CRUISE ON THE IRRAWADDY RIVER, FROM BAGAN TO MANDALAY

13B

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Description
YANGON - BAGAN - SALE - MOUNT POPA - PAKOKKU - YANDABO - INWA - SAGAING - AMARAPURA - MINGUN - MANDALAY

Mysterious and enigmatic, Myanmar is like no other place in the world. Come discover what the people of Myanmar call the Mother Irrawaddy. This “blessing to the people" is still vital to the country, and its source is found in the Himalaya Glaciers. Throughout history, it has been the country’s major waterway, with cities and religious buildings dotting its banks. Go back in time within this authentic and well-preserved nation. You’ll be enchanted by its sumptuous and eventful history, its incomparable sites and ancient civilizations. Take an unforgettable cruise on the river that was once the country’s only channel of communication. Lose yourself in the exotic landscapes of the riverbanks decorated with golden-roofed pagodas, magnificent temples and monasteries, age-old countryside, countless rice fields and a mosaic of people still anchored within their traditions. An unforgettable journey through a mysterious and authentic land!

DAY 1: PARIS - YANGON

Flight from Paris to Yangon. Dinner will be served on the flight (overnight flight with stopover in Bangkok).

DAY 2: YANGON

We’ll arrive in Yangon (formally Rangoon) in the morning. Our host will meet you, and you’ll be transferred to the city center. Yangon became the capital of Burma in 1948 when the country regained independence from the British Empire. The military government officially relocated the Myanmar capital to Naypyidaw in March 2006. Your visit to the economic capital of the country will begin with a tour of Chaukhtatgyi Paya. Its 213-foot long reclining Buddha is one of the most beautiful in the country. We’ll finish our morning with lunch in a local restaurant. You’ll be transferred to the Chatrium Hotel (or similar accommodations) where you can settle into your room (rooms will be available at 2:00 p.m.). Enjoy some free time in the afternoon. This evening when the lights come on, we’ll visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese. The pagoda lies to the west of Kandawgyi Lake, on Singuttara Hill, its 368-foot spire dominating the city skyline. When lit at night, its golden structure seems like something out of a fairytale. We’ll enjoy dinner and spend the night at the hotel.

DAY 3: YANGON

Enjoy breakfast this morning before beginning with a tour of Yangon by coach to discover its colonial-era buildings. On our way, we’ll catch a glimpse of the Sule Pagoda. According to legend, it is more than 2,500 years old. Surrounding the pagoda are the main British colonial administrative buildings such as the Town Hall, a great example of the imposing colonial style. Directly across, you can see the Supreme Court building. Not far away are the Maha Bandula Park and the Independence Monument in commemoration of Burmese independence from the British in 1948. We’ll have lunch in a local restaurant. Afterwards, we’ll head to the Nanthidar Jetty where you can see the active local life along the Yangon River. This evening, we’ll stroll through Chinatown, visit its night market, and discover the Little India district. We’ll enjoy dinner and spend the night at the hotel.

DAY 4: YANGON - BAGAN

After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport for a morning flight to Bagan. We’ll have lunch in town. The afternoon will be spent visiting this ancient city, equal in beauty and wonder to the Ankor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. It is one of the most spectacular Buddhist sites in Southeastern Asia. During the kingdom's height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 4,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day. We’ll visit some of the more distinctive monuments in Bagan, including the impressive Ananda Temple. We’ll then visit a lacquerware workshop. Bagan is the major center for the lacquerware industry, where the handicraft has been established for nearly two centuries and is still practiced using traditional methods. At the end of our day, you’ll check into The Hotel at Tharabar Gate (or similar accommodations) for dinner and the night.

DAY 5: BAGAN - SALE - MOUNT POPA - BAGAN

After enjoying breakfast, we’ll leave for Sale, and during the 1.5-hour drive, we’ll stop at the village market in Chauk. In Sale, we’ll visit the Yoke-Sone-Kyaung Monastery, one of the most beautiful in Myanmar. We’ll continue on until we reach Mount Popa. A volcano at an altitude of 4,981 feet, Mount Popa is considered the dwelling of Burma's most powerful Nats (spirits). Just southwest of Mount Popa is Taung Kalat and its monastery perched at the summit. We’ll have lunch at the Popa Mountain Resort, taking in the spectacular views. On our way back to Baga, we’ll discover the countryside’s daily life, stopping off to watch the harvesting of sugar palm and the processing of its sugar and the making of its wine and arrack. Afterwards, we’ll board our ship. We’ll have dinner on board this evening.

DAY 6: BAGAN

After breakfast, we’ll leave by coach for an additional visit to Bagan since other wonders await you among the thousands of splendid temples, stupas and pagodas. Following our tour, we’ll return to the boat. We'll have lunch on board. The afternoon will be spent discovering even more of this beautiful country. We’ll also enjoy a traditional puppetry show on board. Our crew will even teach you a few words in Burmese! We’ll have dinner on board this evening.

DAY 7: BAGAN - PAKOKKU - YANDABO

During breakfast, we’ll spend a short time cruising to Pakokku. Here, we’ll be taken in pedi-cabs to the Pakokku market and to discover the city center during the morning. We’ll visit a cheroot cigar factory. Following our tour, we’ll return to the boat. We’ll continue to cruise towards Yandabo. During our cruise, join us for a presentation of Burmese traditions. We'll have lunch on board. We’ll leave on a tour of Yandabo, famous for its terracotta pots made from the riverbank clay. This is also the place where, under a tree on the riverbank, the peace treaty was signed at the end of the first Anglo-Burmese war in 1826. And we’ll visit the “Pandaw” school, built thanks to donations by former passengers. We’ll have dinner on board this evening.

DAY 8: YANDABO - INWA - SAGAING

Enjoy breakfast on board as we spend the morning cruising south. During this time, join us for a lesson in Burmese cuisine. We'll have lunch on board. This afternoon, we’ll travel by coach to Inwa, the ancient imperial capital. We’ll cross the Myitnge River by ferry. We’ll then visit the main ruins of this ancient site on horse-drawn carriages. The old Bagaya Monastery is made entirely of teak wood and is considered one of the most beautiful of its kind. After our visit, we’ll return to our ship and begin to cruise towards Sagaing. We’ll have dinner on board this evening.

DAY 9: SAGAING - AMARAPURA

Have breakfast on board before our tour of Sagaing, once the capital of the Sagaing Kingdom. Today, it’s mostly known as a religious center that supports dozens of Buddhists monasteries and nunneries, as well as a major monastic hospital. We’ll first take you to the top of one of the viewpoints to admire the city and the river from above. We’ll then visit a silversmith and the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, built in the 14th century. We’ll also visit a convent. We’ll return on board for lunch, and spend a short time cruising to Amarapura. Once we arrive, we’ll visit the “City of Immortality” by coach. The city is famous for the U Pein Bridge which spans Taungthaman Lake. At three-quarters of a mile long, it is the longest teak bridge in the world. We’ll then enjoy a boat ride on Taungthaman Lake. Afterwards, we’ll visit a silk and cotton weaving workshop. After our tour, we’ll return to the ship. Tonight, watch a traditional Burmese dance show performed by the University of Culture in Mandalay. We’ll have dinner on board this evening.

DAY 10: AMARAPURA - MINGUN

After breakfast on board, we’ll visit Mingun on foot: The Mingun temple, a monumental uncompleted stupa begun by King Bodawpaya in 1790, and the bright-white Hsinbyume Pagoda. Several souvenir and tea shops, as well as art galleries, line the tour path. We’ll also see the famous Mingun Bell, once the heaviest functioning bell in the world until it was surpassed in 2000. We'll have lunch on board. Sit back and enjoy the beautiful cruise towards Mingun. Sometimes referred to as the “Road to Mandalay”, this glorious river is an attraction in itself. Take in the magnificent views of the surrounding mountains across the horizon. In the afternoon, we’ll walk through a typical village on the river and meet its inhabitants. After our long day, the crew will demonstrate how to apply Thanakha, the paste commonly applied to the face and arms of Burmese women and girls. It is also often used as an ointment against sunburn and acne. We’ll have dinner on board this evening.

DAY 11: MINGUN - MANDALAY

Enjoy breakfast on board as we cruise to Mandalay. In the city center, we can still see the well-preserved walls and moats around the Mandalay Palace and citadel. Mandalay Palace was the primary royal residence of King Mindon and King Thibaw, the last two kings of the country. Not far from here, we’ll also visit the Shwenandaw Monastery (Golden Palace Monastery), known for its teak carvings of Buddhist myths which adorn its walls and roofs. We’ll then move on to a tapestry maker and a gold leaf workshop. Very thin sheets of gold leaf are used to cover the Buddha statues in the pagodas and are precious offerings. We’ll then be able to observe the monks’ silent meal at the Mahagandayon Monastery. Following our tour, we’ll return to the boat and have lunch on board. We’ll then visit the Mahamuni Buddha Temple, a major Buddhist pilgrimage site. The temple houses the Mahamuni Buddha image, the most highly revered Buddha image in the country. We’ll also visit the marble and alabaster workshops to see the sculptors honing their craft. We’ll continue on the sumptuous Shwe In Bin Kyaung monastery. Then at sundown, we’ll head up to the top of Mandalay Hill to take in the exceptional views of the city. We’ll enjoy our farewell dinner and last night on board.

DAY 12: MANDALAY - YANGON

After breakfast, you’ll be taken to the airport for a morning flight to Yangon. You’ll be transferred to the city center, and have lunch in a local restaurant. We’ll then visit the Bogyoke Aung San Market (Scott’s Market), a large bazaar known for its colonial architecture and inner cobblestone streets, dominated by antique, Burmese handicraft and jewelry shops, art galleries, and clothing stores. Spend some free time looking for last minute gifts and souvenirs. You’ll then be transferred to the Yangon airport for the return flight to Paris (overnight flight with stopover in Bangkok). Dinner will be served on the plane.

DAY 13 - PARIS

We’ll arrive in Paris in early morning.

More info

Weather: Myanmar has a tropical climate. Rainy season: from the beginning of June to mid-October. Thunderstorms generally occur at the end of the afternoon. The rain is strong, but does not last long. Dry season: from mid-October to March.
Currency: The Myanmar currency is the kyat (MMK). Generally, credit cards and travelers’ checks are not accepted in Myanmar. We recommend that you bring enough cash with you (either US dollars or Euros).
Exchange rate: For the current exchange rates, please consult websites such as www.xe.com or www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
Meals: All meals are provided on this tour. Fresh products such as fish, fruits and vegetables, are prepared on board. Asian and western cuisine is available in the hotels and restaurants.
Time difference: Go to www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ to see the time difference between your home and your destination.

These cruises and tours are not recommended for persons with reduced mobility.

The river you’ll be cruising on varies greatly with the seasons; there can be sudden and impressive differences in the water levels which will modify the ship’s navigation. If this happens, alternative itineraries will be proposed. If one stop must be cancelled, another will be offered in its place. The itineraries are subject to change without notice.
Being grounded on sand banks can also happen and are a normal part of navigating the river. We can also travel through areas where there are no or only a few developed infrastructures.

A river cruise in Asia is a spectacular, unforgettable and exciting experience.