Explore enchanting Myanmar by bike, boat & train
This active adventure tour takes you from Inle Lake across the scenic countryside and the fertile Shan Hills, cycling through the historic Bagan plain with its awe-inspiring ancient pagodas and concluding on pathways of the Irrawaddy. This tour is an excellent introduction to the variety this long-undiscovered country provides. Bike exploration of Burma is the ultimate mode of discovery.
Myanmar is a complex country struggling to find its identity, which makes it an enthralling tour destination! Our bike, boat and train journey takes us through the most picturesque parts of this country that has been shrouded in mystery for too long.
From the natural beauty of Inle Lake and the intrigue of the communities that inhabit it, to the ancient ruins of Bagan, this is a trip that takes in a diverse range of landscapes and includes some amazing riding. This tour is the ultimate way to immerse yourself in the culture, traditions, and cuisine of Myanmar and a unique opportunity to learn from natives why they remain hopeful for a peaceful and prosperous future. Experience the beauty of Myanmar by bike!
Peak Season: For tours commencing from December 23 through January 3 there is a peak season surcharge of 15% on the price of this tour due to hotel rate increases at this time of year.
9 days duration
208 km distance
Trip Features & Tour Inclusions
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Quality, well-maintained Cannondale CX3 mountain bikes in a full range of sizes are included in your tour. Handlebar bags for your personal possessions and comfortable saddles are also provided, with a women's specific version available.
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.
A beautiful souvenir Grasshopper cycling jersey is yours to wear and take home. We also provide a Grasshopper drink bottle as an extra memento.
4 to 14
This tour is guaranteed for a minimum of just 4 travellers. And we limit the group size to only 14 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, Bagan & The Irrawaddy tour
Welcome to Yangon
Welcome to Yangon. Meet your tour guide this afternoon in our lovely, centrally located hotel. The best way to understand this sprawling capital city is to avoid the traffic and set off on foot. There’s plenty to see, taste and experience in the area just adjacent to the hotel, and your guide will show you all this with a walking tour to get you acquainted with your surroundings and each other.
Fly to Inle Lake, Introductory Ride
We navigate Yangon’s legendary traffic heading out to the airport for our morning flight to Heho. It’s just over an hour by plane to the airport nearest Inle Lake and then a drive of around the same duration to reach Nyaung Shwe: the main town of the Inle area.
We stay on dry land rather than on the lake, to allow for more freedom of movement. In the afternoon we’ll start with a bike fitting before the warm-up ride around the Nyaung Shwe area to a mysterious local cave. From here, we’ll pedal to a beautiful sunset spot for a drink before settling into our hotel.
Bike & Boat Inle Lake
We’ll start our day with a ride around the area to learn about the local culture and farming habits of the people here, cycling around the eastern bank of Inle Lake before we hop on a boat. Once on the water, we’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the famous fishermen who stand on one leg as they row with the other, as well as traditional silk weavers, and whole communities of 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 the lake's renowned cottage industries. Depending on the day, we may come across local small businesses such as tofu and rice cracker production, bread baking, or lotus-silk weaving. This is usually a full day and we can expect to return to town by around 4pm.
Train & Bike the Shan Hills
We’ll start the day with a scenic train ride up into the Western Shan Hills. Once we’ve had a look around, we’ll hop on our bikes and cycle back down through the hills to Inle Lake, enjoying sweeping views over the lake along the way. We’ll stop at the pagodas of Indein before once again taking to the water for a boat back to Nyaung Shwe. Tonight try the fresh produce of the Shan Hills in a family-run restaurant.
Pindaya - Transfer & Cycle
This morning we’ll take a transfer up the surrounding hills again before cycling around two hours to the town of Pindaya. Once we’ve reached the town, we’ll head to a small suburb of Pindaya that is covered in tea plantations for a fun activity. We’ll walk around this small village and learn to pick tea leaves and sort them before making a tea leaf salad: a unique traditional Burmese dish.
Fly to Bagan - Sunset at Mt Popa
Today we’ll take a rest from the bikes with a one hour transfer to Heho and flight to Bagan. Bagan is an ancient Burmese city situated on the eastern banks of the Irrawaddy river and is a sight to behold. The stunning, arid plains host a high density of Buddhist pagodas and monuments that give Bagan an other-worldly feel, and make it one of the country's main tourism drawcards.
We’ll spend the afternoon getting acquainted with this new setting before the opportunity to transfer to the pilgrimage site of Mt. Popa: a volcanic mountain that sits high above the Bagan plains and provides the optimal spot to watch the sunset over the mystical landscape below. It's enough to give anyone goosebumps! We’ll spend the night in Bagan.
Bike the Pagodas of Bagan, Sunset Cruise
We’ll start off the day by pedaling through Bagan, with stops at some of its more significant Buddhist sites such as Shwezigon, Dhamagyangyi, and Ananda, all built between the 14th and 19th centuries. Enjoy a free afternoon to make use of the hotel’s pool or go for your own exploration before we board a boat that will take us out on the Irrawaddy for sunset. Snacks and drinks will be provided.
Cycle & Irrawaddy Riverboat to Salay
A traditional teak boat is our first vehicle of the day, and we’ll enjoy the morning light from the boat illuminating the pagodas of Bagan from the Irrawaddy. Soon we’ll hop on our bikes and head out on dirt tracks through farmland, then onto sandy roads into villages that are rarely visited by foreigners. We’ll pedal away from the flatlands, through fields and bamboo villages. The riverbank trail eventually leads us to our boat, waiting to continue the journey towards Salay.
We will disembark at the restored Colonial house that is our home for the night, where a delicious traditional lunch awaits. This small, quiet riverside town hides a surprising number of intriguing sights and luckily is still off the typical tourist’s map. Once elegant, now slightly dilapidated Colonial-period houses line the Strand Road on the riverbank, some still emblazoned with the rampant lion emblem of the British Royals. We will explore this interesting town by bike and foot in the afternoon, checking out the largest lacquerware Buddha image in Myanmar, which is said to have washed up from the river after heavy flooding in 1888.
Return to Bagan, Tour Concludes
A morning walk of the town is a lovely way to spend your last few hours in rural Myanmar. The villagers will be out, trading produce at the market and selling the various breakfast snacks that you will likely be familiar with by now. All will be chatty and curious to have a rare visitor in town. Breakfast is a simple, but fulfilling meal and it’s then time to pack up and return to Bagan by vehicle. Your tour concludes on arrival Bagan. For those departing the country today, flights to Yangon or Mandalay for connection to international flights are frequent (and can be booked with us) and we can deliver you to the airport as required.
What's the Riding Like?
Some hilly terrain
Some sandy trails
6 days riding
This is an achievable tour without any sustained climbs or long, grinding days. You are getting the best of the best riding on this tour. You can expect to be on a range of paved roads and unpaved, hard-packed roads with a good rolling surface. The key element to the route is that it is low on traffic which is important in a developing country. We ride through villages, away from the noise and the fumes. Of course, with the weather what it is and the country in a state of rapid development, the condition of any road can change quickly, but we have detailed knowledge and can always re-route for an optimal ride experience.
Overall the cycling on this tour of Myanmar should be achievable for most riders who are comfortable and have some experience on the bike, as there is no sustained hill climbing and no overly long days. The terrain will provide some challenges from time to time but the routes are predominately flat.
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.
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