8-Day Irrawaddy River Cruise
This 8-Day / 7-night journey takes you downstream on the Irrawaddy River of Myanmar (Burma). From the teak-wood bridge of Amarapura, 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 Myanmar Heritage Cruise you will visit Mandalay, Mingun, Amarapura, Sagaing, Ava (Inwa), Monywa, Yandabo, Shwe Pyi Thar, Bagan, Mount Popa, and Bagan.
Below is a "downstream" cruise program. The Myanmar Heritage Cruise operates a reverse 8-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: Mandalay - Mingun
12:00 PM: EMBARKATION FROM MANDALAY
Board the Ship at Gawein Jetty, welcome cocktail and lunch.
PM: Sail upstream to Mingun. 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. Overnight at Mandalay.
DAY 2: Mandalay - Amarapura
AM: Visit central Mandalay: Mandalay Hill where spiraling staircases lead to sweeping views of the city and its temples and the nearby Kuthodaw Paya, which contains the world's biggest book, and Shwe Nandaw Kyaung(Golden Monastery),then visit to the Workshops of gold leave making, Tapestry making, Woodcarving. Back to the ship for lunch.
PM: In the afternoon we visit to Mahamuni Pagoda and marble carving – near by Pagoda. then Amarapura, the penultimate Burmese Royal Capital (1783) to visit a traditional silk weaving workshop followed by U-Bein Bridge, the world’s longest wooden bridge (1.2 km) and enjoy the sunset there.Dinner on board. Overnight on board at Sagaing.
DAY 3: Sagaing - Ava
AM: Visit Sagaing, a hill studded with many Pagodas and Monasteries rich in wood carving and religious art.
PM: In the afternoon, we visit the ancient city of Ava,capital of the Burmese Kingdom from 1364 to 1841 by horse-cart visiting the beautiful 200 year old teak Bagaya Kyaung Monastery, Nanmyin watchtower (27mt. high) and the Me Nu Ok Kyaung monastery. Dinner on board. Overnight near a river village.
DAY 4: Monywa
Early morning drive by coach (approx. 2 ½ hours) to Monywa to visit the Hpowindaung cave, where hundreds of Buddha Statues are placed inside niches decorated with wonderful mural paintings dated back to the .Serve Lunch at local restaurant in Win Unity Hotel in Monywa. After lunch we visit the splendid Sambuddhai Kat Kyaw pagoda with its more than 500,000 Buddha images. Drive to Myin Mu jetty (approx. 1 ½ hours) where we will rejoin the ship.
Dinner on board. Overnight on board near Myin Mu.
DAY 5: Yandabo
AM: In the morning we arrive at Yandabo, a picturesque village that specializes in Pot-Making, where the peace treaty of the First Anglo-Burmese war signed on Feb. 24,1826. We go ashore for a walk stopping at some pot-making workshops and to visit the monastery. Sail downstream stream. Lunch on board.
PM: River Village performance sundeck. Moor overnight mid-river.
DAY 6: Salay - Bagan
AM: In the late 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. Back to the ship for Lunch.
PM: After lunch, we visit 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. Then visit a workshop to see the ancient technique of lacquer ware making.
Dinner and moor overnight at Bagan.
DAY 7: Bagan
AM: This morning 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 ShweZigon Pagoda construction during the reign of King Anawrahta and a Buddhist religious place, is believed to enshrine a bone and tooth of Gautama Buddha. Next explore some of Bagan’s local markets selling wood carvings, fabric, longyis and rattan product. Then stop by Thatbyinnyu Pagoda for photo shoot on the way back to ship for Lunch.
Optional: In the very early morning before breakfast Balloon Flight over Bagan (surcharge applied)
PM: After lunch, visit 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. Then 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. After that we stop by Dhammayan Gyi Pagoda for photo shoot. For our final stop of the day we proceed to the Bagan Viewing Hillwhere we will view the sunset over the pagodas and stupas of Bagan before returning to the ship.
DAY 8: Bagan
9:00 AM: DISEMBARKATION IN BAGAN
Morning disembark at Koe Lone Ye Kin Jetty around 9:00 am.
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).