The journey along the Burma Road from China to Myanmar is, from the point of view of history, landscape, and culture, one of the most spectacular journeys in south-east Asia. From the snow-covered mountains around Lijiang you travel on the tracks of General Stillwell and “his” Burma Road right down to the former royal city of Mandalay in the heart of Myanmar. The wonderful boat trip from Yandabo and the ancient temple city of Bagan round off this exciting journey on the Burma Road! This journey, full of contrasts and excitement, will enthuse you!

Your host, Adrian Stalder

Adrian Stalder

A Swiss National, passionate traveler and outdoor expert. He graduated from the Swiss business school of commerce and was supposed to start a banking career soon after. More out of curiosity he took an interim job as a tour guide for one of the leading tour operators in Switzerland and that is when he discovered his love and affection for foreign countries and their fascinating cultures and history. In between his assignments he shouldered his backpack and started to explore the remotest corners of the Asian continent. After one year in Thailand he then moved to neighboring Myanmar where he worked as the country manager for a German tour operator for almost 5 years.

He then decided to move on to Kunming, where he realized a long time dream by starting his own travel company, and to share with others his extensive travel experience and profound knowledge about China and South-East Asia. Chinese is just one of 5 languages he speaks fluently. In his spare time he is practicing Tai Ji and studies the Chinese history.

Tour Information

JOURNEY ALONG THE BURMA ROAD: THE HISTORY OF THE OLD BURMA ROAD


Journey along the legendary "Old Burma Road"

A journey along the legendary “Burma Road” from Yunnan province in south-west China to the temple city of Bagan in Myanmar is a very special treat not only culturally and for its landscapes. From the historical point of view too the “Burma Road” between China and Burma has from time immemorial played an important role.

In truth the Burma Road has always been a trade route for goods between Yunnan province in south-west China and the Shan state in Burma. It was mostly the precious, and in China most sought after, green Jade that was traded along this route.

However, this trade route did not take on the glare of publicity until the Second World War, when the Burma Road suddenly took on a vital role for China in the war against Japan. When the Japanese conquered eastern China and all of Indo-China in 1941 and so cut off China from supply lines from the west, that old trade route between Yunnan and Burma took on a very new and decisive role.

Due to the many years of isolation of Myanmar from the rest of the world, for a considerable amount of time it was not possible for tourist to cross the border overland from China into Myanmar. It is only until recently that the border crossing in Ruili has been re-opened for visitors from the west.

THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BURMA ROAD

When the east coast of China and large parts of Indo-China were occupied the supply lines of the Allies for Chiang Kai Chek’s Kuomintang troops in China were cut off. The sole supply line remaining – until the Japanese occupation of Burma in 1942 – was the road via Burma.


Played an important role for China during WW2: The Burma Road from Yunnan to Myanmar

At express speed and with enormous effort the Chinese part of the old Burma Road from Lashio to Kunming was built up. Up to 200,000 Chinese workers were engaged in the construction of the Burma Road through the mountainous landscape of Yunnan province.

All supplies went by ship to Rangoon (Yangon), the capital of Burma. There the goods were loaded into the trains of the Burma Railway and transported in a train trip taking more than 30 hours via Mandalay to Lashio. Lashio is till today the final point on the Burma Railway.

In Lashio all of the supplies were then transported by truck along the Burma Road across the mountainous Shan state in north-east Burma as far as Ruili, the town bordering on China. From Ruili they were then transported via Wanding further along the just then built-up Chinese part of the Burma Road via Baoshan to Kunming and then on to Chongqing. Chongqing was then the headquarters of Chiang Kai Shek and for a short time the capital of China.

«THE HUMP ROUTE» AND THE FLYING TIGERS


Reknown and revered in China to this day: The legendary Flying Tigers

With the invasion of Burma and the occupation of the harbor of Rangoon (Yangon) by the Japanese in 1942 the supply of weapons and ammunition to China via the Burma Road was interrupted. From then on the Allied forces were forced to send all the supplies to the Kuomintang via air bridge from Assam to China over the Himalayas.

The route over the southern foothills of the Himalayan Range was usually called “the hump” by the pilots. Insufficient navigational instruments, strong winds and unpredictable weather made those transport trips over “the hump” a dangerous undertaking. In addition, the pilots on the hump route were flying at heights for which airplanes at that time were only poorly equipped. Until the “Flying Tigers” intervened the ponderous transport aircraft were easy prey for the Japanese fighter planes.

The “Flying Tigers” were a group of 350 American pilots and aircraft mechanics who participated under the command of General Claire Lee Chennault in a military action (at first secret), the goal of which was to fight the Japanese forces in China. About 400 airplanes were lost during those flights on the “hump route”.
From 1942 to 1945 a total of 650,000 tons of material was transported over “the hump” by air to China. On the return flight the planes were full of Kuomintang soldiers who were flown to India to be trained.

ROAD STRAIGHT ACROSS THE NORTH OF BURMA: LEDO ROAD OR “STILLWELL ROAD”


Travel along the Old Burma Road, near the Nujiang River, Baoshan

The dramatic battles at Kohima and Imphal on the Burmese-Indian border in the first half of 1944 marked the real turning point in the “Burmese-Indian-Chinese” theater. In June and July General Sato decided to retreat out of India and back to Burma, and the Allied forces under the command of General Slim started the offensive to win back Burma.

In March 1945 Mandalay was reconquered. While the north of Burma was being reconquered in 1945 General Joseph Stillwell had a road built under the most difficult conditions from Ledo in India to Mong Yu (in today’s Myanmar) through the jungle of north Burma, where the road led along the original Burma Road to Wanding and to Kunming.

That joining road, 750 km long, received the name “Ledo Road”, but is also described as “Stillwell Road”. So the Chinese section of the Burma Road in Yunnan province was again opened up to supplies from India.

Till the end of the war in August 1945 Ledo Road (Stillwell Road) functioned for just another 6 months and finally was forgotten about, due also to the many years of Burmese isolation from the rest of the world.

KUNMING: END POINT OF THE OLD BURMA ROAD / THE START OF YOUR JOURNEY

Your journey along the Burma Road starts in Kunming in south-west China. Kunming, with a population of 8 million, is the capital of Yunnan province. The twin city of Zurich is 1,800 meters above sea level, and because of the pleasant climate throughout the year is often called the city of eternal spring.


The Yuantong Temple in Kunming, Yunnan Province, dates back to the 8th century

The city of Kunming was officially the end point of the 1,800 km Burma Road from India right across Burma to China. From there supplies were transported further to Chongqing. Chongqing was in the war years the temporary capital of China.

A trip to Kunming is definitely worthwhile. It is recommended that you visit Cui Hu Park (Green Lake Park) in the morning, when you can watch the local people preparing for the day with all sorts of sports activities, such as Tai Chi or Qigong. During winter Green Lake serves as winter quarters for thousands of gulls from the cold north.

A short walk away from Cui Hu Park (Green Lake Park) is the Buddhist temple Yuantong Si. Yuantong Si was originally from the 8th century and was enlarged later by the Mongols during the Yuan dynasty.

Other sites worth seeing in Kunming are the East and West pagodas situated in the middle of the bustling city center. Because of its pleasant climate Kunming can also be satisfactorily explored by bicycle. Kunming is an ideal starting point for a trip in Yunnan.

TRIP TO THE OLD TOWN OF LIJIANG (UNESCO)


Take a stroll along the many cobble stoned alleys of the Lijiang Old Town, Yunnan

From Kunming the journey starts in a comfortable night train to Lijiang. The trip with the night train from Kunming to Lijiang lasts about 8 hours. Lijiang Old Town catches your attention with its confusion of paved laneways and canals and the many well maintained temples and monasteries in the area.

The snow-covered peak of Jade Dragon Mountain, 5596 m high, gives Lijiang something of an “Alpine” flair. In 1996 an earthquake almost totally destroyed Lijiang.

During the reconstruction UNESCO’s attention was drawn to the old town of Lijiang, and a year later Lijiang was placed on UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list. It is worthwhile to climb up to the Lion’s Hill, from which you can enjoy a glorious view of the roofs of Lijiang’s old town.

A short walk away from the old town is the pond of the Black Dragon. From there you have a lovely view of Jade Dragon Mountain. Despite the massive tourism Lijiang has preserved a certain charm, and an early morning walk through the old town should be a part of your visit to Yunnan.

TRIP TO SHAXI AND XIZHOU IN YUNNAN PROVINCE

From Lijiang the journey continues to Shaxi. The village of Shaxi was once an important trading station on the “Tea and Horse Road”, a branch off the southern Silk Road. On the “Tea and Horse Road” it was mainly tea from Xishuangbanna in the south of Yunnan province transported to Tibet and in the opposite direction horses (hence the name Tea and Horse Road).


A trip to Shaxi, once an important trading post on the ancient Tea and Horse Road

In the 1990’s the village of Shaxi was lovingly restored with help from the Swiss government. In and around Shaxi it is easy to find accommodation. There are many tasteful guest houses close to the old village square. Most of that accommodation is in the 2 or 3 star class.

On your journey you will make a detour to Shibao Mountain, where you will visit the monastery of Shizong. In the grottos above Shizong monastery you can admire glorious Buddhist stone sculptures which were chiseled out of the sandstone rocks more than 1500 years ago. Whoever wants to can walk back to Shaxi along a simple walking path.

From Shaxi you travel on to Xizhou. The village of Xizhou is situated about 15 km north of Dali, close to the bank of Erhai Lake. The village of Xizhou is known for its well maintained Bai architecture. To whoever is looking for repose and nature on his Yunnan visit, we recommend choosing accommodation in Xizhou. There are many beautiful boutique hotels which could serve as accommodation in Xizhou.

In the area around Xizhou the main activity is agriculture, and the flat landscape around Erhai Lake is wonderfully suitable for extensive bicycle trips. The village of Xizhou is also very suitable as the basis of day trips to Weishan, Dali, or the Monday market at Shaping.

JOURNEY ON THE “OLD BURMA ROAD”


Along the old Burma Road: The bridge over the Nujiang River

After visiting the old town of Dali you turn onto the Burma Road, more than 1,200 km long, which during the Second World War was constructed by more than 300,000 soldiers and mercenaries in tough work by hand in order to secure supplies by the Allies from Burma to China.

On our trips along the old Burma Road you do not simply race along the new highway, but in places you will travel at a leisurely pace on the winding original route of that legendary road connection between Yunnan province in south-west China and Burma.

A short distance before Baoshan the Burma Road crosses the Mekong River. The town of Baoshan is situated in the south-west of Yunnan province approximately halfway between Dali and Ruili. Baoshan is surrounded on all sides by mountains, hence the name Baoshan, which in translation means approximately “protected by the mountains”.

During the Second World War the Allied forces in Baoshan maintained a major airport base from which, among others, the legendary “flying tigers” operated. Baoshan was then an important stopover point for the pilots on the “hump route”, an air bridge of the Allied forces for supplying the Kuomintang from Assam in India over the Himalayas to Kunming.

From Baoshan the trip continues, partly along the original Burma Road, through Nujiang River Valley to Tengchong.

RUILI: JOURNEY ACROSS THE BORDER OF YUNNAN INTO MYANMAR


Encounters with the local population is a corner-stone of our tours along the Burmaroad

In the border town of Ruili you pass across the border into Myanmar. That bustling border and trading town is a fascinating place, not least because of its cultural and ethnic diversity. There you find Burmese, Bengalis, Pakistanis, Indians and Thais who are nearly all active in the flourishing crossborder trade.

In Ruili there are various interesting markets you can visit where there are goods from across the border on sale. Accommodation is plentiful in Ruili. The choice of hotels in Ruili ranges from luxurious 5-star hotels to simple 2-star accommodation.

From Ruili you travel further along the Burma Road through hilly Shan state in the north-east of Myanmar to Lashio. The town of Lashio is still today the end point of the railroad line from Yangon. There the whole mass of supplies had to be loaded onto trucks and transported via the Burma Road straight through the north-east of Burma as far as Ruili. Lashio is situated only about 100 km from the Chinese border and is profits of its flourishing trade with China. Almost 60% of Lashio’s population are of Chinese origin.

HSIPAW: SHAN PRINCESS ON THE BURMA ROAD


The small town of Hsipaw, Shan State, Myanmar

From the lively town of Lashio the journey continues on to Hsipaw, 75 km away. Hsipaw, a laid-back place is situated on the Shan Plateau in the middle of a marvelous landscape on the bank of Dutthawaddy River.

Hsipaw became famous because of the book by Inge Sargent, Twilight Over Burma, My Life as a Shan Princess. The book describes the life of the Austrian Inge Sargent who studied in the USA at the Fulbright University and there got to know the Burmese mining student Sao Kya Seng at a students’ party. She fell in love with him and married him two years later. Not until she followed him to his homeland Burma did she learn that her husband was not a normal student but a prince of the Burmese mountain state Hsipaw and a ruler of the Shan. Prince Sao Kya Seng was abducted and killed in 1962 by the contemporary government of General Nwe Nwin. The “palace”, where Inge Sargent then lived with Sao Kya Seng in Hsipaw is officially allowed to be visited since 2012.

The relaxed atmosphere of Hpisaw invites you to a lengthy dalliance and is a welcome interruption of your journey along the Burma Road! A boat trip on the Dutthawaddy River or a bicycle tour into the nearby surroundings is quite a special experience. Accommodation in Hsipaw is rather simple and without frills.

TRAIN TRIP FROM HSIPAW TO PYIN-O-LWIN: TRAIN TRIP OVER THE GOTHEIK VIADUCT


Train from Hsipaw to Mandalay over the famous Gotheik Viaduct, Myanmar

The train trip on the 100-year-old railroad stretch from Hsipaw to Pyin-Oo-Lwin without a doubt is one of the highpoints of your journey along the Burma Road. At a leisurely pace the train wobbles its way through the mountainous landscape of the Shan State towards Mandalay.

The first railroad line in Myanmar was built in 1877 by the British colonial masters from Yangon to Prome on the Irrawaddy River. In 1884 the line from Yangon to Taungoo was added, and it was extended by the British after the fall of the Ava kingdom and the annexation of north Burma. At the turn of the century the 190km part stretch from Mandalay via Hsipaw to Lashio was added. The demanding terrain through the Shan Mountains was a very special challenge for the engineers. An extension into China was planned as well. But that plan was shelved after the outbreak of World War II and never realized.

On your trip from Hsipaw to Pyin-Oo-Lwin you cross over the Gotheik Viaduct, 700 meters long and 250 meters high, which was built from 1899 to 1900. At that time the Gotheik Viaduct was regarded as the second highest railroad bridge in the world and was a master stroke of bridge building at the time.

PYIN-O-LWIN, ALSO CALLED MAYMYO


A ride in a local taxi in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

The serene small town of Pyin-Oo-Lwin, 1,100 meters above sea level, which was called Maymyo during the British colonial period, served during the summer months as the capital of Myanmar.

The many colonial houses of Pyin-Oo-Lwin, some of them wonderfully renovated, are till today silent witnesses to the presence of the former Brtish colonial power. The colonial flair, the dusty sand tracks, a clock tower donated by Queen Victoria, and horse buggies as taxies, again and again capture the imagination of the visitor.

During a trip to Pyin-Oo-Lwin you really should plan a visit to Kandawagyi Park. Kandawagyi Park is situated at the edge of Pyin-Oo-Lwin and is, especially on weekends, a popular meeting point for the locals. The well kept garden grounds were laid out in 1915/1916 by the former British governor of Burma, Sir Harcourt Butler.

IDYLLIC YANDABO VILLAGE, MYANMAR

The little village of Yandabo is situated on the bank of the Irrawaddy River and is another exciting stopping place on your journey along the Burma Road. The Irrawaddy River, 2170 km long, is the lifeline of Myanmar and at the same time serves as an important transport route.


Yandabo village on the Irrawaddy River is another stop on your journey along the Burma Road

For Myanmar the village of Yandabo is of historic importance because there the peace treaty between the Ava Kingdom and the British East India Company was signed in 1826. The “Treaty of Yandabo” ended the first of three Burmese wars and marked the beginning of British colonial rule in Burma.

The village of Yandabo is known today rather for its highly valuable ceramics. For more than 200 years pottery in all shapes and variations has been produced by hand in Yandabo. The overnight stay in Yandabo takes place in a tasteful small hotel with a view of the Irrawaddy. The village of Yandabo is reached either by car in about 3 hours from Mandalay or by boat along the Irrawaddy River.

BOAT TRIP FROM YANDABO TO THE TEMPLE TOWN BAGAN

At a leisurely pace you float downstream on the Irrawaddy River in the direction of the temple town Bagan. The town of Bagan is in the center of Myanmar about 150 km south-west of Mandalay on the banks of the Irrawaddy River.


With over 2000 religious monuments Bagan ranks amongst the most impressive archeological sites in the world

With over 2,000 ancient temples and pagodas Bagan is without a doubt one of the world’s most impressive archeological sites.

As early as the first millennium after Christ the first religious buildings were erected in the Bagan area. However, the real heyday of Bagan began with King Anawrahta in 1044; he expelled the snake priests from the town in favor of Therravada-Buddhism and developed Bagan as the capital of an powerful first Burmese kingdom. And it was at that time that most of the colossal, impressive brick buildings were set up around Bagan, whose dimensions and structures evoke incredulous amazement in visitors still a thousand years later.

If you wander among the impressive historic buildings you get an impression of the town’s former glory. Another really special experience is a flight by hot-air balloon over the temple town at dawn.

YANGON, THE FORMER CAPITAL OF MYANMAR

Although the political capital was transferred in 2005 to Naypyidaw in the country’s inland, the city of Yangon is still the economic capital of Myanmar. Until 1755 the town was called Dagon and belonged to the Mon Empire. Its origins date from the 5th century before Christ. After all of the Mon cities had been conquered by the Burmese King Alaungphaya, he made Dagon the capital of the Burmese Empire in 1755. He renamed the city Yangon, which means in translation “end of conflict”.


The sunset at the Shwedagon Pagoda is a worthy end to a beautiful journey along the Burma Road

Yangon is a fascinating city where there are all sorts of things waiting to be discovered. The center of the city enthuses you most of all with its colonial buildings from the time of British colonial rule, many of which have in the meantime been beautifully renovated. Most of those buildings are to be found between Merchant Street and Strand Road. It is also worthwhile to do a tour of discovery on foot through the many parallel streets between the 17th and 23rd Streets, where you scarcely see a tourist and you can get a good insight into the daily life of the locals.

The geographic center of the city is the gold-gleaming Sule Pagoda at the intersection of Mahabandola Street and Sule Road. From that building all distances to the other corners of the country are calculated.

On a visit to Yangon you cannot, of course, leave out a visit to the city’s landmark, The Shwedagon Pagoda. Shwedagon Pagoda rises up majestically on a hill somewhat north of the city center of Yangon; its central stupa, the bell shaped tower, is visible from afar. A very special experience is a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda early in the evening when the artificial light of the floodlights replaces that of the setting sun, and the golden pagoda starts to stand out in sharp contrast to the dark night sky over Yangon.

 

Customer Reviews

"...by far our most thrilling and diverse tour in Asia..."

   Susanne from Switzerland
 


"...we would like to extend once again our gratitude for the excellent support and the perfect organisation of our tour along the Burma Road..."

   Horst from Germany

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Tour Itinerary

Day 1:   ARRIVAL IN KUNMING


Travel to Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan Province in China

Your journey along the Burma Road begins with your arrival in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province and the sister city of Zurich, Switzerland.

The city of Kunming is situated on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau at 1,900 meters above sea level and has about 7 million inhabitants.

Almost the whole year a pleasant, spring-like climate predominates in Kunming, and that has earned the city the title of the "Spring City of China".

Pick up at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Depending on the time of arrival you make a first short tour of the town on foot. You will visit the East-West Pagodas from the 9th century and the former city gates (Jin Ma Bi Ji).

Dinner in a local, typical Yunnan restaurant where you get to enjoy the excellent Yunnan cuisine.

Day 2:   KUNMING – GREEN LAKE PARK – STONE FOREST – KUNMING – NIGHT TRAIN TO LIJIANG


A Trip to the Stone Forest in Yunnan Province

Walkabout through the idyllic Cui Hu Park, where many locals gather to prepare for the day with various sporting activities, such as tai chi or chi gong.

After that a trip to the stone forest of Lunan, where rain and erosion over millions of years have left behind a uniquely impressive natural landscape.

The rock needles, narrow and with bizarre shapes and up to 30 meters in height, are among the most remarkable natural phenomena in China. On top of that, you learn more about the living customs of the people living around the Stone Forest of Lunan, the ethnic minority of the Sani, a sub-group of the Yi minority.

Travel back to Kunming, where you board the night train to Lijiang.

Day 3:   LIJIANG ARRIVAL


Lijiang is home to teh Naxi ethnic group

Early in the morning the night train reaches Lijiang. Transfer to your hotel. The town of Lijiang located about 2600 meters above sea level at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

You do a tour of the wonderful old town Lijiang crisscrossed by innumerable narrow laneways and canals. On this occasion we learn more about the special features and secrets of the mystical Naxi culture.

Almost totally destroyed by an earthquake in 1996, after its restoration Lijiang was placed on UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list. In the afternoon a visit to the romantic park “Black Dragon Pool”, from which in good weather you enjoy a beautiful view of the Jade Dragon Mountain (Yu Long Shan).

After lunch you travel to the village of Yu Hu, a romantic village where the famous Austrian-American botanist Joseph Rock lived from 1922 to 1949. In his house a small museum was set up that gives information about Joseph Rock’s life and work.

Overnight stay in Lijiang.

Day 4:   YUNNAN TRAVEL: LIJIANG – SHAXI – XIZHOU


Once a pivotal stop along the Tea and Horse Trade Route: Shaxi Village

You travel to Shaxi through a wonderful landscape. En route you make a short detour to Mount Shibao. You explore the many temples and pavilions from various dynasties and admire rock drawings more than 1300 years old – witnesses of a time when Mahayana Buddhism began to spread in Yunnan.  (If you wish you can walk along a well constructed footpath (easy going, downhill) to Shaxi in about 1.5 hours. The walk is an easy one and gives you a lovely view of Shaxi Valley).

Continued trip to Shaxi. Shaxi, a village little known, is situated in an area of charming landscapes in Shaxi Valley, and it was an important and affluent trading station on the “Tea and Horse Road”, an old trade route between Yunnan and Tibet. Walkabout in the idyllic village. Following that a trip to Xishou.

The village of Xishou is known for its well maintained Bai architecture. You take a stroll through the center. In doing so you visit the former residence of the Yan family, a marvelous wooden house with several inner courts built around the end of the 19th century.

Overnight stay in a tastefully fitted-out boutique hotel.

Day 5:   TRAVEL ON THE OLD BURMA ROAD: XIZHOU – DALI – BAOSHAN


Journey along the Burma Road: The Mekong River near Baoshan, Yunnan

Either by bicycle or a traditional horse carriage (about 20 mins) you go to the bank of Lake Erhai. A short hike takes you to a headland from which you have a beautiful view of the lake. Trip back to the hotel to check out.

Trip to Dali. Dali is situated on the western shore of idyllic Lake Erhai at the foot of the impressive Cang Range, which is up to 4,000 meters high. In the 9th century Dali was the capital of gigantic Nanzhao and later of the Dali Kingdom before the historic city was later overrun by the Mongols. The area around Dali is inhabited mainly by the ethnic Bai group.

You go walkabout through the city center. You visit the market, the Catholic church in Bai style, and the former city gates. After lunch you travel along the Burma Road through wonderful landscapes to Baoshan.

The Old Burma Road was built during the Second World War when advancing Japanese forces cut off the supply routes of southern Burma. With an enormous effort the American army built, under the command of General Joseph Stillwell, a road from Ledo in India right through the north of Burma to Kunming in China. Overnight stay in Baoshan.

Day 6:   BAOSHAN – TENGCHONG


Travel the Yunnan Province: Wofo Temple near Baoshan

Visit to the idyllic Wo Fo Si Temple with a recumbent jade Buddha that came from Burma.

We leave Baoshan and drive further along the original route of the Old Burma Road.

Through glorious landscapes along the winding section we reach first the impressive and fertile Nujiang Valley. Nujiang River (in Burma Thanlwin or Salween) flows from Tibet through China and Myanmar, where it empties into Lake Andaman after flowing 2,800 km.

We cross over Nujiang River and go on through the impressive Gaoligong Massif to Tengchong.

Overnight stay in Tengchong.

Day 7:   TENGCHONG – RUILI

The area around Tengchong is known for its seismological activity. The city is surrounded by more than 90 extinct volcanoes, and the many hot water springs are popular destinations for the Chinese. Early in the morning you travel to the nearby hot water springs.

After a walkabout through the many bubbling and steaming pools we travel on to the Tengchong Museum, which is waiting for you with an informative exhibition on the Old Burma Road.

After that the trip continues through the diverse mountain landscapes of south-west China to Ruili. If you still feel energetic you can have a look at the busy night market of Ruili in the evening.

You stay overnight at the border town of Ruili, Yunnan Province.

Day 8:   RUILI – MUSE – HSIPAW


Travel the Old Burma Road: A Burmese girl wearing Tanaka

You cross the border into Burma that was not opened to tourists until a few years ago. After going through the border formalities we reach the Burmese town Muse, which since the opening up of the border has mainly given attention to trade with China. In the surrounding villages live many minorities of the Lisu, Kachin, Palaung and Shan which have kept up their traditional lifestyles. On the track of the famous-infamous Old Burma Road we continue our journey to Lashio. The city of Lashio is still the end point of the Burma Railway and was, until the Japanese invasion in 1941, the setting out point of the legendary Burma Road.

Continued trip through ever-changing landscapes of the Shan Highland to Hsipaw. The easy-going village of Hsipaw is situated amid a glorious landscape on the bank of Dutthawaddy River. Hsipaw became famous for the book of Inge Sargent, Twilight Over Burma, My Life as a Shan Princess.

 During a walkabout through the village you pick up a lot of good information on the life customs of the indigenous Shan people. You visit a factory where cheroot cigars, which in the meantime are known beyond the Burmese borders, are rolled. We also have a look at the local popcorn production and after that visit a “weaving mill”, where bamboo is processed. Overnight stay in Hsipaw.

Day 9:   HSIPAW


Encounters with the local population is a cornerstone of our trips along the Old Burma Road from China to Burma

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 the Shan prince Sao Kya Seng, who was abducted in 1962 by the government of the time under Ne Win. The tragic fate of the last Shan prince is written up in the wonderful book of his Austrian wife Inge Sargent, Twilight Over Burma, My Life as a Shan Princess. The laid-back atmosphere of Hpisaw invites you to a lengthy dalliance and is a welcome interruption of your journey along the Burma Road!

You undertake an excursion to the glorious surrounds of Hsipaw. In a local boat you travel downstream on the Dutthawaddy to Jyo Pagoda. Further travel to a Shan monastery, more than 150 years old, built by one of the Shan princes. The rest of the afternoon is at your free disposal to explore Hsipaw under your own steam.

Overnight stay in simple accommodation in Hsipaw.

Day 10:   HSIPAW – GOTHEIK VIADUCT – MAYMYO


Travel accross the Gotheik Viaduct near Hsipaw during your journey along the Burmaroad

In the morning drive to the railroad station. We get into the train going in the direction of Maymyo (Phyn-Oo-Lwin) and travel on what is probably one of the most impressive train sections in all of Asia: the train goes, among other things, over the 700 meter Gotheik Viaduct spanning a gorge 300 meters deep.

The fascinating railroad bridge was built over a century ago by the Pennsylvania Steel Company. At that time it was the second highest railroad bridge in the world and was regarded as a pioneer achievement in the art of bridge construction. The trip at walking pace offers breathtaking views of the landscape. At about 2 p.m. we reach Naung Cho, where we alight from the train and continue by car.

We reach the former British summer capital Maymyo: a picturesque mountain place that is a popular destination for excursions because of its pleasant climate. Apart from the botanical garden set up by Colonel May, many architectonic relics from the English colonial period are still standing. Interestingly enough, in Pyin-Oo-Win you encounter, as well as Bamars, many Nepalese and Indians, whose fathers settled there after the Second World War. Overnight stay in Pyin-Oo-Lwin.

Day 11:   MAYMYO – MANDALAY


The many colonial buildings in Pyin Oo Lwin are still a reminder of the British colonial past

In the morning we visit the busy and colorful morning market of Maymyo, where members of the various ethnic groups, now settled in the surrounding mountains, go about their shopping.

As well, we visit Kandawagyi Park, a lovely botanical garden which was laid out by the former governor of Burma, Sir Harcourt Butler, in 1915/16. We take a walkabout through the park and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere.

In horse carriages we do a tour of the serene city with its brightly colored mixture of peoples. The many and wonderful colonial houses that we drive past are till today silent witnesses to the once strong presence of the English colonial power. The leisurely trip also leads past Purcell Tower, a gift of Queen Victoria. We also pay a visit to the 100-year-old church.

We travel on through a diversified landscape to Mandalay.

Day 12:   MANDALAY – AMARAPURA – AVA - MANDALAY


Journey along the Old Burma Road: The old U-Bein bridge, made entirely of Teakwood

Mandalay is the second biggest city in Myanmar. The city was founded in 1857 by King Mindon and served till 1885 as the seat of the kingdom and as the capital of the country.

Transfer to the pier. You go for a cozy boat trip on the Irrawaddy to Mingun (about 45 minutes). In 1790 King Bodawpaya had the Mingun pagoda built. With a height of 150 meters and a lateral length of 150 meters it was supposed to become the world’s biggest pagoda. But because of the king’s death it was never completed. Right nearby there is the Mingun bell regarded as the world’s biggest intact bell. From Mingun we go downstream at a relaxed pace to Ava.

By horse carriage we take a tour through the impressive ruins of Ava, which served as the capital of the Ava Kingdom from 1364 to 1527. In doing so we go past Nanmyint, the former city watchtower. Because of its leaning stance Nanymint is described as “the leaning tower of Ava”. Trip to Amarapura, where we visit Mahagandayone monastery.

The U-Bein bridge, 1.2 km long, dates from 1851 and is regarded till today as the world’s longest bridge made of teak. Whoever wishes to, can try a mouthful of the well known Mandalay rum which has been produced here since 1886!

Day 13:   MANDALAY – YANDABO


Travel to Yandabo Village during your journey along the Old Burma Road

Trip up Mandalay Hill, from where you enjoy a lovely view of the city of Mandalay and Mandalay Fort. After that you pay a visit to the famous Kuthodaw Pagoda. The 729 marble plaques, engraved with holy Buddhist writings, are regarded as the “world’s biggest book”.

As well, you visit Shwenandaw monastery. This wonderful wooden building from the 19th century with its valuable wooden ornaments is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Myanmar and preserved mostly in its original form.

After that, a visit to some local handwork sites, where stone, wood, and bronze are worked. On top of that, we visit a workshop where wafer-thin gold leaf is produced. A trip through diversified landscapes to Yandabo.

The village of Yandabo is situated on the Irrawaddy and is known for the traditional manufacture of clay pots. After the first Anglo-Burmese war (1823 – 26) the peace treaty of Yandabo was signed there on 24th February 1826.

Check in at the beautiful Yandabo Home Hotel.


Yandabo Village is located on the shores of the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar

On a walkabout through the village you will be told by your guide many things worth knowing about the living habits of the indigenous population.

By the local ferry we travel together with locals to the village of Pan Nyo. The village of Pan Nyo is known for its beautiful and powerful water buffalos! Here there is a guarantee of unique chances to take one photo or another! Return trip to Yandabo.

Overnight stay in Yandabo. The idyllic Yandabo Home hotel is located right on the Irrawaddy River.

The idyllic Yandabo Home hotel is located right on the Irrawaddy River. The rooms of Yandabo Home Hotel are traditional style, but come with amenities like Wifi Internet and satellite TV. A breakfast on the terrace right next to the Irrawaddy River is an unforgettable experience.

Day 14:   BOAT TRIP ON THE IRRAWADDY TO BAGAN


The Irrawaddy River is the most important and largest River in Myanmar

Breakfast in a relaxed atmosphere. After that we go in the direction of Bagan at a leisurely pace in a boat on the Irrawaddy.

With a length of 2,170 km the Irrawaddy is the biggest and most important river in Myanmar. The Irrawaddy starts north of Myktyina through the junction of the two rivers Maika and Malika, which for their part have their source in the northern state of Kachin and partly in China.

We take a break in Pakkoku, where you visit the temple caves at Kyauk Gu Ohnmin. We also visit a factory where the well known Burmese slippers are produced.

At about 5 p.m. we reach Bagan. We are met at the pier and transferred to the hotel.

Overnight stay in Bagan.

Day 15:   BAGAN


Over 2000 religious sites are found in and around Bagan, Myanmar

With more than 2,000 temples and pagodas Bagan is doubtless one of the most fascinating archeological sites in Asia. Most of those impressive brick buildings date from the 11th and 12th centuries, when Bagan was the capital of the influential First Burmese Kingdom.

You visit Shwezigon Pagoda, which the founder of Bagan, King Anawratha, had built in the 11th century. You gaze in wonder at the wall paintings of Byauk Gyi Temple, and visit as well Htilominlo Temple, which also enthuses you with its fine wall paintings and frescos. Htilominlo Temple is the last temple built in Bagan in the Bamar style; it dates from 1218. A high point is the visit to Ananda Temple with its four standing Buddhas.

After lunch a pleasant stroll through the village of Myinkaba, known for its traditional lacquer ware workshops. After that comes a trip to the biggest temple in Bagan, Dhammayangyi Temple. That colossal temple in the form of a pyramid dates from 1181 and was built by King Naratu. It is interesting that in the construction of Dhammayangyi Temple no mortar was used, and after the untimely death of the king it was never completed.

Day 16:   BAGAN - GOLD GLEAMING METROPOLIS YANGON

Flight (about 1 hour) to Yangon. On a tour of inspection we want to explore the sites of this charming city on Yangon River. Till 2009 Yangon was the capital of Myanmar before that was transferred to the heart of Myanmar at Naypyidaw.


A worthy finish to our journey along the Burma Road from China to Myanmar: The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon

We are met and transferred to the hotel in the center where there are impressive colonial buildings, a heritage of the former British colonial rule. Some of Asia’s most beautiful colonial buildings are to be found along the river in the legendary “Strand Road”, where the famous Strand Hotel is situated.

Check in at the hotel. On foot you do a walkabout from the hotel through the fascinating former colonial city. Apart from Sule Pagoda a visit to the Chinese and the Indian quarters is on the program. On top of that, you visit a local teahouse where there are many interesting local snacks to try out!

We allow ourselves a lot of time for the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon’s landmark. Through the back door we enter the fascinating temple area surrounding the 110 meter high pagoda.

The picturesque atmosphere of the evening light gives us an unforgettable farewell to a journey to the peoples and cultures of the south-eastern foothills of the Himalayas along the historic Burma Road.

Overnight stay in Yangon.

Day 17:   DEPARTURE FROM YANGON

Transfer to airport.

 

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Journey along the Old Burma Road from China to Myanmar

Duration:
15-17 days
Overland Crossborder Tour from Lijiang to Yangon
Tour Type:
Crossborder-Tours, Private Tours