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. Join us for an unforgettable cruise through mysterious Myanmar!
DAY 1 : YANGON
Participation in today‘s activities will depend on your arrival time in Yangon. If you arrive between 6:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., your program will be: 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. We’ll enjoy lunch in a local restaurant (seating will be between 12:00 and 12:30 p.m.). Afterwards, you’ll be transferred to the Chatrium Hotel, where you can settle into your room (rooms will be available at 2:00 p.m.). 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 return to our hotel for dinner and the night.
DAY 2 : YANGON
Enjoy breakfast before visiting the Chaukhtatgyi Paya. Its 213-foot long reclining Buddha is one of the most beautiful in the country. We’ll then enjoy some tea and local delicacies at an informal tea house and take a stroll through the former colonial neighborhoods. 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. Not far away are the High Court Building, Maha Bandula Park and the Independence Monument in commemoration of Burmese independence from the British in 1948. Along the Yangon River, we’ll be able to take in a bit of daily life. We’ll have lunch in a local restaurant and finish up the day with a tour on foot of the Chinese and Indian sections of the city. We’ll return to our hotel for dinner and the night.
DAY 3 : YANGON - MANDALAY
After breakfast this morning, you’ll be taken to the airport for a morning flight to Mandalay. Mandalay is considered Myanmar’s cultural capital. It’s the second largest city in the country and changing quickly. When you arrive, you'll be transferred to our ship for boarding. Lunch will be served 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. Not far from here, you’ll discover the Shwenandaw Monastery (Golden Palace Monastery), known for its teak carvings of Buddhist myths which adorn its walls and roofs. We’ll have dinner and remain in port overnight.
DAY 4 : MANDALAY - MINGUN
Enjoy breakfast on board as we cruise north. In the morning, we’ll walk through a typical village on the river and meet its inhabitants. Lunch will be served on board. This afternoon, 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. We’ll then set out on a tour on foot of the Mingun temple, a monumental uncompleted stupa begun by King Bodawpaya in 1790, and the bright-white Hsinbyume Pagoda. We’ll also see the famous Mingun Bell, one of the heaviest functioning bells in the world. Following our tour, we’ll return to the ship. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 5 : MINGUN - MANDALAY - AMARAPURA
After breakfast, we’ll begin our tour of the city center, where 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. We’ll continue on to the sumptuous Shwe In Bin Kyaung monastery and then the Jade Market to observe craftspeople cutting and polishing the exquisite stone. Afterwards, we’ll visit a silk and cotton weaving workshop. Following our tour, we’ll return to the ship. Lunch will be served on board. We’ll then visit 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 considered precious offerings. Our next stop will be Amarapura, the “City of Immortality.” The city is famous for the U Bein Bridge which spans Taungthaman Lake. At three-quarters of a mile long, it is the longest teak bridge in the world. We’ll enjoy a boat ride on Taungthaman Lake. After our tour, we’ll return to the ship. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board. Tonight, enjoy a traditional Burmese dance show performed by the University of Culture in Mandalay.
DAY 6 : INWA - SAGAING
After breakfast, we’ll visit Inwa. Formerly known as Ava, it was the Burmese capital for more than 300 years during three separate periods. We’ll 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. We’ll return on board for lunch. In the afternoon, we’ll take a tour of Sagaing, once the capital of the Sagaing Kingdom. We’ll visit a silversmith and the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, built in the 14th century. The temple offers a great view of Mandalay in the distance as well as the Irrawaddy River flowing below. We’ll finish our day with a visit to the Dha Kya Di Tar convent. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 7 : SAGAING - MANDALAY - YANDABO - PAKOKKU
Enjoy breakfast as we spend the morning cruising to 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. We’ll return on board and continue towards Bagan. Lunch will be served on board. We’ll pass the confluence of the Irrawaddy and its main tributary, the Chindwin River. While we cruise, join us for a demonstration on how to wear a longyi and apply thanaka paste, the cream commonly seen on women and girls in Myanmar. We’ll arrive in Pakokku at the end of the afternoon. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 8 : PAKOKKU - BAGAN
Enjoy breakfast before taking a pedi-cab to the Pakokku market to discover the city center. We’ll visit a cheroot cigar factory, and visit a local elementary school. We’ll return on board and continue towards Bagan. After lunch, the afternoon will be spent visiting this ancient city, equal in beauty and wonder to the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. Bagan 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; 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. Following our tour, we’ll return to the ship. Tonight, we’ll enjoy a traditional puppetry show on board. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on board.
DAY 9 : BAGAN
Enjoy breakfast on the ship. OPTIONAL EXCURSION: Hot-Air Balloon Ride over Bagan: Fly over the spectacular scenery at dawn! After a short safety-instruction demonstration, you’ll take off for an approximately 45-minute flight (to be reserved at time of booking; subject to availability). We’ll leave by coach for an additional half day in Bagan, stopping at the city market. Other wonders await you among the thousands of splendid temples, stupas and pagodas. Following our tour, we’ll return to the ship. Lunch will be served on board. The afternoon will be spent discovering even more of this beautiful city. We’ll enjoy our farewell dinner and last night on board.
DAY 10 : BAGAN - INLE LAKE
After breakfast this morning, you’ll be taken to the airport for a morning flight to Heho. There, you’ll be welcomed and transferred by coach through the superb landscape of the Shan Hills to Nyaung Shwe. Along the way, we’ll stop at the Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery. We’ll then visit a parasol workshop, one of the specialty crafts in the region. We’ll board traditional pirogues to explore lovely Inle Lake and have lunch in a local restaurant. As we continue the afternoon, we’ll stop to watch fishermen and the boats harvesting algae from the bottom of the lake to be used in floating gardens. Our excursion will wind down with a visit to a silk and lotus weaving workshop. We’ll have dinner and stay the night at the Sanctum Hotel (or similar accommodations), located close to the lake.
DAY 11 : INLE LAKE - INDEIN
You’ll enjoy breakfast at the hotel this morning before leaving on a full day excursion to the southern part of the lake on a pirogue. We’ll visit the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, and then travel up one of the rivers to visit the village of Indein—home to hundreds of ancient stupas in ruins and overgrown with bushes. We'll be able to meet the people of the Pa-O tribes, identified by their dark native dress and the colorful head wraps worn by the women. We’ll have lunch in Indein and return by boat to Inle Lake. We’ll begin the afternoon by paying a visit to a traditional pirogue workshop. We’ll then tour the Nga Phe Chaung Monastery, known for a collection of old Myanmar’s Buddha images from different areas that are definitely worth seeing. We’ll have dinner and spend the night at the hotel.
DAY 12 : INLE LAKE - HEHO - YANGON
After breakfast this morning, you’ll be taken to Heho Airport for a morning flight to Yangon, where you’ll be transferred to the city center. We’ll have lunch in a local restaurant. Spend some free time looking for last-minute gifts and souvenirs. Please do not book your return flight for before 7:00 p.m.