After breakfast at your hotel depart Bagan for the two-hour drive to Mount Popa via Shwe Csi Tai village, where you can opt to donate some teaching materials to a local school. Rising 1,518 meters above sea level, Mount Popa is an extinct volcano covered in forests and is considered one of the most sacred places in Myanmar.
Its last recorded eruption happened in 442 BC and is said to have created the huge volcanic outcrop on the lower flank of the mountain that has given way to the name of Popa Taung Kalat. Popa Taung Kalat is considered the abode of 37 Nats, the spirits of Myanmar's animist faith, which are historical or legendary figures who suffered tragic deaths and who are now believed to exist as ghosts in places such as forests, mountains, trees and lakes. On arrival you'll visit the small shrine that sits at the foot of the outcrop which is dedicated to the Nats (each one represented by a gaudy, mannequin-like figure) to which pilgrims direct their prayers for success in business, a happy married life and sound health. The belief in Nat worship is older than Buddhism and also shrouded in legend, do ask your guide to interpret a number of the myths surrounding the Nats and Mount Popa itself.
Accompanied by troops of monkeys, climb the 777 steps to the monastery that sits atop Popa Taung Kalat. It takes about half an hour to reach the summit, and whilst there you can take a rest and enjoy the spectacular views across the crater. After lunch at a local restaurant you'll return to Bagan with a stop en route at a small village producing palm sugar products — it's worth trying the local toddy! You'll arrive back at your hotel in the afternoon.