Day 1: Yangon
Orientation starts in the afternoon, followed by an evening visit under the gentle golden glow of Shwedagon Pagoda. We will tour and meditate here.
DAY 2: Yangon
A full day for exploring the city sites! Just some of the special places the day's itinerary includes are International Meditation Centre, established by Sayagyi U Ba Khin; Dhamma Joti, the first Vipassana center in the tradition of S.N. Goenka; Hansarwaddy, the second meditation center established in Saya Thet Gyi's lifetime; Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha, the headquarters of Mahasi Sayadaw after World War II; Mogok Monastery, the current headquarters of the country's most popular meditative tradition, and much more.
DAY 3: Yangon
Today we will head north of Yangon, to the village area of Hmawbi, where the cheap price of land has encouraged a number of prominent monks and meditation teachers to set up monasteries here. We will visit the Mahasi and U Pandita monasteries, Chan Myay Yeiktha, Thae Phyu Taw Ya, Bodhi Aye Nyein Yeiktha, Sassana Won Saung, and much more.
DAY 4: Mandalay
We take a morning flight to Mandalay, and there is a lot to see! The schedule includes Phaung Daw Oo, a monastery with a major social service mission; Yahan Pyo Monastery, where authentic Buddha relics are carefully stored; Maha Bodhi Meditation Center, in the Saya Thet Gyi tradition; the grand Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, the most revered Buddha image in the entire country; Shwegyin Monastery, the oldest and most important monastic site of the former royal capital; and more!
DAY 5: Kyaukse (overnight in Mandalay)
We drive one hour south to explore one of the oldest places in Bamar civilization, and which used to be the breadbasket (or "ricebasket") for the entire Bamar kingdom. Here we will explore Webu Monastery, where the great Webu Sayadaw emerged from years of forest wanderings in search of curative waters for his ailing stomach; Su Taung Monastery, where a monk's body has not decomposed even after his passing; and Tamote, where a stunning 12th century monastery was discovered only decades ago.
DAY 6: Sagaing Hills
The Sagaing Hills, the self-proclaimed "Abode for the Noble Recluses", are a must-see for any serious Vipassana meditator. For centuries, meditation-minded monks have retreated here to practice ardently, and every corner features some tale or reminder of this august history. We will spend our days at Kyaswa Monastery, a great headquarters for further exploring.
DAY 7: Sagaing Hills
We will see yet more of the magical Sagaing Hills. Included in the tour is Prekhemma Monastery, one of the oldest sites that may date back nearly 1,000 years; Htut Kaung Monastery, founded by an 18th century monk who practiced vipassana and supported female monastics; Sitagu Academy and Sitagu Vipassana Center, two important sites which have come to dominate the Sagaing community; Setkya Ditthi, a progressive and inspiring nunnery; Mo Kaung Chaung, a nunnery that runs vipassana courses in the tradition of Saya Thet Gyi; and much more!
DAY 8: Pyin Oo Lwin
We will drive to the cooler climbs of Pyin Oo Lwin, a former British "hill station" that has more recently become the preferred summer retreat house for a number of meditation monasteries. After lunch at the special Chan Tak Chinese Temple and then settling in to our adobe hotel rooms, we'll take a drive around the town's main sites, and finish the day at the expansive and beautiful Kangdawgyi National Gardens.
Day 9: Pyin Oo Lwin
Today we will discover the dhamma riches hiding in plain site. This includes Shwe Sar Yan Pagoda, the site of a Shan princess' 11th century homecoming; Pyi Chit Pagoda, the Buddha image that refused to be transported to China and so a pagoda was enshrined around it; and Peik Chin Myaung Caves, where an underground stream winds through the many Buddha images. In the afternoon we'll go a little further afield to explore the traditional rural village of Ei Chantha.
DAY 10: Pyin oo Lwin
This is our day for Pyin Oo Lwin's many monasteries. A list will be chosen for visitation among the following: Pa Auk, Dhamma Mahimā, Panditarama Shwe Taung Gon Sāsana Yeiktha, Brahma Vihāri, Appamada Forest Meditation Center, Chan Myay Yeiktha, Chan Myay Myaing, Dhamma Sahaya Sāsana Sinda, and more.
DAY 11: Monywa
Today is a driving day to Monywa. After settling in, we'll take in some of the city's historic pagoda sites, most notably Shwezigon Pagoda and Su Taung Pye Pagoda, both of which were connected to the life of Ledi Sayadaw.
DAY 12: Monywa
For our full day in Monywa, we'll start with Maha Ledi Monastery, where the great monk walked into the forest in 1887 and where he came to establish his first monastery. Then we'll see Shwe Taung Oo Pagoda on the Chindwin River, where Ledi lived in a cave and practiced intensive meditation from 1902-3, while writing his dipanis; and also explore the number of meditation monasteries that have since formed at the base of this hill. Finally we'll see Dhamma Ramsi, a meditation monastery in the Mogok tradition which has a capacity for thousand-yogi courses.
DAY 13: Chaung Oo (overnight in Monywa)
On this day we'll be given a specially guided tour by a Chaung Oo historian, and he'll be showing us sites around his historic district. The village dates back to at least the beginning of the Bagan Era, or over a millennium ago, and a handful of Buddhist sites from that time can still be visited. Among the most important includes Yadana Shwe Gu Kyi, Htee Hlaing Shin Monastery and Pagoda, and Shwe Tar Oo Monastery and Pagoda. We'll also visit Tha San Monastery, where the presumed Arahant Sayadaw U Sagara resided.
DAY 14: Travel day to Yangon
Those pilgrims who wish to return to Yangon directly will be provided a bus and air ticket to do so. Others may wish to extend their pilgrimage on week by visiting Shwebo and Ingyinbin, while others can return to Yangon at their convenience, with an open plane ticket.