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.
Cruise and Highlights
Yangon, Bagan, Irrawaddy River, Mandalay, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach
Best for: Food Drink, Highlights, Spectacular scenery
Discover life along the banks of the Irrawaddy River in the comfort only a cruise can offer on this 16 day itinerary, combining must-see highlights and hidden onshore gems culminating with a relaxing beach break on Burma’s west coast.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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Not only a comfortable means of travel between the popular destinations of Mandalay and Bagan, an Irrawaddy River cruise offers the chance to explore remote villages and far-flung hilltop pagodas largely inaccessible by car as well as the well-known sights. Starting in Bagan’s leafy former capital of Yangon, this 15 night itinerary includes a seven night Pandaw Cruise between Bagan and Mandalay, followed by Inle Lake and the pristine shores of Ngapali Beach. Onshore excursions to visit former royal capitals, small pottery villages, local markets and quaint riverside towns are broken up with relaxing onboard and watching daily life on the river unfold as you pass through some of Burma’s most magnificent rural scenery.
Depending on your departure date, you may be on one of a range of boats within the Pandaw fleet, from intimate 10 cabin vessels, to larger 30 cabin ships. There is also a varied array of itineraries if this one doesn’t seem quite right for you, including shorter three night cruises and longer expeditions into the Upper Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers for those looking to get further off-the-beaten-track.
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 settle into your hotel, before enjoying a guided tour of the city the following day. With your specialist guide, discover the colonial charm of downtown Yangon, stop by a local tea house, browse the stalls of Scott’s Market and visit the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, the city’s most iconic landmark.
Day 3 : Flight from Yangon to Bagan
Days 3 - 10 : Irrawaddy River, Burma
Stay at RV Orient Pandaw for 7 nights
The following day, you will be transferred to Yangon’s airport in time to board a short one and a half hour flight to Bagan where you will board the RV Orient Pandaw. Spend the next seven days enjoying a number of onshore excursions and onboard activities coupled with some time to relax and take in the stunning scenery. Particular highlights over the course of the week include the temples of Bagan, a barbecue beach party, visiting the local market of Pakokku by tuk tuk, and exploring Mandalay’s former royal capitals. Throughout the cruise, there are a number of onboard cultural activities including language lessons, cooking demonstrations and presentations about Burma’s complex past.
Day 10 : Flight from Mandalay to Inle Lake
Days 10 - 12 : Inle Lake, Burma
Stay at ViewPoint Lodge for 2 nights
After disembarking in Mandalay, you will be driven to the airport in time to board a short thirty minute flight to Heho Airport, followed by a one hour drive to your hotel in Inle Lake. The rest of the day is at your leisure to relax and soak up the beautiful scenery, or perhaps exploring the nearby market town of Nyaung Shwe. The next day will be spent exploring the on and offshore delights of Inle Lake, including 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 12 : Flight from Inle Lake to Ngapali Beach
Days 12 - 15 : Ngapali Beach, Burma
Stay at The Residence by Sandoway for 3 nights
On the morning of day 12, you will be driven back to Heho Airport to catch a one hour flight to Ngapali Beach, a beautiful beach on Burma’s west coast. The next two days are free to spend as you wish, soaking up the sun on the golden sands, swimming in the calm waters of the Bay of Bengal and watching some glorious sunsets from your beachfront hotel.
Day 15 : Flight from Ngapali Beach to Yangon
Day 15 - 16 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Chatrium for 1 night
After a few days relaxing on Ngapali Beach you will be taken back to Thandwe Airport to catch a one hour flight back to Yangon, the final stop on this itinerary. Your final afternoon and evening are free to spend how you wish. You may choose to simply enjoy relaxing at your hotel, or an evening food tour of the city’s culinary delights can be arranged, or perhaps a sunset cruise down the Yangon River. The following day, you will be transferred back to Yangon’s International Airport, in time to board your 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 $3959 per person
All accommodation and breakfasts
Private and shared transfers
Excursions and activities as per itinerary