Burma Adventure by Bike, 14 Days, Cycling Myanmar
Finally Burma (also known as Myanmar) has become accessible to tourists after five decades of seclusion. A culturally rich country, there is so much still undiscovered by the average tourist, making this Burma bike tour ideally designed for the adventurous cyclist.
Burma Bike Tour
With plenty of flat picturesque landscapes mixed throughout the low hills and one or two tough slopes we’ll ride, the Burma bike tour route is a great mix for both experienced and novice cyclists. Journey off-road amid peaceful pine trees and stunning countryside. And challenge yourself to the gentle 10 km gradient up to the limestone caves of Pindaya to view over 9,000 Buddhas.
Yet, the Burma adventure by bike is so much more than just cycling, it’s an opportunity to visit the many wonderful sights this country has to offer. Take in Asia’s longest teak bridge, the famous U Bein bridge, and hear the clear ring of the world’s largest bell at Mingun Pahtodawgyi. Admire the talented Intha fishermen, who famously row their boats with one leg, and enjoy Burmese hospitality as we cruise the Irrawaddy River. All this and so much more.
Burma Bike Tour Details
On this Burma bike tour we’re using mountain bikes, where we cycle 498 km on country lanes and quiet roads. Though 80% of our riding will be on tarmac, the road can be in poor condition in spots. We take some dirt roads, but these are not technical; they are just to take you off the beaten track.
The first few days of riding are up and down the Shan plateau, but the gradient is very gentle. We will pass through many villages, and you will find the people curious, friendly, and polite. We share the road with ox carts, cyclists, and waving children. The second phase of the tour are flat rides or on gentle rolling hills and cut through rice fields, ancient cities, and scenic countryside. The averagely fit cyclist will have no problems.
The trip is fully supported; an air-conditioned bus follows us for the entire journey, so exhausted riders can skip the tougher sections if they wish. On major roads, riders can find their own pace and meet up at prearranged points along the way. There is an unbelievable amount to see throughout the tour, and we stop frequently to view temples, rural scenes (especially if riding during rice harvest), and villages.
Is This Burma Bike Tour Suitable for Me?
This Burma bike tour is a touring bike journey 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.
Although the Burma bike tour covers around 498 km in 7 full cycling days and 3 half days, 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.
Because some people can’t imagine going on a trip without their own beloved bicycle, we do not provide them as part of the Burma cycling tour. However, you can hire bikes locally for the price listed in the tour pricing section. The bikes 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, 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 required on all our biking adventures and is non negotiable. If you do not wear a helmet you will not be allowed to cycle. Your tour leader for the Burma bike tour is trained in first aid and emergency rescue, but to a large degree you must be responsible for your own safety while riding. It is therefore compulsory that you take out travel insurance that will cover you for a mountain biking tour.
You will be led by a local English-speaking guide and if the group is 9 people or more we will add another guide to the tour. All our guides are well informed in the history, culture and religions of the area where you are biking and are skilled at passing that knowledge on to you. Your guide is also medically trained and an experienced cyclist, able to handle most minor repairs en route.
Recommended vaccinations include typhoid, polio, tetanus and Hepatitis A. A certificate for Yellow Fever is required if arriving from an infected area within the prior six days. Some areas of Burma may be considered malarial areas. Please check with your doctor prior to departure for the most recent information.
Myanmar has a tropical climate with fairly high humidity. There are three seasons: from March to June it is hot and dry, with temperatures between 27 and 40˚C, and with night temperatures in the 20s. The rainy season is from July to September, but temperatures are slightly lower, because of the effect of the rain. The cooler season (particularly in the mountains) is from September to February, with average temperatures between 20 and 30˚C. It will be much cooler at night in the hills in Shan state, where we spend 2 nights, and adequate cold weather clothing – gloves, hats, jacket – is advised.
Meals are included as per the itinerary where B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner. 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.
Keeping you completely hydrated is a job we take very seriously. Cold water, some energy-restoring local fruit and soft drinks are included in the tour price. Beer is freely available everywhere, but is NOT included in the price.
We do not require you to pay a surcharge for travelling alone. We will arrange for you to share accommodation with another traveller of the same gender and if we can not match you up we will provide a single room at no extra charge. If you prefer not to share a single supplement is payable to guarantee your own room. The cost of the single supplement is listed above.
We recommend that you tuck away a few extra dollars, perhaps £10, for incidentals. It is customary to tip local tour guides and drivers, however, the amount you give should be dependent on the level of service you receive. As a general guide we suggest£3-4 per person per day is appropriate.
Burma’s everyday currency is the kyat. The kyat is used to cover buying small items, bottle of water or a snack, while dollars are used for everything else and the euro is also increasingly being accepted. The exchange rate in Yangon is generally better than upcountry. ATMs from CB Bank and KBZ Bank are available in Yangon and Mandalay. There is a 5000 kyat service fee and the maximum withdrawal is 300,000 kyats. Credit cards are only accepted in some upscale restaurants and some hotels do accept credit cards (surcharge of 3-8%) but it is not recommended to rely on this service as the Internet often shuts down during the day making payment by card impossible. Travellers Checks currently CANNOT be used or exchanged in Myanmar.
Burma Cycling Tour Key Facts
More Great Biking Tours
- Rider’s jersey
- Water bottle
- Domestic flights
- Support vehicle
- Meals (as indicated)
- Snacks and drinks
- International flights
- Domestic flights
- Airport pick up
- Airport drop off
- Visa fees
- Overview Overview
Meet at Yangon
Yangon – Heho – Kalaw
Kalaw – Inle Lake
Inle Lake – Pindaya
Pindaya – Mandalay
Mandalay – Sagaing – Mingun – Mandalay
Mandalay – Pyinsi – Mt. Popa
Mt Popa Rest Day
Mt. Popa – Bagan
Bagan – Yangon
- Day 1 Meet at Yangon
We will meet at the hotel at 7 pm for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant to give us the first tastes of Burma.Hotel Grand United AhloneDinner
- Day 2 Yangon - Heho - Kalaw
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 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 up-hills, but we will be cycling through some stunning countryside, making the effort worthwhile.Breakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 36km+734m-734m
- Day 3 Kalaw - Inle Lake
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.81 Hotel InlayBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 79km+725m-1169m
- Day 4 Inle Lake
We spend the day exploring Inle Lake, from the shore and on the lake. In the morning, we start with a 20-km ride along the shores, riding through villages and past temples. After a lakeside lunch, we board a boat and cruise to see 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.81 Hotel InlayBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 20km+42m-41m
- Day 5 Inle Lake - Pindaya
We leave lovely Inle and head back up to the Shan Plateau. Shan State covers almost a quarter of Myanmar and is home to several different ethnic groups. Again, we will be cycling on both dirt and paved roads, and though we will be mostly 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 Buddha images. We’ll visit the caves before dinner.Pindaya Inle InnBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 63km+696m-396m
- Day 6 Pindaya - Mandalay
An hour transfer will bring us to the start of our ride down to Burma’s sec-ond city, Mandalay. Initially, the ride will be undulating through a patchwork of fields before we start a long descent. We’ll be passing many villages on the way where you’ll be greeted by “hellos” from the children. When we reach Ywa Ngan, we stop for lunch and then load up the bikes into the support vehicles for a short transfer to Mandalay.Yadanarpon Dynasty HotelBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 53km+660m-755m
- Day 7 Mandalay - Sagaing - Mingun - Mandalay
We head out of Mandalay 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 to visit the ruins of Pahtodawgyi. This massive, unfinished stupa would have been the largest in the world if completed and now might be 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 life go by as the river takes us downstream to Mandalay.Yadanarpon Dynasty HotelBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 45km+172m-163m
- Day 8 Mandalay Monasteries
This morning, we explore Mandalay by bike, starting with a cycle to sprawling Zegyo Market, crammed with stalls and shops selling everything from food to clothing to jewelry. We have some time to explore this labyrinth before we jump back on the bikes and continue our riding. We stop when we see artisans weaving bamboo into large sheets to be used as roofs and walls or a crispy tofu maker. A visit to Shwenandaw Monastery, aptly named “Golden Palace,” is a must-see. This wonderfully fragile, yet grand example of 19th century Burmese teak architecture, is heavily gilded with gold and adorned with glass mosaic work and impressive carvings of Buddhist myths. We head back to Mandalay a different way, stopping for tea and to taste some local snacks. The afternoon and evening are free to give you the chance to explore Mandalay on your own.Yadanarpon Dynasty HotelBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 26km+64m-64m
- Day 9 Mandalay - Pyinsi - Mt. Popa
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 ride so that we can cycle by the capital of the ancient Ava Kingdom. 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 Mt. Popa.Popa Mountain ResortBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 85km+383m-366m
- Day 10 Mt Popa Rest Day
Our first complete day off the bikes, but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be active! After breakfast, we climb the almost 900 steps to the top of Popa Taung Kalat, a temple that is populated by Burma’s most revered nats (spirits). As you walk up, you will pass dozens of nat shrines and see pilgrims who come to honour them. From the top, you will have a panorama of the surrounding plains. The views are excellent, and photographers will get some great shots. The rest of the day, you are free to relax by the hotel’s infinity pool overlooking the temple, or for those more adventurous, there are hiking trails in the national park. We meet up for dinner.Popa Mountain ResortBreakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Day 11 Mt. Popa - Bagan
Wake up to superb views! After breakfast, start with an easy descent from our lofty heights. We snake down around the mountain, as we ride through small villages and palm gardens, coming across farmers ploughing their fields with wooden ploughs and water buffaloes. We ride into Bagan, littered with thousands of temples along the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Our riverside hotel offers a refreshing pool to cool down in.Bagan Thande HotelBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 61km+88m-827m
- Day 12 Bagan Temples
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. **Recommended morning activity:** Start your day with a scenic hot air balloon ride and enjoy the stunning aerial view of surrounding area, including exquisite temples and its golden stupas. Contact us for more informationBagan Thande HotelBreakfast, Lunch, DinnerRide 30km+119m-120m
- Day 13 Bagan - Yangon
In the morning, we transfer to the airport and fly back to Yangon, viewing from the air some of the terrain we covered by bike. We arrive in time to take a trishaw ride in downtown Yangon and see the Shwedagon Paya, Burma’s holiest religious site at dusk. In the evening, we meet up for a farewell dinner.Chatrium Hotel Royal Lake YangonBreakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- Day 14 Yangon
The morning is free for shopping. You can visit Bogyoke Aung San market before heading to the airport for your onward flight. **Please note: Due to the popularity of Burma as a destination hotel rooms are extremely hard to guarantee. Though we will do our best to adhere to the original itinerary, we cannot be held responsible for any last-minute hotel changes. Any changes will be to another hotel of the same or higher standard.**Breakfast
Activity Level: Moderate
Average fitness required, but OK for most people.
This trip is a touring bike journey 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.
Mountain Bike Hire is £178