What To Expect
On this journey we explore central Burma, traveling from the Shan Plateau down to the plains and the banks of the Irrawaddy River. All along we will be greeted by warm, friendly people few tourists get to meet. From the Shan lands, home to a multitude of tribal people, we enjoy cooler weather and the colonial charm of Kalaw, where the officers of the Raj went to escape the summer heat. We then head down to the wondrous Inle Lake and embark on a relaxing full day boat trip where we can marvel at the Intha fishermen, who famously manage to row their boats using one leg. The caves of Pindaya, where thousands of Buddha statues are housed are our next stop before heading down to the lowlands to explore Kipling's Mandalay. This diverse city is our base for three nights as we cycle through the historic and picturesque surroundings.
We cycle on by the former capital of an ancient kingdom before heading up to the magnificent heights of Mt. Popa and the famous shrine perched high above. A downhill ride takes us to the ancient city of Bagan where we spend the morning cycling amongst the pagodas, stupas, and temples dominating a river valley that once formed the centre of a great and deeply religious empire. Our tour ends in Yangon with time for some shopping at the local market.
Itinerary B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
We will meet at the hotel at 2 pm for a visit to Shwedagon Paya, Burma's holiest religious site. We then have a welcome dinner at Monsoon restaurant for some traditional Burmese dishes.
We have an early morning flight to Heho and then a short transfer to our hotel in the former hill station of Kalaw. This cool, peaceful town amidst pine trees still retains its colonial feel. After lunch we'll prepare for an afternoon ride through the countryside of Kalaw. This off road ride will be a perfect introduction to your bike and give you a chance to warm up your cycling legs. There will be some uphills but we will be cycling through some stunning countryside making the effort worthwhile.
Today we have a fabulous ride down off the plateau to the famous Inle Lake. Though we cover many kilometres, the last section has two sweeping downhills, which take us directly to the shores of Inle. We will be on both paved and dirt roads, taking us through the Burmese countryside. We ride alongside one of Asia's most beautiful inland waters to Nyaung Shwe, located north of the lake.
We'll spend the day exploring Inle Lake, from the shore and on the lake. In the morning we'll start with a 20 km ride on the shores of the lake, riding through villages and past temples. After a lakeside lunch we'll board a boat and cruise to Indein temples, floating gardens, monasteries and the Intha fishermen, who famously manage to row their boats with one leg. In the evening we'll have a treat and visit a vineyard for sunset and dinner.
Today we leave lovely Inle and head back up to the Shan Plateau. Shan State covers almost a quarter of Myanmar is home to several different ethnic groups. Again we will be cycling on both dirt and paved roads, and though overall we will be climbing, there will be some downhills. There is one major 10 km-long climb today but the gradient is gentle. Our destination is Pindaya, home to limestone caves that house thousands of Buddhas. We'll have a visit to the caves before dinner.
Pindaya Inle Inn.
An hour transfer will bring us to the start of our ride down to Burma's second city, Mandalay. Initially the ride will be undulating through a patchwork of fields before we start a 30 km descent. We'll be passing many villages on the way where you'll be greeted by "hellos" from the children. When we reach the bottom of a hill we'll hop back into the support vehicles for a short transfer to Mandalay.
We head out of the city of Mandalay behind to explore the towns of Sagaing and Mingun on the opposite side of the Irrawaddy River. We cycle first to the famous U Bien bridge, the longest teak bridge in Asia, where we'll have some excellent photo opportunities. We then ride along the river past Sagaing, an important religious and monastic centre and subsequently home to numerous monasteries and stupas. We continue on our photogenic cycle route to Mingun where we'll visit the ruins of Pahtodawgyi. This massive unfinished stupa would have been the largest in the world if completed and now might be the the largest pile of bricks in the world, but is nonetheless impressive. We'll also see the Mingun bell which weighs 90 tons and is the largest ringing bell in the world. After a lunch of local specialties we'll have an easy return via boat.This massive unfinished stupa would have been the largest in the world if completed and now might be the the largest pile of bricks in the world, but is nonetheless impressive. We'll also see the Mingun bell which weighs 90 tons and is the largest ringing bell in the world. After a lunch of local specialties we'll have an easy return via boat. Relax and watch while life goes by as the river takes us downstream to Mandalay.
Today you are free to explore on your own. Head to Zegyo Market and shop at the bazaar or head to Mandalay Hill for sunset.
We start early and ride from the hotel along the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Following pretty back roads we take a very small and short ferry so we can ride by the capital of the ancient Ava Kingdom. Here we'll see remnants of a city wall that protected the city that ruled upper Burma for nearly two centuries, from 1364 to 1555. We continue our ride through fields of millet, sesame, cotton and many varieties of peas and beans to the town of Pyinsi. Here we pack up the bikes and transfer to Myingyan, our overnight stop. For those interested we can peak into a cheroot factory to see how these traditional cigars are made.
Today we leave the flats for a climb up to another plateau, this one is topped by a unique temple. Mount Popa. Popa soars 650 metres up out of the plains and the temple is populated by Burma's most revered Nats (spirits). We climb the almost 900 stairs to the top of Popa Taung Kalat. As you walk up you will pass dozens of nat (spirit) shrines and see pilgrims who come to honour the spirits. From the top you will have a panorama of the surrounding plains. The views are excellent and photographers will get some great shots. We stay at a magnificent resort with spectacular views of the temple.
Wake up to superb views! After breakfast, start with an easy descent from our lofty heights. We take a different route down, snaking around the mountain as we ride through small villages and palm gardens, coming across farmers plowing their fields with wooden plows and water buffaloes. We ride into Bagan, which is littered with thousands of temples along the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Our riverside hotel offers a refreshing pool to cool down in.
Bicycles are the perfect way to explore the temples of Bagan; we take a morning cycle around the Archaeological Zone stopping to see a variety of
temples. When it starts to get hot we'll return to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon by the pool. Enjoy sunset over the river or take your bike to catch the setting sun from the top of a temple. The views across the plains studded with chedis will be a lasting memory.
In the morning we transfer to the airport and fly back to Yangon, viewing from the air some of the terrain we have covered by bike. We arrive in time to take a trishaw ride in downtown Yangon. In the evening we'll meet up for a farewell dinner.
The morning is free for shopping. We can visit Bogyoke Aung San market before heading to the airport for the flight home -- or to a Thai beach resort.
Meals indicated in itinerary*
All hotels (twin share** or dorm) specified
Cycle support by a/c vehicles
All entrances to museums and sites mentioned
All water and snacks whilst riding
Personal travel insurance
Tips and gratuities
Optional activity costs
If these dates don't suit your travel schedule, please contact us to talk about operating a private tour or customizing a tour for you or your group.
Participants must be at least 18 years old.
*Most meals are local dishes and feature noodles, rice, curries and soups. Any special dietary requirements can also be catered for as well. Please let us know at the time of booking.
**Single Supplement surcharge is not required when traveling alone. Shared accommodation with another traveler of the same gender may be arranged. If you prefer not to share, a single supplement is payable to guarantee your own room.
Biking Difficulty: 3 out of 5; moderately difficult.
Biking Conditions: Although this tour covers around 610 kilometers in 8 full cycling days and 1 half day, it is still quite demanding. This trip has a variety of roads, some in quite good condition to broken tarmac roads, to vehicle wide dirt trails. There is no technical riding on this trip, but there are some long days.
Suitability: This trip is a touring bike journey and suitable for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. There are some long rides, and one or two tough climbs; participants who cycle the whole distance should expect a fairly challenging two weeks. But with the excellent support, inexperienced riders and even non-riding partners can be catered for and are more than welcome to join this tour.
Bikes for hire are Trek mountain bikes with lightweight alloy frames, 24- to 27-speed gearing, disc/v-brakes and Shimano components and front suspension.
If you bring your own bike, please make sure it is a mountain bike, preferably with front suspension, and that it is in good mechanical order.
Basic spares and tools are carried by the guide and on the support vehicle, though we cannot guarantee having spares for every conceivable problem. Carrying a basic tool kit, a spare tube and a pump while riding is recommended.
Wearing a helmet is strongly recommended on all our biking adventures and if you choose not to wear one you will be asked to sign a liability waiver.
All our card payments are protected by thawte to give you peace of mind.