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Yangon – Bagan – Inle Lake
Yangon – Bagan – Inle Lake
Myanmar’s former capital, Yangon, still bewitches today with an impressive array of ancient cultural and historic gems. We visit Kalaywa Tawya Monastery (Naga Cave), home to 1,200-plus monks. It is here, Burmese children and young adults, mainly orphans, train to become monks, instructed in both Buddhist scriptures and modern academics. Our low-key visit gives us rare insight into the lives of these young novice monks.The day concludes at magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s most sacred worship sites. We join the throng of pilgrims at an oil lamp lighting ceremony, an ancient ritual practised down the ages and highly symbolic for the Burmese. Watch as red-robed monks chant ancient Pali scriptures, while thousands of oil lamps are lit around the gilded pagoda. A truly captivating spiritual experience.
Yangon Yoga House is Myanmar’s first English-speaking yoga studio, where certified yoga instructors lead classes for anyone from novices to yogis. Join a one-hour yoga class, suitable for all levels, incorporating both Hatha and Ashtanga disciplines and connecting breathing to movement. Traditional medicine and massage are important elements in Myanmar’s daily life. Choose between two traditional medicine clinics for a personalised wellness consultation. U Shein Clinic is known for its signature cure-all of gold ash powder combined with local herbs, while Sayagyi U Nyan Clinic combines holistic diagnosis with healing therapies –alchemy, hot-cold balance, astrology and Ayurveda. We continue on to a traditional blind massage centre for an invigorating, yet deeply relaxing herbal traditional massage, administered by one of Yangon’s celebrated blind masseuses.
The capital of several powerful Burmese Kingdoms between the 11th and 13th centuries, today, Bagan is regarded as one of Asia’s richest archaeological areas. More than 2,000 of its original temples and pagodas remain standing. This enchanting ancient city emits a special energy and ancestral spirituality, which positively inspires age-old wellness disciplines, such as yoga and meditation. Late afternoon, we take a boat trip to a secluded island for a private yoga class. This sunset session commences with deep, introspective poses evolving into energising and uplifting movements. The combination of Yin and Yang yoga modalities is deeply restorative, helping to balance body, mind and spirit and ensuring a restful evening and deep slumber.
Waking fully refreshed, head to Buddhist Mya Taung Monastery, where two resident monks give us a basic introduction to Buddhist philosophy and spiritual practices. Within this tranquil ‘Emerald Monastery,’ we are then guided through a 30-minute meditation session. Practiced in a peaceful environment, seated with eyes closed and quietly chanting mantras, meditation helps reduce stress, anxiety, depression and pain. The wholesome lifestyle continues with a healthy vegetarian lunch within the monastery’s leafy compound. At nightfall, enjoy dinner under the stars along the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, entertained by a unique cultural show. From a special vantage point, Bagan’s dense concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas and stupas are visible, softly illuminated against the night sky. An uplifting way to experience Bagan’s ancient treasures.
Picturesque Inle Lake is Myanmar’s second largest freshwater lake and set in highlands, one of its highest. We take a boat across this magical watery world to Inle’s tranquil western shores and Shwe Inn Thein Paya. Perched atop a hill, this sprawling pagoda complex is home to hundreds of Buddhist stupas, constructed between the 17th and 18th centuries. Some of these mystical-like stupas are still intact, bearing facades decorated with stone carvings, while others are crumbling ruins. We explore serene Inle Lake on a traditional canoe boat, gliding past floating villages and Intha fishermen, deftly rowing their boats with one leg wrapped around an oar. In the shadows of Shan Mountains, experience an idyllic sunset on the lake, celebrating this special moment with a glass of champagne.
Myanmar’s indigenous Shan people have inhabited this region for centuries, the majority still maintaining a traditional way of life. The Shan have also long practiced healing with spirituality and traditional remedies, incorporating meditation and ritual and cleansing ceremonies. This rich heritage of Shan wellness traditions has inspired The Spa, at lakeside Inle Princess Resort, to create signature treatments with plant-derived spa products. Join The Spa’s team for a morning of yoga and meditation, followed by a full-day’s pampering, experiencing Shan-inspired treatments and therapies. These include a soothing ‘Anaite’ Massage, paying homage to traditional massage methods, ‘Pedicure Princess’ Vegetable Mask and an invigorating ‘Kimbum’ Scrub. Emerge glowing, serene and fully rejuvenated.
Transfer to Yangon airport for your onward departure.