Khiri Travel Myanmar has launched a trip that links the two ancient kingdoms of Bagan and Mrauk U in Myanmar, the Bangkok-based tour company said.
The firm said it is the first tour operator to bring travellers to the Mrauk U area via this challenging route to the far west of the country through the Chin and Arakan ranges.
The six-day trip offers fantastic scenery, remote Chin villages, plantations, jungle, boat rides, two days of reasonably strenuous hiking, and a glimpse into a rich living history that few people outside of Myanmar have seen.
Edwin Briels, Khiri Travel Myanmar general manager, describes the facilities during much of the trip as “basic” – local houses with mosquito nets and blankets, and washing facilities either at the communal well or in the river. Food will be simple local dishes prepared by the guide.
After Bagan, highlights include a 4WD trip through dry mountain riverbeds where there are no bridges and a two-hour hike to the top of Mt Kanpetlet (formerly Mt Victoria) at over 3,000 metres. Visitors can also swim in the seven-tiered waterfall at the source of the Lay Myo river amid forested mountains.
Between Matupi and Amsway, visitors get to test their mettle further with a 22km hike and an overnight in a local house, sleeping on bamboo mats.
Further on between Ma Du and Law Thu in a day with a 29km walk, visitors may see local women with their faces fully tattooed – an old habit said to make them look too bizarre to be abducted by kings of the former Bagan empire.
Like many other Asian adventure trips, the journey includes a boat ride, this one on the Lay Myo river all the way from Chin state to Rakhine state. The boat navigates from mildly turbulent white water down to the calmer waters of the valley where the river opens out into the fertile valley where the archaeological ruins of Mrauk U await inspection.
The area is rich in historic remains from the 14th to 18th centuries when Mrauk U was the capital of the Arakanese empire, which stretched from the Ganges to the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy).
Briels said: “The journey is the destination. We link Bagan to Mrauk U through incredibly beautiful, remote and unexplored areas where guests will most likely be among the first foreign travelers to set foot in the village.
“Both Bagan and Mrauk U each deserve an additional two or so days for detailed exploration.”
From Mrauk U it is easy to take a boat to Sittwe for onward domestic flights in Myanmar or to go to the beaches of Ngapali for relaxation.