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, Pyin Oo Lwin, Hsipaw, Loikaw, Inle Lake, Kalaw, Hpa An, Golden Rock
Best for: Culture History, Off the beaten track, Spectacular scenery
Discover Burma’s lesser known delights alongside the must-see sights on this three week itinerary, taking you from leafy Yangon to culture-rich cities and the temple-strewn plains of Bagan before continuing to sleepy hill towns dotted with ancient relics.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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This varied three week itinerary is perfect for those wanting to combine Burma’s highlights with some lesser visited regions for a unique and in-depth experience of this beguiling destination. Starting in Burma’s former capital of Yangon to visit the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, you then travel north to explore Bagan’s famed temples and the spiritual city of Mandalay. Head away from the cities to explore small mountain towns and former British hill stations, embark on a train ride over the remarkable Gokteik Viaduct and to meet the long necked ladies of Loikaw. Your journey then takes you southeast to visit Hpa An and its remarkable pagodas and caves, including a trip to the former Mon Kingdom capital of Bago and the seemingly gravity defying Golden Rock.
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. That afternoon and evening are at your leisure to relax and settle in before heading out on a tour of the city the following day. Accompanied by a private guide, visit the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, discover downtown’s colonial charm and take a break at a local teahouse before browsing the bustling stalls of Scott’s Market.
Day 3 : Flight from Yangon to Bagan
Days 3 - 5 : Bagan, Burma
Stay at Bagan Umbra Hotel for 2 nights
The following day, you will be driven to Yangon’s airport in time to catch a one and a half hour flight to Bagan, an ancient city home to over 2,000 temples. That afternoon is at your leisure before enjoying a full temple tour the following day. As well as visiting some of the Bagan’s larger and more architecturally impressive temples, you will ascend one of the taller stupas to cast your gaze across the collection and also visit a local market and lacquerware workshop.
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 30 minute flight to Mandalay, known as Burma’s cultural and religious heart. That afternoon, you will be taken to the former royal capital of Amarapura on the outskirts of the city, home to the iconic U Bein Bridge. The following day will see you continue exploring Mandalay’s many cultural and historic sites with a private guide. Ascend Mandalay Hill to gain fantastic views over the city, visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, Burma’s first UNESCO Heritage site, and take a short boat trip to the picturesque riverside village of Mingun, home to the world’s largest un-cracked bell.
Day 7 - 8 : Pyin Oo Lwin, Burma
Stay at Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin for 1 night
On the morning of day seven, you will be collected from your Mandalay hotel and driven approximately one and a half hours to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin. Explore this picturesque town the following day, visiting highlights including revered pagodas and the renowned botanical garden before taking a horse-cart ride through historic buildings left behind from the British colonial rule.
Days 8 - 10 : Hsipaw, Burma
Stay at Riverside @ Hsipaw Resort for 2 nights
From Pyin Oo Lwin, you will be driven approximately five hours to the small mountain town of Hsipaw. Explore this quiet and laid-back town the following day, visiting the unique Shan Palace, journeying by longtail boat along the Doktwaddy River to a 150 year old monastery and exploring a pagoda on top of a mountain in time for sunset, offering fantastic views over the town and river.
Day 10 - 11 : Mandalay, Burma
Stay at Rupar Mandalar for 1 night
Today, you will be driven to a nearby station to board a train back to Pyin Oo Lwin that travels over the renowned Gokteik Viaduct, one of the world’s highest railway trestles that offers stunning views over rural Burma. After disembarking the train in Pyin Oo Lwin, you will be collected and driven back to Mandalay and on to your hotel.
Day 11 : Flight from Mandalay to Heho
Days 11 - 13 : Loikaw, Burma
Stay at Keinnara Loikaw for 2 nights
On the morning of day 11, you will be driven to Mandalay’s airport in time to catch a thirty minute flight to Heho, followed by a five hour to drive to the town of Loikaw. That afternoon, visit the Taung Kwe Pagoda and take in the stunning views over the surrounding landscape before heading out of the town the next day to meet with the Padaung Tribe of Pan Phet. Often locally referred to as the ‘long necked ladies’, the Padaung tribe are a group of women famous for the many golden rings that adorn their neck.
Days 13 - 15 : Inle Lake, Burma
Stay at Pristine Lotus Resort for 2 nights
From Loikaw, it is a four hour drive to Inle Lake, a journey you may choose to split into a short road transfer followed by a lovely scenic boat ride. Spend the following day exploring this beautiful region, travelling by longtail boat passed floating gardens and stilted villages to visit a local market, the five gold-layer Buddha images at the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and the picturesque Pa-oh village of Indein.
Days 15 - 17 : Kalaw, Burma
Stay at Dream Mountain Resort for 2 nights
The following day, you will be driven from your hotel to Kalaw, a former british hill station two hours to the west of Inle Lake. The journey to Kalaw will be broken up with a visit to the Pindaya Caves, a series of limestone caves nestled into the hillside that house thousands of Buddha images. Spend the next day exploring the beautiful Burmese countryside that surrounds Kalaw on a light day trek into the Shan Hills.
Day 17 : Flight from Heho to Yangon
Day 17 - 18 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Chatrium for 1 night
The next day, you will be driven back to Heho Airport in time for a one hour flight back to Yangon. That afternoon and evening are free to spend as you wish. Perhaps embark on a sunset cruise on the Yangon River, discover Burma’s culinary culture on a tour of the city’s downtown food hotspots or enjoy some time to relax at your hotel.
Days 18 - 20 : Hpa An, Burma
Stay at Keinnara Hpa-An for 2 nights
On the morning of day 18, you will be collected from your hotel and driven to Bago. The former capital of the Mon Kingdom, there are many interesting sights to visit in Bago, including the 55 metre long Shwethalyaung Buddha, and Shwemawdaw Pagoda that towers over the city. From Bago, continue for another four hours to Hpa An. Spend the next day discovering the wealth of natural attractions that surround this small riverside town, including the thousands of neatly aligned Buddha statues at Lumbini Gardens, the striking Kyauk Ka Lat and Bat Cave in time for sunset.
Day 20 - 21 : Golden Rock (Kyaiktiyo), Burma
Stay at Mountain Top Hotel for 1 night
From Hpa An, you will driven approximately two and a half hours to Kyaiktiyo. Often referred to as Golden Rock, Kyaiktiyo is home to one of Burma’s most sacred pilgrimage sites, the seemingly gravity defying Golden Rock Pagoda which you will visit that afternoon.
Day 21 - 22 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Chatrium for 1 night
Your exploration of Burma draws to a close as you are driven approximately four hours to Yangon. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore the city as you wish or relax at your hotel, before you are collected the following day and transferred to Yangon International Airport in time to board your flight home.
Make this holiday idea yours.
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.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
From $4417 per person
All accommodation and breakfasts
Private and shared transfers
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.