Cruises on the Irrawaddy River
Taking to the water on a river cruise is one of the most rewarding and hassle-free ways of seeing Myanmar in all its magical glory. Rainforest Cruises offer several different water-based tours of varying lengths and styles covering many of the not-to-be-missed attractions that should be included in any Burmese adventure. Whether you’re eager to explore ancient architectural wonders and stunning pagodas, marvel at stunning natural landscapes and unique wildlife, or dive headfirst into the incredible local culture, food and hospitality, an Irrawaddy river cruise offers the ideal way to make the most of everything this incredible country has to offer.
Irrawaddy River Cruises
1. Irrawaddy Explorer: 10-Day Cruise
Embark on an epic adventure along the magnificent Irrawaddy River, traveling either upstream or downstream between the bustling hub of Mandalay in the north and the pilgrimage sites at Prome (Pyay) further south. En route, you’ll have the chance to visit many of Myanmar’s most renowned historical and religious treasures. In addition to the major attractions, enjoy your time simply relaxing onboard the vessel, admiring the beautiful riverbank vistas, meeting the locals and enjoying delicious Burmese cuisine.
Begin your journey in Mandalay, with tours of several beautiful pagodas and enjoy stunning views over the landscape from the top of Mandalay Hill. Admire the centuries-old teak Bagaya Kyaung Monastery at Ava, before making your way downstream to the picturesque community of Yandabo and its amazing terracotta pottery. The 2,000 temples that make up Bagan are a definite highlight of any trip to Myanmar, as is the strikingly well-preserved colonial architecture found in places such as Salay. Finish your adventure with a tour of the mesmerising Shwesandaw Pagoda complex at Prome, one of the most notable Buddhist sites in the country.
Destinations visited: Mandalay, Mingun, Amarapura, Ava (Inwa), Monywa, Yandabo, Shwe Pyi Thar, Bagan, Tan Kyi Mountain, Salay, Magwe, Thayet Myo, and Prome (Pyay).
2. Paukan 2012: 6-Day Cruise
Those with less time on their hands can still get around Myanmar’s star attractions thanks to this shorter six day cruise. Start your trip in Mandalay with a tour of the city’s most prominent sites, along with a visit to neighbouring Amarapura, home to the world’s longest and oldest teak bridge. Visit Monywa and marvel at its extensive cave complex harbouring hundreds of Buddha statues and colourful murals. Journey downstream to the historic terra-cotta potters’ village of Yandabo before spending time exploring typical river communities on foot at Shwe Pyi Thar. The cruise terminates at Bagan, home to many of Myanmar’s most stunning and significant religious temples.
Destinations visited: Mandalay, Mingun, Ava (Inwa), Amarapura, Monywa, Yandabo, Shwe Pyi Thar, and Bagan.
Starting once again in Mandalay, this whirlwind cruise focuses on the upper portion of the Irrawaddy. Journey to the historic settlement of Kyauk Myaung and admire the impressive pottery making activities of the local people. Explore the ancient archaeological sites at Tagaung before sailing towards the spectacular Second defile, the largest gorge on the Irrawaddy. Unwind in the charming colonial town of Katha with its beautiful architecture, atmospheric old streets and colourful markets. This is a round trip itinerary, and after visiting the “unfinished pagoda” at Mingun, the ship will return to Mandalay for disembarkation.
Destinations visited: Mandalay, Myauk Myuang, Tagaung, the Second Defile, Katha, and Mingun.
On Road to Mandalay's 5-Day journey, start your river adventure in Bagan, and tour Ananda, one of the most magnificent temples in the country. Take a hot air balloon ride over Bagan at sunrise for a once in a lifetime experience. Tour Myin Mu, a charming riverside town just 30 miles south of Mandalay. Highlights include visits to a bustling market, a traditional Burmese slipper producer and a family of bamboo weavers. Set off to the picturesque farming village of Alacapa. Walk around the town and get a rare insight into local life. The villagers grow a variety of crops here, including corn, sesame, chilli peppers and fava beans.
In Mandalay, visit the UNESCO-listed Kuthodaw Pagoda and the wooden monastery of Shwenandaw. Afterwards you’ll pass through the streets of the marble quarter and visit a family of bronze casters. Continuing on you’ll encounter the famous U Bein Bridge and the Sagaing Hills, where you have a rare opportunity to visit a nunnery. Alternatively head off to discover Monywa, a town on the Chindwin River that is often missed by tourists. This remote area is home to the world’s tallest standing Buddha statue. You will also explore the brightly-coloured Thanbuddhay temple and visit a small thanaka market.
Destinations visited: Bagan, Myin Mu, Mandalay, Alacapa, Mandalay, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Shwenandaw, U Bein Bridge, Monywa
While cruising through Myanmar's most important waterways, the Chindwin and Irrawaddy River, enjoy snapshots of life through your panoramic windows. Once you get off the ship, be prepared to witness the beauty of Myanmar (Burma) up close. Get to know the shimmering temples and walk along unexplored tracks to remote regions. Get ready to taste freshly prepared food, visit hilltop villages and find the perfect souvenir in the country's bustling markets. The Orcaella cruise is both adventurous and leisurely.
Destinations visited: Mandalay, Monywa, Moktaw, Maukkadaw, Mawleik, Homalin, Kyidaung, Mingin, Kani, Bagan and Mawleik
Whichever option you end up choosing, cruising the Irrawaddy river offers the perfect means to venture into the very heart of the beautiful Burmese interior, and in ultimate style, comfort and safety. Rainforest Cruises offer different boats, ranging from luxury to comfort level that encompass the whole range of tours above. Contact Us for more information about cruises on the Irrawaddy River or call 1-888-215-3555. You may also find our Myanmar Travel Guides helpful while planning your trip.