Cycling trips take us right back to what makes travel so endlessly fascinating and rewarding: the surprises, the chance encounters and the ordinary, everyday details. The humble bicycle gives us the freedom to roam under our own steam, take diversions, stop to chat and generally enjoy the experience of being immersed in a country and culture completely different from our own. Here is our guide to a cycling in Burma: from Mandalay to Bagan.
Mandalay and Myinmu
Mandalay: was there ever a name so rich with exotic connotations? Today, Myanmar’s second-largest city is a bustling metropolis, but one with an eye on the past. A thriving arts and crafts tradition, exquisite pagodas and the sight of its elegant palace all recall an era when this was the heart of Burmese cultural life.
Begin your epic cycle ride in Myinmu. This small town in the outskirts of Mandalay has an interesting history: it was here that the British Indian Army camped during the Burma Campaign in World War II, and it sheltered Catholic missionaries from Portugal in the 19th century.
Irrawaddy and Chindwin River to Monywa
Cycling across the country from the banks of the Irrawaddy to the Chindwin River, pit-stop in the town of Monywa. Here, the second-largest Buddha statue in the world – the gleaming, gold Laykyun Setkyar – gazes out across the landscape, its head scraping the sky at 116 metres.
Pakkoku and Bagan
Next, follow the Chindwin, seeing the landscape changes from scrubby, open plains to rolling hills as you venture deeper into the Burmese countryside. Pass through villages where locals rarely meet foreigners, to arrive at last in Pakkoku.
For centuries, this town served as the gateway to Bagan, the country’s royal capital. Take the opportunity to escape the saddle for a while and board a boat for the languid journey downstream, waiting for a glimpse of the magnificent stupas of Bagan as they appear on the horizon.
DO IT: Our Classic Burma itinerary could be adapted to include bicycle trip from Mandalay to Bagan. From £2,150 for 15 nights (exc. intl. flights). Call 0117 244 3465 to find out more.
Want a shorter ride in Burma?
If you fancy cycling in Burma but don’t want to tackle the whole journey mentioned here, hire a bike in Bagan and explore the area on a half- or full-day tour. A local guide can introduce you to the region’s impressive temples, or strike out on your own to discover it for yourself.
Call 0117 244 3465 to find out more.