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.
Bagan Umbra Hotel
Best for: Culture History
Bagan Umbra Hotel offers good value accommodation just two kilometres from Burma's ancient capital, including comfortable rooms, leafy gardens and a large outdoor swimming pool.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Set amidst five acres of lush landscaped gardens just minutes from Old Bagan, Bagan Umbra offers comfortable accommodation for exploring Bagan's stunning ancient temples. It is particularly well located for visiting the striking Shwezigon Pagoda and is just a fifteen minute drive from the airport.
Bagan Umbra's superior and deluxe rooms are simply furnished but adequately equipped for a comfortable stay, whilst the grand deluxe rooms have a much more elegant feel and feature rain showers. The hotel boasts a large outdoor pool that offers a fantastic view of a nearby temple, and the landscaped gardens are a great place to relax after a busy day exploring. The onsite restaurant offers Burmese, Chinese and European cuisines in an a la carte or set menu style. There is also a spa for guests seeking that added bit of pampering and relaxation during their stay.
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
Things to do
Bagan Cooking Class
Discover Burmese cuisine, visiting a local morning market and purchasing ingredients to create traditional dishes with a local chef and tasting your efforts.
Mount Popa and Toddy Farm Lunch
Discover the Popa Taung Kalat, a sacred monastery perched on top of a volcanic plug on the southwestern flank of Mount Popa. Discover the legend the surrounds this renowned pilgrimage site and ascend the 777 steps to the top.
Experience the local trade, learning about the production of lacquerware products before designing your own souvenir, applying the skills you learnt.
Tant Kyi Taung Pagoda
Journey to Tant Kyi village along the Irrawaddy River to the striking Tant Kyi Pagoda hilltop Pagoda and take-in the stunning panoramic views over the landscape below.
Nyaung Oo Market
Visit Nyaung Oo morning market to experience the buzz of local life and the fresh produce and products ranging from meats and fruits to flowers and pottery.
Pakokku by Bike
Explore Pakokku, pedalling along the roads that fringe scenic farmland, stopping at villages before returning with a cruise along the Irrawaddy River.
Bagan Temple Biking
Explore Bagan on two wheels, admiring the beautiful scenery as you travel along trails, through quaint villages and stopping off at enchanting stupas and pagodas, combining some of the more well known temples and some inaccessible by car.
Balloons Over Bagan
Take-in enchanting panoramic view as you float over the ancient city of Bagan at sunrise, gaining an unforgettable birds-eye view of the ancient pagodas, stupas and beautiful surrounding villages.
Mount Popa and Salay Tour
Explore some of the sights outside of Bagan including the small riverside town of Salay before continuing to discover ancient spiritual traditions and learn about nat worship at Mount Popa.
Bagan Village Biking
Enjoy a cycling tour through charming villages and scenic countryside, witnessing farmers tend to their land before stopping at a colonial style monastery and enjoying a picnic lunch.
Tea Party in a Monastery
Learn about the culture and importance Buddhist culture plays in society whilst sipping on local tea in a Buddhist Monastery.
Bagan Temple Tour
Spend the day exploring a range of sites in Bagan, offering a great overview of the history and culture of this ancient city. Discover some of the more famous temples, some lesser known gems, visit traditional workshops and travel by horsecart.
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake
From the awe-inspiring temples of Bagan to the floating gardens of Inle Lake, this varied and good value itinerary takes in some of Burma’s most iconic sights, ideal for those wishing to explore this enchanting country but are short on time.
Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Pyin Oo Lwin, Hsipaw, Loikaw, Inle Lake, Kalaw, Hpa An, Golden Rock
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.
Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Kalaw, Inle Lake
This active itinerary is a great option for those looking to explore Burma’s culture rich cities alongside its rural treasures. Roam Bagan’s temple strewn plains by mountain bike, trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake, and cycle the streets of Yangon and Mandalay.