The Irrawaddy is the crucial artery which connects Burma’s main cities, snakes through its glorious countryside and reaches as far as the border with China. Cruising along it is not only an incredibly leisurely way of getting from A to B but an enriching experience too. Just in case you needed convincing, we’ve compiled our top five reasons to cruise in Burma.
Once off limits to visitors, Myanmar has recently dusted off the cobwebs of its hidden past, opening its doors to reveal a country steeped in cultural splendour, natural wonder and historical intrigue. For us, Burma is the land of lotus flowers, horse drawn carts, traditional tea houses and an exquisitely leisurely pace of life; Burma is a land where a traditional way of life prevails. The landscape is a glittering exhibition of gilded pagodas, the culture is an intoxicating blend of influences from across Asia and its cities are abuzz with spiritualism.
Magnificent temples abound in Burma, dotting the horizons of its verdant landscapes up and down the country. From the temple studded lands of Bagan to the glittering pagodas of Yangon, the holy sites of Burma are simply mind boggling both in size and beauty. Whilst stupas are solid temples, said to house remains of Buddhas or monks, Pagodas are open to enter for worship. Having evolved from the shape of a stupa, the two often look similar yet their significance is marked by their history.
Aside from its stunning scenery, fascinating history and amazing culture, Burma is all about its people. They are some of the kindest and most compassionate people you will ever meet. One story that we can’t tell enough is that of the Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp in Burma. At Green Hill Valley, love and care for animals is at the very heart of everything they do. We interviewed Htun and Maw, founders of the camp, to give you an insight into their commitment to caring for these magnificent animals.
We have a selection of guidebooks to some of our most popular countries in Asia. Written by our specialists, they detail destination information, a wildlife guide, some suggested itineraries and plenty more to inspire your holiday. Fill in the form below and if you live in UK, your guidebook will arrive by post within the next couple of days. For those who live abroad, we will send this via a PDF to your email.
Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Kalaw, Inle Lake
Best for: Highlights, Spectacular scenery, Walking Trekking
This active itinerary is a great option for those looking to explore Burma’s culture rich cities alongside its rural treasures. Roam Bagan’s temple strewn plains by mountain bike, trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake, and cycle the streets of Yangon and Mandalay.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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This 11 night itinerary takes in some of Burma’s most celebrated destinations coupled with some one-of-a-kind activities and excursions, ideally suited for those looking for a more active experience of this enthralling destination. After pedalling your way through the vibrant markets, golden pagodas and leafy alleys of Yangon, you fly north to explore Bagan’s iconic temples by mountain bike and to ascend the steps of Mount Popa. Next, arise early in Mandalay to witness the monks collecting alms before exploring the outskirts of the city on two wheels. The next stop is the former British hill station of Kalaw to embark on a two-day trek through remote villages and rolling hills to Inle Lake, where you can explore its waters and shoreline treasures by kayak before returning to Yangon for one final night.
Days 1 - 3 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Chatrium for 2 nights
Upon arrival in Yangon, you will be met by one of our representatives and transferred to your hotel in the city. The following day begins with a cycle tour of Yangon, pedalling passed bustling market streets and the iconic Shwedagon pagoda before arriving at the lush greenery of Kandawgyi Park. In the afternoon, embark on a fascinating walking tour through Yangon’s downtown streets to learn of the diverse religious and cultures within the city, unveiling a side of Yangon rarely seen by tourists.
Day 3 : Flight from Yangon to Bagan
Days 3 - 5 : Bagan, Burma
Stay at Bagan Umbra Hotel for 2 nights
On the morning of day three, you will be driven to Yangon’s airport in time to board a one and a half hour flight to Bagan, home to over 2,000 temples that make-up one of Asia’s richest archaeological sites. Explore a selection of these temples that afternoon on mountain bikes before travelling a short distance outside of Bagan the next day to ascend the 777 steps of Mount Popa, home to a sacred monastery that offers breath-taking views over the surrounding plains.
Day 5 : Flight from Bagan to Mandalay
Days 5 - 7 : Mandalay, Burma
Stay at Rupar Mandalar for 2 nights
From Bagan, it is a short thirty minute flight to Mandalay, Burma’s cultural and religious heart. Arise early the following morning and journey to the Mahamuni Pagoda to witness the monks conducting morning rituals and collecting offerings from the locals before enjoying breakfast at a local tea shop. In the afternoon, enjoy a guided cycle tour around the outskirts of the city, taking in rural Mandalay, gilded pagodas, ancient monasteries and a small quaint village.
Day 7 : Flight from Mandalay to Kalaw
Day 7 - 8 : Kalaw, Burma
Stay at Dream Mountain Resort for 1 night
Today, you will be driven to Mandalay’s airport in time to board a thirty minute flight to Heho, followed by a two hour drive to Kalaw. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore this former British hill station and soak up the picturesque scenery.
Day 8 - 9 : Htee Thein Village, Burma
Arise early the next day to begin your two day trek to Inle Lake. After visiting Kalaw’s local morning market, you will be driven approximately an hour to begin the walk. Trek through a number of small remote communities, passing farms and fields with famers tending to crops until you reach the village of Htee Thein. After arriving in the village, enjoy a freshly prepared local dinner before retreating to your local accommodation in the village.
Days 9 - 11 : Inle Lake, Burma
Stay at Sanctum Inle Resort for 2 nights
On day nine, you will continue the walk to Inle Lake, with the first glimpse of its calm blue waters visible around midday. After arriving at the lake, a boat will be waiting to take you to your hotel, where your bags will be waiting for you. Head out onto the lake the following day for a morning of kayaking and exploring the shoreline treasures in the afternoon, including the gold Buddha images at Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the Pa-oh village of Indein and the small weaving village of Inpawkhone.
Day 11 : Flight from Inle Lake to Yangon
Day 11 - 12 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Chatrium for 1 night
Your active Burma adventure draws to a close on day 11 as you are driven to Heho Airport in time to catch a one hour flight back to Yangon. Take a ride on the Yangon Circle Train that afternoon, a local train that travels in a ring around the city, offering both a one-of-a-kind insight into local life and a great way to spend your last full day. Enjoy one final night in Burma before you are transferred back to Yangon Airport the following day for your flight home.
Tailor this to you.
Imagine your perfect holiday to Burma. Now let us design it for you using your ideas and our expertise. Call us on 020 3141 2850.
When to go
The best time to visit Burma is during the dry season from October to April. At this time the warm and sunny days are ideal for sightseeing throughout the country. March sees temperatures start to rise followed by the wet season from June to September. Although monsoons cause some regions shut down during this time, the wet season is well suited for exploring some of Burma's more remote areas on a cruise along the Chindwin or Upper Irrawaddy River.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Things to do
Bagan Cooking Class
Discover Burmese cuisine, visiting a local morning market and purchasing ingredients to create traditional dishes with a local chef and tasting your efforts.
Mount Popa and Toddy Farm Lunch
Discover the Popa Taung Kalat, a sacred monastery perched on top of a volcanic plug on the southwestern flank of Mount Popa. Discover the legend the surrounds this renowned pilgrimage site and ascend the 777 steps to the top.
Experience the local trade, learning about the production of lacquerware products before designing your own souvenir, applying the skills you learnt.
Tant Kyi Taung Pagoda
Journey to Tant Kyi village along the Irrawaddy River to the striking Tant Kyi Pagoda hilltop Pagoda and take-in the stunning panoramic views over the landscape below.
Nyaung Oo Market
Visit Nyaung Oo morning market to experience the buzz of local life and the fresh produce and products ranging from meats and fruits to flowers and pottery.
Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp
Spend time with elephants at Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, learning of the elephant’s pasts and then, after watching them feed, join them in a natural pool and bathe the animals.
Pakokku by Bike
Explore Pakokku, pedalling along the roads that fringe scenic farmland, stopping at villages before returning with a cruise along the Irrawaddy River.
Explore the beautiful Burmese countryside around the hill station of Kalaw on a light day trek into the Shan hills, visiting a number of small ethnic communities.
Bagan Temple Biking
Explore Bagan on two wheels, admiring the beautiful scenery as you travel along trails, through quaint villages and stopping off at enchanting stupas and pagodas, combining some of the more well known temples and some inaccessible by car.
Balloons Over Bagan
Take-in enchanting panoramic view as you float over the ancient city of Bagan at sunrise, gaining an unforgettable birds-eye view of the ancient pagodas, stupas and beautiful surrounding villages.
Mount Popa and Salay Tour
Explore some of the sights outside of Bagan including the small riverside town of Salay before continuing to discover ancient spiritual traditions and learn about nat worship at Mount Popa.
Bagan Village Biking
Enjoy a cycling tour through charming villages and scenic countryside, witnessing farmers tend to their land before stopping at a colonial style monastery and enjoying a picnic lunch.
Tea Party in a Monastery
Learn about the culture and importance Buddhist culture plays in society whilst sipping on local tea in a Buddhist Monastery.
Bagan Temple Tour
Spend the day exploring a range of sites in Bagan, offering a great overview of the history and culture of this ancient city. Discover some of the more famous temples, some lesser known gems, visit traditional workshops and travel by horsecart.
From $2358 per person
All accommodation and breakfasts
Private and shared transfers
Excursions and activities as per itinerary
Ask our specialists for prices excluding flights from the UK. This price is as a guide only. The actual price is influenced by fluctuations in exchange rate, time of year, travel class of flights and the use of private versus shared excursions. Single supplements are likely to apply.