10-Day / 9-Night Irrawaddy Explorer Cruise
Yangon to Mandalay
This 10-Day / 9-night journey takes you upstream on the Irrawaddy River of Myanmar (Burma). From the Buddhist pilgrimage sites at Prome (Pyay), to the over 2,000 ancient pagodas of Bagan, to the historic terra-cotta potters' village of Yandabo, the Irrawaddy river, its people, and their culture continue to thrive. Aboard the Irrawaddy Explorer Cruise you will visit Mandalay, Mingun, Amarapura, Ava (Inwa), Monywa, Yandabo, Shwe Pyi Thar, Bagan, Tan Kyi Mountain, Salay, Magwe, Thayet Myo, and Prome (Pyay).
Below is a "upstream" cruise program. The Irrawaddy Explorer operates a reverse 10-Day program "upstream" as well depending on the date of travel. All touring is done with local, English speaking professional guides. Wireless headsets are available for listening to your local guide while seeing the sites of Myanmar (Burma) by way of the Irrawaddy River. All meals are included as indicated in the program below. Daily excursions typically run from one to two hours long or as half day excursions.
The itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, and accessibility to locations, so touring may vary.
DAY 1: Yangon - Prome
EMBARKATION FROM YANGON
Ship transfer meeting point: Sule Shangri-La. Guests will enjoy a scenic drive from Yangon to Prome. TRANSFER: Transfer from hotel in Yangon to Prome will be provided. Pls take note that it takes approximately 7 hrs drive from Yangon to Prome (7:00 AM - 2:00 PM). Departure from Sule Shangrila Hotel Yangon is 7:00 am. Please arrive 30 minutes prior to departure in order to check in with our representative.
PM: Prome and Sri Ksetra Once controlled by the Mon tribe during the Bagan Era, and then conquered by the Burmese King Alaungpaya in 1754, Prome (known as Pyay to the locals) boomed along with the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1890s and is now an important trading post for goods traveling between northern and southern Myanmar. This afternoon we drive to Thayekhittaya (also known as Sri Ksetra, the “Fabulous City” in the Pali language), an ancient Pyu city that ruled in this area between the 5th and the 9th centuries. We visit the well-documented Sri Ksetra Museum, full of excellent maps and artifacts including Hindu deities, Buddha images from as far back as the 6th century, Pyu beads, and silver coins.
Welcome Reception and Safety Briefing (6:30PM-7:30PM)
DAY 2: Thayet
AM: Thayet Myo This morning we put you on Tuk-Tuk to visit the charming town of Thayet Myo, stopping at the oldest golf course of Myanmar with a fascinating history (guests may hit from the first tee). We then visit the local market, passing colonial homes constructed during the British colonization of Burma before returning to the ship for an afternoon of scenic cruising.
PM: Enjoy sailing the whole afternoon with BBC Documentary “The Life of the Buddha”
BBC Documentary “The Life of the Buddha” (3:30PM-4:30PM)
DAY 3: Magwe
AM: Magwe by Trishaw This morning we venture out into the district capitol city of Magwe aboard Trishaws (three wheeled bicycle where one person sits alongside the driver). A short walk takes us to the local market. After some time to explore and shop at the market we board our trishaws for a ride through the city to visit Mya Tha Lun pagoda. Mya Tha Lun is a beautifully gilded stupa set atop Naguttama Hill which offers a wonderful view of the river and surrounding area.
Longyi and Thanaka Demonstration (3:30PM-4:30PM)
DAY 4: Salay - Bagan
AM: Salay Walking Tour This morning we walk ashore at Salay, a small town founded in the 13th century with Bagan-era shrines, beautiful 19th century teak monasteries and preserved British colonial buildings. We explore the Salay House, a restored 1906 colonial trading company warehouse on the bank of the Irrawaddy. Our walk takes us along the town’s main Strand Street towards the local market before turning away from the river to visit the beautiful Yoke Soun Kyaung Taw Gyi wooden monastery. This ornately carved teak monastery was designed as a copy of the Crown Prince House of Mandalay, and is now a museum boasting remarkable wood carvings and artifacts. We pass some interesting Bagan-era monuments on our way to visit Mann Paya, a pagoda with a beautiful lacquerware Buddha, before returning to our ship with a stroll past some of Salay’s many beautiful colonial buildings.
PM: Temples of Bagan This afternoon our excursion takes us to one of the most incredible areas of Myanmar: Bagan. Once the center of the Pagan Empire, Bagan today is a tourist, artist, and archeological mecca. We will start the tour with the massive Htilominlo, built by King Htilominlo on the site where he was chosen from the five sons of King Nadaungmya to be the crown prince of Pagan. While the murals that once decorated much of the inside of this temple have only survived on the ceilings, Htilominlo boasts the finest plaster carvings which still remain undamaged on the arch pediments. A visit to Bagan would not be complete without exploring one of the most famous temples of Bagan, Ananda. Built in 1105 CE during King Kyanzittha’s reign, it is one of only four surviving temples from this period. We will explore the cruciform of the temple, with four standing Buddhas facing north, south, east, and west.
Traditional Myanmar Puppet Show (9:00PM-10:00PM)
DAY 5: Bagan
AM: Bagan viewing tower and Oxcarts ride This morning we take you to Bagan viewing tower to see the scenic view of Bagan. After that we will climbing aboard traditional, ceremonial oxcarts for a short ride through the temples of Bagan.
PM: The Art and Sunset Over Bagan After lunch, we visit a local workshop where the traditional methods of creating lacquerware (known as yun-de in Burmese) are still practiced. After a demonstration of the labor-intensive process required in making each piece, we have time to shop before continuing on our tour. A short coach ride takes us to Gubyaukgyi Temple (Great Painted Cave Temple), where the richly-colored paintings are thought to date to the original construction period in the early 12th century and we will also see a sand painting demonstration by a local artist. Next to this temple is the gilded Myazedi Stupa, which offers both a linguistic and a historical significance: an inscription consecrating Gubyaukgyi in four languages (Pyu, Mon, Old Burmese, and Pali), which established Pyu as an important cultural influence in the early Pagan period. For our final stop of the day we proceed to the Bagan Viewing Hill where we will view the sunset over the pagodas and stupas of Bagan before returning to the ship.
DAY 6: Bagan - Hnaw Kone
AM: Markets and Temples of Bagan This morning, we transfer by motor coach to Bagan’s largest open market, where fresh produce, meats, spices, woodcarvings, longyis, thanaka, and rattan products are sold every day. We have the opportunity to watch the negotiations and transactions taking place, and if we are lucky, see one of the local women carrying their purchases on their heads. After our walk through the market, we proceed to the gilded Shwezigon Pagoda. This important religious site dates to the reign of King Anawrahta, founder of the Bagan Empire. The construction of this complex spanned both King Anawrahta’s lifetime, as well as his son and successor King Kyanzittha’s lifetime. The golden stupa at its center is said to contain a bone and tooth relic of the Buddha, a gold image of Anawrahta and a Chinese emerald Buddha. After exploring this large temple complex we will say goodbye to the temples of Bagan as our coach returns us to the ship and we set sail.
PM: Hnaw Kone Walking Tour This afternoon we sail to the village of Hnaw Kone, and enjoy our second leisurely walk of the day. Hnaw Kone is a typical, rural, river village, with friendly residents and adorable children. During our exploration of the village we will stop to see the local handicraft of bamboo cane basket weaving. We will watch the villagers as they expertly split bamboo and skillfully weave the strands into baskets or larger panels for building homes.
Tea Leaf and Ginger Salad Demonstration (2:00PM-3:00PM)
DAY 7: Yandabo
AM: Yandabo Walking Tour On 24 February 1826, the peace treaty of the first Anglo-Burmese War was signed at Yandabo. Today, it is a picturesque village famous for its pottery. As we take a leisurely walk through the village, we have the opportunity to stop at the various family homes and workshops, each with its own unique style and markings, to witness the making and firing of the Yandabo pottery, famous throughout Myanmar.
Lecture “Myanmar: Past and Today” (3:30PM-4:30PM) Burmese Karaoke Party (5:30PM-7:00PM)
DAY 8: Ava - Sagaing - Amarapura
AM: AVA and Sagaing. This morning we will explore the town of Ava by horsecart, visiting the beautiful 200 year old teak Bagaya Kyaung Monastery, Nanmyin watchtower (27mt. high) and the Yadana Hsemee pagoda complex. After visiting AVA, we continue to visit Sagaing by coach, an important religious site with countless pagodas dotting the surrounding hillsides. Here, stop to see Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda at the top of Sagaing Hill for stunning views of the Irrawaddy and across to Mandalay. Next continue onto a Nunnery to witness life in a local nunnery.
PM: Amarapura After Lunch, we travel by coach to the penultimate Burmese royal capital of Amarapura to visit a silk workshop before driving to U-Bein Bridge, believed to be the world’s longest and oldest teakwood bridge. Local sampans wait to take us on a leisurely cruise of the lake while admiring the sunset over the bridge.
Myanmar Traditional Dance Performance (9:00PM-10:00PM)
DAY 9: Mingun - Mandalay
AM: Mingun Walking Tour After breakfast we will enjoy a leisurely walking tour of the small town of Mingun. Our first stop is King Bodawpaya’s monumental, uncompleted stupa. During construction, an astrologer to the king argued that the king would die upon completion of the temple, and work was immediately halted. Had it been completed, it would have been the largest in the world. The cracks we see are the result of the 23 March 1839 earthquake that shook the area. We continue our walk to the Mingun Bell, which was the heaviest working bell in the world until 2000 when the Bell of Good Luck was unveiled in Henan, China. After having the opportunity to stand inside the bell as it is rung, we have time to shop in the local market, famous for its makeshift galleries that display inexpensive art from both local and internationally known artists.
PM: Mandalay Enjoy a afternoon tour Mandalay. We visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda, which contains the world's biggest book, as well as the Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung Monastery, the only original monastery left from the royal era. Then we proceed a workshop that produces the gold leaf commonly used to adorn Buddha images at temples throughout Myanmar, and the Mahamuni Pagoda, to see how the gold leaf is used.
Farewell Reception and Crew Farewell (6:30PM-7:30PM)
DAY 10: Mandalay
8:00 AM: DISEMBARKATION IN MANDALAY
After your breakfast, disembark at Gawein Jetty, Mandalay.
NOTICE: The cruise schedule includes the latest information regarding your program, but last minute adjustments may occur. The schedule may shift due to the weather, site closure, or unexpected circumstances beyond our control. The exact time for each activity will be announced or posted by the on-board tour staff. The touring is active, so all participants should be in good health. Due to the rural location, handicapped accessibility is not available in Myanmar (Burma).