Wild China

High Adventure Tour

March 23-April 2, 2020 • 11 Days • $3650**

We are thrilled to offer a second edition of our Wild China & Myanmar (Burma) Adventure, adding a new Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-Tour to the program for 2020.  Working closely with our local partners in each country, we have developed a high quality, off-the-beaten path journey that is sure to impress.

**Traveler Rewards Program: New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the Wild China tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. Check out our Traveler Rewards page for more details.

Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-tour * NEW!

March 19-23, 2020 • 5 Days • $1490

Prior to Wild China, the 5-day optional pre-tour to Yuanyang Rice Terraces involves a southward loop to a UNESCO World Heritage landscape that has been masterfully carved out and cultivated for over 2,500 years by the Hani people of Yunnan Province.

Myanmar (Burma) Extension

April 2-7, 2020 • 6 Days • $2490

Following Wild China, the 6-day optional extension descends into the tropical world of Myanmar, also known as Burma. This will be our second foray into these fabled lands, and we’re excited to return.

Reserve your spot on this tour with a $500 Registration Deposit! Check below for more details.

Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-Tour

Prior to Wild China, the 5-day optional pre-tour to Yuanyang Rice Terraces involves a southward loop to a UNESCO World Heritage landscape that has been masterfully carved out and cultivated for over 2,500 years by the Hani people of Yunnan Province.

While the spectacular rice terraces of Yuanyang form the centerpiece of our pre-tour, other wonderful highlights include Tuanshan Primitive Town’s splendid traditional architecture, Swallow Cave (one of Asia’s grandest and most beautiful), Jianshui Ancient Town and Confucius Temple, and the dazzling limestone maze of the Stone Forest.

Our wonderful tour guide, Fong Tai, has assured us that our group would be among the very few North American groups to explore this hidden and scenic corner of China.  This off-the-beaten path feeling is harder and harder to find these days, and is one of the many reasons that Yuanyang has such an appeal to us.  We hope you’ll consider being part of this maiden Walking Adventures voyage to the lovely rice terraces before we begin the main Wild China tour.

Wild China – Main Tour

We are thrilled to offer a second edition of our Wild China & Myanmar (Burma) Adventure, adding a new Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-Tour to the program for 2020.  Working closely with our local partners in each country, we have developed a high quality, off-the-beaten path journey that is sure to impress.  It is important to understand, however, that this is what we label a “High Adventure” tour. Travelers should therefore pack an extra dose of Adventure before registering for this Far Eastern Odyssey! The High Adventure concept is designed for travelers who are looking for greater challenges and embrace the inherent uncertainty of international travel, especially in more remote and exotic locations.

Walks on this tour have been planned in partnership with our local, in-country guides and most have been vetted by our WAI guide team during the 2017 tour.  However, a few walks on the Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-Tour have not been previewed and vetted by an on-site WAI guide team, contrary to our normal practice.  For those walks, the difficulty ratings that we normally provide will not be available. Adding a further level of difficulty are the high elevations we will encounter on this tour — we will not be walking anywhere near sea level in Wild China. A couple of the walks are over 12,000 feet in elevation! These routes will be short and relatively easy, but high elevation is a significant aspect of the higher than usual level of Adventure on this tour. We will be at lower elevations on the Myanmar (Burma) Extension.

That’s the disclaimer. What you can get justly excited about, however, is a program that is rich in scenic and cultural wows! The Yunnan Province is known for its wild beauty and absence of smog. It’s a region of towering mountains and dramatically deep gorges and valleys. This area is also known for its high percentage of minorities in a country that is over 90% Han Chinese. Add to that the temperate climate and resulting luxuriant foliage, and you have a very different face of China than most visitors see in the eastern part of the country.

If you are up for this high adventure, join WAI Guides Scott Isom and Scott Burk on this journey through Wild China and Myanmar!

Myanmar (Burma) Extension

Following Wild China, the 6-day optional extension descends into the tropical world of Myanmar, also known as Burma. This will be our second foray into these fabled lands, and we’re excited to return.

The contrast with China is sharp! China is officially atheistic; Buddhism permeates life in Burma. High elevation is a dominant feature of travel in China’s Yunnan Province, while low altitudes and tropical climes dominate Burma. China has a relatively cohesive history going back around 5000 years; Burma’s story is a much murkier tale with little documentation up until around several hundred years ago.

Myanmar’s path to democracy is another subtheme of this trip, as we seek an understanding of its British colonial past, turbulent 20th century struggles related to WWII, and subsequent political turmoil.

As is often the case, we expect our connections with the people to be a highlight. Walking will take us off the beaten track, expose us to life away from tourist haunts, and open our eyes to how people flourish in this far away corner of Asia. Market vendors, Buddhist monks, fishermen rowing their crafts with their famous one-leg technique, playful children — even our hotel staff, who are often local villagers learning the hospitality industry as a way out of poverty…all of these cultural connections will add color and texture to this second WAI Adventure in Burma.

Yuanyang Pre-Tour

Including:

  • Airport to hotel group transfer on first day
  • All land travel as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotels
  • 12 meals: all breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 4 dinners as denoted (BLD)
  • 4 walks routes
  • Walk fees for those collecting IVV credit (pending sanction approval)
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Cultural & historical expertise of a local guide throughout
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $195. We also provide a roommate matching service.

Activities & Visits to:

  • Jianshui Old Town including Confucius Temple
  • Tuanshan Primitive Town – Jianshui
  • Swallow Cave
  • Sunset at Bada Rice Terrace
  • Sunrise at Tiger Mouth Rice Terrace
  • Stone Forest
  • More fun, cultural, and educational stops than we can list!

Wild China

Including:

  • 2 internal flights: Kunming>Shangri-La; Tengchong>Kunming
  • Group transfers between airport and hotel on first and last day
  • All land travel as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotels
  • 26 meals: all breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 8 dinners as denoted (BLD)
  • 14 walk routes
  • Walk fees for those collecting IVV credit (pending sanction approval)
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Cultural & historical expertise of a local guide throughout
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $450. We also provide a roommate matching service.

Activities & Visits to:

  • World Horticultural Expo – Kunming
  • Golden Temple – Kunming
  • Western Hills – Kunming
  • Dynamic Yunnan Show – Kunming
  • Songzanlin Monastery – Shangri-La
  • Pudacuo National Park – Shangri-La
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Stone Drum Village
  • Yak Meadow cable car – Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
  • Impressions Lijiang Show – Lijiang
  • Baisha Village – Lijiang
  • Black Dragon Pool – Lijiang
  • Three Pagodas – Dali
  • Xizhou Village & Bai House – Dali
  • Cruise on Erhai Lake to Jinsuo Island – Dali
  • Heshun Old Town – Tengchong
  • Rehai Hot Spring – Tengchong
  • More fun, cultural and educational stops than we can list!

Optional Excursion:

  • Grand Canyon of Shangri-La (Day 4)

Myanmar Extension

Including:

  • 4 internal flights: Kunming>Mandalay; Mandalay>Bagan; Bagan>He Hoe; He Hoe>Yangon
  • Group transfer to airport on last day
  • All land travel as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotels
  • 11 meals: all breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 2 dinners as denoted (BLD)
  • 6 walk routes
  • Walk fees for those collecting IVV credit (pending sanction approval)
  • WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
  • Cultural and historical expertise of a local guide throughout
  • All tipping for local guides, coach drivers, and group meals
  • Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $450. We also provide a roommate matching service.

Activities & Visits to:

  • Shwenandaw Monastery – Mandalay
  • Kuthodaw Pagoda – Mandalay
  • U Bein Bridge – Mandalay
  • Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery – Mandalay
  • Horse cart rides in Ava and Bagan
  • Nyaung Oo markets – Bagan
  • Ananda Temple – Bagan
  • Multiple boat rides on Inle Lake
  • Inle Lake 5-day market
  • Bogyoke market – Yangon
  • Shwedagon Pagoda – Yangon
  • More fun, cultural and educational stops than we can list!

Optional Excursion:

  • Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Bagan (Day 3)

FEATURING

  • Group Size: 24-28 Travelers

  • 3 Guides: 2 Walking Adventures Guides and 1 National Guide in both China & Myanmar

  • A 1:9 guide to traveler ratio

  • Superior tourist class or better hotel accommodations

  • China Main Tour: 2 internal flights

  • Myanmar Extension: 4 internal flights

  • Pre-tour: 12 meals: 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners

  • China Main Tour: 26 meals: all breakfasts, 8 lunches, and 8 dinners

  • Myanmar Extension: 11 meals: all breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 2 dinners

  • Transportation in 40+ passenger motorcoaches

  • Pre-tour: 4 Walk Routes

  • China Main Tour: 14 Walk Routes

  • Myanmar Extension: 6 Walk Routes

Discounts available. See more details section for info on travel discounts.

View Daily Itinerary

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

24-28 travelers

Hotels

Strategically located Superior Tourist Class hotels or better

Meals

Pre-tour: 12 meals; Main Tour: 26 meals; Extension: 11 meals

Airfare

Not Included. The official start and finish point for travelers joining us for the Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-tour and/or the Wild China main tour is the airport in Kunming, China (KMG). Travelers continuing to Myanmar will finish at the airport in Yangon, Myanmar (RGN). There are 2 internal flights included within the Wild China tour and 4 internal flights included within the Myanmar Extension.

Transportation

Included. We use motorcoaches seating 40+ passengers.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Your Guides

Walking Adventures Guide Scott IsomScott Isom has had a passion for the outdoors ever since his childhood days spent exploring the waterfalls and outstanding hiking trails of the Columbia River Gorge with his family. Scott loves to explore the unknown, knows how to have a good time, and enjoys including others in the fun! Scott has led tours on all 7 continents and is one of WAI’s busiest guides and on-site Adventure planners. Scott will be guiding Wild China & Myanmar, assisted by Travel Guide Scott Burk and our local guides.

Walking Adventures Guide Scott BurkScott Burk has been guiding tours with Walking Adventures for several years and is an avid traveler in his own right! Currently an air traffic controller with the Portland airport, Scott guides 2-3 tours per year with Walking Adventures International. Scott looks forward to sharing the highlights of Wild China & Myanmar with you!

LOCAL GUIDE – CHINA

Local Guide Fong TaiFong Tai has guided our classic China Adventure in the eastern region of the country. He quickly understood, and appreciated, our walk-related travel style, and helped Walking Adventures Guide Dan Friesen put together the itinerary for “Wild China”! Fong will be accompanied by a Walking Adventures guide team on Wild China and looks forward to sharing the sights of this fascinating part of China with you in 2020!

Itinerary

Click on each day to reveal more details. BLD refers to meals included – Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner.

Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-tour

Day 1-Mar 19: Arrive Kunming, China (D)

Kunming Elevation: Approx 6,600’

Travelers arrive in Kunming today, capital of Yunnan Province. Yunnan Province sits in the southwest corner of China bordering Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and the Chinese autonomous province of Tibet – a region known for its ethnic minority groups, high mountains, deep valleys, and outstanding natural beauty. Kunming is nicknamed the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate produced by a relatively high altitude at a temperate latitude. It serves as our access point to Yunnan Province and our base to explore a brand-new pre-tour to the amazing Yuanyang Rice Terraces. Since travelers arrive throughout the day, our first group activity is a Welcome Orientation this evening at our hotel, followed by dinner, where we’ll meet our guide for this Wild China Adventure, Fong Tai.

Day 2-Mar 20: Kunming – Jianshui (BLD)

Jianshui Elevation: Approx 4,300’
Tuanshan Primitive Town Walk – 4 km, rating unknown

Traveling south from Kunming, our inaugural journey to the fabled rice terraces of Yuanyang begins with a visit to the ancient town of Jianshui, an important transportation crossroad and the site of one of China’s largest Confucian temples.  Following lunch, we venture westward and enjoy our first walk in China along an historic railway, through farmland, and culminating in Tuanshan Primitive Town, a Yi minority village with wonderfully preserved traditional architecture. Returning to Jianshui for the evening, we savor a dinner that includes the local specialty of tofu.

Day 3-Mar 21: Jianshui – Yuanyang Rice Terraces (BLD)

Swallow Cave Elevation: Approx 4,200’
Swallow Cave Walk – 5 km, rating unknown

Today’s feast for the senses begins with a short walking tour of ancient Jianshui before we go underground on a fascinating walk through Swallow Cave, known as one of the biggest and most beautiful caves in Asia.  Following this splendid subterranean stroll, we re-emerge into the light for an included lunch. Our afternoon drive brings us to the featured attraction of our Wild China Pre-Tour, the UNESCO World Heritage Yuanyang Rice Terraces, where we hope to witness the sunset as it descends over an extraordinary landscape marked by spectacular terraces cascading down the slopes of the towering Ailao Mountains toward the banks of the Red River.

Day 4-Mar 22: Yuanyang Rice Terraces – Stone Forest (BLD)

Yuanyang Elevation: Approx 6,000’
Yuanyang Rice Terraces Walk – 5 km, rating unknown

The Hani people of Yunnan Province came to this steep mountain area 2,500 years ago and through hard work and ingenuity, tamed the difficult terrain and created a dazzling and ongoing masterpiece of fertile rice terrace farming.  We will explore the handiwork of these incredible land sculptors during a sunrise viewing and short walk among the stair-stepped scenes of Yuanyang.  From the rice terraces, we drive north to Shilin for a memorable duck dinner near the Stone Forest.

Day 5-Mar 23: Stone Forest – Kunming (BL)

Stone Forest Elevation: Approx  5,600’
Stone Forest Walk – 4 km, rated 2D

UNESCO-listed Stone Forest is a grouping of limestone pillars and peaks crisscrossed by winding paths through tightly packed formations with names like “Rhinoceros Gazing at the Moon” and “Everlasting Fungus.” We plan to walk about four kilometers through the “forest” and expect to encounter the colorful Sani people, one of the Yi minority groups living throughout southwest China. Lunch is followed by a drive back to Kunming and a chance to unwind before sharing a dinner together near our hotel with those arriving for the start of our Wild China Adventure!

Wild China

Day 1-Mar 23: Arrive Kunming, China (D)

Kunming Elevation: Approx 6,600’

Travelers arrive in Kunming today, capital of Yunnan Province. Yunnan Province sits in the southwest corner of China bordering Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and the Chinese autonomous province of Tibet – a region known for its ethnic minority groups, high mountains, deep valleys, and outstanding natural beauty. Kunming is nicknamed the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate produced by a relatively high altitude at a temperate latitude. It serves as our start and finish point to the Wild China Adventure. Since travelers arrive throughout the day, our first group activity is a Welcome Orientation this evening at our hotel, followed by dinner, where we’ll meet our guide for this Wild China Adventure, Fong Tai.

Day 2-Mar 24: Activities from Kunming (BLD)

Kunming Elevation: Approx 6,600’
World Horticultural Expo Walk – 5 km, rated 1A; Approx elevation 6,600’
Golden Temple Walk – 1 km, rated 2A; Approx elevation 6,600’
Western Hills Walk – 2 km, rated 2C; Approx elevation 8,000’

A full day begins with a visit to nearby World Horticultural Expo Garden, which was the site of the 1999 Kunming International Horticulture Exposition.  Boasting more than 2,500 species of plants, this lovely park provides the venue for this morning’s walk through over 500 acres of gardens representing the widely varied regions of China. Next, we visit the 17th century Golden Temple, set amongst placid pine forests on Singing Phoenix Hill. Following lunch, the afternoon hike takes us through Western Hills to the Dragon Gate, with expansive views over Dianchi Lake, largest in Yunnan Province. Tonight’s after-dinner event is the Dynamic Yunnan dance show, a cornucopia of cultural color introducing the 26 ethnic minorities in Yunnan.

Day 3-Mar 25: Kunming – Shangri-La, China (BLD)

Shangri-La Elevation: Approx 10,367’
Songzanlin Monastery Walk – 1.5 km, rated 2B; Approx elevation 10,800’
Pudacuo National Park Walk – 3.5 km, rated 2A; Approx elevation 12,500’

An early flight north takes us to the mythical city of Shangri-La. The name “Shangri-La” comes from the fictional Tibetan paradise in the popular 1933 James Hilton novel Lost Horizon. Though the place referred to in Hilton’s novel does not exist, local officials decided “Shangri-La” has more tourist appeal than the traditional name of Zhongdian and formally changed the name in 2001. We’re in pursuit here, not of the perpetual state of bliss and longevity described in the novel, but of a chance to experience the influence of Tibet, just a stone’s throw to the west. Activities this afternoon include a visit to the dramatic, Tibetan-style, Songzanlin Buddhist Monastery followed by a walk along Shudu Lake of Pudacuo National Park, China’s first national park. WARNING: This is a high altitude walk, so we’ll keep the route relatively easy and short.

Day 4-Mar 26: Activities from Shangri-La (BD)

Shangri-La Elevation: Approx 10,367’
Optional Grand Canyon of Shangri-La Walk – distance and rating unknown; Approx elevation 10,000’+

Today is a free day to acclimate and explore in the delightful town of Shangri-La.  Or consider joining us on a brand-new optional excursion to nearby Grand Canyon of Shangri-La, a national scenic area that lies at the junction of Yunnan, Sichuan, and Tibet provinces. (Estimated price: $95 per person). This half day outing includes transportation, guide services, entry fee to the canyon, and lunch.  We plan to do some walking in this scenic gorge, including a portion of planked trail that hovers above Gangqu River.  Because this location is at high altitude, we will do our best to reduce the difficulty level of the walk.  Upon return to Shangri-La in the afternoon, dinner will be included near our hotel.

Day 5-Mar 27: Shangri-La – Lijiang, China (BL)

Lijiang Elevation: Approx 7,900’
Tiger Leaping Gorge Walk – 2 km, rated 3B; Approx elevation 8,500’
Stone Drum Village Walk – 2 km, rated 2B; Approx elevation 6,600’

This morning’s walk rambles through the bottom of one of the world’s deepest and most spectacular river canyons with peaks on either side reaching nearly 13,000 feet. A primary tributary of the Yangtze River, the Jinsha River, rushes beside us as we walk to Tiger Leaping Gorge, narrowest point of the canyon at only 82 feet across. Following lunch, we imbibe more rugged panoramas at the First Bend in the Yangtze River before continuing to Lijiang. Set in a picturesque valley, this onetime capital of the Naxi Kingdom (a minority group descended from Tibetan nomads) is considered one of the most pleasant urban settings in China and retains a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Our hotel is conveniently located near several dining options so you can enjoy dinner on your own this evening.

Day 6-Mar 28: Activities from Lijiang (BLD)

Lijiang Elevation: Approx 7,900’
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Walk – 3 km, rated 2C; Approx elevation 12,000’
Baisha Village Walk – 6 km, rated 2C; Approx elevation 7,900’

A multi-stage journey by mini-bus and cable car lifts us through stunning mountain panoramas to Yak Meadow, at about 12,000 feet in elevation. An easy, high-altitude walk and picnic, gazing up at jaw-dropping vistas of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, sets the stage for our descent to lower altitudes and the highly acclaimed Impressions of Lijiang Show. Set out of doors with mountain backdrops, this colorful extravaganza was created by Zhang Yimou, director of the breathtaking entertainment we all saw during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. A stroll through Baisha Village is the last event of the day, offering perhaps our best encounter with the minority Naxi culture. The village was once Lijiang’s political, economic, and culture center and features a remarkable series of Baisha frescos, some dating back several hundred years.

Day 7-Mar 29: Lijiang – Dali, China (BLD)

Dali Elevation: Approx 6,585’
Three Pagodas Ancient Dali Walk – 5 km, rated 2B; Approx elevation 6,500’

Before departing Lijiang, we savor a final memorable walk through the lovely scenes of Black Dragon Pool Park, with its pagoda reflections and majestic mountain backdrops.  Continuing to Dali, we enjoy lunch and then take a short walk to the Three Pagodas, set on lovely Erhai Lake. Dating back nearly 1,200 years, the pagodas represent a time when Dali was the center of a Buddhist Kingdom. A late afternoon walk takes us through old Dali, called Gǔchéng, a picturesque town with a colorful past as center of the widespread Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms of the 8th to 13th centuries. Today it remains full of picturesque old houses in the traditional style with indigenous Bai people rubbing shoulders with local Yi and Muslims.

Day 8-Mar 30: Activities from Dali (BL)

Dali Elevation: Approx 6,585’
Xizhou Village Walk – 4 km, rated 1A; Approx elevation 6,200’
Jinsuo Island Walk – 2 km, rated 1A; Approx elevation 6,000’

Xizhou is a town north of Dali, renowned as the home of the best examples of Qing (China’s last dynasty from 1644 to 1912) architecture in China. Nearly 200 of these structures are on the national heritage list. After enjoying the market area, the morning walk takes us to the home of a local minority family to learn about the culture of the Bai people, one of Yunnan Province’s many ethnic minorities. Afternoon activities start with a private boat ride to Jinsuo Island on expansive Erhai Lake. Our walk here introduces us to another Bai minority community who make their living as fishermen. Back in Dali, the evening is free for you to enjoy dinner at any one of several nearby restaurants.

Day 9-Mar 31: Dali – Tengchong, China (BLD)

Tengchong Elevation: Approx 5,380’
Heshun Old Town Walk – 2 km, rated 2B; Approx elevation 5,180’

This morning we drive through memorable mountain panoramas towards Tengchong. Along the way, we stop for lunch along the Nu River with a Dai minority family. The Nu River is one of the longest free-flowing (undammed) rivers in the world, and one of only five in China. Its extensive drainage basin is home to 7 million people, parts of which have been recognized for extraordinary biodiversity by UNESCO. Just outside Tengchong, we stop at the ancient village of Heshun to enjoy the ambiance of its well-preserved mud-brick mansions and old cobblestone streets. The Tea & Horse Museum here tells the intriguing story of the venerable Tea & Horse trade route initiated a thousand years ago when Chinese need for quality warhorses coincided with Tibetan desire for tea. Our home tonight is Tengchong, a historically significant town along the Southwestern Silk Route. Dinner is a poolside barbeque amongst the lush foliage of our hotel grounds.

Day 10-Apr 1: Tengchong – Kunming, China (BLD)

Kunming Elevation: Approx 6,600’
Rehai Hot Spring Walk – 2 km, rated 2B; Approx elevation 5,380’

Volcanic activity and hot springs are a prominent feature of this area of Yunnan Province. This morning’s walk explores Rehai Hot Spring Park, a hillside of lush foliage hiding more than 80 hot spring groups. We also pay a visit to the Anti-Japan War Memorial and nearby Waterfall Park.  Following lunch, we make our way to the airport for a flight back to Kunming. This evening, we rendezvous to reminisce about the experiences we’ve shared in Wild China, then share a Farewell Dinner together with our guide, Fong Tai.

Day 11-Apr 2: Kunming – Depart for home (B)

Travelers head different directions today. We say farewell to those returning to North America before their shuttle to the airport and flight back across the mighty Pacific. Those continuing on for the optional Myanmar Extension take an early afternoon flight to Mandalay, and the beginning of an entirely different kind of Asian Adventure!

Myanmar Extension

Day 1-Apr 2: Arrive Mandalay, Myanmar (D)

Kuthodaw Pagoda – World’s Biggest Book Walk – 3 km, rated 1B

We arrive this afternoon from China into Mandalay, last royal capital of the Burmese Kingdom, geographic and cultural center of Myanmar, and, for us, a return to an oxygen-rich, low-altitude atmosphere! Established in the 19th century by King Mindon as a new center for the study of Buddhism, Mandalay remains the spiritual artery of a devoutly religious nation and is home to more than half of the total population of monks in Myanmar. From our hotel, today’s walk traces the moat of Mandalay Royal Palace to ornately decorated Shwenandaw Monastery, the last remaining building from the ancient Mandalay Palace. We continue to Kuthodaw Pagoda, dubbed “the world’s biggest book” for the 729 marble slabs that encircle the central stupa and contain the entire Buddhist canon (the Tripitaka).

Day 2-Apr 3: Mandalay – Bagan, Myanmar (BL)

U Bein Bridge Walk – 3 km, rated 1A
Inwa Village Walk – 5 km, rated 1B

Today begins with a visit to U Bein Bridge, a long and rickety teak wood structure across Taungthaman Lake deliberately built with a curve to bolster it against the wind and waves of the lake. A short ferry crossing takes us to Inwa for a morning village walk through a maze of fascinating Burmese architecture, much of it related to the national religion of Buddhism. A horse cart ride returns us to the jetty for lunch, after which we are whisked away to the airport for a flight to Bagan. This 11th century capital of Myanmar offers one of Asia’s most extraordinary travel experiences. The plains that stretch out across Bagan are dotted with the remains of over 2,000 pagodas, temples, and stupas, a spectacle that stayed even the sword of Kublai Khan.

Day 3-Apr 4: Activities from Bagan (BL)

Bagan Market & Village Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

Consider rising a bit earlier this morning for a once-in-a-lifetime optional hot air balloon ride over the temple-dotted landscape of Bagan (Estimated price: $375 per person).

Our morning walk officially kicks off at a vibrant, open air market featuring a dizzying array of local goods, attended by busy merchants and buyers. We continue to Shwezigon Pagoda, built as a reliquary for various remains of the Buddha, and unique, statuesque “Burman-style” Htilominlo Temple, with friezes dating back to the 13th century. After lunch in picturesque Taungbi Village, overlooking the Ayeyarwady River, horse carts transport us to iconic Ananda Temple, one of the best preserved and most impressive of Bagan temples, dating back to 1090 AD. A full, rich day in Bagan finishes with a sunset viewing (weather permitting) over the picturesque plains before we return to our hotel.

Day 4-Apr 5: Bagan – Inle Lake, Myanmar (BL)

Indein Canal & Village Walk – 5 km, rated 2B

Enchanting Inle Lake is set in the hills of the southern Shan state in the east of Myanmar, near the border with China, Laos and Thailand. We arrive there from Bagan by plane, then board boats to cross the lake, the shores of which are lined with hundreds of villages inhabited mainly by the industrious Intha people.  Arriving at the south end of the lake, we transfer to smaller boats to ride upriver through agricultural land towards the village of Indein, disembarking to walk the last few kilometers. After wandering the village with our guide, wondering at the relaxed style of life, and climbing the hill behind to take in views over Inle Lake, we return to our hotel on the other side of the lake.

Day 5-Apr 6: Inle Lake – Yangon, Myanmar (BD)

Boats are our form of transport again as we cruise this morning to Inle Lake’s famous 5-day market, which rotates to one of five villages each day. One of the lake’s iconic sights is the leg-rowing fishermen, whom we are likely to see as we motor back and forth. In addition to multihued, photogenic scenes in the market, we’ll cruise by some of the lake’s famous floating gardens, created from bundles of floating water hyacinths, which villagers still use to cultivate crops. An afternoon flight takes us to Myanmar’s largest city, and the final stop on our journey – Yangon. A memorable dinner this evening is served aboard the Karaweik Royal Barge.

Day 6-Apr 7: Yangon - Depart for home (BL)

Colonial Yangon Walk – 5 km, rated 1B

Formerly known as Rangoon, Yangon remains the largest city in Myanmar. With a history of over two millennia, Yangon once stood as the country’s capital for 100 years. Today’s walk explores historic Yangon, featuring the city’s leafy boulevards lined with impressive colonial buildings, the spice market, and Sule Pagoda, symbolic heart of Yangon. After lunch, a couple more stops in Yangon climax with a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda. This architectural masterpiece is a golden fantasy of gilded stupas, serene statues of Buddha, and mythical beasts, and is said to be over 2,500 years old. The tip of the stupa is set with 5,448 diamonds and 2,317 rubies, sapphires and topaz stones. A huge emerald sits in the middle to catch the first and last rays of the sun, literally the jewel in the crowning glory of Burmese architecture.  After time to relax at the hotel, and perhaps some final shopping and packing, travelers will be shuttled to the airport for homebound flights, returning across the International Dateline into another hemisphere and, in many ways, another world.

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

To save yourself a spot on this Adventure, contact us to register with a $500 deposit as soon as possible! We’ll take 24-28 travelers on this tour, with 2 Walking Adventures guides accompanied by a local guide in both China and Myanmar, offering a guide to traveler ratio of 1:9.

Traveler Rewards Program

New Travelers receive a $300 discount on the Wild China tour! Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Note: The New Traveler and Alumni Traveler Discounts apply only to the main tour price. The Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-Tour and Myanmar Extension are not eligible for these discounts.

General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms

To finalize your official registration, a completed and signed copy of the Registration Form is necessary. Please be sure to read all the fun stuff (the fine print) in the General Tour Conditions!

Tour Cancellations: Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel any tour departure with fewer than 15 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received.

Optional Excursions

Two optional excursions are available during the Wild China & Myanmar Adventure: Grand Canyon of Shangri-La on Wild China Day 4 (Estimated Price: $95) and Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Bagan on Myanmar Day 3 (Estimated Price: $375).  If you would like to participate in any of these excursions, we have limited space available.  To guarantee your place, please let us know your decision at the time you register.

Immunizations

We are not aware that any shots are required for a visit to China and Myanmar but as these are developing countries, you will want to check with your doctor or visit a travel clinic.

Visas

In order to visit China and Myanmar, you are required to obtain a visa in advance of your visit.  In the case of China, Walking Adventures will need to secure an invitation letter on your behalf from our Chinese tour operator.  Once this invitation letter is secured, you will be required to fill out an application and send your passport away to the Chinese consulate or embassy in order to secure this necessary visa.  More specific instructions about this process will be sent after you have registered for the adventure, but it is important to recognize that this will be required and that an extra cost is involved.  Those participating in the Myanmar Extension will also be required to obtain a visa before traveling to Myanmar.  This visa does not require sending your passport away and the application can be filled in online.  More information will be provided about the Myanmar visa application after you have registered.

Elevation in Wild China

High elevation is a feature of Wild China. Approximate elevations of our hotel locations and the walks are listed in the brochure. The elevation of our overnight stops generally has a greater impact on the average traveler’s system than the elevation of our activities during the day. All overnight destinations but Shangri-La are below 10,000 feet. We have 4 walks listed at elevations higher than 10,000 feet. It is important to pursue any concerns you have about altitude with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities. However, for most of us who live near sea level, being able to acclimate to these altitudes is an important aspect of a successful visit to the high mountain regions of the Yunnan Province.

How is airfare arranged?

The official start point for travelers on the Yuanyang Rice Terraces Pre-tour and/or the Wild China main tour is Kunming, China (airport code KMG).  The finish point for Wild China is also Kunming, China (airport code KMG).  For those continuing on to the Myanmar Extension, the finish point is Yangon, Myanmar (airport code RGN). Group transfers from the airport to the starting hotel and from the finishing hotel to the airport are included in the tour price. We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure.  Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!

What About the Walks?

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Because these are guided group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Travel Insurance

WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email: [email protected] -OR- phone: 503-434-6401).  For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the squaremouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.

Other options include:

  • Allianz
  • Betins
  • Travel Guard
  • Travel Insured International

NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.

Other Planning Considerations

More information to help you plan will be included in the much longer Tips & Tidbits factsheet that is mailed out about four months before the trip.

What Happens Next?

Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. An email with critical information on flight arrangements and the Adventure Advice flyer will be sent soon after, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email. Final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 3 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary.  The exotic beauty of Wild China and Myanmar is inspirational. Both lands are filled with ancient ambiance, diverse people, glorious scenery, and very few North American tourists. And, as always, walking is the special ingredient for connecting the dots in this Asian wonderland!  In the end, we think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world. Give us a call and talk to one of our Adventure Consultants about how to join us for this unforgettable Walking Adventure program next March and April as we savor Wild China and Myanmar together!