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Form connections with students of Myanmar as you lead English-language activities and run a day camp in a village along the Irrawaddy River. Admire the splendor of Bagan’s ancient temples as you bike through a dazzling landscape at sunset. Immerse yourself in Buddhist traditions and learn about Myanmar’s rich history from local monks. After a week of service in Bagan, head up to an old colonial town in the Shan Mountains where you will learn about Myanmar’s history and how the country is changing today.

Program Profile

Country
Myanmar
Community Service Component
Next Level
Community Service Focus
Education, Infrastructure
Get to Know
The People, The Sights
Travel Component
Moderate Travel Inolved

2017 Departures

Departs (USA) Returns (USA) Availability
June 20 July 7 Available
July 4 July 21 Available

  • Day 1

    Relax and prepare for a world-class trip on Singapore Airlines.

    Prior to your departure, you will have received your pre-departure packet, which will include your Rustic T-shirts, airline tickets, and important contact information. Once you arrive at your international departure city, our Airport Coordinator will help you get checked in to your international flight. Here you’ll meet your Flight Leaders who will escort you all the way to Myanmar! Once you’re checked in, feel free to relax and get acquainted with your new friends before boarding your flight to Singapore.

  • Day 2

    Today is lost as you cross the international dateline. Fear not – you will get this time back on your way home.

  • Day 3

    This morning you will connect from Singapore to Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city and former capital, known as Rangoon. After meeting up with members of “Team Myanmar” and having a quick snack, you will board a short domestic flight up to Mandalay, the hometown of multiple Rustic Pathways staff. From the smiling faces to the beautifully worn Thanaka and Longyi, there’s no mistaking it—you’re in Myanmar! You’ll go straight to your hotel in Mandalay to freshen up before a traditional dinner. The group will head to bed early tonight to recover from the long flight and prepare for an exciting first full day in the Golden Land.

  • Day 4

    After a wonderful breakfast at the hotel, we will give you a brief orientation on Myanmar culture, our service programs, and this week’s schedule to get you well acquainted with your new home.

    After having lunch at a traditional Shan restaurant, you will cross U Bein Bridge, believed to be the world’s oldest and longest teakwood bridge, to explore local village life. This village is the home of our Myanmar Country Manager, Myint Zaw, and will be your first opportunity to really begin to explore everyday life in Myanmar. Before leaving the village you will have tea and snacks with Myint Zaw’s family and a quick chat with the abbot of the local monastery.

  • Day 5

    Leave the city behind for the tranquil archaeological zone of Bagan. Marvel at how much the landscape changes as we drive across the dry zone en route to Bagan. Entering Bagan, you’ll begin to see the stunning peaks of thousand-year-old temples that will surround you on your stay in Bagan over the next several days.

    The temples of Bagan are small and wide-open to visitors, and you may often find that the group has a temple to itself. As you wander the dusty plains exploring the hundreds of temples that dot the landscape, you will contemplate the ingenuity and skill of the ancient craftsmen who created these incredible structures.

    Bagan will be our service base for the next several days. After arriving at our hotel, you will have an opportunity to take a quick dip in the pool before heading out to dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Day 6

    After breakfast, you will set out to explore Bagan and get to know your new temporary home. Your first stop will be a lacquerware shop where local artisans are preserving the centuries-old practice of creating lacquered dishes and bowls. Some of the world’s finest lacquerware has been produced in Bagan and you’ll be amazed at how beautiful and complicated this ancient art is.

    After some refreshing Shan green tea, you will set out on a bus ride to Mount Popa. Spiritually one of the most significant places in the country for the Burmese, Mount Popa is home to the Nats, guardian spirits who look over the people in their daily lives. At Mount Popa you will climb to the top of the peak and pay your respects to the Nats. As you gaze out over the Bagan plain you will reflect on Mt. Popa’s fascinating blend of Animism and Buddhism.

    Before returning to the hotel, sample fresh sugar cane juice and palm sugar sweets at one of the many palm plantations that line the road to Bagan.

  • Day 7 - 8

    Spend the next two days with our first service partners, two monasteries in Bagan.  Sit down for a conversation with the head monk, learning about the basic teachings of Buddhism, the monastery’s past contributions and future goals.  Depending on the year’s rainfall and village needs, you may contribute towards a construction project or help distribute potable water to remote villages with the company of the head monk and other local volunteers.

    In the afternoon, serve as an English conversation partner for local students hoping to improve their English fluency, comprehension and pronunciation by practicing with native speakers.

  • Day 9

    Kick off the day with a scavenger hunt through a local market! Work with a member to Team Myanmar to complete your list of photos, videos, tropical fruits, Burmese snacks, and questions from local vendors. Our group will also be shopping for some fresh ingredients for the night’s home-cooked meal!

    This afternoon you’ll get a chance to meet our second service partner in Bagan, a remote village in the middle of the Irrawaddy River, affectionately known to Rustic students as “Soe Than and Htay Lin’s Island”. Their family will host our group in their home for a traditional Burmese meal. It’s impossible not to notice the hospitality and warmth in this incredible Burmese home.

    After a beautiful meal, board the chartered boat and cross the Irrawaddy back to Bagan. As you take in the splendor of the ancient Bagan temples illuminated by moonlight and reflect on the warmth of Burmese hospitality, you will soon find that Bagan is already making a lasting impression on you.

  • Day 10 - 12

    After breakfast, take a chartered boat across the Irrawaddy River.  Trek through farmland and crops as you make your way from the boat to the entrance of the Soe Than and Htay Lin’s village. As the river rises each rainy season, this village becomes an island. For years, visiting this village has been the highlight of many of our programs in Myanmar.

    Over the next three days, you will spend your mornings working on a hands-on infrastructure project.  Spend the afternoons running a day camp and English games with your ‘Burmese buddies’, elementary students in the village.  The days will be long, so you will spend your evenings in Bagan relaxing by the pool and enjoying traditional Burmese food at tasty local restaurants.

  • Day 13

    Today is your last day of service in Htay Lin and Soe Than’s village.  After wrapping up our morning construction work, you’ll say your goodbyes to the local students and ‘Burmese buddies’.

    Spend the afternoon exploring ancient temples by foot or on a beautiful bike ride and watch the sunset from the top of a thousand-year-old temple.

  • Day 14

    After breakfast you will say goodbye to Bagan and make your way east towards the Shan State. Stopping briefly for lunch, you’ll begin to wind your way through the Shan mountains towards the old colonial mountain retreat of Pyin Oo Lwin, the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long week of service. During British colonial rule, the government would move their entire administrative center to Pyin Oo Lwin to escape the oppressive summer heat. Arriving into Pyin Oo Lwin, check into your peaceful, colonial-era hotel and freshen up before dinner.

  • Day 15

    After breakfast, you will head into town to explore Myanmar’s intriguing past. Pyin Oo Lwin is a place where you can see Myanmar’s past, present, and future all play out before your eyes. Today you will explore the hills on a beautiful trek and relax while swimming in a local waterfall frequented by Burmese living around Pyin Oo Lwin.

  • Day 16

    After breakfast you will weave your way back through the foothills of the Shan mountains towards Mandalay. Before arriving into Mandalay, stop along the way to stock up on delicious traditional Burmese tea and snacks. Feeling refreshed, you will connect to your early afternoon flight from Mandalay back to Yangon.

    Once you arrive in Yangon, you will go directly to the hotel so you can drop your bags and freshen up. Visit the breathtaking Shwedagon pagoda, Myanmar’s pride and joy and most famous monument.  Have a final closing feast and reflect back on all the memories and connections you’ve made throughout your journey.

  • Day 17

    After breakfast, the group will all head to the airport. Anyone traveling home will connect to the departing group flight in Singapore while those connecting to another Southeast Asia program will meet their new group in Bangkok.

An Important Note About Schedule Changes

Rustic Pathways reserves the right to change, alter, or amend the daily itinerary for this trip at any time. Changes can be made for various reasons including changes in flight or program schedules, changes in the schedules of various external tours incorporated in our trips, the addition of new activities into a trip, or the substitution of an old activity for a new activity.

The itinerary shown here provides a good outline of the anticipated daily schedule for this program. As with any travel program, some changes may occur.

“Optional Activities” are fully included in the cost of your program, but you can choose to not do these activities.

“Add-On Activities” are not included in the cost of your program and must be paid for separately. Add-on activities are rare, but include things like skydiving, bungee jumping, or weekend side-trips. Not every program has add-on activities.

For more information, email burma@rusticpathways.com

Program-Specific FAQs

  • You can connect this program with many of our programs around the world and connections within Southeast Asia are simple and seamless.

  • This program requires a twenty-eight day tourist visa prior to departure. You cannot obtain a visa on arrival in Myanmar. You should contact the Union of Myanmar Embassy in your home country to obtain a visa prior to traveling.

  • Students will travel on an accompanied flight from either New York or Los Angeles to Thailand. From Thailand, students will fly as a group directly to Burma with their program leader.

    How long is the flight to this country?

    Students departing from JFK leave in the evening on Tuesday and arrive in Burma on Thursday afternoon. One day is lost when traveling to Asia.

    Students departing from LAX leave in the early afternoon on Tuesday and arrive in Burma on Thursday afternoon. One day is lost when traveling to Asia.

  • The advertised trip length includes all travel time—both domestic and International.

  • This program visits cities and towns within central Burma and the Shan State, including Mandalay, Bagan, and Pyin Oo Lwin.

  • Students fly between Bangkok and Mandalay.

  • Each program will have leaders who are certified in First Aid and CPR.  Some of our program leaders are also 
certified as Wilderness First Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), Wilderness EMTs, or Life Guards.

  • Rustic Pathways maintains a minimum of 1 Program Leader for every 7 students.  Additionally, each program maintains at least 2 primary program leaders, one male and one female.

     

  • Rustic Pathways uses sterilization techniques to ensure that all drinking water for students is potable and safe to drink. We ask students to bring reusable water bottles in order to reduce plastic usage.

  • Students are allowed to bring phones on their Rustic Pathways program, but must abide by our cell phone policy.  Students will not be allowed to use their phones during group activities, nor at any other time where it is disruptive to the group dynamic.  If students are unable to abide by this policy, disciplinary action may be taken.

    American carriers currently have no roaming agreements with carriers within Burma, so cell phones will not work. As a result, you won’t hear from the group each day.

  • Many hotels and guesthouses have plugs that fit standard US sockets, while others have plugs similar to those found in the United Kingdom. Students should plan to bring a power adapter. Sockets in Thailand are similar to those found in the United States and a converter is not necessary. Power supplies in Thailand and Burma are both 220 volts and 230 volts respectively, so students will need a converter if one is not built into their device. For devices like iPads and iPhones, a converter is already built into the power supply.

  • The weather in Burma is very hot and wet during the summer. Prepare for daytime temperatures in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit. While in Pyin Oo Lwin, the temperature is slightly more moderate.

  • Students will stay in a mix of hotels and guesthouses. All accommodations are clean and vetted by our team.

  • For most meals we will eat Burmese food, which is a beautiful combination of Indian and South-Asian flavors. The food is generally very tasty, clean, and healthy. Throughout portions of the trip, students will not have access to Western Food.

  • There are no homestays or village stays on this program. Currently, foreigners traveling in Burma are required to stay at a registered hotel.

  • Hotels and guesthouses will have western-style toilets. While touring during the day, students will frequently only have access to squat-style toilets. As a result, we recommend that students keep toilet tissue or wet wipes in their day bag.

  • Students will not have access to cell phones on this program, as outside cell phones do not work in Burma. Students will have access to email about once every four days, though Internet access is unreliable and inconsistent throughout Burma.

  • Students will have access to laundry facilities at most of the hotels and guesthouses they stay in.

  • Burma has only recently opened to the outside world. As a result, the internal infrastructure is significantly underdeveloped. It’s not uncommon to go for several days without access to the Internet and foreign cell phones do not work within the country. As a result, parents should expect to hear from the group less often than with other programs.

     

  • Most of the time on this program is spent in Bagan, our base for service. There is a modest amount of bus travel between Bagan and Mandalay when students transfer between cities.

  • The group will travel by commercial plane, private busses, and private van.

  • There are no medical facilities providing standards of care comparable to western medical facilities. Minor medical issues, such as minor lacerations, colds, travelers diarrhea, or sprains can be accommodated within the country. Major medical issues require evacuation to another country. Students with a history of frequent hospitalization or serious ongoing medical issues should not travel in Burma due to the limited access to advanced medical care. If you have any concerns or questions, feel free to email us at Burma@rusticpathways.com

  • Please consult with a travel doctor or your family physician for immunization and other medical recommendations, based on the area(s) where you will be traveling and on your own medical history.  In addition to consulting with a medical professional, please visit the International SOS and Center for Disease Control websites for country specific information around immunizations and traveler’s health. Please let us know if you have specific questions.

     

  • Healthcare facilities capable of treating minor medical issues are common and we are usually within a one-hour drive of these facilitate. There are no medical facilities providing standards of care comparable to western medical facilities.

     

  • We can accommodate most dietary requirements on this program but we cannot accommodate serious allergies due to the lack of definitive care.

  • Mosquitoes are present in every location we travel to on this trip. We advise that students consult with a travel physician before traveling to arrange for any necessary vaccines or prophylactic treatment. Students should plan to travel with insect repellant from home, as it is often difficult to find in Burma.

  • Personal gifts, laundry, Internet, phone calls, and snacks are not included.  All other costs (accommodation, meals, in-country transportation, and activities) are included in the program price.

  • We recommend that students bring $200 USD per week to cover the cost of personal gifts, snacks, laundry, etc. This is, of course, dependent on how many personal gifts students intend to buy. There is very limited access to ATMs within Burma, so students should plan to bring all their spending money in cash. Our staff will assist students in changing their money into local currency, but students are responsible for carrying their own spending money.

    Please note: It is impossible to exchange warn, torn, or creased bank notes within Burma. Students should plan to bring brand new US Dollars. These can usually be pre-arranged with your local bank.

  • No technical gear is required for this program, but don’t forget to bring quick dry clothing, rain gear, comfortable shoes, a camera, and plenty of bug spray.

  • No. Our incredible Burmese staff speak excellent English.

Packing the right gear (and the right amounts) is the first step to an incredible travel experience. Follow these tips to pack like a pro:

Travel light. Pack only the essentials. You’ll need less than you think!
Bring the right clothes. Pack clothes that are culturally appropriate for your destination and acceptable for service projects. This means bringing long shorts (think Bermuda and basketball shorts), t-shirts with sleeves to cover shoulders, and appropriate footwear.
Leave your valuables behind. While traveling, it’s easier for things to get lost, stolen, or damaged. Keep any prized possessions safe at home.
Check with TSA. Make sure your luggage complies with TSA regulations, especially your carry-on. Useful tip: Pack an empty water bottle and fill it up after security.
Extra paperwork? If you need additional forms filled out to get credit for your service hours, no problem! Bring these forms with you so they can be completed in-country.

Rustic Gear. Want to get all your shopping done for your program in one place? We’ve got you covered. Check out Rustic Gear and get all the essentials sent right to your door.

Carry-On

A school backpack is ideal as it will be used for day trips.

  • Passport with Burmese Visa
  • Rustic Pathways emergency contacts
  • Wallet & money
  • Photocopies of your passport
  • Phone
  • Camera
  • Chargers
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothpaste (under 3 oz.)
  • Toothbrush
  • Medications
  • Journal and pens
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Book
  • Additional community service forms

Checked Luggage

A 50-70 Liter duffel bag or backpack is ideal. Wheeled luggage is acceptable if it can we carried like a duffel over rough terrain.

Clothes

  • Underwear (7-10)
  • Socks (5-7)
  • T-Shirts with sleeves (7-10)
  • Long sleeve t-shirt (1-2)
  • Lightweight rain jacket
  • Long shorts (3-4)
  • Pants (1, lightweight)
  • Pajamas (1)
  • Swimsuit (as conservative as possible)
  • Sandals  (like Chacos or Tevas)
  • Flip-flops
  • Sneakers
  • Hat (for sun)
  • Towel

Toiletries

  • Soap/body wash
  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Contact lenses and solution
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm
  • Sunburn cream/aloe
  • Insect repellant (2 cans)
  • Hand sanitizer (1-2 small bottles)
  • Wet-wipes
  • Small packs of tissues

Miscellaneous

  • Flashlight/headlamp with extra batteries
  • Watch or clock with an alarm
  • Bag for dirty clothes
  • Large resealable bags
  • Small personal first aid kit

Optional

  • Burmese phrasebook
  • Deck of cards
  • Pictures of friends and family
  • Frisbee, aerobee, hacky sack, etc.

Important Reminders

  • If you used the eVisa system for your Burmese Visa, be sure to bring a printed copy of the confirmation with you.
  • When visiting temples, you must wear clothes that cover your knees, shoulders and stomach. Please come prepared.
  • Shorts should not be too tight or too short, as this is offensive in Burmese culture. Bermuda or basketball shorts are best.
  1. a
    Yangon, Burma

    The largest city in Myanmar, and the former capital, welcome to the colorful cultural capital of Myanmar!

  2. b
    Mandalay, Myanmar

    The second largest city in Myanmar and the last Royal capital. Visit the childhood home of many members of Team Burma!

  3. c
    Bagan, Myanmar

    Your service base for several days which happens to be a very tranquil UNESCO world heritage site.

  4. d
    Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar

    A colonial mountain retreat in the Shan state of Myanmar. Go on a beautiful trek and cool off in a waterfall.