Trip Type : Private Guided
Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia: Borobudur, Bagan and Angkor Wat tour
Angkor Wat Bagan Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia: Borobudur, Bagan and Angkor Wat Trip

Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia: Borobudur, Bagan and Angkor Wat

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Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
17 days
From: $ 6,995 $ 411 / day
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Overview

Highlights

  • Visit Salay and Gubyaukgi Temple in Myinkaba
  • Explore Yangon and see the Sule, British colonial buildings, National Museum, meditation center, circular train ride, River Gallery
  • Visit Salay and Gubyaukgi Temple in Myinkaba
  • Visit Minnanthu Village for sesame and peanut oil
  • Discover Bangkok
  • Visit healer and stroll through Ubud

Short Description

The temples of Borobudur, Bagan and Angkor Wat are three of the great archeological World Heritage Sites of Asia. This powerful journey highlights three magnificent civilizations and introduces you to the diverse cultures of Myanmar, Cambodia and Indonesia. You don’t just explore the temples, but visit the floating gardens of Inle Lake, wander the markets of Jogyakarta, enjoy the artisans of Bali, and take a boat on the magnificent Tonle Sap to visit the estuary and wildlife preserve. A journey to remember all your life!

Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Trip Type Private Guided
Off the beaten track trips will stretch your comfort zone. They don't always feature tourist highlights, but dive deeper into local life and culture.
Itinerary Focus Off the Beaten Path
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Yangon
End City Borobudur

Trip Includes

  • Accommodations as listed, including all service charges and taxes
  • Airfare (Yangon/Bagan/Heho/Yangon/Singapore/Denpasar/Jogyakarta) broken out separately under costs
  • All ground transfers
  • All excursions with expert English-speaking guides
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples, etc.
  • All meals as indicated with B-breakfast, L-lunch, D-dinner

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Yangon. Sunset at Shwedagon and dinner

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Shangrila, Strand Or Belmond Governor’s Residence

Today you will arrive at Yangon International Airport and clear customs and immigration. Exiting the airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Late afternoon, you will be picked up for a sunset visit to Shwedagon Pagoda. “Of all the shrines,” writes Shway Yoe in The Burman, “Shwe Dagon Paya”, the great pagoda of Rangoon and the most venerable place of worship in all the Indo-Chinese countries, is the finest and most universally visited.” As Yoe indicates, the sanctity of Shwedagon is because it contains relics not only of Gautama Buddha, but of the three Buddhas that preceded him. Legend has it that there are Gautama’s eight hairs, the drinking gourd of Kaukkathan, the robe of Gawnagong, and the staff of Kasapa. Built by King Okkalapa about 525 BC, around the time of the Buddha, Shwedagon today is said to contain more gold than the Bank of England.

Just before sunset you arrive at Shwedagon, the most sacred place in Myanmar with a history stretching back over 2,500 years. Its bell-shaped superstructure, resting on a terraced base, is covered in about 60 tons of goldleaf, causing it to glisten and glimmer in the light of the setting sun. Every evening the residents of the city assemble at the pagoda to meditate and pay their respects to the Buddha. Enjoy the flickering lights and delicate aromas of candles and sticks of incense being lit as offerings. Observe the saffron-clad monks passing through the temple. Join in this very special and unique ceremony with an offering of oil lamps, followed by a meeting with the Head of Board of Trustees of the Shwedagon Pagoda for a personal tour of the temple and the chance to ask lots of in-depth questions.

You are expected to be barefooted when entering Shwedagon Pagoda.

When you are ready, you will be taken to House of Memories for a welcome dinner.

Day 2: Yangon Touring

Meals Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Shangrila, Strand Or Belmond Governor’s Residence

You have a whirlwind tour of beautiful Yangon in store for you. The city itself is bordered on three sides by water - the Hlaing River on the west and south side and Pazundaung Creek to the east. History indicates that there has been a settlement in the area for more than 2500 years, although most books start with the founding of the Shwedagon Pagoda on the hill of King Okkalapa’s village of Dagon. It was not until King Alaungpaya captured Dagon from the Mons in 1755 and renamed it “End of Strife,” or Yangon, that Yangon became a city and thriving port in its own right.

So that you can have an overview of Yangon as a city, you head first to the colorful Hledan Market, always bustling at this hour of the morning. From there, you embark on Yangon’s circular train. The train weaves through Yangon's main townships and districts in a rough circle, and is the lifeline for many of the working classes and offers an unparalleled insight into the lives of the Burmese. Observe the students and workers in their daily commute and the vendors and hawkers plying their trade.

Disembarking from the circular train, you can take a walking tour of the old colonial buildings, including the banks, law and high courts, post office and several embassies. Additionally, (if you are not staying there) you will see the Strand Hotel, Sule Pagoda, Railway Office and end at the Bogyoke Aung San Market.

If Shwedagon is the heart of Burma, the Sule Pagoda, where you head next, is the heart of the city, the place where many Burmese go after a busy day to find relaxation and tranquility. The pagoda was named after Sule Nat, an ogre and one of the mythical beings revered by all Burmans. It was Sule Nat who helped Thagyarmin, the Nat King, locate the relics of the Buddhas and pinpoint the location for Shwedagon. Sule Pagoda dates back to the 3rd century BC. What it lacks, perhaps, in magnificence, is more than compensated for by its homespun warmth and charm. Lunch is at Pansuriya.

You also have time to visit a meditation center, where you can talk with the monks about Buddhist practice in Myanmar, and perhaps even do a bit of meditation yourself.

Right near the Strand and market is the River Gallery with some of the more interesting contemporary art in the city. It is well worth visiting.

You end the day with a night walk through Yangon’s Chinatown.

Day 3: Fly Bagan. Tour Pagodas. Boat ride on Irawaddy. Puppet show.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Bagan Thiripytsaya Sanctuary Resort

Rising early, you will return to the airport and catch a 45-minute flight to Bagan on UB #451(0630/0740).

If Angkor Wat amazes the visitor with its size, Bagan will stun with the extent of its building. Although in its heyday, from about the 11th to 13th century, Bagan must have had thousands of temples, even today the remains of about 5000 temples dot an area of 16 square miles along the east bank of the Irawaddy. The history of Bagan can be traced back to about 108AD, but its glory dates from the reign of Anawrahta from 1044-1077AD. It was Anawrahta who was responsible for transporting Theravada Buddhism north from Thaton to Bagan, Mandalay and the rest of Burma. A movement spread with a blend of magic, war, and fervent faith. Bagan is a land of ghosts, hermits, kings, Pali scholars and lovers on a site that once was nothing but jungle. The city flourished as a center of learning and architecture until 1287, when the great Chinese Emperor, Kublai Khan swept through, ravaging the countryside and destroying the temples. Bagan was violated twice more - by a serious earthquake in 1975, and by the forced eviction of the local people by the government in 1990.

Your tour today will begin at the Nyaung U Market. When you are ready, you can head to some of the temples and pagodas.

You sort of begin at the end with the last of the Burman style pagodas, Htilominlo, constructed in 12ll by King Nantaungmya. Htilominlo contains some interesting frescoes representing the 28 Buddhas of the future. The masterpiece of Mon architecture is the Ananda Temple, inspired by the magical stories of 8 monks who visited King Kyanzittha. Near the cave is Anawrahta’s Shwezigon Pagoda, his center of worship for the new Theravada religion he had brought to Pagan. Enshrined in the temple are all sorts of relics - a collar and frontal bone of the Buddha, the Ceylonese Tooth of Kandy, and an emerald Buddha from China. In the tradition, however, of other Buddhist missionaries, Anawrahta did not ignore the original local Gods. The Burmese have, always revered Nats, or local spirits, and Anawrahta incorporated the 37 key nats into the design of the Pagoda.

Lunch will be at the Moon Restaurant.

You next travel by boat to the Kyauk Gu Umin, a cave temple on the banks of the Irawaddy, with numerous rich sandstone carvings and a colossal Buddha image. The boat continues downriver back towards Bagan, watching life along the riverbanks and enjoying the view of sunset over the Irawaddy.

The day will finish with dinner and a puppet show.

Day 4: Visit Salay, Crafts, Home Hosted Dinner

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort

Your day begins with a visit to Salay, a still unspoiled Burmese town. Here you will see the yoke son Kyaung, the oldest surviving wooden monastery, with beautiful carvings of court life and scenes from the Ramayana. You continue to wander the town, visiting the market and the Thar Ta Na Yaung Chi Monastery, which also serves as an orphanage.

When Anawrahta returned from Pegu with King Manuha in tow, he exiled Manuha to the town of Myinkaba. Lonesome for his home, Manuha helped to turn Myinkaba into a model of Mon art and architecture. The city is also famous for its laquerware industry, and you can visit a factory.

Some of your sightseeing today will be around Myinkaba. You will visit the Abeyadana Temple, named after the first wife of Anawrahta’s successor, Kyanzittha. The temple is known for its frescoes of Mahayana Buddhist gods and Hindu divinities. The Kubyaukkyi Temple is classic Mon style, and contains Burma’s “Rosetta Stone,” the Myazedi Stone. Rajakumar, the builder of Kubyaukkyi, inscribed the stone in four languages, among them, the previously indecipherable Pyu language. The stone also detailed the history of the Bagan dynasties.

King Manuha’s home in Myinkaba was later converted into the Nanpaya Temple, and illustrates the Brahman influence on Mon architecture. Anawrahta is famous for building three temples in Bagan - Shewsandaw, Myinkaba, and Lokananda.

Near Myiun Kabar Village, you can enjoy some Burmese tea at a local monastery

Bagan is also known for its laquerware industry. After lunch, in the village of Minnanthu, you visit one of the laquerware factories.

Tonight, you will experience a home-hosted dinner in Baw Lone Kyun Village.

Day 5: Fly Heho. Drive Inle lake

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Inle Princess Resort

After breakfast, you will transfer back to the airport for the flight to Heho on YS #104 (0820/0900).

Arriving in Heho, you will drive from the airport to the hill town of Taunggyi or “Big Mountain,” and if time permits visit the local market. The British, seeking a cool respite from the heat of the plains, frequented the village. The founder of the village, Sir James George Scott, took the name of Shway Yoe, and authored a marvelous book on Burmese culture, “The Burman: His Life and Notions.” Although the book was written in the 19th century, amazingly, much of Burmese life has changed little since that time.

Taunggyi has an interesting market, frequented by a variety of hill tribe’s people, and is the administrative capital of Shan State. You can also stop by the Cheroot Factory, and see how the locals roll the tobacco by hand and bunch the cigars together just by feel.

Then, you will head down the hill to Inle Lake. Dinner is at your hotel in Inle.

Day 6: Tour Inle Lake Area

Meals Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Inle Princess Resort

If one had to pinpoint Peter Pan’s “Never Never Land,” Inle Lake is as good a place as any. Travel books use such adjectives as “mystical,” “magical,” or “fairy tale” to describe the 70-mile-long, relatively shallow expanse of water that has become the home and life blood of the Inthas, or lake people. Originally from Tenasserim, a village in the south of Burma on a part of the narrow Malay Peninsula bordering on Thailand, the Inthas migrated north to Shan State from the 14th to the 18th centuries to avoid the continual territorial conflicts between Thailand and Burma. They brought with them their unique way of fishing and developed a fascinating lifestyle and system of cultivation. Around the lake is a network of water hyacinths anchored in a layer of silt. Some of the Inthas buy plots of this “land,” tow it off home, and use it to plant gardens. Those that don’t buy the plots, make troughs of floating weeds bound together and anchored to the lake bottom with bamboo poles. The troughs are filled with dirt, planted with vegetables of all sorts, and become floating gardens or kyunpaws.

Watching the Inthas fish is as fascinating as watching the gardening. Intha boatmen balance on the stern of the boat with one foot and maneuver through the clear water with the other leg wrapped around an oar. When they notice the movement of a fish, they drop a special trap, with a gill net supported by a ring that captures any fish within its circumference.

In addition to fishing and gardening, the Inthas are excellent metalworkers, carpenters, and weavers.

After exploring the lake by boat, you disembark at the Intha Heritage House for lunch and a cooking lesson. Here you can learn a bit about Intha and how it operates!

Your travels also take you to the home of an Inle Fisherman to talk with him about his life. If the opportunity is right, he can perhaps teach you how he steers his boat.

Next is a stop at the village of Ywar Ma Village with its gardens, floating market, handicraft center and Phaung Daw U Pagoda. The pagoda boasts five Buddha images brought from the Malay Peninsula by King Alaungsithu in the 12th century. Over time, these images have had so much gold leaf applied to them, that they have lost many of their human features, and resemble round metal balls. During the annual fall festival, villagers transport these images on a royal barge to all the villages on the lake and hold a major rowing competition.

The day also includes time at Inn Paw Khon Village for lotus and silk weaving, an opportunity to visit Ann’s Silk Lotus Weaving Workshop to see how the lotus fabrics are woven. You can also stop at the Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery.

Day 7: Fly Yangon. Meet the locals and connect to Bangkok

Meals Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Shangrila, Strand Or Belmond Governor’s Residence

After breakfast, you transfer back to the Heho airport to catch YS #104 (0915/1023) to Yangon.

You can spend the rest of the day in Yangon meeting some of the local people and learning in a very intimate way about their lives. By the time you finish, you will have new friends in Myanmar.

You begin with a visit to the famous fortune teller, who will send you on your way with new knowledge of what is before you.

Next you head to the small and cluttered house of a fascinating shoemaker, who is the only producer in Yangon of handmade shoes for people with disabilities.

After lunch, you continue to the Mandalay Library and meet the founder. Brought up in a poor farming family, he read a lot of books to compensate for his lack of formal education. Earning a modest livelihood from selling grilled fish, he used the money to set up his own library, providing free rental books to the community. His contribution to Myanmar society has won him several awards.

Tonight you have a very special dinner at Le Planteur, one of the very best restaurants in Yangon.

Day 8: Fly Siem Reap, Visit To Angkor Thom And Pm Market

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Hanuman Alaya Boutique Or La Residence D’angkor

Rising early again, you will head to the airport to catch a flight to Bangkok on SM 335 (0730/0915). In Bangkok, you connect with PG #905 (1135/1235) to Siem Reap.

Arriving in Siem Reap, you can get a visa on arrival. After clearing customs and immigration, you will leave the airport and have some lunch.

Siem Reap is the cultural home of the Khmer people and one of the ancient wonders of the world. This vast network of wats, dating back to the 7th century, is the center of some of the most important structures, statues, and carvings produced in the name of the Buddhist and Hindu religions. First rediscovered by Western archeologists in the late 19th century, the "lost city of Angkor" was recently re-opened to foreigners.

The whole area is a model of the Hindu universe, where construction was designed to create harmony between mankind and the gods. Each of the temples must be visualized as a three-dimensional mandala, or representation of the Hindu (and later, the Buddhist) universe. The central shrines are Kailas, the Abode of Shiva, or Mt. Meru, the center of the world to the Buddhists. Cloisters and side chapels are both homes for the protector deities, as well as external envelopes of the cosmic reality. Moats are the seven sacred, concentric oceans surrounding the holy mountain in the center. As you walk across the causeways and up and down the many stairways of the temples, you need to think of yourself as a pilgrim, working your way to the center of the world and the home of the supreme deity.

In the afternoon, you visit the immense walled city Angkor Thom, the masterpiece of King ayavarman VII. Following the occupation of Angkor by the Chams from 1177 to 1181, the new king decided to build an impregnable fortress at the heart of his empire. The scale is simply staggering and you will be immediately overwhelmed by the audacity of Jayavarman on arrival at the city’s gates. The causeway is lined by an intricate bridge depicting the Churning of the Ocean of Milk from Hindu mythology in which the devas (gods) and asuras (devils) play tug of war with a naga (seven-headed serpent) to obtain the elixir of immortality.

You begin your visit at the Terrace of the Leper King. This intricately carved platform was the royal crematorium, and the statue that was originally thought to be the leper king is now believed to be Yama, the god of death. You continue along the Terrace of Elephants, originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports. At the southern end lies the Baphuon, once of the most beautiful temples at Angkor, dating from the reign of Uditayavarman 1 in the 11th century. It has undergone a massive renovation by the French and is now once again open for viewing.

Your climax is the enigmatic and enchanting temple of the Bayon. At the exact center of Angkor Thom, this is an eccentric expression of the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s most celebrated king. Its 54 towers are each topped off with the four faces of Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion), which bear more than a passing resemblance to the king himself. These colossal heads stare down from every side, exuding power and control with a hint of compassion, just the mix required to keep a hold on such a vast empire. Before clambering upwards, we unravel the mysteries of the bas-reliefs, with their intricate scenes of ancient battles against the Chams and their snapshot of daily life during the Angkor period.

In the evening, you can visit the market.

Day 9: Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, Landmine Museum And Pre Rup Sunset

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Hanuman Alaya Boutique Or La Residence D’angkor

Rising at the crack of dawn, you journey out to the mother of all temples, Angkor Wat. Believed to be the world's largest religious building, this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor. Here you receive a blessing from the monks.

As the crowds return to their hotels, you venture into Angkor Wat to enjoy its magnificence in peace and quiet. You begin by unraveling the mysteries of the bas-reliefs that tell of tales from Hindu mythology and of the glories of the Khmer empire. Stretching for more than half a mile, these intricate carvings are candidate for the world’s longest unbroken piece of art.

Following in the footsteps of the devout and the destructive before you, you then continue to the upper levels of the inner sanctuary. The final steps to the upper terrace of Angkor are the steepest of all, as pilgrims of old were to stoop on their pilgrimage to encounter the Gods. Finally the pinnacle, the sacred heart of Angkor Wat, a blend of spirituality and symmetry so perfect that few moments will measure up.

After your visit, you have a delicious breakfast at Sala Kdei and head back to the hotel for a bit of free time.

When you are ready, you head a bit north to Banteay Srei, Angkor’s ultimate art gallery. This petite pink temple is the jewel in the crown of Angkor-era sculpture. The elaborate carvings here are the finest found in Cambodia and the name translates as ‘Fortress of the Women’, thanks to the intricate detail here, considered too fine for the hands of a man.

Originally believed to date from the latter part of the Angkor period, inscriptions at the site suggest a Brahman built it in 967. However, some architectural historians have suggested that the inscriptions may date from an earlier structure on this site and the temple is in fact later, marking a high-water mark in Khmer sculpture.

From Banteay Srei, your path leads through the traditional village of Preah Dak to the 12th century temple of Banteay Samre. Built by King Suryavarman II, the genius behind Angkor Wat, this temple has been extensively restored. The temple is unique in that over-quarrying of sandstone led to the use of laterite for the roofed corridors. The pediments above the inner doors here include some of the most accomplished carving from the Angkor period.

Next you stop at the Cambodia Landmine Museum to learn more about the scourge of landmines and the shadow they cast over rural communities in Cambodia with a visit to this flagship museum promoting mine awareness and education. Here you can find a large collection of weapons of war, including guns, rifles, rocket launchers, mortars, bombs and landmines. The site includes a mocked up minefield and visitors can attempt to locate the deactivated mines. The museum is a rich resource of information about landmines and UXO with many educational displays detailing how certain mines are used and in what situations. There is also a DVD available telling the story of landmines and UXO in Cambodia and the disastrous impact they have had on the population. Not only a weapon of war, they are a weapon against peace.

The Landmine Museum promotes land mine accident prevention awareness and public education; and provides educational facilities, programming and rehabilitation facilities for survivors of land mine injuries. It also provides education and support for dozens of at-risk, land mine-affected children who have suffered overwhelming hardships. The Cambodia Landmine Museum was created so that it might serve as a place of healing for bodies, hearts and minds.

To end the day, you enjoy sunset from Pre Rup.

Day 10: Optional dawn at ta prohm. Roluous temples, boatride on tonle sap. Circus

Meals Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Hotel Hanuman Alaya Boutique Or La Residence D’angkor

If you can rise early, it is wonderful to visit Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhout in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy. After your visit, you head back to the hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, you depart by tuk tuk, to the drop off point and then follow small back roads past small rural villages towards Bakong temple. If you prefer, you can also ride a Trek mountain bike. In the wet season, this ride provides magnificent views of endless paddy fields. The morning is the most beautiful time of the day to cycle here. Upon arrival at Bakong, you can explore the temple. The next temple, Prasat Preah Ko, is situated only a mere 300m away. Crossing Highway 6, you can also wander Lolei. These temples are called the Roluos Group and were built in the 9th century when the first capital, Hariharilaya, was located here.

From the main entrance of Bakong the road continues to Psar Bakong in Meanchey commune, and you have time to stop at the Roluos Tea Garden along the way for a spot of refreshment. A right turn onto a paved road will lead towards a beautiful floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake, Kampong Pluk.

At the harbor, a local boat is prepared to take you on a tour through the floating village. A picnic lunch can be enjoyed in one of the floating houses along the way.

Cruising down a narrow waterway, you enter this medieval floating village, where the houses stand atop stilts as much as seven meters above the water. Everything lives on the water, pigs, dogs, crocodiles and people, all jockeying for space in this incredible floating town. You explore the local wat here, before boarding a bigger boat to take you through the flooded forest and across the Great Lake to Chong Kneas [floating village] and the holy mountain of Phnom Krom. You climb Phnom Krom for a glorious sunset over the Tonle Sap before heading back to Siem Reap by road.

In the evening, you head out to the home of the innovative circus performers from Phare Ponleu Selpak for a one hour performance, starting at 7:30PM. Their regular modern circus show under the Big Top is proving very popular in Siem Reap, and, in each show, they display a variety of disciplines including acrobatics, choreography, juggling, clowning, live music and much more. Many of the performances relate stories about the struggles faced by young disadvantaged people in Cambodia.

A dinner can also be arranged at their Phare Café before or after the show.

Day 11: Fly Denpasar. Drive ubud

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation:  Komaneka Tanggayuda or the Samaya Ubud Villas

Today is for flights – with some good connections. After a leisurely breakfast and perhaps a stop at the market, should you wish, you head to the airport and catch a Silk Air flight MI 6613 (1040/1355) to Singapore. There you catch SQ 946 (1625/1905) to Bali (Denpasar).

On arrival in Denpasar, you will be met by our guide holding a sign with your name on it. S/he will take you to the hotel in Ubud to check in and talk about your program for the next day.

Day 12: Option A: The Ubud Countryside  and Option B: Spirit of Belimbing

Meals Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Komanecka Tanggayuda or the Samaya Ubud Villas

Option A: The Ubud Countryside

After breakfast at hotel, you will be picked up for today’s sightseeing in Ubud. You begin with a private visit to the ancient Gunung Kawi Temple, built in the 11th century and one of the oldest temples in Bali. Here you experience the mystery of these historical remains, crafted in a side of a small mountain and surrounded by lush green tropical rice fields. To get to the temple, you have to do some climbing up and down steps.

From Gunung Kawi, you continue to Tegallalang, with its beautiful rice terraces, coconut trees and small river valley. The area is famous not just for its beauty, but for the many handicrafts shops that dot the way.

Your path takes you onward to Yeh Pulu, a series of carvings covered by moss, honored by the local people and formally and rediscovered in 1925 by a group of archeologists. The carvings are simple, but the place is quiet and charming.

The last morning stop is Goa Gajah (Elephant Cave), mentioned in the Javanese poem Desawarnana, written in 1365 on a series of ancient palm leaf scripts by a great Sanskrit poet. The cave itself dates back to the 11th century and is one of the most important, yet mysterious sites on the island of Bali. The nearby Petanu River was once called Lwa Gajah, likely giving its name to the cave. Some scholars believe that the carvings depict images from the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. You can explore the cave by clambering down a series of steps past two bathing pools fed by water from an underground well. It is said that the water possesses magical qualities.

After lunch at a local restaurant, you have an opportunity to spend time with Balinese Gamelan musicians, learning about the history of gamelan and its use in the village. There will be a demonstration by master musicians and an opportunity for you to try out the instrument and play a short piece.

Option B: Spirit of Belimbing

After breakfast, you head out early for a scenic journey along country roads to the Tabanan area in the remote region of Belimbing. Along the way, you can see many beautiful sculpted-terrace rice paddies. Arriving at your starting point, you will be served refreshing tea or coffee plus tasty cookies. Then you head out on about a 4 ½ mile walk around the coffee and chocolate plantations. The walk is not arduous but will take you up and down the rice-paddy terraces, so be sure to wear footwear with a good grip. Often the terraces can be wet and slippery. As you walk, your guide will identify fruits and vegetables and explain how local people grow and harvest their crops.

The walk terminates at the secluded Benben Waterfall, considered sacred by the Belimbing inhabitants. Bring your bathing costume and take a few minutes to bathe in the waters to cleanse away bad spirits. If you are young and in love (or old and in love), bathing in the waters will ensure good fortune for you and your partner in the future! A Balinese Hindu priest is on hand to assist you.

From Benben Waterfall, you will be transferred by car back to your hotel for lunch followed by some relaxation time to reflect on the morning’s cultural and spiritual experiences.

Later, around 4pm, you will be attired in suitable Balinese national dress and taken to one of Belimbing’s ancient Hindu temples located in the jungle. There you will encounter the sacred monkeys that live in the temple. A temple priest will enact a Hindu offering-to-the-gods ceremony involving bantens (ornate creations of meals cooked with meat and vegetables and decorated with flowers) followed by the drinking and spraying of holy water, an essential element of Balinese Hinduism.

After the ceremony, you will be transferred back to your hotel in time for dinner and with yet more spiritual experiences to reflect upon.

Day 13: Eastern Bali – Klungkung, Sidemen, Basakih Tmple

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Komanecka Tanggayuda Or The Samaya Ubud Villas

After an early breakfast, you head out to the eastern part of the island and the royal city of Klungkung, located in Semarapura, the capital of the Klungkung Regency.

From the late 17th century until 1908, the Klungkung Kingdom reigned as one of the highest and most important of the nine kingdoms of Bali. Sometime in the late 17th century, Dewa Angung Jambe I built a palace on this site, which survived until the Dutch conquest of 1908.

You can explore the palace ruins, particularly its famous ancient hall of justice, the Kerta Gosa, beautifully carved and decorated. Here prisoners awaiting sentence could look up at the ceiling at the frescoes depicting the punishments awaiting the wrongdoer in hell. The court hall is built on high stone platforms so that the trials were visible to all. These paintings are considered outstanding examples of the Kamasan or Wayang style of art.

A drive up the hills from the palace leads to the old weaving village of Sidemen, located in the middle of beautiful rice terraces. You can stop here to visit a family at their private home, and see a demonstration of traditional ikat weaving. After lunch in a local restaurant, you head further up the hill to the most important and sacred temple for all

Balinese, the more than 1000-year-old Besakih Temple, or Mother Temple of Bali.

Located on the slopes of the holy mountain Gunung Agung at about 3200 feet, Besakih is composed of twenty-two separate temples, of which the largest is Pura Penataran Agung. Because of its importance, the temple is always crowded with worshippers, tourists, salespeople and beggars, but is an absolute “must” place to visit.

Day 14: Traditional Healing and Cooking

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Accommodation: Komanecka Tanggayuda Or The Samaya Ubud Villas

The day starts with visit to Pak Cok or another well-known traditional Balinese healer. Pak Cok is quite old, and sometimes he is unavailable. Here you experience a private healing session, based on centuries old knowledge, wisdom and Balinese family traditions.

After your healing, it is time for a stroll through Ubud with your tour guide. As you walk, you visit the “threads of life” shop for traditional fabrics, more a museum then a shop. Continuing on through rice fields, you come to a small and simple bamboo café, the Sari Organic Café, where you will have lunch eating all natural organic foods.

Along your walk, you pass some of the places where the movie “Eat, Pray, Love,” with Julia Roberts was filmed, including the charming house in the middle of the rice fields that served as a home to the writer, Elizabeth Gilmore.

In the afternoon, embark on a culinary adventure unlocking the secrets of authentic Balinese cooking, utilizing traditional ingredients and preparation methods, in a fully equipped community village kitchen. At Laplapan village, you will be warmly welcomed and expertly guided by your host, Puspa, who will help you to discover how to create your very own delicious authentic Balinese dishes. Then you have the chance to taste it!

Day 15: Fly yogyakarta. Visit town and merapi volcano

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Plataran Borubudur – Deluxe Room

Rising early, you will check out of the hotel and head to the airport with a breakfast box in tow. Here you will catch your flight to Yogyakarta (Central Java) on GA 251 (0700/0715).

You spend the morning visiting some of the sights of Yogyakarta, the former capital city of Indonesia. You begin your visit with the Keraton Kasultanan Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, or Yogyakarta Palace. Built by Prince Mangkubumi in 1755, the palace stands between two rivers and is the center of an imaginary line connecting Parantritis Beach and the volcano, Mt. Merapi. Not only are there many fascinating exhibits ranging from weapons to ceramics to glass to batik; but also there are different art performances each day – puppetry, dance and even archery.

Then you enjoy the charm of the Water Castle or Taman Sari, the former royal gardens within the palace complex. The Taman Sari consists of four building areas – the Segaran lake area, the bathing complex, a set of pools and pavilions in the south and a smaller lake in the east. Sadly, today, only the bathing complex has been well preserved. Part of the charm of the Taman Sari is the mystery surrounding its construction. It is said that one of the architects was a Portuguese housebuilder, who was shipwrecked on the Java shore, learned the language and was commanded by the sultan to build a fortress!

Near the palace is Pasar Nagasem, a traditional market, and the biggest bird market in Yogyakarta. Also nearby is a settlement called Kampung Taman, known for its batik and traditional painting.

In the afternoon, you head out to Ketep Hill to see a spectacular view of the Merabu and Mt. Merapi Volcanoes. Merapi, literally ‘Mountain of Fire,” is the most active volcano in Indonesia, erupting regularly since 1548. The most recent eruption was in 2010. According to Javanese mythology, the mountain houses a spirit kingdom, ruled by Empu Rama and Empu Permadi, two spirit rulers who were buried under Mt. Merapi by the gods. It is said that their kingdom is a spiritual counterpart of the former Yogyakarta Sultanate, complete with roads, animals, princes, soldiers, etc. You stop at the Volcano Theatre, presenting the film about Mount Merapi with its various volcanic activities.

Depending on how you feel when you return to Yogyakarta, to get a brief sense of the Dutch heritage, you may want to stop at Benteng Vredenberg, a fort dating back to the Dutch era and now a museum of the independence movement in Yogyakarta. Here, during the Dutch era, many Indonesians languished in prison.

You might also choose to wander Jalan Malioboro, the major shopping street, poking into some of the narrow alleyways along the way.

Day 16: Visit to Borobudur and Candi Rejo. Prambanan temple and Trimurti show

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation: Plataran Borubudur – Deluxe Room

Rising very early, you head out to the World Heritage site of Borobudur for sunrise. Here in the early morning light, you have the opportunity to explore the site in serenity before the place is crowded with other tourists. Borobudur was built during the 8th and 9th centuries, is a formidable testimony to the skill of the Syailedra Dynasty that ruled Java from about the 5th to 10th centuries, and stands as one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world! A stupa, or reliquary mound, built with three tiers around a hill, the model is a representation of Buddhist cosmology. The bottom layer represents the world of desire and attachment, to which we as humans are bound. The second tier is that of form, the level at which we have renounced desire, but are still attached to name and form. The third tier is that of formlessness or emptiness. The temple compounds are laid out in the form of a lotus, the beautiful, pure flower that grows out of the mud, and the ten successive terraces represent the stages one has to go through on the path to attaining Buddhahood.

After enjoying the sunrise, from Borobudur you will start a cycling trip (or driving trip for those who do not wish to cycle) to explore the east part of the Temple visiting Candirejo village. Along the way, you pass plantations of papaya and cassava as well as beautiful rice fields. Along the way, you pay a short visit to Pawon Temple, another Buddhist site, built during the Sailendra dynasty.

Continuing your cycling trip, you can stop to see how sugar is manufactured, visit a local house for some refreshments and explore the area. Lunch is provided at local restaurant.

Returning to Yogya, you can stop briefly at the hotel. Then you head out to see Prambanan Temple, built in the 10th century and the largest temple compound dedicated to Shiva in Indonesia. Here you not only find temples dedicated to Shiva, as well as the other gods of the Hindu trinity, Brahma and Vishnu, but you also see Sewu, Indonesia’s largest Buddhist complex. Thus, Prambanan is both an amazing cultural treasure and a testimony to peaceful religions co-existence.

You will explore the temple compound and have an early dinner. Then, in the evening, you can enjoy the Trimurti performance of dances from the famous Ramayana, scenes of which decorate the temple walls.

Day 17: Depart Yogyakarta

Meals: Breakfast

Today you will catch your flight home, most likely through Singapore.

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117 Myths and Mountains Travel Reviews & Ratings

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Indonesia, Myanmar and Cambodia: Borobudur, Bagan and Angkor Wat

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A transforming and magical journey to Myanmar, Cambodia, Bali and Java.

5.0
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In all our years of travel, we’ve never experienced a more transforming and magical journey than the one Toni planned for us. Her meticulous planning ensured that there would be no surprises during our month in Myanmar, Cambodia, Bali, and Java, and what surprises we experienced were the serendipitous ones that happen when you allow yourself to seize the moment when it happens. Our guides, excellent English-speaking people and very knowledgeable, quickly got to know us and would make adjustments that would allow us to experience an unscripted moment with the wonderful people in each country. It was those unexpected moments that left us feeling like we left each country having stood in the shoes of the people for one brief moment. That perspective made us come back to our own country with new eyes and appreciation for what we have and what we don’t have.


The resorts were all remarkable, each unique, staffed by the kindest people, each attending to our needs, some of them so happy to test their English skills with us, leading to remarkable conversations about their lives. Restaurants were chosen to give us an overview of the food in the country, and the food was always delicious. Ancient temples, historic buildings in cities, beautiful rides in the country, food markets, candlelit dinner at a Burmese village home, boat rides on magical Inle Lake in early morning, watching the fisherman at work, floating gardens and villages, harvesting in the rice fields, 4 wheeling on a volcano, being surrounded by students practicing their English on Borobudur, the list goes on and the memories will never end.


But what set this trip apart was that Toni wanted to make sure we truly understood the people. Juxtaposed to the beauty was a trip to the Genocide Museum and Killing Fields in Cambodia, a heart-rending visit that we initially didnt want to make but realized afterwards that we had to make. It opened our hearts to the horror of what these people had endured and the wonder at the hope they all showed in spite of losing so many family members. Growing up in America, we’d read the stories in the newspapers, but it was only in being there that they became real to us. We’ll never forget the hour we spent on a boat with our Cambodian guide, anchored in the middle of Tonle Sap Lake, listening to his story. We felt such a connection to him and were so moved by his hopefulness and his vision of what his country would be for his children. It was this same young man who managed to make us feel like early French explorers discovering the ancient temples of Cambodia for the first time. We felt like we were truly in an Indiana Jones movie on an adventure of a lifetime. Words can’t describe those four days of discovering the temples of Cambodia. It was hard to believe the vision the Cambodian Kings had, the tenacity and ingenuity of the builders and that these temples are still standing, thanks, in part to the restoration of them by so many countries in the world.


Leaving Cambodia was difficult but Bali called to us and we were unprepared for the natural beauty ahead of us. Not only did we enjoy some beach time, but we quickly headed to the Ubud region and were stunned by the arts there, the countryside, and the people. We took a walk through the rice fields on Christmas day but before the walk we met a family in their home. There was a little 4 year old boy, shy, unable talk to us, but being a musician, I decided to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to him. I made it through 6 notes and he ran to his bedroom and returned with a little keyboard and played a perfect Twinkle on it. I was reminded that music is universal and in that moment we “spoke” to each other through music. That was our common language, as it also was in Burma when we sang nursery rhyme songs with children in a village, or took gamelan lessons in Bali. What we also took away from this trip was an understanding of world religions, since we had a Buddhist, Hindu, and Islamic guide in three different countries. We listened to their devotion to their beliefs, heard their family stories of faith, witnessed their reverence of their holy temples, heard Islamic prayers 5 times a day, were blessed by Hindu priests, even had a healing ceremony on Christmas Day in Bali with a man who couldn’t speak English. We began to understand what made each nation tick, what kept them believing in a hopeful future when politics intervened in their lives. We witnessed their smiles, saw their tears when we were in the temples being blessed, and were so moved by their faith. So, if you want to experience a trip of a lifetime, go to Toni. You won’t be disappointed.
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Myths staff members Toni and Jen answered ALL of our questions and we felt well prepared for our adventure.

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Myths staff members Toni and Jen answered ALL of our questions and we felt well prepared for our adventure. The trip design could not have been better. We absolutely loved the trip! We are even considering becoming Myanmar ""repeaters"", as our guide called those who chose to visit Myanmar more than once.
Out guides understood our interests and often expanded our itinerary to include additional places and experiences. We made an impromptu visit to a wedding just outside of Mandalay. We were warmly welcomed and take to a table where we were offered ice cream and cake. Then the new couple insisted that we were part of the professional wedding photos that were being taken. In fact, all over Myanmar the Burmese people wanted photos taken with us. We also encountered a house building party in Kengtung where we were offered coffee and food. The house owner shared the plans for his new house with us.
Staying at the Inle Princess was perfect! We felt like VIPs. The setting was absolutely beautiful and mystical. The Park Royal was a perfect city hotel with a wonderful breakfast and very cozy bar. All the staff was very friendly. We enjoyed happy hour at the Bagan lodge. Our pool side suite was fantastic! The laundry service was fast and good. The Sala Lodge was a perfect retreat after a hot day of ""temple exploring"" and we loved the staff. We enjoyed our stay at the amazing Kyaing Tong Resort. The Conqueror resort was also a fun stay due to a firework and balloon launch arranged by our guide with the hotel staff partying with us.
Hsu Mon Aung, our Myanmar guide was amazing! She was totally professional in taking care of us but she felt like a friend from our first meeting. She was the best ambassador for her country and through her warmth and compassion was able to connect us with many Burmese people. We entered their homes as welcomed guests. During the full moon festival we were unable to go to Taunggyito to see the balloons, so Hsu organized our own balloon launch at the Conqueror resort, including music and fireworks. She knew that I had really wanted to see the balloon festival. We felt so fortunate to have had her traveling with us, Hsu checked us in at every hotel and airport. Our bags were taken care of before we knew it. At the restaurants she helped us select foods that were Burmese and would keep us healthy. We did a lot of laughing and sharing stories in the car.
In Kyaing Tong we met our regional guide who we called ""Sy"". Sy had a fantastic personality and knew the tribes well. The people were always happy to see him. He and Hsu worked well as a team. At the local school, we donated tablets, pencils, etc., and I was able to teach the children the ""Hokey Pokey"" translated by Hsu and Sy. Su and Hsu brought medicines to the hill tribes. Keo was our guide in Siem Reap. One of his best skills was skirting the crowds at the temples. We often entered through a seemingly remote jungle path vs. the highway. At our request, he also showed us less touristy temples that were not on our itinerary. Our guide Hsu was also very resourceful! At the Pho Win Daung caves the monkeys were very aggressive, so Hsu paid two young ladies with monkey food to keep the monkeys away from us.
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Company Reviews

You all do an amazing job

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You all do an amazing job. I have recommended M & M to everyone who expresses an interest in travel. I can think of no other company, besides yours, that really shares my values about educational and responsible tourism.
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Favorite Trip Memory: Halong Bay

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Favorite Trip Memory: Halong Bay, ethnic groups near Bac Ha Market day! | Favorite Guide: Cuong! Experienced, passionate, straightforward, funny. | Helpful Tip: Use Myths & Mountains. They’re the best!
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Precisely what I wanted

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I got what I wanted. I wanted to see the ethnic groups -- not the Han or the Viet. That was what I got to see. Precisely what I wanted. Thanks.

Our second guide was fabulous

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Paro Festival was all we had hoped for. Our second guide was fabulous. He was attuned to what we wanted and made good suggestions and changes to the itinerary as needed.

Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Private - your group only

Trip ID#:

InoMyaMyt

Trip Excludes

  • International airfare
  • Visa fees
  • Meals where not indicated with a Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
  • Tips/gratuity (porters, drivers, local guides, etc.)
  • Domestic and international airport taxes
  • Other items of a personal nature including laundry, alcoholic beverages, etc.
  • Additional expenses resulting from the delay or extension of the trip due to causes beyond our reasonable control

Meals Included:

16 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches and 8 Dinners

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