Undiscovered Myanmar: Mon and Kayin States (3 nights)

RAN 409-201
  • Spectacular nature and intriguing tribal culture
  • Golden Rock
  • Home-cooked lunch
  • Monasteries
  • Boat trip over the Thanlwin River
Program Overview
Country: Myanmar (Burma)
Depart: 02/21/2017 0830
Return: 02/24/2017 1700
Duration: Overnight
Difficulty: Moderate
Capacity: Min 20 / Max 24
Program Fee
$342 (early booking: $323)

Field Work Conflicts
  • PSY 315 Social Psychology
  • TH 141 Introduction to Theatre
  • POLS 131 27391 Current World Problems
  • AM 460 Historic Textiles
  • GR 320 Cultural Geography
  • SOC 105 Social Problems (Section 2)
  • POLS 241 Comparative Government and Politics

The more remote areas of Mon State and Kayin State are undiscovered areas of Myanmar offering spectacular nature and intriguing tribal culture dating back for many, many centuries in the history of South East Asia. The Mon are believed to be one of the first civilizations in this part of the world. Although their kingdom was lost to the Bagan king in the 11th century, their rich culture can be still be seen in daily life with their specific sarongs, traditional food, language and music instruments. The Kayin (also known as Karen) are one of the indigenous tribes known for their traditional boxing skill and their state offer beautiful natural scenes with traditional villages and waterways surrounded by spectacular lime stone mountains. A tribe with its separate language and traditions, whose origins are still very much unknown to scientists until this day.


Day 1

Tuesday, 21 February 2017   Yangon – Golden Rock

After departing, visit the war cemetery in Taukkyan where thousands of prisoners of war who worked on the death railway in Kayin and Mon State are commemorated.

We continue to Bago, which was formerly the capital of Mon kingdom, (about 1.5 hour drive) to visit the Kha Khat Wain monastery – one of the biggest in the country. After arriving and checking in to the hotel, visit one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Myanmar Buddhist. Startling to many foreign tourists, the Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo Pagoda), appears to be balancing on the edge of a mountain and looks as if it could tumble into the ravine below at any moment. It is believed that  several hairs of Buddha precisely placed in the pagoda prevent the rock from falling. There are two routes to reach the site, a shorter walk of 1.5 hours and a long walk of around 7 hours. It is believed that taking the long route for 3 times in a lifetime will bring good luck. Surrounding the Golden Rock are numerous local teashops, rest places and monasteries as well as local souvenir shops.

Spend the afternoon wandering around this important pilgrimage site before returning to basecamp and retiring to the hotel.

Day 2

Wednesday, 22 February 2017 Golden Rock – Mawlamyine

Spend the morning on a scenic drive through Mon State towards Mawlamyine. Pass through several noteworthy sites including the city of Suvannabhumi, which supposed to be the seat of the last capital of the Mon kingdom. Burmese archaeologists have recently started the search again for the exact location of this ancient city. Also pass the ancient city Thaton which is famous for its durian and betel nut (as is the whole of Mon state).

On arrival in the colonial city Mawlamyine, visit a local house and enjoy a home cooked lunch of Mon specialities. In the afternoon, visit the Mon Museum to learn about the rich Mon culture. Walk around the area and admire the with impressive colonial-style buildings from the time when writers like Orwell and Kipling lived in the city. Continue with a visit to the nearby village of Hpa Ouk which is famous for its weaving of the traditional Mon style sarongs for men and women.

Day 3

Thursday, 23 February 2017 Mawlamyine – cruise over Thanlwin River to Hpa An

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel before visiting the Seindon Mibaya Monastery. Queen Seindon built the Seindon Mibaya Monastery in Mawlamyine , after escaping the rule of the last king of Myanmar. Explore the architecture in the original Mandalay palace and the magnificent woodcarvings. It is said that it’s a monastery so beautiful that one could actually call it a museum.

Continue to the Ni Paya for a beautiful view over the city and river before transfering to Hpa An via private boat. Enjoy a cruise along the Thanlwin (Salween) River – one of the longest rivers in Myanmar ending in Mon State. After about an hour, arrive at U Na Auk village, and take a tuk-tuk to view the amazing carvings and decorations on the temples and ordination hall. These buildings were donated to the village by Mr Na Auk, a Mon trader during the British period famous for his savvy in trade with the big British companies. He continues to been as a patriotic symbol throughout the country and is known for his kindness to his fellow country man.

Continue the boat trip along the Thanlwin River with spectacular sights of Zwekabin and other limestone mountains rising from the rice fields, a definite highlight of the trip through this part of Myanmar. Lunch will be served on the boat. Stop on the way in Pa Lin village for a walk around this local community, engaging with Kayin, Shan, Mon, Bamar and PaO people. At the end of the cruise, arrive in Hpa An and retire to the hotel for the night.

Day 4

Friday, 24 February 2017 Hpa An – Yangon

In the morning, enjoy a trip through tranquil rural scenery on a kayak from the charming village of Lakkana to Muku village. On the way you will see rice fields, Limestone Mountains in the distance, and tranquil traditional Kayin villages. Stop for fresh fruit served in one of the wooden Kayin houses. Note that as the creeks in this rural part are quite shallow, small kayaks are used to travel, which means that you could get wet – sandals, shorts and a t-shirt are recommended.

As Kayin state is bordering with Thailand there is some very tasty Thai food available in the local restaurants. After some rest time at the hotel, continue to Kawgun cave on the way to Yangon. The artwork of clay Buddha statues dates back from the 7th century, the period of the Mon kingdom. Transfer to Yangon reflecting on the two very interesting states in Myanmar, and arrive in time for dinner on the ship.

Meals Included

Includes B/L on days 2,3,4