Sue, manager of the Travel Lounge at Cresta World Travel, is embarking on a luxurious trip to Myanmar (Burma) this Sunday 2nd October with Azure Collection; it’s a new trip for them so there’s excitement for everyone involved.
She’s going to keep us updated as much as technology will allow, but here’s a some of the history and a snippet of her itinerary…
“This is Burma” wrote Rudyard Kipling. “It is quite unlike any place you know about.”
Amazingly, over a century later, Myanmar retains the power to surprise and delight even the most travelled of travellers. On this fabulous trip you will be dazzled by the ‘winking wonder’ of Schwedagon Pagoda and contemplate the 4000 sacred stupas scattered across the plains of Bagan.
Myanmar is entering a new era after Aung San Suu Kyi’s landslide victory and you will not fail to notice the energy, hope and possibilities for the future that hang in the air. Exiles are returning, joining others in rising to the challenge of bringing their country into the 21st century at the same time as preserving the best of its ancient past. In 2015 Myanmar voted in its first democratically elected government in over half a century. Life is evolving but thankfully at a steady controlled pace. For all the momentous recent changes, Myanmar remains at heart a rural nation of traditional values. Its beauty, simplicity and charm, along with 21st century luxury will captivate & enchant you…
Sunday 2nd October
Fly from Manchester to London Heathrow and onward to Dubai with Emirates. Fly Dubai to Yangon (Rangoon), again with Emirates.
Monday 3rd October
Arrival at Yangon. Even though it’s no longer the nation’s official capital, Yangon – formerly Rangoon – remains Myanmar’s largest and most commercially important city. Its downtown skyline is dominated by the ‘winking wonder’ of Shwedagon Paya, a dazzling Buddhist temple that attracts pilgrims from all over the world.
After lunch there’s a visit to the huge reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Kyi, then a visit to the historic Shwedagon Pagoda which towers almost 326ft above the green cityscape of Yangon. One of the wonders of the religious world, it is believed to have been built more than 2500 years ago and is a testament to the faith of the Burmese. This magnificent building is covered with hundreds of gold plates and the top of the Stupa is encrusted with 4531 diamonds: the largest of which is 76 carats. One of the most magical times to visit the paya is early evening as the sun is about to set; to witness serenity and calmness that abound at this time of day is an experience that will remain with you for a very long time.
Tuesday 4th October
The first stop will be to the Kalaywa Monastery. With over a 1000 monks and nuns of various ages, this holy learning centre is an interesting place to observe monastic life.
Then explore the downtown area of the city. Sightseeing this morning will include the 2000 year old Sule Pagoda, one of the city’s most endearing landmarks and an opportunity to view the splendid colonial buildings that are still part of the city including the City Hall and the High Court Building.
After lunch there will be time to explore Bogyoke Aung San Market, still commonly known by its old British name of Scott Market. Undoubtedly offering the largest selection of handicrafts in Myanmar, the market is a great place to discover a bargain and have fun haggling with the local traders.
Continue to Aung San’s Museum. General Aung San was a key figure in the country’s struggle for independence and his former house is now a museum with some interesting memorabilia on display including family photographs (he is Aung San Suu Kyi’s father) and other personal effects.
When the sun starts to set and the air gets cooler, have a stroll through Kandawgyi Park and enjoy the changing light over Shwedagon Pagoda which is located just behind the park. Once it’s dark the illuminated stupa forms the perfect backdrop for a picturesque walk.
Wednesday 5th October
Fly from Yangon to Mandalay then board the spectacular Belmond Road to Mandalay on the Highlights of Myanmar Cruise. Home for the next few days…
Thursday 6th October
Join a Buddhist almsgiving ceremony and experience village life before the ship sets sail. Alight in Ava to explore the ancient capital. Take a traditional horse and cart tour to discover the sights by bike. As the ship sails to Bagan you can choose to attend a talk on Myanmar culture, sample infusions in the Burmese Tea Shop, learn how to dress in a traditional longyi or have your fortune told by an astrologer.
Friday 7th October
A range of tour options are available: “Introduction to Bagan” for temples and history, “A Day in the Life” for local culture, food and markets or “Bagan by Bicycle” for action and adventure. In the afternoon there is a visit to Ananda, one of Bagan’s most magnificent temples. In the evening admire the sunset over the plains.
Saturday 8th October
Fly from Bagan to Yangon. Visit The Belmond Governor’s Residence, a romantic colonial style mansion dating back to the 1920s. Once home to the ruler of Myanmar’s southern states it is steeped in history. Drift back to a past era with its fan cooled verandas and teak armchairs. Al fresco dinner by lantern light before the transfer to the airport.
Sunday 9th October
Fly back to Manchester via Dubai and London Heathrow.