The 'Grand Tour' of Myanmar by bicycle
Cycle the picturesque Shan Hills, Inle Lake and Bagan Plain. Meet the warm people and see the countryside of Myanmar. Lose yourself in Yangon and its food experiences. This trip runs Yangon to Yangon.
This is the all encompassing bicycle tour of Myanmar's most famous sights, seen by way of the best back roads and secret trails around. Cycle from the enchanting Shan Hills into the Irrawaddy basin, Mandalay and onto the Bagan Plain, home to thousands of ancient pagodas. Finish with a visit to Yangon, the fascinating commercial center of the country.
This is an irresistible trip for anyone who has wondered what mysteries lie between the well known cultures of India, China and Thailand. The answer for most is something completely unexpected.
After the recent news of Myanmar opening up to travelers it is quickly becoming the new 'must see' destination in South East Asia. Underneath all the news and history is a country full of friendly people who have a strong tradition of hospitality as well as landscapes of amazing diversity.
13 days duration
504 km distance
Difficulty: Somewhat challenging
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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Quality, well-maintained GT and Merida mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour, fitted with full hydraulic brakes, hybrid tyres for touring. Handlebar bags for your personal possessions and comfortable saddles are also provided, with a women's specific version available.
9 nights are in supremely comfortable and well run hotels which are a great and sometimes unexpected part of this tour. 1 night is in a clean, 2 star hotel with private bathroom. 2 nights are 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.
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 Myanmar Magic
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 Mandalay
Today offers a challenging, rewarding ride. The day includes some fun downhill sections, but also some short climbs to keep you warm. We leave the highlands 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 Mandalay where a comfortable hotel and a great meal await. Meals: BLD
Rest Day in Mandalay
Mandalay was the last royal capital of Myanmar and was the first city to be ransacked by the advancing British forces. The former royal complex was destroyed in a fire during World War II but you can still see the impressive walls and moat. The city of Mandalay is now a bustling commercial centre with fascinating local markets. There are many ways to relax including some time by the pool, a massage to revive the limbs or even a guided food adventure. A visit to Mandalay Hill for sunset is another option and provides a great view over the city. Meals: B
Bike & Boat to Mingun, Sagaing, Ava & Amarapura. Transfer to Myingyan
We are in for a real treat today as we avoid roads as much as possible. We first travel upstream on the Irrawaddy River by boat and then explore from Mingun down to Sagaing, along a fantastic road running parallel to the river. A short, challenging climb takes us to the top of Sagaing Hill for a fabulous view of the monastery-dotted hill and Mandalay in the distance.
From here, we cross over the river returning to smaller trails, leading us past the ancient former capital Ava, banana groves, weaving villages and countryside views. We make it all the way to the longest teak wood bridge in the world, a structure that has withstood the ravages of time remarkably well. After some time at the bridge we travel by car to our home for the evening, the small town of Myingyan, where a simple, but adequate hotel awaits. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Mount Popa
A pleasant ride takes us through the dry zone, terrain that is markedly different from the rest of Myanmar. We pass villages along the way and as the day progresses, the gently rolling hills become more pronounced. As we pass the last of the flat fields, we find Mount Popa and a sharp, but relatively short climb to the lovely resort with its pool perched on the edge of the mountain overlooking the Taung Kalat temple. In the afternoon, you will have the option to visit this temple and hear the stories of the 37 Nats - spirits who call this place home. Meals: BLD
Cycle to Bagan via Kyauk Padaung
A flying downhill starts us off into the valley and into Kyauk Padaung. After a stop at the local tea house for snacks, we will look through the produce market before riding onto Bagan. As we ride in, the red bricks of the pagodas come into view and the become more and more numerous as we near the hotel which is located on the edge of the Bagan Plain. After lunch we will head out to a scenic spot to catch the sunset. 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 11 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.
Fly to Yangon & Explore the City
We will take a late morning flight (subject to flight schedules). We'll check straight into the hotel and after some down time, take a walking tour of the city. We walk through Little India and Chinatown in downtown Yangon which is a frenzy of trading and eating activity. We see an amazing collection of British colonial era buildings, some in a well restored state and others in moss covered decay. As the afternoon wears on, we take in an unforgettable sunset at Shwedagon Pagoda. We then enjoy our final meal together and celebrate the tour. Meals: BD
Tour Concludes in Yangon
Today the tour concludes. For those who are not in a hurry to leave, the beaches of Myanmar beckon. For information on these and other destinations to extend your holiday, please ask our team at the time of booking. Meals: B
What's the Riding Like?
Some hilly terrain
Some sandy trails
9 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 four 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.
Create Your Own Date
Don't see the date for this tour to suite your schedule? No problem - create your own date. Chose the dates that you would like to travel and as long as you are happy to open the tour to other people joining we will charge the standard tour price - no markups!
1. You must have booked and paid your deposit for travel dates that are at least 3 months in the future. This just gives us time to promote the trip and find other people to join you.
2. Create Your Own Date for this tour applies for bookings of two or more people only. If you are a solo traveller we can do our best to get a group for the dates you choose but we cannot guarantee standard pricing until we achieve a minimum of 2 people.
3. This offer is subject to availability. In peak season we may not have the capability to add tour dates to our already busy schedule.
What our guests tell us...
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We have an exciting range of multi-day cycling tours in Myanmar. Discover the temples of Bagan by bike, explore the countryside around Mandalay, or venture further afield to Mount Popa, Inle Lake, the towns of the Shan Hills or the fascinating south of the country.
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