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Yangon – Mandalay – Inle Lake – Pindaya – Bagan
Yangon – Mandalay – Inle Lake – Pindaya – Bagan
Your introduction to Myanmar’s handicrafts begins in Yangon by visiting a well-known Art School where you will be offered insight into ‘Pan Sel Myo’, the ten traditional crafts of Myanmar including blacksmithing, stone carving, painting and bronze casting, most of which you will encounter during your trip.
As an international hub of contemporary art, Yangon is home to many established and up-and-coming artists. Meet Khin Maung Zaw, one of Myanmar’s most recognised watercolour artists specialising in Buddhist monastic life and architecture. Hear as Khin Maung Zaw shares his personal journey as an aspiring artist while accompanying you on an insider tour of several key contemporary galleries in Yangon. Conclude the gallery tour at the Strand Hotel visiting the renowned River Gallery followed by a gourmet lunch at this historic hotel.
Considered to be the arts and crafts centre of the country, Mandalay has successfully maintained the legacy of its traditional arts since its glory days as the royal capital. Meet the founder behind Arts Mandalay, a non-profit foundation focussed on preserving traditional classic dance, arts and theatre, and learn about their passionate efforts in not only carrying on the tradition but also providing a future for young Burmese. Join a class at the Inwa Art School and Mintha Theatre and admire the talent of the young performers as they re-create a traditional Burmese dance repertoire.
In the morning, drive to Amarapura to discover a diverse range of silk weaving workshops that still use traditional techniques to produce beautiful hand crafted garments (although some large workshops have started to introduce machines!). Return to Mandalay and explore a series of workshops that create stone carvings, intricate gold embroidery and gold leaf. Try your hand at these intriguing crafts, joining in for the final stages of the products creation. At the gold leaf workshop, you may keep the gold leaf as a souvenir or offer it to Buddha on your next temple visit.
In the afternoon, visit the home and workshop of Daw Ma Ma Naing, a passionate puppeteer with more than 10 years of experience, and who now teaches the younger generation her art. Over traditional afternoon tea, Daw Ma Ma Naing will explain the history of Myanmar puppetry and the step by step process of making a puppet. Create your own puppet at the workshop and learn how to make it dance by carefully manipulating the strings. Take it home as a unique souvenir and reminder of this fascinating art form.
Inle Lake, located in Shan State, is the second largest freshwater lake in the country. The lake is a vital resource for the surrounding local villages, not only for fishing and the floating vegetable gardens, but also as the fertile ground for lotus stems. Unique to Inle Lake is lotus silk weaving which involves spinning the lotus stem fibres into silk threads. Visit a family dedicated to producing high-quality lotus silk and observe the entire process, from extracting the lotus stem fibres to weaving the lotus silk into scarves and textiles. After this experience, you will understand why it takes about 4,000 lotus stems to produce a small neck scarf!
Located 68km/42mi from Taunggyi, Pindaya attracts visitors for its limestone caves and handmade paper parasols. Visit a family-run workshop and learn the paper-making process from stripping the mulberry bark to drying the pulp before it becomes paper. Choose your preferred colour and paper design, and be guided by a craftsman to create your own parasol. Take the parasol home as a souvenir or use it as sun protection for the rest of your trip!
Formerly known as Pagan, this quaint town was the capital of several ancient Burmese kingdoms. A deeply spiritual place, the plains of Bagan are home to more than two thousand temples that date as far back as the 11th century. It is believed that the exquisite Burmese lacquer originated in Bagan, with the oldest lacquerware discovered in the 13th century Mingalazedi Pagoda. Spend a fascinating half day in one of Bagan’s prestigious lacquerware workshops where a master artisan will provide insight into the history and methodology of this intricate art.
Art is an integral part of religion in Myanmar. In fact, the teachings of Theravada Buddhism were spread through the medium of art from mural paintings inside temples to revered sculptures of Buddha. This is why much of the country’s extraordinary art can be found at the many religious monuments throughout the country. An expert on Bagan’s history and religion will join you on a guided visit to several key temples and pagodas, offering insight into the meaning and symbolism of the architecture and art.
The British occupied the country for more than a century and nowhere is this more evident than in Yangon or Rangoon, the former capital city under British Burma. Exquisite heritage buildings and wide boulevards define the city’s intriguing past. Less evident is the remaining British colonial furniture and collectibles, which require insider knowledge to uncover. A locally-based antique collector will join you on a treasure hunt in the city, guiding you to shops and homes of private antique collectors to discover the hidden gems from yesteryear.
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.