7-Day Irrawaddy Explorer Cruise
Bagan - Mandalay
This 7-Day / 6-night journey takes you upstream on the Irrawaddy River of Myanmar (Burma). From the over 2,000 ancient pagodas of Bagan, to the historic terra-cotta potters' village of Yandabo, the Irrawaddy river, its people, and on to Mandalay. Aboard the Irrawaddy Explorer Cruise you will visit Mandalay, Mingun, Amarapura, Ava (Inwa), Monywa, Yandabo, Shwe Pyi Thar, Bagan, Tan Kyi Mountain, andSalay.
Below is a "upstream" cruise program. The Irrawaddy Explorer operates a reverse 7-Day program "downstream" 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: Salay - Bagan
10:30 AM: EMBARKATION FROM SALAY
Board the ship in Salay as we welcome you with a cocktail. And lunch will be followed before afternoon excursion time in Bagan.
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.
DAY 2: 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: 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 3: Bagan - Hnaw Kone
AM: 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: 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.
Additional Tea Leaf and Ginger Salad Demonstration (2:00PM-3:00PM)
DAY 4: Yandabo
AM: 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 5: Ava - Sagaing - Amarapura
AM: 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 Hsemeepagoda 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: 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 6: Mingun - Mandalay
AM: 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: 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 7 : Mandalay
8:00 AM: DISEMBARKATION IN MANDALAY
After your breakfast, disembark at Gawein Jetty.
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).