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, Loikaw, Inle Lake, Kalaw, Ngapali Beach
Best for: Culture History, Highlights, Spectacular scenery
This in-depth itinerary is perfect for those looking to really get under the skin of this enigmatic destination. Enjoy culture-rich cities, former British hill stations, balloons over Bagan, an Irrawaddy River cruise and the beautiful beaches of Ngapali.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
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Embark on an epic adventure through Burma on this extensive nineteen night itinerary. Designed for those with plenty of time, it is perfect for those who want to fully explore this enthralling destination and all it has to offer. The trip begins in Yangon to visit iconic landmarks alongside some lesser known gems before flying north for an unforgettable hot air balloon ride over the temples of Bagan at sunrise. Continue north to Mandalay, Burma’s spiritual heart, before heading into the mountains to visit former British hill stations, meet the ‘long-necked ladies’ of Loikaw and to spend time with rescued elephants in Kalaw. Discover Burma’s more tranquil side on your final week, exploring the picturesque shores and floating villages of Inle Lake before finishing with three days on the unspoiled beaches of Burma’s west coast. Combining iconic landmarks, cultural excursions, wildlife and one of a kind experiences, this itinerary really has it all.
Days 1 - 3 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Chatrium for 2 nights
Upon arrival in Burma’s former capital, 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 glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the city’s most well-known sights.
Day 3 : Flight from Yangon to Bagan
Days 3 - 5 : Bagan, Burma
Stay at The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate for 2 nights
Today, you will be driven to Yangon’s airport in time to catch a one and a half hour flight to Bagan. Spend the rest of the day exploring Old Bagan and its ancient temples as well as a local market and lacquerware workshop. Arise early the next day for a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Bagan’s temple strewn plains, an unforgettable experience offering an unrivalled perspective over the collection. Enjoy the rest of the morning relaxing at your hotel, or further exploring the temples on e-bikes before heading to a local monastery to enjoy tea in the gardens and meet with the monks.
Days 5 - 8 : Mandalay, Burma
Stay at Mandalay Hill Resort for 3 nights
Early morning, you will be transferred to a nearby jetty to board your day cruise to Mandalay. Enjoy almost 12 hours of constant cruising, relaxing on deck and watching the gilded hill top pagodas and small riverside villages pass you by. Upon arrival in Mandalay, you will be collected and transferred to your hotel. Spend the next two days exploring the city and surroundings with a private guide, visiting highlights including the iconic U Bein Bridge, Mandalay Hill and the remnants of three former royal capitals.
Day 8 - 9 : Pyin Oo Lwin, Burma
Stay at Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin for 1 night
On the morning of day eight, you will be driven to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin, around one and a half hours to the east of Mandalay. Spend that afternoon strolling through this picturesque town, visiting pagodas, the renowned botanical gardens and historic buildings left behind from the British colonial era.
Day 9 - 10 : Mandalay, Burma
Stay at Mandalay Hill Resort for 1 night
The next day, you will be taken to a nearby station to embark on a train journey through Burma’s magnificent countryside over the Gokteik Viaduct, the world’s highest railway trestle. After disembarking at Naung Pain Station, you will then be driven back to Mandalay and on to your hotel. The rest of the day and evening are at your leisure to relax at your hotel, or to further explore the city.
Day 10 : Flight from Mandalay to Heho
Days 10 - 12 : Loikaw, Burma
Stay at Keinnara Loikaw for 2 nights
The following morning, you will be driven to Mandalay’s airport in time for a short thirty minute flight to Heho, followed by a five hour drive to Loikaw, the sleepy capital of the Kayah State. Visit the Taung Kwe Pagoda that afternoon and take in the stunning views over the surrounding landscape before heading out of 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 12 - 14 : Inle Lake, Burma
Stay at ViewPoint Lodge for 2 nights
From Loikaw, take a short road transfer followed by a scenic boat ride to the picturesque area of Inle Lake. 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.
Days 14 - 16 : Kalaw, Burma
Stay at Amara Mountain Resort for 2 nights
On the morning of day 14, you will be driven from Inle Lake to Kalaw, via the Pindaya Caves for a tour of these spectacular limestone caverns. After arriving in the former British hill station of Kalaw and settling into your hotel, you will head out of town the following day to visit Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, a 150 acre camp dedicated to protecting elephants and traditions of the local people.
Day 16 : Flight from Heho to Ngapali Beach
Days 16 - 19 : Ngapali Beach, Burma
Stay at The Residence by Sandoway for 3 nights
The next day, you will be driven back to Heho Airport in time to board a one hour flight to Thandwe, a short distance from Ngapali Beach. A beautiful unspoiled stretch of Burma’s west coast, spend the final few days of your Burma adventure relaxing on the golden sands, swimming in the Bay of Bengal, visiting nearby islands and soaking up the glorious sunsets.
Day 19 : Flight from Ngapali Beach to Yangon
Day 19 - 20 : Yangon, Burma
Stay at The Chatrium for 1 night
On the morning of day nineteen, you will be driven the short distance back to Thandwe Airport, followed by 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 great insight into local life and a fantastic way to end your Burma adventure. Enjoy one final night in Burma before you are transferred back to Yangon's airport the following day for your flight home.
This is just an idea.
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 $4584 per person
All accommodation and breakfasts
Private and shared transfers
Excursions and activities as per itinerary