Giving to
Bryn Mawr

Katharine Houghton Hepburn Center


Burmese Heritage Revealed
February 14 – 27, 2014

Visiting Myanmar, the land of a million pagodas, is an opportunity to step back in time and experience the Southeast Asia of old. The country still moves via ox cart, and water buffalo plough the fields. It is common knowledge to all that the political situation in Burma is problematic, and that the military dictatorship there is one of the most repressive in the world. It is important for you to understand that our tour operator, Asia Transpacific Journeys, uses private tour operators and hotels, so that there is minimal benefit to the government. Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Laureate and charismatic leader of the opposition party, has reversed her long held stance that travelers should boycott the country, and now believes that they may help bring about change.

This largely untouristed and undeveloped country offers so much—incredible archaeological treasures, great natural beauty, colorful bazaars, joyous religious festivals and a people who are among the kindest and loveliest to be found anywhere on Earth.

This journey reflects the perfect combination of places, activities, personal encounters, beautiful lodging and beyond-the-ordinary special features you won’t find anywhere else.

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Preliminary Itinerary
(please click on location to reveal details)


DAY 1: Depart the U.S. for Bangkok, Thailand

This morning you’ll depart the United States on your flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

DAY 2: Arrive Bangkok, Thailand

Upon arrival in Bangkok late this evening, we transfer directly to our airport hotel.

Accommodations: Novotel Suvarnabhumi

DAY 3: Bangkok/Yangon, Myanmar

We fly this morning to Yangon, Myanmar’s largest and most interesting city that appears both provincial and pastoral, with its trees, parks, and neighborhoods overgrown with flora. Peaceful now, Yangon – translated “End of Strife” – has endured much in its long history: an earthquake, tidal wave, colonial occupation, and intense fighting during World War II. Upon arrival, we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director at the airport. We have lunch together at a local restaurant and a briefing about the journey ahead, then check in to our hotel. This afternoon we set out to tour the city’s downtown area, redolent with Yangon’s British past (as Rangoon), where well-preserved colonial buildings flank ancient pagodas. Next we visit revered Shwedagon Pagoda, a wonder of the religious world and Kipling’s 2,500-year-old “golden mystery.” Shwedagon’s gold-leafed dome sparkles with 4,531 diamonds, crowned by a single diamond of 76 carats. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodations: Kandawgyi Palace Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: Yangon

Our day begins with a visit to Yangon’s colossal Chauk Htat Gyi Reclining Buddha, at 213 feet, one of the country’s largest Buddha images. Then we visit the Scott Market, featuring a large selection of Burmese handcrafts and other goods, and where bargaining is de rigueur. After lunch at a local restaurant we call on Kalaywa Tawa Monastery, home to more than a thousand monks in training. We meet the monks and learn about the fundamental role of Buddhism in Burmese culture, where men are expected to spend at least part of their lives in service as a monk. Early early this evening we wander through Yangon’s fresh fruit market, taking in the vibrant atmosphere as we mingle with local residents. After this up-close experience, dinner tonight is on your own.

Accommodations: Kandawgyi Palace Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5: Yangon/Bagan

This morning we fly to Bagan, “city of four million pagodas,” one of the richest archaeological sites in all of Asia, and “one of the finest sights in the world,” according to that inveterate traveler, Marco Polo. With some 2,000 pagodas, temples, and monasteries (in various states of preservation – and disrepair) spread over a 16-square-mile site, Bagan distills the very essence of Myanmar’s Buddhist culture. The structures date to the 11th to 13th centuries, when this city on the eastern shores of the Irrawaddy River was the seat of the Bagan dynasty. Upon arrival, we visit several of the most culturally significant shrines, including revered golden-spired Ananda, Bagan’s only symmetrically designed temple. Legend has it that the king had Ananda’s builder killed after the temple was completed to ensure that its uniqueness would remain unmatched. We encounter Bagan’s rich artistic heritage when we visit a local shop to watch artisans craft lacquerware. Myanmar’s most renowned form of craftsmanship, this ancient tradition dates to at least the 12th century; even the smallest lacquer items require painstaking months to create. After lunch at a local restaurant, we check in at our hotel and have some time to rest. Late afternoon we return to Bagan where we explore by pony cart, venturing into areas inaccessible by car or bus; then from the top of a pagoda, we watch the sun set over this expansive sacred site. Tonight we enjoy a small group highlight as we dine in the home of a local family.

Accommodations: Aureum Palace Resort; Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: Bagan

We encounter everyday Burmese life up close this morning, first at the bustling Nyaung Oo fruit and vegetable market. In addition to fresh produce, market offerings also include hand-woven clothing, paintings, and handicrafts such as lacquerware and bronze statues. Then we visit Phwar Saw Village, where we witness the kindness of the villagers towards each other – and towards their foreign guests. Here we find more of the craftsmanship for which Bagan is renowned, particularly lacquerware. After lunch at a local restaurant we return to our hotel to enjoy some respite from the sun and heat. We return to Bagan this afternoon for further exploration. This site is all the more impressive when we consider the splendor that went before: Bagan’s temples once numbered more than 13,000, but earthquakes, invaders such as Kublai Khan, and natural deterioration have taken their toll over the centuries. Early this evening we embark on a cruise along the Irrawaddy, seeing life on the river as we view another stunning sunset over Bagan’s ancient temples. Following our cruise, dinner tonight is on your own.

Accommodations: Aureum Palace Resort Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 7: Bagan/Mandalay

We fly this morning to fabled Mandalay, Myanmar’s second largest city, at once a center of commerce and also a repository of ancient culture. Upon arrival we visit Mahamuni Pagoda, the country’s most sacred site after Shwedagon. After lunch together at a local restaurant, we proceed to peaceful Shwe Kyaung, the Golden Palace Monastery, all that remains of the former 19th-century wooden palace. During World War II, a Burmese king who was convinced that his father haunted the monastery inadvertently spared it the destruction that awaited the rest of the palace when he ordered it moved from the palace property. Then we visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, housing what is often called the world’s largest

book: the Buddhist scripture carved on 729 five-foot-tall marble slabs, each ensconced within its own pagoda. Our tour concludes with a panoramic view from atop Mandalay Hill as the sun sets. Late this afternoon we check in at our hotel then dine together tonight at a local restaurant.

Accommodations: Mandalay Hill Resort Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: Mandalay/Mingun

We return to the Irrawaddy this morning for a leisurely hour-long cruise to Mingun, famed for unfinished Mingun Paya (pagoda), begun in 1790 by King Bodawpaya but left unfinished because of a prophecy that he would die when the temple was completed. We visit the huge temple then continue on to Myatheindan Paya, with its seven circular terraces representing the seven mountain ranges of the Buddhist cosmos; and the 90-ton Mingun Bell, cast for the pagoda but now an attraction of its own. Then we return to Mandalay for lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon we discover Mandalay’s artistic heritage (the city is considered Myanmar’s arts and crafts capital) with visits to watch artisans creating works of marble and silk. Craftsmen from guilds originally established by Mandalay’s King Mindon in the 19th century continue to produce exquisite handicrafts – silk embroidery, bronze statues, wood and marble carvings, silverware, and most notably, gold leaf. At sunset we pay a visit to the nearby former royal capital of Amarapura, with its iconic U Bein pedestrian bridge built of teak posts that spans lovely Taungthaman Lake – at three quarters of a mile the world’s longest teak bridge. We watch the setting sun paint vivid pictures as pedestrians cross the wooden structure. Dinner tonight is on your own.

Accommodations: Mandalay Hill Resort Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 9: Mandalay/Heho/Kalaw

After the brief flight to Heho this morning, we board a motorcoach for the 1½-hour journey to the peaceful hill station of Kalaw, home to several of Myanmar’s many ethnic peoples. The Burmese government recognizes 135 ethnic groups, whose peoples comprise more than a third of Myanmar’s population. En route to this mountain retreat favored by Myanmar’s (then Burma’s) British overlords during their colonial rule, we visit farming villages of the friendly and colorfully attired Pa-O and Shan people. After lunch at a local restaurant here we proceed to Kalaw and check in at our hotel. Then the remainder of the day is at leisure to explore this popular town on your own. With a lovely natural setting and Tudor-style architecture from the colonial past, Kalaw presents visitors a picturesque respite from the heat of lower elevations. Aung Chang Tha Zedi stupa with its golden mosaics; Nee Paya pagoda’s gold-lacquered bamboo Buddha; the Hsu Taung Pye Paya temple ruins; and Christ the King Church, founded by a Catholic missionary, comprise some of the attractions in or near the town. Dinner tonight is on your own.

Accommodations: Hill Top Villa Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 10: Kalaw/Inle Lake Area

Our day begins at the Kalaw market, where the region’s ethnic minorities come to sell their wares. Then we board our coach for a full day of travel, some of it on very scenic country roads, to beautiful – and vast – Inle Lake, whose shore and islands are home to 17 villages on stilts inhabited mostly by the native Intha people. Primarily farmers and fishermen, the Intha propel their flat-bottomed boats with one leg and an oar – a unique style that we’ll see during our stay. The Intha also have a unique farming practice in their creation of floating garden beds with weeds harvested from the lake’s bottom. Anchored by bamboo poles, these garden beds enable farmers to protect their crops from flooding. We make a midday stop to visit a village and have lunch at a local restaurant, then resume our journey, arriving at our hotel late afternoon. Tonight we dine at our hotel.

Accommodations: Pristine Lotus Resort Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: Inle Lake/Inndein

A morning visit to the 16th-century Inndein temple complex of huge banyan trees surrounding and overtaking more than a thousand decaying wooden stupas offers an evocative and contemplative scene. Reminiscent of the Khmer temples at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat complex, Inndein is a highlight of the Inle Lake region. Much of the history of this ancient Buddhist sacred site, including the cause for its abandonment, remains shrouded in mystery. Lunch today is a small group highlight as we dine in the floating home of a local Intha family. Returning to our hotel, we stop to watch local fishermen engaged in their unique styles of rowing and fishing, and also to visit one of the lake’s improbable floating farms that yield an impressive volume of produce, including tomatoes, beans, peas, cabbage, and cauliflower. The lake’s beauty and its capacity to sustain the many people who rely upon it have been impacted by the effects of drought, pesticides, deforestation, and decreased water area as floating farms eventually become dry land. In 2010, Burmese filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi documented the lake’s plight in the film The Floating Tomatoes. Dinner tonight is at our hotel.

Accommodations: Pristine Lotus Resort Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: Inle Lake

We encounter various ethnic minorities this morning at the Five-Day Market, where hill tribespeople come from all over the Lake Region – in their traditional tribal colors – to trade goods with the Intha. Different villages around the lake host this colorful cornucopia of fish and produce every fifth day. From here we visit the “Jumping Cat” monastery built on stilts over Inle Lake, where the monks have trained their mouser cats literally to jump through hoops. The monastery also houses a prized collection of Shan, Tibet, Bagan, and Ava-style ancient Buddha images. Next we visit another floating garden on the lake before lunch at a local restaurant. An afternoon tour of the lake region features Phaung Daw U Pagoda, with its five gilded 12th-century Buddha images which are indistinguishable under all the gold leaf affixed by worshippers; and visits to two villages known for cigar (cheroot) making, canoe carving, and silk weaving. Tonight we celebrate our Southeast Asian adventure at a farewell dinner at our hotel.

Accommodations: Pristine Lotus Resort Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: Inle Lake/HeHo/Yangon/Bangkok

We reverse our journey of Day 9 this morning, returning to Heho by motorcoach for the flight to Yangon. After checking in for our day rooms at our hotel, we enjoy lunch together there. The afternoon is at leisure in Yangon before this evening’s transfer to the airport for the flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival in Bangkok, we transfer directly to our airport hotel. Dinner is on your own tonight.

Accommodations: Novotel Suvarnabhumi Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 14: Bangkok/Depart for U.S.

Today is at leisure to relax and enjoy our hotel’s amenities, with our rooms available for late check-out. This evening we return to the airport for our overnight flight to the U.S. Please note: because of earlier flight times, the day at leisure in Bangkok is not available to guests on the “Cambodia: Angkor Wat” extension.

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 15: Arrive U.S.

We arrive in the U.S. this morning and connect with our flights home.


DAY 14: Bangkok/Siem Reap, Cambodia

We fly today to Siem Reap, Cambodia, where we meet our Odysseys Unlimited representative at the airport and transfer to our hotel. After checking in, we have time to freshen up before lunch on our own. Then we transfer to the Angkor Wat complex of temples, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the three great Buddhist sites of the Eastern world (the others are Borobudur in Java, Indonesia, and Bagan in Myanmar). For many years, Angkor Wat was rumored to be a lost city, hidden from the world until its discovery by French explorer Henri Moughot in the mid-19th century. In fact, however, it was very much a living city until 1431, when the Thais forced the Khmer court to move southeast. Studies reveal that Angkor Wat was inhabited until recently, a contention proven by the fact that one of its main temples contained Buddhist statuary from every century between the 15th and the 19th. Today the site contains magnificent temples and statuary from the Angkorian Empire, which in its heyday rivaled those of Greece and Egypt; as well as various Hindu and Buddhist imagery. It took more than 500,000 artisans, workers, and slaves some 37 years to complete and comprises five towers, each reaching more than 180 feet high.

As the sun sets later today, we enter Angkor Wat Temple, the world’s largest religious building. Here we witness the intricate detail of the bas reliefs and artwork depicting mythological battles and scenes of everyday life. After watching the sun set over the walls of the temple while listening to the sounds of the surrounding jungle, we return to the hotel and enjoy dinner together, followed by a cultural dance show.

Accommodations: Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 15: Angkor Wat

This morning we visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmers. Sites here include the Elephants Terrace, Terrace of Leper King, and the stunning Bayon Temple, an imposing stone edifice of 54 towers each carved with four enigmatic faces and decorated with bas reliefs detailing events of the reign of King Jayavarman VII (1181-1202). We also visit the temple of Preah Khan, a complex of halls and pavilions, causeways and moats, and sculpted garudas and serpents built by King Jayavarman VII in memory of his father and currently being restored by the World Monuments Fund. After returning to the hotel for lunch on your own, this afternoon we visit the 12th-century temple of Ta Prohm, a mystical, decaying Buddhist shrine dedicated to the encroaching jungle. Built in memory of King Jayavarman VII’s mother, the ruins here have not been touched – they are exactly as they were when first discovered, with massive tree roots virtually strangling parts of the stone façades. More than 100 temples stand here, struggling to keep the jungle at bay. This evening we gather for dinner together at a local restaurant.

Accommodations: Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 16: Siem Reap/Depart for U.S.

Our day begins with a visit to tiny Banteay Srei, a temple built for the Hindu god Shiva in the 10th century with exceptional carvings in its red sandstone walls. Banteay Srei’s artistry on a miniature scale distinguishes it from other Angkorian temples, and has earned it the epithet “the jewel of Khmer art.” We continue on to Banteay Samre, an elaborate 12th-century temple dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. Banteay Samre is one of Angkor’s most complete complexes, thanks to restoration efforts using original materials. This afternoon, we return to our hotel for lunch on your own and an afternoon at leisure. We are free to relax and enjoy the hotel’s amenities, including spa with massage treatments and sauna and outdoor pool. For those who wish, this afternoon we can visit Les Artisans d’Angkor, a development project where young adults learn traditional crafts such as stone and wood carving and lacquer application. Our rooms have been reserved for our late check-out. Late this evening we transfer to the airport for our flight to the United States.

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 17: Arrive U.S.

We arrive in the United States this morning and connect with our flights home.


We will do our best to adhere to our printed itinerary. Occasionally though, unexpected obstacles, and opportunities, may arise that will force us to deviate from the itinerary as written. We would ask you to be open-minded and flexible should we vary the itinerary slightly. Vietnam Airlines and Cambodian Angkor Airlines, which we use within the itinerary, occasionally have schedule changes that may cause us to make some alterations to the order of the tour. Rest assured that you will still see all included sights, and enjoy all included meals and features as prom

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Cost and Program Inclusions:

Los Angeles or San Francisco New York Land Only
Trip Cost $5,295* $5,593* $4,295
* Includes International Air and ALL taxes
Single Supplement $1,495
Business Class upgrade on TransAtlantic flight $4,195
Optional Post-Tour Extension to Cambodia: Ankor Wat $795
Optional Post-Tour Extension Single Supplement $195
Prices are per person based on double occupancy
Not included: Airline taxes and departure fees
Gratuities for the Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director
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Host Lecturer

Kristin Kelly

 Kristin Kelly Kristin Kelly will be the Bryn Mawr study leader on our trip on the Mekong River. Kris left the J. Paul Getty Trust in 2008 after eighteen years—nine at the J. Paul Getty Museum as the Manager of Administration, and nine at the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) in various positions responsible for public education about the conservation of cultural heritage. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1974, and earned a Ph.D. in art history and archaeology from Columbia University. Since 2009, she has been the chief consultant to a heritage center devoted to the history and culture of the Sikhs scheduled to open in late 2010 in Punjab State, India. She is the author of The Extraordinary Museums of Southeast Asia (Harry N. Abrams, 2001) and travels to Southeast Asia to research its art, archaeology, and culture as often as she can.

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Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport

999 Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel
Moo 1 Nongprue Bang Phli
10540 Bangkok
Phone: 011-66-2-131-1111
Fax: 011-66-2-131-1188

Just a few minutes from Bangkok’s international airport, the Novotel Suvarnabhumi offers abundant amenities, including four restaurants and lounges; Internet access; an outdoor swimming pool; spa with steam room, sauna, and Jacuzzis; and a fitness center. Complimentary 24-hour shuttle service provides transport throughout the airport and the Airport Link offers high-speed rail service to the city center. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Kandawgyi Palace

Kan Yeik Tha Road
Yangon, Myanmar
Phone: 011-95-1-249-255
Fax: 011-95-1-256-184

The golden teakwood Kandawgyi Palace sits on Royal Lake and next to forested Kandawagyi Park, a peaceful natural setting just minutes from the center of Yangon. Hotel amenities include several restaurants and lounges, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, jogging track, outdoor swimming pool, spa, and gift shop. Comfortable air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Aureum Palace Resort

Near Bagan Viewing Tower, Min Nanthu Village
Nyaung Oo, Mandalay Division, Myanmar
Phone: 011-95-61-60-046
Fax: 011-95-61-60-047

Located on the edge of Bagan’s pagoda-filled plains, the 114-room Aureum Palace Resort offers an oasis with its lake and acres of tropical landscaped gardens. Hotel amenities include two restaurants and a bar, Internet access, laundry service, outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, and spa with massage treatments. Air-conditioned guest rooms are decorated with Burmese artifacts and handcrafted teak furniture and have private bath, in-room safe, mini-bar, and TV.

Mandalay Hill Resort

No.(9), Kwin (416.B)
10th Street at the foot of Mandalay Hill
Mandalay, Myanmar
Phone: 011-95-2-35-638
Fax: 011-95-2-35-639

The 206-room Mandalay Hill Resort faces the Royal Palace at the base of Mandalay Hill, in close proximity to all the city’s main attractions. Appointed with colonial and Burmese décor, the hotel features a restaurant, bar/lounge, café, and garden theater; Internet access; laundry service; outdoor swimming pool; fitness center with personal trainers; massage treatments; and lighted tennis courts. Guest rooms are air-conditioned and have private bath with hair dryer, coffee- and tea-making facilities, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Hill Top Villa

Ward 3, Bogon, Kalaw
Southern Shan State, Myanmar
Phone: 011-95-81-50-346
Fax: 011-95-81-50-381

Set atop Kalaw Hill and surrounded by pine woods, the Hill Top Villa offers a refuge from the heat along with panoramic views of Kalaw Valley. Hotel amenities include a restaurant and bar, and laundry service. Bungalow-style guest rooms have private terraces, private bath with hair dryer, fireplace, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Pristine Lotus Resort

Khaung Daing Village, Nyaung Shwe
Inle, Myanmar
Phone: 011-95-81-20-9317
Fax: 011-95-9-519-7770

The newly built Pristine Lotus Spa Resort presents an impressive vista of Inle Lake and the Shan mountains from its hillside location, The hotel features two restaurants and a bar; Internet access; boutique; laundry service; spa with sauna; natural hot springs; bicycle and boat rentals; and a private jetty. Its 53 air-conditioned bungalow-style guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, coffee- and tea-making facilities, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.


Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort

Vithei Charles de Gaulle
Khum Svay Dang Kum, Angkor 0
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Phone: 011-855-63-964600
Fax: 011-855-63-964610

Set amidst tranquil landscaped gardens on beautiful tree-lined Charles de Gaulle Avenue, Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort is close to the ruins at Angkor Wat, as well as near traditional markets and other local attractions. The 238-room hotel features French and Khmer architecture and offers three restaurants and two bars, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning services, gift shop, spa with massage treatments, fitness center with Jacuzzi and sauna, and outdoor pool. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.