Thread Your Way Through Myanmar

Prices from £4,195

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9 Feb 2021 - 24 Feb 2021
Duration: 15 nights
Ref: 21001
With: Karin Hellaby

Prices

Prices from £4,195
Single Supplement: £779
Deposit: £400

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THREAD YOUR WAY THROUGH MYANMAR

There’s something truly magical about Myanmar! Join Karin Hellaby on this special tour that explores the textile heritage, rich colours and cultural treasures of an extraordinary country. As you thread your way through Myanmar, you’ll discover a rich tapestry of glittering pagodas and ancient Buddhas juxtaposed with simplistic rural lifestyles. It’s a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in this unique culture and meet remarkable craftsmen and women whose skill, often using timeless techniques, creates such beauty in Myanmar’s traditional arts and crafts.

A MESSAGE FROM KARIN...

"We first went to Myanmar last November and it was one of the best tours I have ever done. The places we saw were amazing, the hotels excellent, the food very enjoyable and varied, the restaurants delightful and often very sophisticated, and the people happy, smiling and very welcoming. All the four areas we are visiting have wonderful history and culture. One of our favourites was Inle Lake where each day we would board private boats to be taken to villages built on water and looking like an unspoilt, uncrowded Asian Venice. The temple landscape of Bagan was extraordinary and the gold stupas in the spectacular Shwedagon Pagoda was a sight that will be with me forever. Everywhere we saw crafts, often using centuries old techniques and textiles galore. I came home with beautiful paper umbrellas, silver earrings, wooden puppets, shawls, paintings and silk/cottons, having watched them being made. I am delighted to be returning to this country where tourists are still few and very much appreciated. Now is the time to visit before Myanmar changes."

DAY 1: LONDON – YANGON

Meet Karin Hellaby at London Heathrow Airport for your overnight flight to Bangkok and connecting flight to Yangon.

DAY 2: YANGON

Early check-in has been arranged at the hotel for you to freshen up before lunch in a local restaurant. We then visit the legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. See the colours transform on the 100-metre chedi, which is literally enclosed in over 40 tons of gold leaf. As the sun sets, we have the unique opportunity to observe the traditional oil lamp ceremony before joining the locals at the Pavilion to try traditional Myanmar tea and snacks. Dinner is served in a local restaurant.

DAY 3: YANGON

Today we take a local ferry across the Yangon River to Dhala. Enjoy a trishaw ride from the bustling jetty area into the peaceful countryside and discover a different face of Myanmar amongst the quaint streets of this colourful village with its small temples, workshops, schools and simple wooden houses where locals live without running water. Visit Pann Nann Ein workshop, a local foundation dedicated to helping people with disabilities live a full life through engaging in creative livelihoods. After lunch in a local restaurant we stop by the Royal Lake in Kandawgyi Park for a spectacular view of the golden Shwedagon Pagoda. Dinner is served in a local restaurant.

DAY 4: YANGON/BAGAN

Take the early morning flight from Yangon to Bagan. On arrival we have the chance to learn about the local arts with visits to two workshops producing Bagan’s most famous products. Watch how the skilled craftsmen use traditional techniques passed down through the generations to create beautiful lacquer ware and wooden items. After lunch in a local restaurant we’ll check-in to our hotel where you can relax for the afternoon before dinner.

DAY 5: BAGAN

Bagan is one of the greatest architectural sites in Asia. An elevated viewpoint gives an amazing panoramic view of the Bagan plains studded with scores of temples and stupas built by monarchs between the 11th and 13th centuries when Bagan was the centre of Myanmar. We’ll visit Ananda Temple, considered one of the most exalted temples in Bagan, before continuing around the temple plains to experience the artistic wonder and variety of architectural styles in the area. After lunch we meet with Myanmar SEEDS. This association of volunteers work in rural areas on education, sustainable development, environmental conservation and responsible tourism. Dinner is served in a local restaurant.

DAY 6: BAGAN

Today we board a private boat and head up the mighty Irawaddy River seeing fabulous scenes of life both on and off the water. From Kyauk Gu U Min we’ll walk to an unusual temple built into the side of a cliff giving access to a peaceful cave, which is ideal for meditation. After a relaxing cruise back to Bagan we join Karin for the first of her workshops. The day ends with a horse cart ride to enjoy the sunset in this spectacular area. Both lunch and dinner are served in a local restaurant.

DAY 7: BAGAN – MANDALAY

An early morning flight from Bagan takes us to Mandalay, a city whose streets are crowded with craft workshops. Traditional tapestries and puppet making are two of Mandalay’s specialities and we’ll see skilled craftsmen and women using ancient techniques giving life to these beautiful items. After lunch in a local restaurant we drive to Amarapura where many families produce longyis and other textiles. Although no longer made 100% by hand, the process is fascinating and in contrast with the delicate weaving we’ll see later at Inle Lake. As the sun starts to set, we’ll stroll on the legendary U Bein Bridge built in 1782 when Amarapura was still a royal city. Enjoy a refreshing cocktail and delicious snacks on a small local boat, and admire the sun casting long shadows of the villagers crossing the bridge. Dinner is served in a local restaurant.

DAY 8: MANDALAY

A full day at leisure for you to relax and enjoy the facilities of our hotel, or continue your exploration independently. Both lunch and dinner are included today.

DAY 9 - MANDALAY HILL - SAGAING

Today starts with a visit to the Mahumuni Pagoda. It houses one of the country’s most honoured Buddha images, which is completely covered in gold leaves that are applied to the statue every day by male devotees. We then cross the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing. Sagaing Hill, with its 600 ivory coloured pagodas and monasteries, is considered the spiritual hub of Myanmar and claims residence to around 3,000 monks and nearly 100 meditation shrines. Our tour continues to Sagaing’s local market and a small pottery village where craftsmen use traditional techniques to make ubiquitous water ports. After lunch we visit one of Sagaing’s many convents to make a donation of raw fruits and vegetables, and learn more about Buddhism. We’ll visit Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, known as the Pagoda of the Great Marble Image and Kuthodaw Pagoda, frequently dubbed as “The World’s Biggest Book” for its collection of 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings. See Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining structure from the Royal Palace, before walking to the summit of Mandalay Hill for fabulous panoramic views of the city. After tonight’s dinner we visit the Mintha Theatre for a wonderful performance of traditional Myanmar music and dance.

DAY 10: MANDALAY - INLE LAKE

This morning we fly from Mandalay to Heho. Enjoy a scenic drive to Nyaung Shwe, the gateway village to Inle Lake, visiting rural workshops that specialise in traditional Shan paper and unique handcrafted umbrellas along the way. We stop at the teak monastery of Shweyanpyay so see the intricate wood carving artwork and craftsmanship of the monks. On arrival in Nyaung Shwe enjoy a trishaw tour along the bustling canal where boats unload baskets laden with tomatoes and other vegetables ready for distribution to markets around the country. We stop at the ‘tomato’ house, a warehouse-like structure where the tomatoes are sorted and priced for sale. After lunch we board a private motorboat and head out onto Inle Lake where our hotel is situated. Dinner is served in the hotel.

DAY 11: INLE LAKE

Inle Lake is one of Myanmar’s most mesmerising sights. Its calm waters are dotted with floating vegetation and fishing canoes with scenic hills providing the perfect backdrop. Today we explore by way of a wooden, motorised boat seeing the morning market visited by the lake’s inhabitants and surrounding natives who also come to sell and trade their wares. We pass several villages built on stilts over the lake, which are inhabited by the local Intha people, and see the daily activities of the local leg-rowing fishermen. We visit Nga Hpe Chaung Monastery and Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda before lunch in a local Intha house. Discover the ingredients and culinary techniques of the locals as our hosts prepare traditional dishes in front of us. Inn Phaw Kone is also known as the Weavers’ Village of Inle Lake and here we can see the delicate art of lotus silk weaving. In one of the workshops we can observe all stages from women spinning cotton and lotus silk to create thread reels, young ladies handling the heavy machines to create intricate longyis, to villagers storing dyeing products in a corner waiting to be used for the next batch. We return by boat to our hotel where dinner is served.

DAY 12: INLE LAKE

This morning we visit the typical villages of Thalae U and Alae Myaung to see the traditional agricultural methods on the lake shores. With the lake to the east and the hills to the west, Alae Myaung is one of the most picturesque settings in all of Myanmar. We’ll learn about the day-to-day activities of these communities in a simple but authentic encounter with the villagers of the lake. After lunch served in a local restaurant on the lake, we return to the hotel with some time to relax before dinner is served.

DAY 13: INLE LAKE

Famous as the ‘centre’ of the lake, Phaung Daw Oo pagoda contains five sacred images of the Buddha covered with gold leaf. After our visit we’ll explore the extensive fabric market at the back of the temple where local ethnics from the surrounding mountains come to sell their goods. After lunch in a local restaurant we return to the hotel where Karin will host the second of her workshops. Dinner is served in the hotel.

DAY 14: INLE LAKE - YANGON

After a last boat ride from the hotel to Nyaung Shwe we drive to Heho for our flight to Yangon. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before we head to the heart of multicultural Yangon crossing the Muslim and Hindu neighbourhoods to visit the 2,000-year-old Sule Pagoda. After checking-in to our hotel there’s time to freshen up before tonight’s farewell dinner, which is served in the city’s landmark Le Planteur restaurant.

DAY 15: YANGON - BANGKOK

Our final day in Myanmar includes a visit to Bogyoke Market where colourful stalls are filled with handicrafts, paintings, jewellery and antiques. There is even an area dedicated to textiles! After this fantastic opportunity for last minute shopping we’ll have a late lunch before transferring to the airport for our flight to Bangkok and connecting flight to London.

DAY 16: BANGKOK - LONDON

Our scheduled flight arrives into London Heathrow early in the morning.

PRICES:

Twin/double share: £4195 per person
Single supplement: £779
Deposit: £400

INCLUDED IN THE PRICE:

  • Scheduled international return flights from London to Yangon (via Bangkok)
  • Domestic flights between Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Heho and Yangon
  • Coach/boat travel as detailed in the itinerary
  • 13 nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast (early check-in on arrival in Yangon – if required)
  • Lunch and dinner each day in the hotel or local restaurants
  • All entrance fees and visits as detailed in the itinerary
  • Two workshops with Karin Hellaby
  • Kit for your project
  • The services of a local tour manager who will accompany the tour throughout
  • Gratuities for drivers, local guide and restaurant staff

NOT INCLUDED:

Optional excursions, drinks, meals other than those specified, travel insurance and items of a personal nature, i.e. telephone calls, laundry etc.

TRAVEL ADVICE:

STAMINA
A tour in Myanmar is always an adventure. There is a need for a good level of mobility on this tour. You should have a good level of fitness, be able to walk up to 5km unaided, go barefoot in temples and be sufficiently sure footed when boarding and disembarking boats.

REQUIRED VISAS
You will need to get a visa before you travel. You should apply at the nearest Myanmar Embassy or Consulate well in advance of travelling. You can also apply for your visa online. For more information about entry requirements, contact the Myanmar Embassy. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Myanmar.

HEALTH
Details of any vaccinations which may be required are available here. If in doubt, visit your health professional before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.

NON-CRAFTERS

Why not bring a non-crafting partner with you?
If a non-crafting family member or friend wishes to accompany you on any of our holidays, and is sharing a room with you, then the following reductions will apply to the price the non-crafter pays:
Worldwide - £75

WHY NOT MEET US THERE?

Stitchtopia Holidays are designed with all crafters in mind, wherever you live in the world! If you would like to make your own flight arrangements and meet us at our first hotel, please let us know - we would love to tell you more about our “meet us there” holiday discounts.

THE "STITCH TOGETHER" PROGRAMME

For single travellers who are interested in our trips, but don’t have a friend able to come with them why not join our "Stitch Together" programme to help with the costs of a single occupancy room? We have designed a way for you to find someone to share a room with on any of our Stitchtopia Holidays.

Find out more about our "Stitch Together" programme >>

Sule Shangri La, Yangon ★★★★

Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Yangon, the 4.5 star Sule Shangri-La Yangon promises a touch of luxury in one of Asia’s most exciting cities. Each of the contemporary en-suite guest rooms has WIFI, satellite TV, electronic safe, coffee/tea making facilities, mini-bar, hair dryer, and iron and ironing board. The hotel has 2 restaurants, a lounge, Gallery Bar, gift shop, an outdoor pool with pool bar, and fully-equipped fitness and recreation centre.

Myanmar Treasure Resort, Bagan ★★★★

Surrounded by swaying palms and landscaped gardens, the Myanmar Treasure Resort in Bagan is a graceful blend of traditional and contemporary elegance. The design and simple furnishings of each of its comfortable rooms is influenced by Bagan’s art and architecture. En-suite guest rooms have individually controlled air-conditioning, tea/coffee making facilities, complimentary internet access, satellite/cable TV and mini-bar. Hotel facilities include the Treasure Restaurant serving Asian, Myanmar and Western cuisine, the Treasure Bar, and a pool and terrace bar.

Mandalay Hill Resort, Mandalay ★★★★★

Set at the foot of Mandalay Hill, the 5-star Mandalay Hill Resort is ideally situated for exploring the city’s remarkable sites. Rooms in the grand, contemporary main building offer panoramic views of the city with one side looking across the pagodas and sacred ground of Mandalay Hill, the other side looking to the Royal Palace and its beautiful moat. En-suite guest rooms have individual temperature control, tea/coffee making facilities, WIFI, satellite TV and a mini-bar.

Pristine Lotus Spa Resort, Inle Lake ★★★★★

Gracefully laid out over a lush, tropical, landscaped hillside that gently slopes down to the lake, the Pristine Lotus Spa Resort is a delight. The new boat-shaped Floating Cottages promise high-quality, comfortable accommodation with wonderful views of Inle Lake. En-suite guest rooms have individual temperature control, tea/coffee making facilities, satellite TV, mini-bar and private balcony.