Socially Responsible Myanmar

Accompanied by expert local guides across Myanmar, discover first-hand socially responsible causes and organisations that preserve and inspire for the future and experience centuries-old Buddhist traditions and ethnic culture in authentic settings.

Yangon – Pindaya – Kalaw – Maingpyo – Kanaingwine – Hti Ne – Mellow – Moekaung – Inle Lake – Bagan – Yangon

13 days

Yangon – Pindaya – Kalaw – Maingpyo – Kanaingwine – Hti Ne – Mellow – Moekaung – Inle Lake – Bagan – Yangon

13 days


  • Trek through remote Burmese countryside, with overnight stays in a Community-based Tourism Project Village, engaging with the Pa‐O ethnic folk
  • Learn about inspiring social enterprise organisations, artisan workshops and training restaurants making a difference in Myanmar
  • Visit a family-operated forest camp for retired logging elephants and sustainable tourism principles
  • Get a rare opportunity to participate in an ancient Buddhist Novitiation ritual in Bagan
  • Days 1-2: Yangon | Discover the City’s Social Enterprises and Ancient Buddhist Rituals

    Today, we first visit some of Yangon’s inspirational social enterprises. Start-off at Turquoise Mountain, a non-profit NGO founded by H.R.H The Prince of Wales and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Turquoise Mountain foundation aims to promote Yangon’s heritage-led regeneration and the revival of Burmese traditional crafts. Observe artisans hand-crafting exquisite gold jewellery pieces. Have lunch at Linkage, a social enterprise and training restaurant-cum-art gallery, that provides vocational culinary training and business skills to disadvantaged youth. Continue to Hla Day, which helps Myanmar artisans, disadvantaged groups and local businesses to develop  hand-made quality products. On our afternoon Heritage Walking Tour, organised by the Yangon Heritage Trust, discover the city’s Old Quarter and key attractions on foot. Before sunset, arrive at magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda, joining pilgrims in an oil lamp lighting ceremony, an ancient and symbolic Buddhist ritual. Observe monks chanting Pali scriptures, as 1,500 oil lamps are lit around the gilded pagoda. Have dinner at Shwe Sabwe, a fine-dining restaurant that doubles as a catering training centre.   

  • Day 3: Yangon | Experience Traditional Monastic Life, Medicine and Massage

    Pay a low-key visit to Kalaywa Tawya Monastery (Naga Cave), home to 1,200-plus Buddhist monks. Here, children and young adults, mostly orphans taken in by the monastery, train to become monks. Observe the resident monks and novices as they have lunch, the monastery’s last meal of the day. We, however, take lunch at Pansuriya, a café-cum-restaurant celebrating Burmese arts, where creative cooking merges with art works, photography exhibitions and poetry readings. Traditional medicine and massage play a vital part in Myanmar’s daily life. Pay a visit to one of two renowned traditional medicine clinics. Afterwards, at a traditional blind massage centre, enjoy an invigorating yet therapeutic herbal massage, administered by one of Yangon’s famed blind masseuses.

  • Day 4: Pindaya – Kalaw | Explore a Sacred Buddhist Cave and Colonial Legacies

    Pindaya is renowned for its limestone caves housing a Buddhist pilgrimage site. Among three caves located on the north-to-south ridge, only the southern cave is accessible.  Walk the well-worn path to the rear of this cave. Here, pilgrims have deposited around 8,000 Buddha statues, the earliest dating back to the 18th century. Then explore Pindaya, a sleepy lakeside town with a mountain backdrop, stopping off at an ethnic Shan umbrella and mulberry paper workshop. Head to Kalaw, a former British hill-station located at 1,320m (4,330ft) above sea level. Visit Pinmagon Monastery and its 2.5m (8ft)-tall, ancient Buddha image crafted from lacquered bamboo strips. Trek for around thirty minutes to enjoy stunning mountain vistas, then stroll through downtown Pindaya to admire the British colonial-era architecture.  

  • Day 5: Kalaw | Interact With Retired Logging Elephants At a Forest Camp

    Spend time at Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, a private preserve that provides a peaceful refuge for retired logging elephants that are no longer fit to work. The family-operated camp also educates visitors about these magnificent creatures, helps preserve the natural environment and develops working opportunities for the region’s ethnic folk. Here, we can interact with the resident elephants in an animal-friendly natural environment, operated with responsible programmes and sustainable tourism principles. At the riverbank, assist the camp’s mahouts with the elephant feeding and bath time. Explore the natural surroundings rich in flora and fauna and after lunch, participate in a light trek through lush bamboo and teak forests. Before leaving, plant a tree nurtured in the camp’s nursery.

  • Day 6: Maingpyo – Kanaingwine – Hti Ne | Trek Through Unspoilt Countryside

    Embark on a three-day, two-night adventure, trekking through unspoilt and remote Myanmar countryside. This off-the-beaten track journey is operated by Community-based Tourism (CBT), a local organisation aiming to promote responsible and sustainable tourism within the region. Led by local guides, depart early from Maingpyo Village for a trek through lush paddy fields, sugar cane farms and seasonal crop plantations. Make the ascent to Kanaingwine Village and stop for lunch. Continue onwards, trekking through teak and lacquer tree forests, admiring the stunning mountainous scenery. Finally, we reach Hti Ne, a CBT Project Village and home to the Pa‐O ethnic folk. Enjoy a home-cooked dinner and overnight in a rustic-style, village community house.

  • Day 7: Hti Ne | Experience Up-close Pa‐O Ethnic Cultural and Village Traditions

    Spend a full-day exploring Hti Ne Village, accompanied by a local CBT guide. Experience up-close the Pa‐O  traditional way of life and how age-old artisan crafts are hand-produced, such as weaving and cheroot leaf processing (Burmese traditional cigars). Enjoy a simple lunch cooked in a village home and learn about age-old cooking techniques utilised for authentic local recipes. Afterwards, we are introduced to a village elder, who will regale us with some fascinating story telling. Then, plant a young tree, leaving a positive legacy in this naturally beautiful region. After dinner, the villagers will perform traditional renditions of Pa‐O music and dance. Overnight once again in a village community house.

  • Day 8: Mellow – Moekaung – Inle Lake | Trek Through Remote Rustic Villages

    On the third and final day of our remote trekking adventure, set-off early morning, heading uphill to Mellow Village. Trek down the mountainside to Htithakaw Village, then continue on to Moekaung Village, where we stop for lunch. Afterwards, traverse scenic seasonal crop plantations and charming rustic villages, before reaching Magyikone boat jetty. From here, take a boat ride to our next hotel, set beside Inle Lake. At 22km (13mi) long and 11km (7mi) wide, Inle Lake is the country’s second largest freshwater lake. Nestled in the highlands of Shan State, at an altitude of 880m (2,887ft), this is also one of Myanmar’s highest lakes, blessed with a refreshing cool climate and exceptional flora and fauna.  

  • Day 9: Inle Lake | Discover a Magical Water World and Lakeside Religious Sites

    Explore this serene and magical water world on a boat cruise, gliding past iconic stilt-house villages and floating gardens. Disembark at Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, Inle Lake’s most revered site. This sacred pagoda houses five small Buddha images, allegedly over eight centuries-old and entirely coated in gold leaf.  Continue to Heya Ywama Village and observe traditional Burmese handicraft workshops, such as silk weaving on wooden handlooms. Late afternoon, we visit Nga Phe Chaung, a picturesque monastery built on stilts over Inle Lake. This is considered the oldest and largest monastery in the region. On our return boat trip, cruise past the lake’s unique leg rowers, Intha fishermen, who deftly row their boats with one leg wrapped around an oar.

  • Day 10: Bagan | Explore an Ancient Capital and Dine at a Prolific Training Restaurant

    An ancient capital of several Burmese Kingdoms, Bagan constructed up to 4,400 temples and pagodas between the 11th and 13th centuries. Approximately 2,200 of those original buildings still remain standing – some of the most significant, we explore today. These include Shwezigon Pagoda, built by King Anawrahta in the 11th century, Ananda Temple, resplendent with four standing Buddha images and Zaztawon Monastery. Later, ride in a traditional horse cart to centuries-old Nat Htaunt Monastery, set riverside in a quaint fishing village. Continue on to the Kay Min Kha cluster of temples and Htilominlo Pagoda, famed for its glazed sandstone decorations. Catch a magnificent sunset from one of the most scenic spots overlooking the Bagan plains. Dinner is hosted at Sanon Restaurant, a non-profit social enterprise and training restaurant for disadvantaged youth.   

  • Day 11: Bagan | Experience First-hand a Buddhist Novitiation Ceremony

    In Myanmar, becoming a monk is an obligation for all Buddhist males at some point in their lives. By taking on the strict life of a Buddhist monk – however brief the time – and fulfilling the expectations of monkhood, the novices and their families gain karma merit. Novitiations are a joyful time in a boy’s life, filled with rituals, tradition, celebration and excitement for the entire village. Take this rare opportunity to attend a Buddhist Novitiation Ceremony, an ancient tradition normally off-limits to non-family members and non-Burmese. Experience first-hand the entire Novitiation process, from the extensive village preparations to the lively procession to the monastery. Then, observe the family handing over the novice to an elder monk. Afterwards, join a simple yet joyous communal lunch at the monastery.

  • Day 12: Yangon | Evening Street Food Tour

    Return back to Yangon. Post-dusk, proceed to the city’s atmospheric night markets and embark on a street food tour led by a knowledgeable local guide. Market vendors barbecue meats, seafood and vegetables on simple charcoal grills, resulting in a mouth-watering array of authentic street food dishes.  Sit-down with our guide at a local vendor at one of the countless food stalls for a cold beer or soft drink. Soak-up the lively ambiance and mingle with local diners, before selecting from the choice of sizzling grilled treats. Round the evening off with a stroll across to the market’s fruit vendor stalls for some local-style desserts.

  • Day 13: Departure

    Transfer to Yangon International Airport for your onward flight.

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