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.
Burma in Style
Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach
Best for: Culture History, Highlights, Luxury
Experience the best of Burma on this 12 night itinerary, combining must-see highlights with some of the country’s most spoiling hotels. Soar above the temples of Bagan, sip wine overlooking Inle lake and relax on one of South East Asia’s best beaches.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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This two week itinerary is perfect for those looking to add a splash of luxury to a trip through Burma. After exploring the leafy former capital of Yangon and its glittering pagodas, head north to take-in Bagan’s awe-inspiring temples from above before continuing to Mandalay, Burma’s cultural and religious heart. Head to Inle Lake to explore stilted fishing villages and tour a local winery before flying to Burma’s west coast to discover one of Asia’s best kept secrets in the Bay of Bengal. Although Burma may not have quite the luxury hotel offering of many other South East Asian countries, there are some great options for those seeking extra comfort and style, from elegant 1920s mansions to beautiful lakeside villas.
Days 1 - 3 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at Belmond Governor's Residence for 2 nights
Upon arrival in Yangon, you will be met by one of our representatives and driven to your hotel in the city. That evening, discover the finer side of Yangon’s culinary culture on a food tour of the city, taking you to some of the Yangon's best dining spots. The next day will involve a private guided tour of the city, where you will discover the colonial charm of the downtown area, visit the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda and explore the bustling jewellery and handicraft stalls of Scott’s Market.
Day 3 : Flight from Yangon to Bagan
Days 3 - 5 : Bagan, Burma
Stay at The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate for 2 nights
On the morning of day three, you will be transferred to Yangon’s airport in time to board a one and a half hour flight to Bagan, an ancient city with over 2,000 temples dotted across its surrounding plains. The rest of the day will be spent exploring some of these temples before enjoying a sunset horescart ride through the temple strewn plains. Take to the skies early the next morning for a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Bagan, a one-of-a-kind experience offering a view of the temples that will not be forgotten in a hurry. That afternoon, escape the crowds with a sunset cruise to Kyauk Gu U Min, a wonderfully unique cave-like temple often completely free of other tourists.
Day 5 : Flight from Bagan to Mandalay
Days 5 - 7 : Mandalay, Burma
Stay at The Hotel by the Red Canal for 2 nights
The next day, you will be taken to Bagan’s Nyaung U Airport in time to catch a short 30 minute flight to Mandalay, Burma’s cultural and spiritual centre. That afternoon, explore with a private guide the former royal capital of Amarapura and U Bein Bridge, a teak bridge believed to be one of the oldest and longest in the world that has become one of Burma’s most iconic sights. Continue exploring the highlights of Mandalay the following day, including the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, Burma’s first UNESCO Heritage Site and the picturesque riverside village of Mingun, home to the world’s largest un-cracked bell.
Day 7 : Flight from Mandalay to Inle Lake
Days 7 - 9 : Inle Lake, Burma
Stay at Villa Inle Resort & Spa for 2 nights
Leaving the dusty streets of Mandalay for the cool breeze and calm waters of Inle Lake, you will be driven to Mandalay’s airport to catch a short 30 minute flight to Heho, followed by a one hour drive to Inle Lake. That afternoon, you will be taken to the Red Mountain Estate Winery to explore the vineyards and enjoy some local Burmese wine overlooking the lake its encircling Shan Hills. The following day lets you fully explore the beauty of Inle Lake, with an excursion by longtail boat to see the five gold Buddha images of Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda and the picturesque Pa-oh village of Indein.
Day 9 : Flight from Inle Lake to Ngapali Beach
Days 9 - 12 : Ngapali Beach, Burma
Stay at Ngapali Bay Villas & Spa for 3 nights
The trip comes to a relaxing end as you head to the pristine shores of Ngapali Beach on Burma’s west coast. After a one hour flight from Heho Airport to Thandwe, you will be driven the short distance to your beachfront hotel. Spend the next two days soaking up the sun, swimming in the azure waters, relaxing on the golden sands and watching some glorious sunsets over the Bay of Bengal.
Day 12 : Flight from Ngapali Beach to Yangon
Day 12 - 13 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at Belmond Governor's Residence for 1 night
On the morning of day 12, you will be taken back to Thandwe Airport to catch a one hour flight back to Yangon. The following day, you will be transferred to Yangon International Airport in time to board you flight back home, or onto your next destination.
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
From $3996 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.