Explore the enchanting Inle Lake by bike and boat, then pedal your way through the scenic countryside as we ride from the Shan Hills to Bagan, home to a mind boggling collection of pagodas and a relaxed atmosphere. This trip runs Yangon to Bagan.
The recent interest in Myanmar as a destination means that everyone is talking about it but only a few will have the pleasure of seeing it in its current form. Now is the time to visit a country that has been shrouded in mystery for too long. A journey through arguably the most picturesque parts of Myanmar, this is a great introduction to a country that has just recently opened up to travellers.
From the natural beauty of Inle Lake and the intrigue of the communities that inhabit it, to the man-made, ancient ruins of Bagan, this is a trip that takes in a diverse range of landscapes and includes some amazing riding.
8 days duration
305 km distance
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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Top quality, well maintained Merida or Trek mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour, fitted with hybrid tyres for touring. Handlebar bags for your personal possessions are also provided.
4 nights are in supremely comfortable and well run hotels which are a great and sometimes unexpected part of this tour. 2 nights are in a clean, 2 star hotel with private bathroom. 1 night is in simple but clean and functional guest houses with private bathrooms. In the simpler locations we have chosen these properties for a number of reasons including the outstanding hospitality offered by the teams who run them and the fact that they enable us to actually ride some amazing routes.
An experienced English speaking, local leader will host you on this trip who is well spoken, very well informed, and charming. Our leaders are often cited as being the main highlight of the tour. We use local leaders who have a passion for their country and are always well informed on topics ranging from history, politics, cuisine and importantly local customs and cultures. Our leaders will take pride in introducing you to every aspect of their country and will help you to connect with the villagers you meet along the way.
For groups of 5+ people a bike mechanic will join the group. Whilst not a master of linguistics, our technical team always make an effort to form a bond with the group and provide not just mechanical support, but additional encouragement to those who may find themselves at the back of the group. Our drivers support the group by ensuring that the freshest fruit and tastiest snacks are picked up along the way.
An air conditioned backup support vehicle is always available in case you want a break from riding, and to carry your luggage.
Burmese cuisine has a distinct flavor and theme. We will introduce you to authentic Burmese and Shan cuisine which is less about the central dish and more about the array of side dishes and condiments that it is accompanied by. Included meals are listed in the day by day itinerary, and drinking water is always included with meals. Any soft or alcoholic drinks are not included and will be at your own expense.
Energy bars and local snacks are provided to keep your energy levels up for the riding, and clean water and electrolyte drinks are always available to keep you well hydrated.
Take It Home
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a Grasshopper drink bottle as an extra memento.
2 to 10
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 2 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 10 travellers so that you get all the attention you want in an intimate group.
There is no surcharge for single travellers - we will match you with another same sex single traveller. If you want a single room there is a an optional upgrade that you can book.
for Inle, the Shan Hills & Bagan - 2017
Arrival in Yangon, Fly to Inle Lake
The group will meet this morning at the domestic terminal of Yangon Airport for our flight to Heho. The flight will leave between 10am and 11:30am, so you must arrive in Yangon no later than 8am. Alternatively, you may wish to stay the night before in Yangon. Our 70 minute flight to Heho is followed by a drive of around the same duration to reach Nyaung Shwe, the main town of the Inle Lake area. We stay on dry land rather than on the lake as it's actually a more interesting experience and allows more freedom of movement. Meals: LD
Bike & Boat Inle Lake
We take a ride around the area to learn a little about the local culture and the farming habits of the people here. We then cycle along the eastern bank of the lake, before taking a boat trip on the lake itself. Here we will see the famous leg rowing fishermen, silk weaving, and whole communities that exist in stilt houses on the lake. Everything from schools, shops, even the post office can be found out here, all within a short boat ride of each other. We will stop at some of the more interesting sites and visit some of the lake's renowned cottage industries such as lotus-silk weaving. This is usually a full day and we can expect to return to town by 4pm. Meals: BL
Cycle to Kalaw
Leaving early this morning and after a flat ride to start, we climb out of the valley and up into the Western Shan Hills. This is a challenging ride, but with some lovely views. We reach the town of Kalaw in the mid afternoon. Kalaw was a British Hill Station in past times and is well populated with colonial style buildings. Kalaw is populated by a diverse range of peoples, including Muslims (mainly originating from Bangladesh), Pa Oh and Paluang hill tribes, and even the descendants of Nepalese Gurkhas who settled here. The Shan hills are noted for their fresh produce and tonight you'll have a chance to try it at a family-run restaurant. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Pindaya
Another early start today for a short drive that takes us to the Green Hill Valley Elephant Sanctuary, a conservation project founded by two passionate and dedicated tour guides. The project is currently home to seven elephants, five of whom were recently retired from working service in the logging industry. We take a walk around to see the property, the reforestation project and with luck the elephants. From Green Hill Valley we drive down past the trucking town of Aung Ban to start our next ride. This is a lovely ride through rolling hills with patchwork crops, punctuated by groups of villagers working the fields. We roll into the tiny town of Pindaya in the late afternoon and visit the Golden Cave for which the town is famous. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Ywar Ngan
We start with an off-road ride through a seldom visited area where small communities of Pa Oh will watch curiously as you pedal by. The scenery today gets better at every turn, with limestone crags topped by gold and white stupas giving way to lush flower gardens as we pass through tiny towns. One of these towns is our home for the night. Here a simple guesthouse in a small community awaits and offers an enjoyable night in a truly off-the-beaten-path setting. Meals: BLD
Cycle & Transfer to Bagan
This is a challenging yet rewarding ride. The day includes some fun downhill sections, as well as some short climbs to keep you warm. We leave the heights today and as we drop into the Irrawaddy Basin we get some fantastic views from the hills as we fly down them. There are few towns today due to the steep landscape but there are lots of villages whose inhabitants will be truly surprised to see you. This is a much less travelled route where it is uncommon to see many people on bikes. As we reach the main north-south highway, we board the vehicle for a drive to Bagan which takes around 4 hours. Meals: BLD
Cycle the Pagodas of Bagan
The pagodas of the Bagan Plain are best visited early in the morning as the sandy landscape heats up by the middle of the day. We make good use of an early start and focus our visit on the temples that were built between 14th and 19th centuries: Shwezigon, Dhamagyangyi and Ananda to name a few. In the late morning we find a local restaurant to have lunch then return to the hotel where an afternoon by the pool may be a good way to unwind and enjoy the warm temperatures. Meals: BL
Note: Day 7 is the ideal timing for a sunrise hot air balloon flight over Bagan, considered some of the best ballooning in the world. We can arrange this for you. Prices are approximately US$360 per person and the balloon rides operate between 01 Oct and 15 Apr each year. Please inquire when booking on the tour if this interests you.
Conclusion of the Tour in Bagan
The tour concludes after a hearty breakfast. Options for onward travel are many and include domestic flights from Nyaung-u Airport in Bagan (NYU). A quick 30 minute flight to Mandalay or a 50 minute flight to Yangon will bring you to your connecting international flight. For those in no hurry to leave, the beaches of Myanmar beckon. Please feel free to inquire at the time of booking about onward travel plans. Meals: B
What's the Riding Like?
Some hilly terrain
Some sandy trails
6 days riding
The terrain is a mix of sealed and unsealed roads on secondary roads and quiet country lanes. We aim, wherever possible to be off roads with traffic and have adjusted the itinerary over time to achieve this. There are three sustained climbs over the trip, the longest of which is 7km. These are generally not steep and once you are into a riding rhythm, you will find them quite achievable. It is important to understand that you must be comfortable with riding on rough surfaces. The dirt trails do feature holes, gravel, sand and other obstacles, while the roads are often potholed. There is always a support vehicle on hand to give you a lift if you need a break from the riding.
Coolest time: Nov-Feb
Wettest time: Jul-Aug
Our favourite: Oct-Nov
Given that Myanmar is the biggest country in 'mainland' South East Asia, (about the size of Texas, or the size of Germany and Italy put together) it should be no surprise that there are great regional differences in weather. The Wet Season in Upper Myanmar might mean rain two or three times a week while Yangon and Lower Myanmar might get it two or three times a day! Generally the coolest time of year is from November to February, with temperatures rising to a peak in April and May. With the arrival of the rains in June temperatures fall but humidity rises. July and August are the wettest months with a return to dry conditions in November.
Shan State (Inle Lake) can be significantly cooler than the flat plains of Central Myanmar and has a slightly longer and heavier Wet Season.
Our Recommendation: The combination of lower numbers of tourists together with the lush countryside that blooms from the monsoon season means October and November are great months to cycle in Myanmar.
What our guests tell us...
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