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, Ngapali Beach
Best for: Family, Highlights, Imagine Favourites
This 15 night itinerary offers a well-paced introduction to one of South East Asia’s most beguiling destinations, combining culture rich cities, picturesque towns, a cruise down the Irrawaddy River and a relaxing beach break on Burma’s idyllic west coast.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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Starting in Burma’s leafy former capital of Yangon, this 15 day itinerary takes in many of Burma’s most remarkable towns and cities, including must see landmarks and a range of unforgettable experiences. Cities abounding with gilded pagodas, ancient monasteries and colonial charm are broken up with the picturesque scenery of Kalaw and Inle Lake, a relaxing cruise down the Irrawaddy River and the pristine sands of Ngapali Beach, not forgetting the internationally renowned temples of Bagan. It is particularly suited to first-time visitors looking for a varied and unhurried introduction to the highlights of Burma, including some time to discover the country’s more tranquil side.
Days 1 - 3 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Savoy Hotel Yangon for 2 nights
Upon arrival in Yangon, you will be collected by one of our representatives and transferred to your hotel in the city. The rest of the day is at your leisure to relax and settle in, before enjoying a tour of the city the following day. Accompanied by a private guide, discover the colonial charm of downtown Yangon, visit a popular local tea house and explore the bustling stalls of Scott’s market, not forgetting the awe-inspiring Shwedagon Pagoda that towers over the city.
Day 3 : Flight from Yangon to Bagan
Days 3 - 6 : Bagan, Burma
Stay at The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate for 3 nights
On day three, you will be driven to Yangon’s airport in time to board a one and a half hour flight to Bagan, an ancient city home to over 2,000 temples. That afternoon and evening are free to spend as you wish, before exploring a selection of these temples the next day with a private guide. As well as visiting some of the most 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. The next day, travel a short distance outside of Bagan and climb the steps to the top of Mount Popa, home to a sacred monastery that offers breath-taking views over the surrounding plains.
Day 6 : Cruise from Bagan to Mandalay
Days 6 - 8 : Mandalay, Burma
Stay at The Hotel by the Red Canal for 2 nights
The following day, you will be driven to a nearby jetty in Bagan to board a cruise to Mandalay. During the nine hour journey, enjoy lunch on board as you sit back and watch life on the banks of the Irrawaddy River pass you by. Upon arrival in Mandalay, you will be transferred to your hotel, where the rest of the evening is at your leisure. The next day, enjoy a tour of the city with a private guide, visiting highlights including the iconic U Bein Bridge, Burma’s first UNESCO Heritage Site and Mandalay Hill, the city’s highest vantage point.
Day 8 : Flight from Mandalay to Kalaw
Days 8 - 10 : Kalaw, Burma
Stay at Dream Mountain Resort for 2 nights
Leaving the bustling city streets of Mandalay for the rolling hills and laid-back charm of Kalaw, you will be driven to the airport in time to board a short 30 minute flight to Heho, followed by a two hour drive to reach your hotel in Kalaw. On the way, make a slight detour to the Pindaya Caves, a series of magnificent limestone caves home to hundreds of images of Buddha. Explore these hillside caves with a private guide before continuing the drive onto Kalaw. Spend the following day with the elephants of Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, an elephant sanctuary 40 minutes from Kalaw where you can help bathe the elephants and have the opportunity to watch them feed.
Days 10 - 12 : Inle Lake, Burma
Stay at Sanctum Inle for 2 nights
From Kalaw, it is approximately two hour drive to Inle Lake and its accompanying market town of Nayung Shwe. Known for its stilted villages, floating gardens and fishing communities, the calm waters of Inle Lake and the surrounding hills feel far removed from the rest of the country. Spend some time settling into your hotel and soaking up the scenery before heading out onto the waters of the lake the next day, including a motorised longtail boat journey to a local market, the five gold-layer Buddha images at the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, and the picturesque Pa-oh village of Indein.
Day 12 : Flight from Inle Lake to Ngapali Beach
Days 12 - 15 : Ngapali Beach, Burma
Stay at Amata Beach Resort for 3 nights
The following day, you will be driven to Heho Airport to catch a one hour flight to Thandwe, followed by a short thirty minute drive to your beachfront hotel on Ngapali Beach. One of South East Asia’s best kept secrets, Ngapali Beach is a tranquil paradise in the Bay of Bengal. Spend the next two days relaxing on the pristine shores, swimming in the calm blue waters and soaking up some glorious sunsets.
Day 15 : Flight from Ngapali Beach to Yangon
Day 15 - 16 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Savoy Hotel Yangon for 1 night
From Ngapali Beach, take a one hour flight back to Yangon, the final stop of your journey. After landing and settling into your hotel, enjoy a ride on the Yangon Circle Train. Travelling in a ring around the city, this train offers a one-of-a-kind insight into local life and is also a great way to end your Burma adventure. Return to your hotel for one final night in the city at your leisure, before you are transferred to Yangon International Airport for your flight home, or onto your next destination.
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.
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 $3681 per person
All accommodation and breakfasts
Private and shared transfers
Excursions and activities as per itinerary