Journey through the Golden Land

Myanmar – Journey through the Golden Land – a 16 day Small Group Tour.

For the first time in centuries it is possible to cross the border between Myanmar and Thailand overland. Be one of the first to travel this unique route crossing the Htee Khee border to Dawei which connects the more remote areas of Mon State and Kayin State.

We continue to Bagan via the new capital Nay Pyi Daw, before being treated to the fertile lands of the Shan mountains. The final highlight of the trip is to discover an off the beaten track and only recently accessible part of Eastern Shan state where we can interact with many different local tribes.

This is an unforgettable overland journey through an exciting and mostly unexplored part of Myanmar.



The Golden Land Myanmar journey takes you to very much more undiscovered areas of Myanmar, offering spectacular scenery and intriguing tribal culture dating back for centuries. The Mon are believed to be one of the first civilisations in this part of the world. The rich culture can still be seen in the daily lives of local people with their specific sarongs, traditional food, language and musical instruments.

The Kayin are one of the indigenous tribes of the jungle known for their traditional boxing skills. The area offers beautiful natural scenery with traditional villages and waterways surrounded by spectacular limestone mountains. The Kayin has its own separate language and traditions, whose origins are still very much uncertain to experts. We continue to Bagan via the new capital Nay Pyi Daw, before being treated to the fertile lands of the Shan mountains.

The final highlight of the trip is to discover an off the beaten track and only recently accessible part of Eastern Shan state where we can interact with local tribes such as the An(Anu) people, Akha people, Lahu people and Palaung (silver) people. You will learn about their cultures and religion (Buddhist, Christian and Animist). As well as the rich culture you will enjoy scenery from emerald rice paddies to sweeping mountain vistas. We will also enjoy some walking amongst these little visited villages. In Keng Tung you will explore the picturesque town and its surroundings and discover the British influence in the area. After Keng Tung, you will journey to Tachileik and cross the border into Thailand (Mae Sai).

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track 
  • Culture
  • History
  • Wildlife

Tour pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


Begin the Myanmar journey when you arive in Bangkok and transfer to the hotel accommodation. The rest of the day is free to relax. Overnight at Galleria 10 hotel or similar.

Today sees an early morning start, driving to the Thai/Myanmar border at Baan Phu Nam Ron. After immigration formalities meet your Myanmar guide at the border town of Htee Khee, and from here commence the journey to Dawei. It’s about three to four hours across the southern plateau, traversing jungle and mountain terrain on a winding and sometimes rough road. On arrival in Dawei we check-in to hotel accommodation, then if time permits, visit Shwe Taung Sar Pagoda and local museum for its collections of bronze coins, vases, portraits and large, wooden Buddha statues. In the evening we sample  Dawei cuisine at a local restaurant. Overnight at Shwe Maung Than Hotel or similar (BD)

After breakfast we explore Dawei and its surroundings. We learn about the history of the town and its old buildings, many with balconies and intricate facades. Next we hike through forested hills for an hour-and-a-half, stopping for some green tea en-route, to San Lan village. The picturesque bay is characterised by the village’s bamboo beach huts. We stroll through the village, observing fishermen going about their daily tasks and, if possible, visit local people in their homes. After a simple lunch we head back to Dawei for dinner with local hosts. Overnight at Shwe Maung Than Hotel or similar. (BLD)

(Approximate driving time: eight-hours)

Early risers are invited to visit the riverside’s busy central food market. After breakfast there’s time to relax or explore the town further. Later in the afternoon we board an air-conditioned public bus for the journey north through the southern plateau to Mawlamyine. On arrival we check-in to hotel accommodation. Overnight Shwe Myint Moh Tun Hotel or similar. (B)

After breakfast we visit the Seindon Mibaya Monastery renowned for its magnificent wood carvings. We continue to Ni Paya for fine views over the city and later walk among some of the colonial architecture dating from the time renowned writers such as George Orwell and Rudyard Kipling lived in the city. Later we visit the Mon Museum for interesting displays on the rich Mon culture. Lunch is taken at a local home and features Mon specialities. The afternoon is free for relaxation or independent exploration. Overnight at Shwe Myint Moh Tun Hotel or similar. (BL)

This morning we drive to Kyaikhtiyo and visit the important pilgrimage site of the Golden Rock temple. The visit involves a one-and-a-half-hour walk, with plenty of time to explore the pagoda and its surroundings. Overnight at Golden Sunrise Hotel or similar. (B)

(Approximate driving time: five-hours)

Today we drive to Nay Pyi Daw, and subject to arriving on schedule, check-in to hotel accommodation before exploring the town’s market, Safari Garden and the Water Fountain. Alternatively, the remainder of the day is free to relax. Overnight Thingaha Hotel or similar. (B)

(Approximate driving time: five-hours)

After breakfast we drive to Bagan and on arrival check-in to hotel accommodation. There should be time to visit some of Bagan’s impressive temples. Overnight Zfreeti Hotel or similar. (B)

Today we learn to love cycling, in the surrounds of Bagan. Our first stop is the Z-Craft Jetty in Old Bagan. Here, we visit a busy market where local people bring merchandise from across the river to sell. We take our bikes on a short boat ride to SeLan village on the other shore of the Ayeyarwaddy River and spend some time cycling through vegetable plantations and rural landscapes, observing local life. At Myitchay village we visit bamboo workshops where all manner of products are created from this versatile natural material. After lunch we cycle south around 10kms to Kyaung Chaung Jetty where our boat will be waiting to bring us back to Old Bagan. The rest of the day is free to independently explore some of the town’s many sights. Overnight Zfreeti Hotel or similar. (B) 

Please note: Suitable clothing is required for cycling. Closed shoes are recommended.

Please note: Alternative arrangements are available for those not wishing to cycle.

This morning we board a short domestic flight to Heho, and on arrival drive to Nyaung Shwe on the shores of Inle Lake. We visit the Buddha museum housed in the former “Haw” (palace) of the last Shan prince of Nyaung Shwe. After lunch at a local restaurant there’s time for a stroll around the local market before visiting the ancient teak Shwe Yan Pyay monastery. Later, we take to the water and explore small canals and floating gardens, getting a feel for local Inthar life. The day ends after visiting one of Burma’s few vineyards for a wine tasting. Dinner is at a local restaurant. Overnight at Blue Vander Hotel or similar. (BD)

Please note: It’s possible to instead take a boat trip on Inle Lake itself. Please advise at the time of booking.

Today the real adventure starts as we travel through Eastern Shan state by 4WD, traversing an area only recently opened to tourism in 2014. Here, infrastructure is very basic and local people have had little contact with Westerners. On the way we pass through forested areas that have remained largely untouched, arguable some of the most beautiful scenery in Myanmar. The road follows an infamous route for opium couriers who use mules to smuggle goods through the Golden Triangle. By late afternoon (or early evening…) we arrive at Kunhing in time for a simple dinner at a village house. Overnight in the house of a village elder or a local guesthouse (Basic facilities and shared bathroom). (BLD)

Today starts with another opportunity for early risers is to visit the local market. After a simple breakfast we continue through the mountains, making stops to take in magnificent views and visit Shan villages where we’ll meet hill tribe people. In the afternoon we arrive at Mong Ping, a pleasant town situated on the road to Keng Tung. Tonight’s dinner is taken at a simple local restaurant. Overnight at lSein Yadanar Htaik Guesthouse with shared bathroom. (BLD)

Please note: Facilities in local guesthouses are basic. Mosquito nets and blankets are provided, and bathroom facilities are either at a communal village well or in the river. Unless otherwise stated food will be rice and noodle dishes prepared by your guide.

After breakfast we visit Mong Ping market and then continue the drive through a landscape of forests, deep valleys, and emerald rice paddies all the way to the capital of Eastern Shan State – Keng Tung. On arrival in Keng Tung we explore the town, including the standing Buddha, and One Tree Hill where a magnificent 250-year-old Indonesian gurjun tree stands in splendid isolation. As the sun sinks, we return to the lakeside for dinner. Overnight Keng Tung Princess Hotel or similar. (BL)

In the morning we drive to Pin Tauk, where among beautiful countryside we’ll visit villages of the Pan Lac (Ann), Won Lar (Akha) and Nam Lin Mai (Ann) tribes to meet and learn about the area’s minority ethnic groups. This is a rare opportunity as villages in this isolated part of Myanmar have little contact with tourists. A simple picnic lunch will be served during the walk. Later in the afternoon we return to Keng Tung. The evening is free to explore independently or just relax. Overnight at Keng Tung Princess Hotel or similar. (BL)

Early this morning we visit the local market in Keng Tung and try a local Shan breakfast. Later we drive to Tachileik and cross the border back into Thailand at Mae Sai, continuing to Chiang Rai airport for late afternoon flights to Bangkok. Overnight Airport Hotel, mid-range. (B)

The Myanmar journey officially ends today. Those preferring to finish in Northern Thailand should advise us accordingly upon booking. We’re happy to arrange extensions tours in Northern Thailand.

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

This group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 2 travellers.

Return flights from London to Bangkok start from around £450. Please contact us for a quotation.

Airport transfers are included if you are booking pre and/or post tour accommodation at the hotel mentioned in our tour dossier.

Single Supplement from £475.

Please note that we are able to arrange pre and post tour extensions in Thailand. Please contact us for a quotation.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers in Bangkok
  • Domestic flight in Thailand
  • All accommodation
  • Services of English speaking guide / tour leader
  • Meals as listed (B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner)
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa – at present an e-visa is not possible for overland travel – see visa information
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)

A very enjoyable time. We feel we have a much better understanding of Myanmar: it’s people, culture and politics as a result of this trip. We have seen many wonderful sights ( not all pagodas though they are varied and amazing!). This trip is marketed as beyond the tourist trail. Mostly we were firmly on it but the local variations such as village walks and meals, train and bus rides helped us feel we were seeing a bit more and you could not have missed out on the main tourist areas of Bagan and Inle. We also did the Mon extension. The Golden Rock was a great experience.


Name withheld at clients request