Is this the ultimate experience in Burma? A magical Myanmar river cruise of a few days down the mighty and fabled Irrawaddy River, charting a course between magical Mandalay and mysterious Bagan is one of life’s greatest journeys.
What could be more exciting than boarding a ship, either custom-built or a converted old barge, and taking a river cruise from Mandalay to Bagan, two of the greatest cities of the Orient? With fascinating shore excursions along the way, the chance of seeing the endangered Irrawaddy river dolphin and superb hospitality, you’ll remember it forever.
Tales from the riverbank
Also known as ‘The Elephant River’, the Irrawaddy begins high in the snow-capped Himalayas then flows down through the center of Myanmar, before throwing itself into the Andaman Sea. Along the way, hundreds if not thousands of temples, stupas and nats line its banks.
From your floating hotel you will be able to watch the routines and rituals of the communities that live alongside the river. Scenes of livestock being tended, women washing clothes, children collecting water for cooking, men hauling sacks of farm produce onto barges are the norm. And then there are the fishing boats, big and small, bobbing up and down as they seek their quarry and the commercial cargo vessels that tow impossibly long loads along the mighty, snaking river.
It is nothing less than a privilege, and so exciting, to see it all at close quarters.
What do you see? The most magnificent sight of the river waters shifting colour, from blue to turquoise to sandy to brown, lapping at the distant shore while all manner of fascinating boat traffic passes by. If it wasn’t for the vast and scrummy breakfast that awaits, you could lie here forever, transfixed.
Most cruises take in Mingun, home of the world’s largest ringing bell and the ancient kingdom of Ava (sometimes called Inwa); it’s also possible to go further up river, depending on the route taken. Voyages last between three and seven nights.
If you only do three things on a river cruise…
- Lie back on deck and from the comfort of your sumptuous lounger snap away at the amazing scenes unfolding in an endlessly fascinating procession.
- Whilst the boat is superb, don’t take the lazy option. Get out on the shore excursions and walk amongst the villages, golden stupas and smiling locals.
- Eat, eat, eat! The food onboard is amongst the best we have eaten in Myanmar, with both high quality Burmese food prepared with the finest ingredients and Western dishes cooked to perfection by talented international chefs.
Luxury onboard lifestyle
Imagine waking up in your air-conditioned cabin, in your king-sized bed, being served tea by your butler and having your curtain drawn back.
Unlike accommodation in Burma generally, which tends to be limited, with river cruises you’ll be spoilt for choice and types of ship available. There are options to suit all budgets but nowhere is the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ more apt.
Burma is fortunate to have two exceptional companies, Belmond and The Strand Cruise, vying for the top spot each operating luxurious boats where your every need is anticipated and your every whim is attended to. There are other quality options too which we can wholeheartedly recommend.
Thoughts on a postcard
We had feared that the words luxury and Burma weren’t synonymous but being on the Irrawaddy has changed all of that.
OUR FAVOURITE PLACESYangon / Bagan / Inle Lake / Mandalay / River Cruises / Ngapali Beach / Kalaw / Pyin Oo Lwin /
River Cruises : The map
Our Escapologists only recommend hand-picked, delectable properties we have sampled and savoured ourselves. We judge all our hotels by their excellence, the sheer hedonistic pleasures they have to offer. And we reject a lot that don’t meet our exacting standards.
Some of our selections are classics, with reputations recognised the world over. Others are discoveries: boutique havens where hospitality, relaxation and fine cuisine have been distilled into a rare art form. You’ll find a few options for the budget conscious too, where Yonder’s principles are still to the fore. And for those who just need an airport stopover on their way to paradise, there’s one or two convenience choices, too.
We provide in-depth descriptions of every property, based upon our own experiences there, along with our unique Yonder rating and icons that will give you further insights into what’s on offer. We even tell you the types of clientele you might soon be rubbing shoulders with!
Now that’s choosing a hotel Yonder style!
Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations.
Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are. But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore h
Chat to your dedicated Escapologist about the latest offers available.