’s first visit is to the 10th century Banteay Srei temple, set away from the main complex and whose wonderfully intricate carved ornamentation is one of Angkor’s artistic highlights. We then explore Angkor Wat - grandest of all the site temples and a 12th century masterpiece seen by many as the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Covering 200 acres, it compares in size with Beijing’s Imperial Palace. Emblazoned on the Cambodian flag, its distinctive five towers symbolize Mt. Meru’s five peaks - while the enclosing wall represents the mountains at the world’s edge and the surrounding moat is the ocean beyond.

All meals included

Hotel: Lynnaya Urban River Resort, Siem Reap

This morning we admire atmospheric Ta Prohm, a temple whose venerable ancient stones appear locked in the embrace of gigantic root systems of strangler figs and kapok trees that have entwined themselves around the ruins. Nearby are the extensive remains of majestic Preah Khan temple, the last site visit of our day before an afternoon spent at the Angkor National Museum. A state-of-the-art showcase for the glories of the Khmer civilization and the grandeur of Angkor itself, it makes for a fitting finale to our tour before we transfer to Siem Reap airport for our evening flights home or onward travel.

Meals include: Breakfast

November 9 2019: Additional Info

November 9 2019: Accommodation

Elegant design and modern amenities await guests at Yangon Excelsior. The luxurious hotel features a fitness center and rooms with free WiFi access. Popular points of interest nearby the hotel include Yangon City Hall and CB Bank Head Office. The property is 1.9 miles from Shwedagon Pagoda.

At the hotel, rooms are equipped with a desk. Rooms are complete with a private bathroom fitted with a shower, while certain units at Yangon Excelsior also provide guests with a seating area. All guest rooms at the accommodation are equipped with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels.

A continental breakfast is served every morning at the property. At Yangon Excelsior you will find a restaurant serving Grill/BBQ cuisine.

Located at the foot of Mandalay Hill, Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel offers an outdoor pool. The hotel also has a spa, a fitness center and a tennis court. Free WiFi access and parking are also available at the hotel.

It takes a 10 minute drive to go up the Mandalay Hill. Guests can also visit Mandalay Royal Palace which is around 10 minute drive away. Mandalay International Airport is 22.4 miles away.

At Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel, each room has a garden view. The hotel also offers non-smoking room. Guests enjoy a flat-screen TV, air-conditioning and a minibar. This is en suite bathroom that also comes with a shower and a bathtub. It also has a seating area that has a refrigerator and a hairdryer.

The lovely RV Paukan is a boutique hotel on the river, beautifully furnished with a unique combination of modern and traditional motifs. The timber-walled cabins are furnished with colonial style cupboards, dresser and doors while the ceiling is traditional Myanmar. The single or double beds are proper and comfortable ones and not mere bunks, enough room for 55 passengers who will be looked after by a 30-member crew.

For luxury-living, Paukan has suites, deluxe or superior cabins as well as singles for guest or guides. There are two massage rooms on the lower deck offering traditional Myanmar massage designed to give soothing relaxation.

The sun deck has a stage for cultural performances, and a bar and lounge for relaxation and fun. The upper deck has a lecture / movie room with lcd projector and lcd TV screen.

Meals in the dining room on the main deck will include both East and West cuisine, and dinner menus of delicious dishes. Vegetarian meals can be prepared when informed in advance. The price is inclusive of transfer between the ship and airport, all meals, sightseeing tours and entrance fees at monuments.

Aye Yar River View Resort is located next to the Irrawaddy River. It offers air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi and free public parking. The resort is equipped with a pool, spa and tour desk.

The resort is a 10-minute drive to Bupaya Pagoda and Bagan city centre.

Rooms are fitted with a balcony, electric kettle and refrigerator. They come with a safety deposit box and seating area. A bathtub and hairdryer are included in an en suite bathroom.

Mekong Restaurant serves Thai and European cuisines between 06:00-09:30 hrs. Room service can be arranged upon request. 

Set in Nyaung Shwe, 0.8 miles from Maing Thauk Bridge, Sanctum Inle Resort features free bikes and a garden. The property is located 5 miles from Red Mountain Estate Vineyards and 6.2 miles from Mingala Market. The restaurant serves local and international cuisine.

At the hotel, each room is fitted with a wardrobe. Every room includes a private bathroom with a bath and certain rooms come with a balcony. Guest rooms feature a flat-screen TV with satellite channels.

A business centre and an ATM machine are available on site. Speaking English, Spanish and French, staff are ready to help around the clock at the reception. Guests can relax at the spa or work out at the fitness centre.

A continental or American breakfast can be enjoyed at the property.

Set in a restored French colonial villa adjacent to the Royal Palace, Palace Gate Hotel & Resort offers accommodations in Phnom Penh with views of the Tonle Sap River. It features an outdoor swimming pool and guests can enjoy meals at the in-house restaurant or have a drink at the rooftop bar. Free WiFi is available in public areas.

Every room at this hotel is air conditioned and features a flat-screen TV. Some units have a seating area for your convenience. Certain rooms feature views of the pool or river. Rooms are fitted with a private bathroom equipped with a bidet. For your comfort, you will find bathrobes, slippers and free toiletries.

It is 600 yards to the National Museum, while Chaktomouk Conference Hall is 550 yards from the property. Kandal Market is 1,050 yards away and Independence Monument is 1.1 miles from Palace Gate Hotel & Resort. The nearest airport, Phnom Penh International Airport is 6.8 miles away. 

Only 900 yards from the lively Pub Street, Lynnaya Urban River Resort is a beautifully furnished property located in the heart of Siem Reap. It welcomes guests with an outdoor pool and free WiFi access throughout the property. Free parking is also available. Staff are able to converse in English, Chinese, French, Khmer, Korean and Japanese.

Rooms feature classic Cambodian-style furnishings. Amenities include a flat-screen cable TV, an electric kettle, comfortable seating area and air conditioning. Stylish en suite bathrooms come with a hairdryer, toothbrushes and free toiletries. Slippers are available for your convenience.

Lynnaya Urban River Resort is 3.7 miles away from the famous Angkor Wat – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Royal Residence is just 200 yards away while Siem Reap – Angkor International Airport is only 5 miles from the resort. 

Guests can unwind with a refreshing cocktail or glass of wine at the bar. Palate Restaurant serves up an array of Cambodian cuisines as well as a wide selection of other Asian and international dishes. 

November 9 2019: Enquiries

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