13-Day / 12-Night Cruise: Mandalay - Chindwin River - Bagan
This leisurely cruise follows the Chindwin River through rugged and dramatic scenery, stopping at rural villages and remote monasteries. Discover an exciting part of Myanmar that very few have experienced.
Spend 13 days exploring the history and beauty of the Chindwin river as you sail past golden temples, quaint villages and sacred mountains. This itinerary is a great mix of adventure and leisure. Explore Myanmar while having plenty of time to relax onboard.
Aboard the Orcaella cruise you will have guided tours of Mandalay, Monywa, Moktaw, Maukkadaw, Mawleik, Homalin, Kyidaung, Mingin, Kani and Bagan. The beauty of ancient temples, surrounding landscapes and smiling people will surely amaze you.
The itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, and accessibility to locations, so touring may vary.
Day 1 – Mandalay & Sailing
"Mingalarba"-welcome! Our crew will escort you to your cabin and give you a brief introduction to the facilities. Please check-in before 11.30 am. At 12:00 Belmond Orcaella sets sail.
Between 12:00 and 14:00 a delicious buffet lunch is served in the Restaurant on the Upper Deck. Look around to admire the picturesque views as the ship passes the Sagaing hills, dotted with pagodas and monasteries.
In the afternoon please come to the Lounge Bar, located on the Observation Deck, for a welcome briefing and afternoon tea. Hotel Manager Win Min will talk to you about life on board and safety. At around 17:30 we will pass through the confluence between the Ayeyarwady and Chindwin Rivers.
Celebrate your first evening on board at a welcome cocktail party on the Observation Deck at 18:30. Then, from 19:00, make your way to the Restaurant on the Upper Deck for your first enticing dinner prepared by Chef Bansani and her team, promising a delicious choice of local specialities and fusion delicacies.
Day 2 – Sailing & Monywa
Breakfast is served between 07:00 and 09:00, either in the Restaurant on the Upper Deck or in your cabin, depending on preference. Later in the morning make yourself comfortable in the Lounge Bar to enjoy a talk on aspects of Burmese life from your guide.
As the ship continues sailing towards Monywa, a buffet lunch is served in the Restaurant between 12:00 and 13:30.
At 13:30 you disembark for a short journey by fast boat to Monywa town. Here a bus takes you to Boddhi Tataung, the site of the magnificent 424 ft standing Buddha, one of the largest in the world. We will continue with a tour of the enchantingly colourful Thanboddhay Pagoda, a 12th-century temple whose many walls are bedecked with tiny Buddha images. Return to the ship at 17:00.
Dinner is served in the Restaurant from 19:00 and the ship drops anchor near Aitaung for the night.
Day 3 – Mokehtaw & Sailing
Enjoy breakfast either in the Restaurant or your cabin from 06:30 to 08:30. At 08:30 a fast boat takes you on the short journey to Mokehtaw, a traditional rural village. Alight for a walking tour and a visit to the monastery, where you will witness a Buddhist noviciation ceremony, a very important moment for young Burmese boys. It is believed to bring great honour to the family. Return to Belmond Orcaella at 10:00.
Lunch is served in the Restaurant between 12:00 and 14:00, and at 15:30 an elegant afternoon tea is available in the Lounge Bar. At 16:00 you are warmly invited to attend and participate in a "longyi" (Myanmar traditional dress) and "thanaka" (local make-up) demonstration on the Observation Deck.
Wear your new Burmese garment with pride at our vibrant Longyi Cocktail Party commencing at 18.30. Following dinner, served in the Restaurant from 19:00 onwards, make sure to be on deck for a surprise on the river (weather permitting) at 21:30. The ship stops for the night near Maukkadaw.
Day 4 – Maukkadaw & Sailing
For early birds, tea, coffee and pastries are served in the Lounge Bar from 06:00 to 07:00. At 07:00 a short boat transfer takes you to the village of Maukkadaw, a well-known teak port. You will notice many traditional houses built from the attractive, tropical hardwood and visit the local school to see books and stationary donated to the students. Return to the ship at 08:30 and set sail for Kalewa.
From 10:30 to 13:00 brunch is served in the Restaurant and at 16:00 an indulgent afternoon tea is available in the Lounge Bar.
After dinner, served from 19:00 in the Restaurant, take your place on the Observation Deck for a dazzling local dance performance (weather permitting) at 21:30. Belmond Orcaella drops anchor near Kalewa.
Day 5 – Kalewa & Mawleik
Breakfast is served in the Restaurant or in your cabin between 07:00 and 09:00.
At 08:00 board a fast boat to Kalewa, the trade gateway to India, for a walking tour. This interesting town boasts a lively market and many historic Baptist churches. Return on board at 09.30 and set sail towards Mawleik. A buffet lunch is served in the Restaurant between 12:00 and 14:00.
After afternoon tea in the Lounge Bar at 16:00, alight for a walking tour of lively Mawleik town at 16.30. You are free to explore this former administrative centre of the Bombay Burmah Trading Company at your leisure.
Tonight we have the pleasure of dining at one of the colonial buildings in Mawleik. Please be ready to leave at 18:45 for the 10-minute ride by local tuk tuk. Return to the ship at 21:00.
Day 6 – Mawleik & Sailing
After enjoying breakfast in the Restaurant or in your cabin, between 06:00 and 07:30, the morning excursion begins at 07:30. Board a local truck for a journey to a local elephant camp to see the tuskers in action. On the way back, you are taken on a tour of Mawleik's impressive historical buildings. Return to Belmond Orcaella and set sail for Sittaung at 09.30.
Buffet lunch is available in the Restaurant from 12:00 to 14:00 and afternoon tea in the Lounge Bar at 16:00. While savouring the elegant spread, enjoy an illuminating talk on Burmese culture and history.
From 19:00 dinner is served in the Restaurant, after which-weather permitting-you are invited to release colourful Shan balloons into the night sky, creating a magical, glowing spectacle (Observation Deck, 21:30).
Day 7 – Sittaung & Sailing
Today, after breakfast either in the Restaurant or in your cabin (available 06:30-09:00), a morning visit to Sittaung begins at 07:30. This small village is home to only 28 houses and around 200 people. On the way to the main pagoda, admire beautiful views of the brilliant green paddy fields. Sittaung was used as a shortcut to India by British troops withdrawing from Myanmar (then Burma). The road to India, the border of which is just 36 miles away, still exists. Return to the ship for 09:00 and set sail.
A buffet lunch is served in the Restaurant from 12:00 to 14:00.
During afternoon tea in the Lounge Bar, why not join your guide for an interesting discussion on aspects of Myanmar, including religion, culture, traditions and lifestyle.
Dinner is served in the Restaurant from 19:00. We drop anchor for the night at Naung San Kyin.
Day 8 – Homalin & Sailing
Breakfast is served in the Restaurant or in your cabin between 06:00 and 08:30. At 08:30 you embark on a tour of Homalin, strolling along the riverside and visiting the morning market. You are then driven to the Buddha Lotus Garden and the most famous pagoda in town, where you can soak up mesmerising views spanning the Chindwin River and the towering mountains that are home to the Naga tribes. Sample a variety of their dishes and drinks before returning to the ship at 11.30 and heading downstream.
A buffet lunch is served in the Restaurant from 12:00 to 14:00, with afternoon tea in the Lounge Bar at 16:00.
From 19:00 a delicious dinner can be enjoyed in the Restaurant. We anchor near Nan Maw Leik.
Day 9 – Sailing & Kyidaung
Breakfast is served in the Restaurant or in your cabin from 07:00 to 09:30. At 10:00 you can enhance your gastronomic knowledge and skills at a cooking demonstration hosted by Executive Chef Bansani on the Sundeck. Whet your appetite for your lunch, which is served in the Restaurant between 12:00 and 14:00.
At 16:30 you set off on a walking tour of Kyidaung, a very typical, quaint Burmese village, and Kyidaung Oo Monastery, the centre of village life for the last 300 years. Expect a warm welcome from the locals and a glimpse into their gentle, rural lifestyle. Return to the ship at 18:00.
Dinner is served from 19:00 in the Restaurant. The ship anchors overnight near Mingin.
Day 10 – Mingin & Kani
After breakfast, either in your cabin or in the Restaurant (06:00-07:00), alight at 07:00 for a morning walking tour of Mingin, an important town during the period of King Mindon. The tour includes a visit to the impressive Mahar Min Kyaung monastery, which has a style unlike any other in the country. Built in 1912, it boasts distinctly European architecture, including Italian glass windows. Rejoin the ship and set sail at 09.00.
Lunch is served in the Restaurant between 12:00 and 14:00. At 14:45 you disembark for a tour of Kani, famous for being the home of the "nat" spirit "Lord of the White Horse". Take a walk through the town to the site of the shrine and experience a genuine "nat pwe" ritual. Return to the ship and set sail at 16:30.
Dinner is served in the Restaurant from 19:00.
Day 11 – Bagan
Breakfast is served in the Restaurant or in your cabin from 07:00 to 09:30.
Lunch is served in the Restaurant between 12:00 and 14:00.
Disembark at 14:30 for a guided visit to the wondrous ancient sites of Bagan. Your excursion will include the temples Gubyaukgyi, Sulamani, Shwesandaw, and Ananda-one of the finest and best preserved examples, dating from 1100. You will also visit a lacquerware workshop to see the traditional craft in action, and witness an unforgettable sunset over the Bagan plain.
Dinner is served in the Restaurant from 19:00.
Day 12 – Bagan
Breakfast is served in the Restaurant between 07:00 and 09:00. At 08:30 there is another chance to explore Bagan, beginning with the vibrant market of Nyaung Oo and continuing with the major temples of Hti-Lo-Min-Lo and the revered Shwezigon Pagoda.
From 12:00-13:30 the tour pauses for lunch at a local Bagan restaurant. Then you have a choice of excursions. The first is a trip to sacred Mount Popa, the traditional home of the 37 "nats", or animist spirits, which have been worshipped in Myanmar since long before the arrival of Buddhism. The excursion includes a stop en route at a toddy palm plantation, where you can see the traditional methods still employed to produce jaggery, a palm sugar used in sweets and an alcoholic drink, which you may sample. You are requested not to wear red or black.
Alternatively, if you would rather spend more time exploring Bagan, you can hire a horse and cart with a driver to do some local sightseeing, or rent a bicycle and pedal off on your own private tour.
Return to the ship at 18:30 and prepare for your final evening on board, commencing with a farewell cocktail party on the Observation Deck and entertainment in the form of an elephant dance, and culminating in a splendid dinner in the Restaurant between 19:30 and 22:00.
Day 13 – Bagan
Breakfast is served in the Restaurant at 05:30. At 07:00 please disembark from Belmond Orcaella for your onward travel arrangements.
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, accessibility for those people with disabilities is very limited in Myanmar (Burma).