Trip Type : Private Guided
Myanmar: Cruising The Chindwin River tour

Myanmar: Cruising The Chindwin River

Myths and Mountains Premier
Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
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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: The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays. Luxury - 5 star
14 days
From: $ 5,930 $ 424 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Sunset at Shwedagon
  • Bagan touring and home-hosted dinner
  • Craftspeople of Mandalay
  • 8 day cruise on the Chindwin
  • Visit Mingkin to see artworks
  • Explore Mawlaik, the capital of Chin State
  • Wander Shan Enclave of Yaungdoot

Short Description

Myanmar is still a mysterious country, with remote rivers, jungles and mountains that are almost untouched by travel and tourism. The Chindwin River, the largest tributary of the Irawaddy, flows through one such remote part of Myanmar, inhabited by Nagas, Kachin and other tribal communities.   The river itself rises in Kachin State at the confluence of 4 rivers – the Tanai, the Tabye, the Tawan, and the Taron. High mountain ranges and dense jungle forests make access to the remote Chindwin area extremely difficult and the river serves as the best highway.

This Chindwin area also forms one of the border lands between India and Myanmar, and played an important role during World War I and II. The towns along the Chindwin were caught up in the warfare between the Japanese Army and the Indian Assam Rifles, as well as soldiers from India fighting for Indian independence from the British.

You will travel up river from Mandalay, visiting small villages, markets, areas occupied by the Japanese during World War II, villages where jade is mined and people panned for gold, as well as parts of Nagaland that have gone back and forth between Myanmar and India over the years. The trip will end in the remote village of Homalin, where you will catch a flight back to Yangon. Note that depending on the water level and weather, there may be changes in the itinerary and flights.

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
The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.
Lodging Level Luxury - 5 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Yangon
End City Yangon

Trip Includes

  • Accommodations as listed, including all service charges and taxes
  • Internal airfare (broken out separately)
  • 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 01: ARRIVE YANGON. WELCOME Dinner

Accommodation : PARK ROYAL YANGON OR BELMOND GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE

Meals :Dinner

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

Late in the afternoon, you will be picked up in time for sunset at the Shwedagon Pagoda – a good way to start your visit to Myanmar. “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 due to the fact that it contains relics not only of Gautama Buddha, but also 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. From Shwedagon, you will head to a welcome dinner at Le Planteur, one of Yangon’s best restaurants.

Accommodation : PARK ROYAL YANGON OR BELMOND GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE

Meals :Dinner

DAY 02: TOUR YANGON

Accommodation : BAGAN THIRIPYITSAYA SANCTUARY RESORT

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

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. 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. Near Sule are many of the old British of what is left of the British heritage.

Your next stop is the National Museum, with its magnificent throne, relics, military regalia, and art. Here you can get a sense of Burmese history and culture. You end the day with a walk through the night market in China Town. Accommodation : PARK ROYAL YANGON OR BELMOND GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE Meals :Breakfast, Lunch DAY 03: FLY BAGAN AND TOUR CITY Rising early, you will return to the airport and catch a 45-minute flight to Bagan on W9 141 (0615/0735). If Ankor 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 with the temples and pagodas. The masterpiece of Mon architecture is the Ananda Temple, inspired by the magical stories of 8 monks who visited King Kyanzittha. One of the most interesting visits is to the Kyanzittha Cave Monastery, which, despite its name, was probably built during the reign of Anawrahta as lodging for monks. Frescoes on the walls chronicle life in Pagan from the 11th century through the Mongol occupation.

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 Celonese 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 has, always revered Nats, or local spirits,, and Anawrahta incorporated the 37 key nats into the design of the pagoda. Next you head to 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.

From Myinkaba, you take a boat trip to Kyauk Gu U Min, a cave temple on the banks of the Irawaddy River. Then as sun sets over Bagan, you continue cruising the river and watching life along the riverbanks. You end the day with a home-hosted dinner in Phawar Saw Village.

DAY 04: FLY MANDALAY AND TOUR. PM MARIONETTE SHOW

Accommodation : SEDONA Accommodation : MANDALAY

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch

Very early, you will drive to the airport for your flight to Mandalay on W9 143 (0805/0835). Depositing your bags at the hotel, you will begin to learn about the last seat of Burma’s kings before the British annexation in 1885. Mandalay is most famous as a center of arts and crafts in Myanmar, with different quarters of the city dedicated to each of the arts. You can explore some of the different workshops for gold beating, puppetry, woodcarving and bronze casting.

Then you can visit the huge Ziegyo Market, where you can find everything you might need for your house, clothing and more. In the afternoon, you can explore some of the temples by trishaw. At the foot of Mandalay Hill is King Mindon’s Kuthodaw Pagoda, famous as the repository of the “world’s largest book.” The “book” consists of a series of marble tablets with a Pali script rendition of the Buddhist cannon or Tripitaka. The tablets were carved for the Fifth Buddhist Synod, convened by King Mindon. Near the hill’s south staircase is the Kyaukdawgyi Pagoda, begun in 1853 and housing a monumental marble statue of the Buddha. One of the most interesting and beautiful sites in Mandalay is the Shwenandaw Kyaung, or Golden Palace Monastery. Once part of King Mindon’s palace complex and the building in which he died, Shwenandaw is a delicate example of a traditional Burmese wooden monastery. Dismantled and reassembled by King Thibaw in 1880 as a monastery, Shwenandaw today houses a large number of monks. Some of the carved panels on the inside represent stories from the Jatakas, tales of the Buddha before he became enlightened. After lunch at a local restaurant, you can watch gold leaf being hammered into the thin sheets needed to adorn Burmese Buddhist statues.

Then you can visit the huge Ziegyo Market, where you can find everything you might need, You end your touring with visit to Mandalay Hill for sunset. The history of Mandalay begins on Mandalay Hill. Legend has it that an ogress, Canda Mukhi, came to pay homage to the Buddha, who was giving teachings on the top of what came to be Mandalay Hill. Wanting to make a gift to the Buddha, and having nothing worthy to offer, she plucked off her breasts and laid them at Buddha’s feet. Blessing her, Buddha said that she would be reborn one day as the prince who would be the founder and ruler of a future Mandalay. King Mindon, the founder of Mandalay, is believed to be the reincarnation of Canda Mukhi. Following dinner, you will be head to a theater for a charming re-enactment of Burmese myths at the marionette show.

DAY 05: TOUR MANDALAY

Accommodation : SEDONA Accommodation : MANDALAY

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch

It is truly worthwhile to get up early and watch Buddha get a bath at Mandalay’s religious hub - the Maha Muni Pagoda. Believed to be one of only five likenesses of Buddha created during his lifetime, Maha Muni is revered by Burmese Buddhists as an opportunity to actually see the Buddha in person. In fact, legend has it that the Buddha himself embraced the statue seven times, imparting life to it, and exhorted it to represent him and his teachings. King Bodawphaya brought the statue to Mandalay from Arakan in 1784 as a war trophy. Buddha gets his bath at 4:30am; and that so many people are in the temple at that hour is a testimony to the reverence in which the statue is held.

Next, at this early hour, you will head to Amarapura, the royal capitol until King Mindon moved the kingdom to Mandalay. Here you can watch the approximately 700 monks of the Bagaya Kyaung stream out of the monastery with their wooden begging bowls. Eyes downcast, they are in search of their breakfast of rice and perhaps a bit of gravy. Local villagers, hoping to gain merit for future lives, bring huge pots of rice into the road to feed the monks. Shortly below Amarapura, the new Ava Bridge spans the Irawaddy and leads to the Sagaing Hills. When Mandalay’s city dwellers tire of the grind of city life, they are wont to “go west,” or go into retreat among the Sagaing Hills on the west bank of the Irawaddy. The dominant pagoda is the Ponnyashin Pagoda, perched high on a hill. Although one can drive to the top, it is truly worthwhile to walk up one of the four covered paths leading to the summit. The path most commonly used by pilgrims has a lone crested lion at the foot of the stairs, and takes about 30 minutes. Along the way are benches for resting, wonderful views of other pagodas dotting the landscape, and lush foliage abounding in tropical birds. The pagoda was named after Ponnya, son of a Zawgyi or supernatural being and a princess, who became minister. It is said that even today the spirit of Ponnya does the very earliest dawn offering of alms food at the pagoda. In fact, locals call the Ponnyashin Pagoda Soon-oo Ponnyshin, “Shrine of the earliest dawn offering.”

Cross the river by ferry to Inwa (Ava), situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Once a royal capital, Inwa is now a quiet rural oasis. Enjoy a leisurely horse cart ride around the peaceful countryside, briefly visiting Bagaya Kyaung, a beautiful teak wood monastery, Maha Aungmyay Bonzan Kyaung, and Nan Myint Tower. On the way, stop and observe how local artisans make their famous alms bowls out of iron. Finally, return to Amarapura, From Bagaya,you wind down a narrow road to the river and the U-bein teak bridge, constructed from the planks of the royal palace when King Bodawpaya moved the capital from Ava to Amarapura. The wooden planks, bridging the Taungthanmon Lake, have lasted more than two hundred years. You end the day with a visit to a silverware factory.

DAY 06: TRANSFER TO DOCK AND BOARD BOAT.

Accommodation : BOAT – RV KALAY PANDAW

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

You will be picked up at your hotel somewhere between 8 and 8:30AM and driven, for about 3 hours, to the dock at Monywa. The town is a hub for trade throughout the Chindwin Valley, and, among other things, used to provide blankets to most of Myanmar. The town is famous for its Thanboddhay Pagoda, dating form 1303 and said to contain close to half a million statues of Buddha!

DAY 07: VISIT PHOWIN TAUNG CAVES AND CRUISE UPSTREAM

Accommodation : BOAT – RV KALAY PANDAW

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Across the river from Monywa are the Phowin Taung Caves. You will get off your boat and take a bus to Phowin Taung to see the murals and statues. Overall, there are about 947 caves dating from the 14th to 18th centuries. The name Phowin Taung means “Mountain of Isolated Solitary Meditation, and was said to be the home of a Zawgyi ( alchemist), named U Po Win, for whom the cave was named. Legend has it that Up Po Win could fly, live under water, cure illnesses and transform base metals into gold. The murals are taken from the Jatakas, or stories of the earliest lives of the Buddha. After leaving Monywa, you will enter the upper Chindwin River. Along the way, you will pass small villages, where you can get off and stretch your legs, visiting the communities.

DAY 08: CRUISING

Accommodation : BOAT – RV KALAY PANDAW

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

The river narrows, and the forested hills morph into farmlands. Along the way, you pass a number of attractive villages, such as Kannee. The boat will stop and you can get off and walk around the area.

DAY 09: MINKIN

Accommodation : BOAT – RV KALAY PANDAW

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today the RV Kalay will stop at Mingkin, sometimes described as the Lang Prabang of the Chindwin. The town was rediscovered by Paul Strachan in 1987 and described in detail in his book “Mandalay: Travels from the Golden City.” Strachen finds Mingkin to be the most “art historically interesting site in Myanmar,” with its Konbaung court style teak monasteries, sumptuously decorated. In fact, the oldest wooden monastery in Burma is found here. In nearby Kan Village is a fabulous collection of Konbaung period wooden carvings, safely guarded by the venerated Lord Abbot. The gateway town for Chin State is a town by the name of Kalewa, and you can wander the town, with its markets and quaint wooden architecture.

DAY 10: MAWLAIK

Accommodation : BOAT – RV KALAY PANDAW

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, you will explore the town of Mawlaik. In the early days, Kindat was the administrative capital of Chin State, but Mawlaik replaced it. Interestingly, the Bamar people from Kindat refused to move downstream to Mawlaik, so the town was mainly settled in the 1920s and 1930s by people from the Scottish owned and run Bombay Myanmar Trading Corporation. Here you can find many splendid Dak Bun galows set around a verdant golf course. Mawlaik, like other towns of the Upper Chindwin, can only be reached by boat, so cars are few. There is a dreamy, otherworldly quality to such places, and one truly has the sense of traveling in a “Pandaw time machine.” During World War II, after crossing the Chindwin, the Japanese stormed the Indian city of Imphal, formerly the China-Burma-India (CBI) headquarters for British during the war and now the capital of Manipur. The Japanese were defeated at Imphal, and forced to retreat back over the river. Those who were injured or sick were left in Mawlaik, and many committed suicide In the afternoon, the boat passes the mouth of the Yu River, which drains the Kubu Valley. Through this valley, Lieutenant Grant marched to the relief of the British garrison in Manipur, when the chief commissioner of Assam was massacred in a local rebellion.

DAY 11: SITTHAUNG

Accommodation : BOAT – RV KALAY PANDAW

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Sitthaung, your major stop for the day, played a major role in World War II. The town was the final resting place for a number of IFC steamers, sunk there in 1942 to keep them from the advancing Japanese, who were a matter of hours behind. There is a highway there, built in 1887, running west to the Indian border and linking the Upper Burma with Manipur on the Indian side. It was from Sitthaung, that the survivors of the Japanese invasion marched out to Tamu on the Indian border and continued back to Mawlaik. Today you can see a memorial to those Japanese soldiers who died after the battle of Imphal. Nearby Pantha was an important oil refinery, belonging to the Indo-Burma Petroleum Company (Steel Brothers).

DAY 12: TOUNGDOOT

Accommodation : BOAT – RV KALAY PANDAW

Meals :Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Toungdoot, your focal point for the day, is an ancient Shan enclave, which, in British times, boasted a ruling sawba (prince) complete with palace and court. Here you can search to discover what became of the ruling family and their court, and see what has become of the local Shan people, so very far from their Tai-Shan homelands.

DAY 13: DOCK IN HOMALIN. EXPLORE. TRANSFER TO AIRPORT AND FLY YANGON

Accommodation : PARK ROYAL YANGON OR BELMOND GOVERNOR’S RESIDENCE

Meals :Breakfast. Lunch

Homalin is the farthest navigable point on the Chindwin for vessels of the size of the RV Kalay, and a charming town. Alister McCrae wrote of his visit there in 1935, “I loved the atmosphere of quiet and peaceful living there. At night, I could hear greylag geese, as then came into the flooded land around us from far away north.” The town, at one point, was a major stop for the Irawaddy Flotilla Company back in 1908, during the British Occupation. Then, in 1944, until their defeat, the Japanese occupied the town. Nearby, the Uyu River flows into the Chindwin, and townspeople have found gold powder and nuggets in the sands of the Uyu. Homalin was also the home of a major heroin refinery owned by the Myanmar military and the area is infamous for its heroin production. People of the area include Nagas (once fierce headhunters) and other subgroups. You will dock here today and have a bit of time to explore the area. Later, you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight back to Yangon. On arrival in Yangon, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for the night. **IMPORTANT: Please note that water levels drop dramatically as of December and you might not be able to reach Homalin. You will be well rewarded with alternative excursions. We will be cruising up to Mawlaik and return to Kalewa where you will be flown out to Yangon or Mandalay.

DAY 14: TRANSFER FOR YOUR FLIGHT HOME

Accommodation : NONE

Meals :Breakfast

The morning is free for last minute shopping and a vehicle is at your disposal. After lunch, you will head back to the airport for your flight out of Burma.

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Myanmar: Cruising The Chindwin River

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It was truly an amazing experience.

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We were thoroughly enamored by the people that we met on that very remote river cruise. Experiences that raw are very hard to come by in this world. We'd love to have had lots more time (and a private guide) in these villages. "Off the grid" changes very quickly, even this cruise has already been underway for a year maybe? Steph and I love this. Yes, we want more!
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Loved the activities in our itinerary.

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We loved the washing of the Buddha, visiting the villages and their schools, meeting all the people (both Burmese and fellow travelers), eating some local fare.
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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.
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Details

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Private - your group only

Cancellation Policy:

International   Airfare/Air Tickets: Refund subject  to airline cancellation rules and procedures.

Land Portion & Internal  Air*: Refund  will  be  given  according  to  the  schedule  outlined below 

NOTE :  Minimum cancellation charge is $750 even for trips with land cost less than $1500.

Number of days prior to departure that  written notice of cancellation  is received in our office and Applicable Cancellation Fee 61 Days or more prior to departure date

61 Days or more prior to departure date is $750  per  person  plus  any  varying  non - refundable  pre - payments  we  have  made  in  advance on your behalf (i.e. Penalties  incurred  for  cancelling  air,  deposits  paid  to hold reservations, etc.) **

45 - 60 Days prior to departure date is 50% of  the land  cost plus any varying  non - refundable pre - payments we have made in advance on your behalf (i.e. Penalties incurred for cancelling air, deposits paid to hold reservations, etc.) **

44 Days or Less "" No Refund""**

At or after departure "" No Refund"" **"

Additional Information:

Travel Insurance: Though it’s not included in the price of your trip, we do strongly recommend buying insurance on your own, as pre-paid travel arrangements can be up to 100% non-refundable, even if you cancel for reasons beyond your control. Myths and Mountains has a cancellation policy in place for a reason and cannot make any exceptions. As a courtesy, we do offer a comprehensive insurance package with Arch Insurance Solutions exclusively available to Myths and Mountains clients. Note that you apply for this insurance on your own, since Arch Insurance Solutions is a separate entity from us. The premium is based on a formula that multiplies your total trip cost by .065. For more information, please refer to the Travel Insurance Preferred™ RoamRight Platinum Plan information packet included in your pre-departure e-mail.

Trip ID#:

NewMyaMyt

Trip Excludes

  • International airfare
  • Comprehensive insurance coverage, including medical, evacuation, baggage loss/delay, cancellation ins., etc.
  • Visa fees
  • Meals where not indicated with a B,L,D
  • 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:

13 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches and 9 Dinners

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