8-Day / 7-Night Orcaella Myanmar Cruise: Bagan to Yangon
Explore the majestic sights of the Irrawaddy River, beginning with the breathtaking ancient city of Bagan and including vibrant local markets, sleepy villages and the country’s only bespectacled Buddha.
Visit gilded pagodas and bustling markets as you cruise the Irrawaddy river in supreme luxury on board Belmond Orcaella cruise. This 8-day journey takes you down from the ancient city of Bagan to Yangon. From the Buddhist pilgrimage sites at Prome (Pyay), to the over 2,000 ancient pagodas of Bagan, the Irrawaddy river, its people, and their culture continue to thrive.
Aboard the Orcaella cruise you will have guided tours of Bagan, Salay, Magwe, Gwechaung, Sri Ksetra, Zalon, Danuphyu and Yangon. An idea way to tour this emerging destination is by river cruise, as it allows you to get a closer look at life on the river, just as it was centuries ago. 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 – Bagan
Please be at the jetty in Taung Be village between 10.00 and 11.00.
￼Once on board please proceed to the Observation Deck to meet our Cruise Manager and listen to a short ￼safety briefing and introduction to the ship’s facilities.
After a delicious buffet lunch, disembark for an afternoon excursion. Bagan has been one of the main visitor attractions in Myanmar for many years, ranking alongside Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Borobudur on Java as the greatest monuments in Southeast Asia. As many as 2,000 temples dot the plain beside the Ayeyarwady River, most of which were built around 800 years ago.
You will visit two of Bagan’s most significant pagodas, Sulamani and Ananda Temple. 12th-century Sulamani is known as the “Crowning Jewel” and is renowned for its fine brickwork and decorative features. Ananda, built in 1090, contains four gilded Buddha statues, each standing 30ft tall. You will also visit a workshop to observe Bagan's famous lacquerware being crafted.
As daylight starts to fade you gather to watch the sunset over plains peppered with hundreds of ancient pagodas before participating in an exclusive Belmond experience—an intimate candle-lighting ceremony at a small temple close to the jetty.
The evening brings an opportunity to mingle with fellow guests, the Captain and ship’s officers at a cocktail party on the Observation Deck. Dinner follows in the elegant Restaurant, where an enticing selection of gourmet Asian and Western dishes is offered by our Executive Chef. House wines are included, or you might prefer to choose a label from the extensive international collection in our Wine Room.
Belmond Orcaella moors overnight in Bagan.
Day 2 – Bagan & Salay
Early risers may wish to enjoy a refreshing drink from the Healthy Juice Bar on the Observation Deck. An extensive breakfast buffet with à la carte menu is served in the Restaurant, or you can order room service.
During the cruise a variety of activities are available, including morning yoga and meditation and evening tai chi and kickboxing. A daily schedule is provided in your cabin.
Today offers the chance to experience one of the magical highlights of Bagan—a sunrise hot-air balloon flight over the pagodas (operates October-March, advance reservations essential, supplement applies). Participants will leave the ship before sunrise and return at around 08.00-08.30. Coffee and tea are served at the launch site, followed by a light champagne breakfast after landing.
After this, there is a choice of excursions:
The first is to enjoy a leisurely horse and cart ride around Old Bagan’s many ancient temples and pagodas, with ample opportunity for photographs.
For the energetic there is the option to explore the monuments independently by mountain bike (a map will be provided). This is suitable for advanced beginners and above, and riders should expect a variety of road surfaces, including dirt and sand tracks and paved roads with other vehicles. On request, e-bikes can also be rented or private guides arranged for a guided bike tour. Please enquire at Reception a day in advance regarding rates and reservations.
A third option is to take yourself on a morning stroll around Taung Be, the small village where our jetty is located. The cool of the morning is a time of much activity, when villagers can be seen going about their business. Belmond’s free clinic is open and bustling with patients, many of whom have travelled great distances to receive health care from our Belmond doctors and volunteers.
Return to the ship and set sail mid-morning for Salay. Disembark after lunch for an afternoon walking tour, visiting the beautiful teak monastery, Yout-Saun-Kyaung, a fine example of monastic architecture of the late Konbaung period. Local trucks take you on an adventurous ride back to the ship.
As Belmond Orcaella sails for Magwe, relax with afternoon tea before enjoying a talk by one of our expert guides on Myanmar Ways of Life.
This evening you will be royally entertained on the Observation Deck with a classical puppet show. Historically these shows were performed at court and usually depicted stories from the early life of the Buddha, but they were also used as a way of conveying secret messages to the king.
Day 3 – Magwe and Gwechaung
This morning you will discover the town of Magwe by tuk-tuk, first stopping at the vibrant local market, then heading to the splendid gilded Myathalon Pagoda, where you have the opportunity to give an offering to your personal planetary post according to the day of the week on which you were born. Learn about Myanmar astrology, an important aspect of local culture and belief, and the significance of spirit animals.
After returning to the ship, you are invited to join a Monk Blessing Ceremony on board before we set sail.
Disembark for a late-afternoon excursion to the hilltop fort at Gwechaung. This fort was one of the strongholds built by Italian architects for the Burmese king in 1860 to keep the British at bay. Journey by ox cart across fields and farmlands for a glimpse of rural life and enjoy panoramic views across the Ayeyarwady River to the Min Hla Fort, site of a great battle during the third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885. Those feeling active may join one of our guides on a hike to or from the fort.
Tonight’s dinner will be specialities from the grill, either under the stars on the Observation Deck or on a sandbank of the river (weather and water level permitting).
Day 4 – Pyay and Sri Ksetra
A leisurely morning of sailing begins with a yoga session on the Observation Deck and a talk on Myanmar: Past, Present and Future from one of our guides. Perhaps indulge in a treatment at the spa or relax by the pool on the Sun Deck.
This afternoon we arrive in Pyay, once a booming trade town in the days of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company and still an important transit point. You will visit the historic train station, built to support the country’s first railway line from Yangon to Pyay in 1877, before proceeding to the ancient city of Sri Ksetra ("Fabulous City"), one of three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Myanmar, with its unique, cylindrical- shaped stone stupas.
Return to the ship to relax and freshen up. In the evening a night market comes alive near the docks and our mooring location. Our guides are available for anyone wishing to wander round the food stalls and soak up the ambience.
After dinner on board it’s movie night in the Lounge & Bar. Today we are showing “The Lady”, the fascinating story of Aung San Suu Kyi, as Chef serves fresh popcorn and homemade ice cream.
Day 5 – Local Village and Akauk Taung
After an early-morning sail, Belmond Orcaella moors along the riverbank by a small, rarely visited rural village. Alight for a morning walk to experience lifestyles unchanged for centuries. Our resident doctor will be donating stationary to the schoolchildren and you are welcome to participate.
Spend the rest of the day relaxing on board and absorbing the beautiful scenery. You will pass the site of Akauk Taung (“Tax Mountain”), where steep cliffs have been carved with hundreds of Buddha images and merchants once stopped to pay tolls.
Later our team will give a demonstration on how to tie a longyi, the Myanmar sarong worn by both men and women, and prepare thanaka, a paste that serves as both decorative make-up and protection from the sun. You may also wish to join our staff for a tai chi or kickboxing session by the pool.
This evening you are invited to dress in your longyi for a special cocktail party on the Observation Deck before dinner.
Day 6 – Zalon and Danuphyu
We make a brief stop in Zalon, where you will travel like a local aboard a “Chinese Buffalo” truck through the town. Zalon is renowned for its bamboo weaving and you will have chance to walk around the local market.
During lunch we continue sailing south, and in the afternoon you disembark for a trishaw tour of the small town of Danuphyu, where the revered General Maha Bandula led a Burmese defensive against the British troops during the Anglo-Burmese war. Visit his memorial at Pali University (a Buddhist monastery), followed by a small cottage industry producing cheroots (cigars), before trying the local sweet tea and snacks in a teashop.
If you are feeling particularly energetic, you are welcome to pedal your own trishaw and take your driver on a trip around town!
Return to Belmond Orcaella in the early evening and enjoy dinner on board.
Day 7 – Twante Canal and Yangon
Today Belmond Orcaella begins the approach to Yangon. In the morning our onboard doctor will give a presentation on the healthcare system in Myanmar and Belmond’s Social Contribution Projects. These include pop-up health clinics, constructing schools and providing clean water and solar panels in villages we visit along the rivers of Myanmar.
Later you may wish to join our Chief Engineer for a tour of the ship, including the engine room and bridge.
Mid-morning the landscape changes as we pass through the Twante Canal, whose banks are dotted with small villages and farms. The canal, which connects the Yangon and Ayeyarwady Rivers, was constructed in 1883 during British colonial rule for use by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. Today it remains a major thoroughfare for cargo ships and local boats travelling from Yangon to the delta region and Upper Myanmar.
Arrive in Yangon just after lunch. The afternoon excursion begins with a tour of the incredible heritage architecture in downtown Yangon, including the grand buildings along Pansodan Road. You will also visit Chinatown and have time for some last-minute shopping and browsing at Bogyoke “Scott” Market. This is Yangon's largest market, popular with local Yangonites, with thousands of stalls piled high with everything from food to longyi, ethnic weavings, art, antiques and precious gems.
For those who would prefer an independent tour in Yangon, a private guide and driver can be arranged in advance at Reception.
Tonight you enjoy a delightful cocktail party on board with spectacular entertainment, followed by Chef’s farewell dinner in the Restaurant.
Day 8 – Yangon
An early-bird breakfast is served before you disembark from Belmond Orcaella for your onward travel arrangements. Final disembarkation time from the ship is 10.00.
Please speak with Reception should you wish to have a day-use room arranged at a hotel or additional touring services in Yangon during your layover.
We wish you a very pleasant onward journey.
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).