Pacific Delight Tours Launches Its First Myanmar Program

Myanmar offers an exhilarating combination of scenic beauty, fascinating culture and seldomly visited architectural highlights

– Cruise The Irrawaddy River, Sail Inle Lake & Follow Siddhartha’s Footsteps Through Bagan –

Luxury Asia specialist, Pacific Delight Tours (www.PacificDelightTours.com), is poised to debut its first Myanmar program, a lavish 10-night foray into the exotic Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma. The tour journeys right to the intrigue of this exciting, emerging destination with a visit to the site where Siddhartha attained enlightenment as well as the famous Kyauktawgyi Paya Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. The program also features a relaxing cruise along the Irrawaddy River and a two-day sailing on Inle Lake.

Covering the former capital of Yangon, ancient Bagan and the Mandalay Region, Pacific Delight’s new Myanmar Discovery program accomplishes precisely that which makes the tour company the leading, high-end operator to China and other parts of Asia – a seamless melding of cultural authenticity and extravagant luxury amenities starting from $4,299* per person, based on double occupancy, including international airfare.

“There is growing interest in some of the less traveled regions of Southeast Asia with Myanmar in particular becoming a hot destination for 2012,” said Larry Kwan, president of Pacific Delight.

“We’ve applied the same principles that made us successful in China to our Myanmar program, rounding out a comprehensive cultural program with relaxing cruises along scenic rivers and lakes and adding a touch of lavishness and sophistication for our discerning travelers,” Kwan noted.

The program begins in Yangon, which in the local language means “End of Strife.” In addition to a tour of the National Museum to peruse its ancient artifacts and historic memorabilia, a highlight of the Yangon experience will undoubtedly be the Great Dragon Pagoda, considered one of the most sacred and impressive stupas in Myanmar, topped with a 76-carat diamond. Travelers will also visit Sule Pagoda, said to be built before the time of the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago.

Located in Myanmar’s dry central plains on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River, sightseeing in Bagan begins at the temple ruins of the ornate golden 11th century Shwezigon Paya, which served as a prototype for later stupas and has played an important part in the relationship between traditional Burmese religion and Theravada Buddhism. Guests will continue on to visit other historical temples including the well-preserved Ananda Pahto southeast of Tharabar Gate, Gubyaukgyi Temple at Myinkaba, and Manuha Temple with its seated Buddhas.

Traveler’s first day in Bagan culminates with a sunset visit to the Shwesandaw Paya, which is said to contain a couple of the Buddha’s hairs, followed by an insightful tour of a local lacquer ware workshop.

Day two in Bagan begins with an extra special treat – Mahabodhi Temple. Also known as “Great Awakening Temple,” the Indian-inspired temple is believed to be the site where Siddhartha attained enlightenment. At Dhammayangyi Temple, built by King Narathu in the 12th century presumably to atone for his assassination of his father and eldest brother to ascend to the throne, the brickwork is said to rank among the finest in Bagan. Visitors will spend the rest of the day exploring the impressive paintings and carved stucco at Sulamani Temple, Nandamanny Temple and Thatbyinnyu Temple, before indulging in the local cuisine at a regional restaurant.

Guests will begin their third and final day in Bagan observed by curious monkeys as they ascend a winding staircase toward Mount Popa to learn about Myanmar’s most important nats (spirits) and enjoy a spectacular view over the region. They will explore the local life in Salay and visit the Yoke-son Kyaung, a wooden monastery with beautiful carvings of court life and scenes from the Ramayana. They’ll wrap up the experience with a stroll around town, stopping at the local market and the Thar Ta Na Yaung Chi Monastery, which also serves as an orphanage.

Next travelers will move on to Mandalay where they will begin with a tour of Mahamuni Paya, where worshipers flock to see the admired image of the Mahamuni Buddha covered in over 15 cm of gold leaves. Afterwards, the group will head to Shwenandaw Kyaung, built and carved entirely of golden teak wood, followed by Kyauktawgyi Paya, the famous monumental Buddha carved from a single block of marble, and Kuthodaw Paya, known as “the world’s biggest book,” with 729 Buddhist scriptures carved into slabs of marble.

The second and last day in Mandalay will focus on the Irrawaddy River, along which passengers will encounter spectacular scenery including fishing villages and local wildlife as they sail to Mingun. Here they will explore the ruins of the vast Mingun Paya, a monument to human ambition commissioned by King Bodawpaya. Ironically, this monument was never finished due to a prophecy that the king would die upon its completion.

Passengers will re-board their boat and sail towards Sagaing, a place for mediation and contemplation for many nuns and monks. Guests will observe the Pagoda of Many Elephants as well as other famous temples including Tupayon Paya, before continuing on to Amaprapura and the Mahagandayon Monastery to observe monks and novices as they line up to receive their daily offerings of alms and food from faithful Buddhists. The cruise culminates with a visit to the 19th century Pahtodawgyi Paya and the reconstructed Bagaya Kyaung, a wooden monastery founded by King Mindon, pausing along the way to enjoy a picturesque teak bridge extending more than 3,000 feet across Taungthaman Lake.

Upon arrival in Heho, visitors will ride an air-conditioned motorcoach to Inle Lake to board a boat propelled by the indigenous Intha people in the traditional way – by using their legs to row. The lake’s shore and island consist of 17 Intha-inhabited villages on stilts, known for their magnificent floating gardens. Passengers can participate in excursions to Jumping Cat Monastery, Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and Inn Paw Khon Village, where the local specialty is lotus and silk weaving.

After a relaxing night on Inle Lake, travelers will begin their day at the hidden Indein Temple complex, consisting of hundreds of small stupas overgrown by moss and greens. They will continue on foot past rice fields to the village of Sae Ma to explore a local school, meet some indigenous natives and observe the daily activities of the local monks.

Visitors will return to Yangon for one final activity-filled day. This will be the perfect time to browse local handicrafts at Bogyoke Aung San Scott’s Market, which contains over 2,000 vendors. Travelers will conclude their tour of Myanmar with a stroll around Kandawgyi Lake, enjoying the reflection of the Shwedagon Pagoda on its waters as they observe one last Myanmar sunset.

For more information or to book, consult your local travel agent, contact Pacific Delight Tours at 800-221-7179 or visit www.PacificDelightTours.com.

For more travel features, visit:

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

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