6-8 days

Travel along the legendary Burma Road

Compressed overland tour along the "Old Burma Road" from Yunnan to Burma

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Travel along the infamous "Old Burma Road" from the Yunnan Province in Southwest China to the "Golden Land" of Myanmar (Burma). The Burma Road has long been a trading route between the British occupied Burma and China, but played an important role for China during the Second World War. A fascinating journey through the rugged mountain terrain of Southwest China and Northern Burma. A compressed version of our other fascinating tours along the Burma Road, ideal for the traveller with a limited amount of time and a limited budget.

Tour Information

Journey along the legendary "Old Burma Road" from Yunnan in South-West China to Myanmar

Journey along the "Old Burma Road"

A journey along the legendary "Burma Road" from the Yunnan Province in southwest China to Mandalay in Myanmar (Burma) is, from a cultural, ethnical and scenically point of view, a very special travel experience.

From Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in South-West China, you drive along the legendary Burma Road to Mandalay in Myanmar and, by doing so, learn a lot about the history of the Burma Road and its role during the Second World War.

The Burma Road has always been a trade route between Yunnan Province and Burma. During the 2nd World War, when eastern China and all of Indochina was occupied by the Japanese from 1941, and thus cut off from the western supply routes, this inconspicuous trade route in the southwestern tip of China became of great importance.

Your journey along the legendary "Old Burma Road" ends in Mandalay in Myanmar. An exciting, multifaceted journey that will inspire you!

Join us on an unforettable journey!

A litte bit of history about the Burma Road

From 1937- 38 especially the Chinese part of the old Burma road from Ruili to Kunming was extended under enormous effort.

The construction of the Burma Road, China

Up to 200'000 Chinese workers were involved in the extension of the Burma Road through the mountainous landscape of the Yunnan Province in southwest China.

Until the Japanese invasion of Burma in 1942, the Burma Road was the only Allied supply route for the Kuomintang troops of Chiang Kai Shek. The goods were transferred to the Burma Railway in the port of Rangoon.

From Rangoon, the goods were transported by rail via Mandalay to Lashio, and then by truck across the Burma Road through the mountainous Shan State in northeastern Burma to Ruili, the border town with China. From Ruili the supplies were then transported further on the just developed Chinese part of the Burma road via Baoshan to Kunming and further to Chongqing. At that time Chongqing was the headquarters of Chiang Kai Shek and for a short time the capital of China.

„The Hump“ Route

With the occupation of Burma by the Japanese in 1942, the supply of weapons and ammunition for the Kuomintang via the Burma Road was interrupted.

After the closure of the Burma Road, China was supplied from the air.

The allied forces were then forced to fly the entire supply for the Kuomintang over an airlift from Assam in India over the Himalayas to China. By most pilots the route over the southern foothills of the Himalayas was simply referred to as "The Hump".

Strong winds, insufficient navigation equipment, high altitudes and bad weather made these transport flights over "The Hump" a dangerous undertaking. Until the "Flying Tigers" were used, the rather slow transport planes were also easy prey for the Japanese fighters.

Almost 400 aircraft were lost during this operation on the "Hump Route". From 1942-45 a total of 650000 tons of material were transported by air to China via "the Hump".

The Ledo Road (Stilwell Road)

Joseph Stilwell with Chiang Kai Chek

Still during the recapture of Northern Burma by the allied forces in 1945, General Joseph Stilwell had the road from Ledo in India to Mong Yu built through the jungle of Northern Burma under enormous effort and most difficult conditions, where the road then met the original Burma road to Wanding as well as Kunming.

This 750km long road was given the name "Ledo Road" but is also often referred to as "Stilwell Road". Thus, the Chinese part of the Burma Road in the Yunnan Province was reopened for supplies.

Until the end of the war in 1945, the Ledo Road (Stilwell Road) was only in operation for 6 months and was subsequently forgotten, also due to Burma's long-term isolation from the rest of the world.

Your journey along the Burma Road starts in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province

A journey to Kunming, Yunnan capital and city of eternal spring of China

Your journey along the Burma Road begins in Kunming, the actual end point of the Burma Road. Kunming in South-West China is the capital of the Yunnan province.

The year-round pleasant climate gives Kunming a very special charm, and Kunming is often referred to as the "city of eternal spring".

Compared to other cities in China, the air in Kunming is good.

Since most of Kunming's sights are centrally located, and also due to the mostly perfect weather conditions, Kunming is very easy to discover by bike.

Another good and budget option to explore Kunming by public transports like the modern subway or the city bus.

Travel by fast train from Kunming to Dali

Travel by hig-speed train from Kunming to Dali in Yunnan Province, China

In the morning you will be picked up at the hotel and escorted to Kunming railway station for your journey by high-speed train from Kunming to Dali.

The journey with the modern express train takes only 2 hours. A train ride in China is also a good opportunity to get in touch with the locals.

Shortly before noon you reach Xiaguan, where the Dali railway station is located. From the Xiaguan railway station to the old town of Dali it is just another 15km. Your guide will pick you up at Xiaguan railway station. Together you drive to the old town of Dali.

The old town of Dali is located on the western shore of Lake Erhai in the shadow of the Cang Mountains in the Yunnan province in the southwest of China. Upon arrival in Dali, you will have time to explore the old town or take a bike tour to nearby Lake Erhai.

Journey along the Old Burma Road from Dali via Baoshan to Tengchong

View of the Mekong River on the Old Burma Road in Yunnan Province, Southwest China

From Dali the journey continues along the Burma road to Baoshan. Before Baoshan the Burma Road crosses the Mekong River.  The Mekong River has its source in the Tangula Mountains in Tibet and flows into the South China Sea in South Vietnam.

Afterwards the journey continues partly along the original route of the Burma Road through the fertile Nujiang Valley. The Nujiang River also has its source in the Tibetan highlands and forms the "3-parallel rivers" further north together with the Mekong and Yangtze. In Burma, the Nujiang River becomes the Salween River. The journey continues through the Gaoligong mountain massif in an easterly direction to Tengchong.

The city of Tengchong is located directly on the fault of the Indian subcontinent as well as the Asian continent at an altitude of 1'650m. This is why there are numerous extinct volcanoes and many natural hot springs around Tengchong that are popular with the locals. In Tengchong you take time to visit the museum with an interesting exhibition about the Burma road as well as the violent acts of war in the "Burma-India-China-Theater" during the 2nd world war. A visit to the Tengchong Museum is highly recommended.

Travel across the border in Ruili from Yunnan to Myanmar on the Old Burma Road

Through the fascinating landscape of West Yunnan, the journey heads south to the border town of Ruili. For a long time Ruili was a sleepy town at the border to Myanmar, which lived a quite isolated existence.

Journey along the Old Burma Road from Kunming in Yunnan to Mandalay in Myanmar

Since the official opening of the border in 1992, Ruili has very quickly developed into a bustling city, which lives mainly from trade, both legal and illegal, with the bordering Myanmar. If you feel like it, there is time to visit the night market in Ruili.

From Ruili you cross the border from Yunnan to Burma. After completing the custom formalities, you continue your journey along the Burma Road through the highlands of the Shan State in the northeast of Burma towards Lashio. Until a few years ago this part of the Burma Road was completely closed to foreigners. During the 2nd World War the goods were reloaded from the railway to trucks in Lashio and transported via the Burma Road to Kunming. Lashio is until today the end of the Burma Railway and also the end of the "old Burma road".

Your journey along the Burma Road continues to Hsipaw, a small village on the railway line from Mandalay to Lashio. Hsipaw became famous through Inge Sargent's book "Twilight over Burma, My Life as Shan Princess". The book describes the tragic and true story of Shan Prince Sao Kya Seng, who was kidnapped and killed by the government in 1962. The beautiful area around Hsipaw with the Dhuttawaddy River will inspire you!

Journey by train to the former British summer capital of Burma, Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)

Encounters with the locals on the Old Burma Road

You board the train of the Burma Railway and travel at a leisurely pace towards Pyin-Oo Lwin. The highlight is the ride over the 700 meters long and 250 meters high Gotheik Viaduct, which was built between 1899-1900. The Gotheik Viaduct was at that time the second highest railway bridge in the world and was a masterpiece of bridge construction.

At Naung Cho station behind the Gotheik Viaduct you leave the train and drive by car to Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo).

The tranquil small town of Pyin-Oo-Lwin, which was called Maymyo during the British colonial rule, served as the capital of Myanmar during the summer months. This allowed the British colonial rulers to escape the sultry heat of Yangon. The many, wonderful colonial houses of Pyin-Oo-Lwin are still silent witnesses of the presence of the former English colonial power.

Journey along the Burma Road: The former royal capital of Burma: Mandalay

The road from Pyin-Oo-Lwin to Mandalay leads continuously downhill from the Shan Highlands to the hot plain of the Irrawaddy River Valley. Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar. The city was founded in 1857 by King Mindon and served until 1885 as the seat of the king and as the capital of the then Kingdom of Burma. The city of Mandalay is located on the Irrawaddy River, Myanmar's lifeline.

Your fantastic journey along the legendary Old Burma Road ends at Mandalay in Myanmar

A very special experience is a boat trip on the Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Bagan. We can particularly recommend the 2 days boat trip with the overnight stay in the village Yandabo at the bank of the Irrawaddy river. The city Mandalay inspires above all by the very relaxed ambience, the numerous wooden monasteries and golden shining pagodas.

The overnight stay in Mandalay forms the worthy conclusion of this fascinating journey along the old Burma road from the Yunnan province in China to the royal city of Mandalay in Burma.

If you have more time, you can also start your journey along the Burma Road on the Tibetan Plateau in Zhongdian in China at 3'300m. For travellers who prefer to spend a little more time in tranquil Myanmar, we also have exciting connecting journeys from Mandalay in our program - ask us!

The journey along the Burma Road is an exciting and varied journey, with many contrasts and encounters with the local population!

 

Tour Map

"...we enjoyed the trip very much. The trip went smoothly and everything was perfectly organized..."

  Renate from Germany


"...we just wanted to thank you once again for the great organization of the trip.....especially Myanmar impressed us very much..."

  Pascal and Markus from Switzerland

Tour Itinerary

Day 1:  TRAVEL BY HIGH-SPEED TRAIN FROM KUNMING TO DALI OLD TOWN

Transfer to the Kunming Railway station. You board the high-speed train which takes you in about 2 hours to Dali. Pick up and transfer to Old Town Dali by public transport.

Cycling tour along the Erhai Lake near Dali, Yunnan Province in South-West China

Take a walking tour around Old Town. Visit the local market and the former city gates.

During the Tang Dynasty (618-907) Dali used to be the capital of Nanzhao, a powerful Kingdom that extended over parts of Thailand, Burma and Tibet. It was during this period when Buddhism started to spread in the area and Dali became some sort of spiritual center for the region.

In the afternoon you can make a bicycle tour to Xizhou.

The route leads through vegetable and rice growing area to Lake Erhai. When you reach the lakeshore, you then cycle along the Erhai Lake to Xizhou. The village Xizhou impresses with its well-preserved Bai architecture.

Cycle back to Dali for your overnight accommodation.

Day 2:   TRAVEL ALONG THE THE INFAMOUS OLD BURMA ROAD FROM DALI TO TENGCHONG

You leave Dali and drive through wonderful scenery partially on the old Burma road to Baoshan.

The Burma Road crosses the Nujiang River in Western Yunnan Province in China

The old Burma Road was built during World War II when advancing Japanese forces cut off the supply routes from southern Burma. Under the leadership of General Joseph Stilwell, the American Army built a road from Ledo in India across northern Burma to Kunming in China.

Shortly before Baoshan you cross the Mekong River. Continue in the direction of Baoshan where you stop for lunch.

In the afternoon you travel partially along the original parts of the Old Burma Road towards Tengchong. Through mountainous landscape of Western Yunnan, you first reach the impressive and fertile Nujiang valley.

The Nujiang River (in Burma Thanlwin or Salween) flows from Tibet through China and Myanmar, where it flows after 2800 km into the Andaman Sea. You continue your journey by crossing the Nujiang River and travel through the impressive Gaoligong mountains to Tengchong. Check-in at your hotel. Overnight stay in Tengchong.

Day 3:  JOURNEY FROM TENGCHONG TO THE BUSTLING BORDER TOWN OF RUILI 

The rather modern city of Tengchong is located in Western Yunnan and used to be an important trading center for Jade from Burma.

Travel the legendary "Old Burma Road" in Yunnan Province, Southwest China

As a matter of fact, Tengchong was such an important trading town that the British had their own consulate here in the 19th century.

The city is surrounded by over 90 extinct volcanic cones and the numerous hot springs are popular recreation spots for locals and tourists alike. In the morning you drive to the nearby hot springs, where you take a short walk through the numerous bubbling and steaming ponds. After that you pay a visit to the museum of Tengchong with an informative exhibition about the history of the Old Burma Road.

Afterwards you drive through the varied mountain landscape of southwest China to Ruili. The constantly changing landscape compensates for the somewhat longer journey. In the evening arrival in the bustling border town of Ruili. If you want, you can visit the bustling night market of Ruili in the evening.

Day 4:  TRAVEL ACROSS THE BORDER FROM YUNNAN TO MYANMAR AND ON TO HSIPAW 

You start the day by crossing the border to Burma, which has only been open to tourists for a few years. After completing the border formalities, you reach the Burmese town of Muse, which main source of income is the trade with China.

Encounters along the Old Burma Road from Yunnan in China to Mandalay in Myanmar

In the footsteps of General Stilwell and his Burma Road you continue our journey south to Lashio. The city of Lashio is still the terminus of the Burma Railway and was the starting point of the legendary Burma Road until the Japanese invasion in 1941.  

Continue through the varied landscape of the Shan Highlands in Eastern Myanmar to Hsipaw. The tranquil village of Hsipaw is situated in the middle of a beautiful landscape on the banks of the Dutthawaddy River. Hsipaw became famous through Inge Sargent's book "Twilight over Burma, My Life as Shan Princess".

During a walk through the village you will learn a lot about the way of life of the local Shan people. You will visit a factory where the famous Cheroot cigars are rolled. Overnight stay in Hsipaw.

Day 5:  HSIPAW

Travel by boat up the Dutthawaddy River near Hsipaw

In the morning you visit Hsipaw Haw (also called East Haw). Hsipaw Haw is a beautiful old colonial house surrounded by tamarind trees and was once the residence of Shan Prince Sao Kya Seng, who was kidnapped by Ne Win's government in 1962. The tragic fate of the last Shan prince is written down in the wonderful book by his then Austrian wife Inge Sargent "Twilight over Burma, my life as a Shan Princess".

You then take a trip to the beautiful surroundings of Hsipaw. With a local boat you travel upstream on the Dutthawaddy river to the Jyo Pagoda. Continue to a 150 years old Shan monastery, which was built by one of the Shan princes. Here you stop for lunch. Short walk through lemon, orange, pineapple and teak plantations. The rest of the afternoon is at your free disposal.

Overnight stay in a simple accommodation in Hsipaw.

Tag 6:  HSIPAW – PYIN-O-LWIN (MAYMYO)

In the morning drive to the railway station. You board the train towards Maymyo (Phyn-Oo-Lwin) and travel along one of the most impressive train routes in Asia: The train ride leads over the 700 m long Gotheik Viaduct, which leads over a 300 m deep gorge.

Train ride over the 100 years old Gotheik Viaduct

The fascinating railway bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Steel Company over 100 years ago. At that time, it was the second highest railway bridge in the world and was considered a milestone in bridge construction. The ride across the bridge at walking pace offers breathtaking views of the landscape.

You reach  Naung Cho Station where you get off the train and continue your journey by car. 

You reach the former British summer capital Maymyo, a picturesque mountain town, and a popular destination for travelers due to its pleasant climate. In addition to the botanical garden, which was established by Colonel May, numerous architectural relics from the colonial period of the English have been preserved, including may beautiful colonial style houses.

Overnight stay in Pyin Oo Lwin. Check-in at your hotel. Overnight stay in Pyin-Oo-Lwin.

Tag 7:  TRAVEL FROM THE SHAN PLATEAU TO THE ROYAL CAPITAL OF MANDALAY

Travel from China to Myanmar along the Burma Road: Pyin-Oo-Lwin in Myanmar

In the morning you visit the bustling and colorful morning market of Lashio where members of the various ethnic groups living in the surrounding mountains do their daily shopping.

You also visit Kandawagyi Park, a beautiful botanical garden created by Sir Harcourt Butler, a former governor of Burma, in 1915/16.

By traditional horse carriages you then make a round trip through the historic center of the town with its colorful markets, shops and snack-shops. The many wonderful colonial houses along the way are silent witnesses of the former presence of the British colonial rulers.  The leisurely drive also takes you past the Purcell Tower, a gift from Queen Victoria. You then visit the 100 years old church.

In the afternoon your journey continues to Mandalay. Check-in at your hotel. Overnight accommodation is at Mandalay.

 

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