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.
The Hotel by the Red Canal
Best for: Culture History, Hideaway, Honeymoon
A small boutique property in a quiet quarter of Mandalay, the Hotel by the Red Canal is minutes from the famous Mandalay Palace and offers wonderful Burmese hospitality and comfortable facilities within a tranquil garden setting.
To start planning your tailor-made holiday, call us on (646) 934-8916
Upholding traditional Burmese values of hospitality and style, the Hotel by the Red Canal is a beautiful property surrounded by tropical gardens and calming water features. The hotel offers 25 rather small, but well-appointed rooms, including interiors adorned with fixtures made from local materials such as rattan, mother-of-pearl and traditional Burmese fabrics. Many have private balconies that overlook the swimming pool or gardens.
Renowned throughout the city, the Spice Garden, is an elegant restaurant serving Burmese and particularly fine Indian dishes that focus mainly on poultry, seafood and fresh vegetables. If you want to learn how to cook some of these dishes yourself, the general manager will happily arrange a class with one of the resident chefs. The Canopy Bar has a calm atmosphere and a complimentary cocktail hour in the evening, making it a great place to start off your evening.
The Parana Spa, inspired by Burma’s traditional rural villages, offers exclusive treatments to revitalise you, and its soothingly rustic interior design makes a lovely spot for a session. The outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by day beds, umbrellas and lush foliage is a great spot to while away a lazy afternoon and escape the city heat.
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
Half Day Mandalay City Tour
Explore the city of Mandalay with a local guide on this half day tour, taking you to highlights including Mandalay Hill, the 'world's largest book' and the Golden Palace Monastery.
Early Morning in Mandalay
Enjoy a bright and early start exploring Mahamuni Pagoda and witnessing monks washing the Buddha statue before a visit to a local market and breakfast at a traditional tea shop.
Full Day Mandalay City Tour
Spend with day with a local guide exploring the city of Mandalay, visiting sights including the gilded Mahamuni Pagoda, some traditional workshops and Burma’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site before ascending Mandalay Hill in time for sunset.
Mandalay's Royal Capitals: Sagaing, Ava and Amarapura
Explore the remnants of Sagaing, Ava, Amarapura, three former royal capitals just outside the city of Mandalay. Travel by ferry, foot and horse cart as you explore small villages, ancient monasteries and the iconic U Bein Bridge.
Discover Mandalay and Mingun
Discover the best of Mandalay and Mingun on this full day excursion, taking in historic sites, awe-inspiring buildings and some beautiful scenery.
Trading Jade in Mandalay
Learn of the mining trade in Mandalay, exploring an expansive gem market and watching buyers haggle prices over the precious stones before a traditional lunch at a local tea shop.
Tour of Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)
Tour the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin, including colonial architecture and the town's renowned National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens.
Cycle Mandalay - Half Day
Pedal around the outskirts of the city, taking in rural Mandalay passing incredible temples and monasteries before visiting a charming village and learning of the local culture.
Mahamuni Pagoda and Crafts Tour
Journey to Mahamuni Pagoda and marvel at the statue of Buddha decorated in gold leaf before a tour of Mandalay’s workshops and learning about the local trades.
Royal Mandalay Palace
Visit the Royal Mandalay Palace, an exquisite building in the heart of the city.
Meditation at Sagaing Hill
Connect with Burma’s spiritual side one this one-of-a-kind excursion, taking you a tranquil forest meditation sanctuary in Sagaing to learn and practice traditional meditation techniques under guidance of a local master.
Holiday ideas including a stay in this property
Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Kalaw, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach
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.
Yangon, Mandalay, Irrawaddy River, Bagan
Cruise the Irrawaddy River in comfort and style aboard The Strand Cruise, combining onshore excursions, must-see sights and the height of onboard luxury as you sail from culture-rich Mandalay to the archaeological wonder of Bagan.
Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake, Ngapali Beach
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.