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Road to Mandalay Cruise: 4-Day Itinerary

Luxury – Myanmar

 
 

4-Day / 3-Night Road to Mandalay: Mandalay to Bagan

This shorter cruise packs a punch with visits to the most revered sites of Mandalay, the former royal city, and the awe-inspiring temples of Bagan. 

 

On this "Highlights of Myanmar" cruise itinerary, savour the sights of this mesmerising country as you sail along the spectacular Irrawaddy River.

The Belmond Road to Mandalay is the perfect luxury home from home as you soak up unforgettable sights and immerse yourself in Myanmar culture.

Note:

The itineraries below are dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, and accessibility to locations, so touring may vary. Please note that there are two itineraries, one for High Water season and one for Low Water season. The Low Water itinerary is expected to begin on 24th January 2018 through March, however it may be used from mid/end December at the discretion of the captain.


LOW WATER: January – March

Mandalay Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 – Mandalay, Amarapura, Sagaing, Myin Mu

During the early months of the year, the water levels of the Ayeyarwady River typically drop for a period of a few weeks to a few months, creating a narrower channel for navigation near Mandalay. During this time, Belmond Road to Mandalay moors at Myin Mu, a typical riverside town 30 miles south of Mandalay. This mooring location gives our guests a unique opportunity to experience some beautiful rural areas and less-visited sites in the countryside.

Check-in time for all guests is requested at 12.00 at the Mandalay city centre lunch location at Bistro 81. Alternatively, if you wish to join the morning city tour the meeting time and location will be advised closer to the date of travel. As another option, you may check-in at any time directly at the ship at Myin Mu. Our ship will be anchored mid-river and a small transfer boat can be arranged. In all cases, please let us know your check-in preference in advance.

After lunch, guests will have the following two options for the afternoon and your selection can be decided during lunch.

 

Option 1: Afternoon tour of Amarapura, U Bein Bridge and Sagaing Hills:
This option is for guests who wish to continue touring in the afternoon and experience the sites outside of Mandalay en route to Myin Mu.

Discover some of the Burmese Traditional Arts for which the city of Mandalay is famous. Pass through the streets of the marble quarter where artisans sculpt Buddhas of all sizes, and visit the outdoor workshop of a family of bronze casters to observe, first hand, the creation of statuesque Buddha images and ceremonial gongs.

As you continue the journey to Myin Mu, stop at the ancient capital of Amarapura where you will visit the famous U Bein Bridge, one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites. Also visit the Sagaing Hills, the spiritual centre of Myanmar and home to hundreds of pagodas and numerous monasteries, nunneries and Buddhist learning centres. You will visit one of these nunneries and enjoy the panoramic views from the high vantage point of the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda. The drive from Sagaing to Myin Mu is approximately 1.5 hours and your arrival on board Belmond Road to Mandalay is expected to be around 18.00.

 

Option 2: River transfer to Belmond Road to Mandalay by support boat:
In this option, after lunch we will transfer to the Htin-Win Jetty in Mandalay city. The name comes from the Burmese word for kindling (‘htin’) as this was where firewood brought down from the forests of the North was unloaded. Board a chartered river boat to cruise down the Ayeyarwady River to our mooring location at Myin Mu. The support boat has both an outside deck and an air-conditioned inside deck, and is also equipped with bathroom facilities. Complimentary refreshments, including Champagne, Gin & Tonic, beer and soft drinks will be served to you by our staff. The cruise from Htin-Win Jetty to Myin Mu is approximately three hours and your arrival on board Belmond Road to Mandalay is expected to be around 17.30.

 

This evening, dine in the elegant setting of the Restaurant. Enjoy a selection of gourmet Asian and Western dishes prepared by our Chef. Meals are accompanied by house wines, or you might opt for one of the international fine wines from our extensive wine list.

Belmond Road to Mandalay anchors at Myin Mu for the night.

 

Yangon Myanmar Tour

Day 2 – Myin Mu & Sailing

For early risers, Belmond Road to Mandalay offers a Healthy Juice Bar on the Observation Deck starting from 06.30. An extensive breakfast buffet with a la carte menu is served daily in the Restaurant and guests also have the option to order tea or coffee service to their room.

This morning, join our guides to explore the town of Myin Mu and visit the village monastery, where you will have the opportunity to donate food to a procession of monks from the local monastery in accordance with the Burmese custom of almsgiving. Next, board tri-shaws for a ride around the town, which will include a visit to the local market to experience the bustling activity around the market and teashops, and a scenic tour along the Strand Road. As in all small Burmese towns, the cool of the morning is a time for much activity and our mooring place gives you a chance to experience the daily life of the Burmese people. For those who wish to be active, you can peddle your own tri-shaw and take the driver on a tour of the town! You will also learn about some of the typical cottage industries of the area with a visit to a ‘Burmese Slipper’ manufacturing workshop and the home of a family of bamboo weavers to see how bamboo houses are constructed.

For those who wish to be active, you can peddle your own tri-shaw and take the driver on a tour of the town!

Around 10.15 transfer back to the ship by small boat and Belmond Road to Mandalay sets sail at 10.30 for the journey to Bagan. Shortly thereafter, meet your fellow passengers, the Captain and key crew members in the Observation Lounge for a short safety briefing.

During a day of sailing along the Ayeyarwady, you may wish to indulge in a treatment at the spa, relax by the pool, have lunch on the Observation Deck or join one of our on-board activities.

Before lunch, our onboard doctor will give a presentation on his charitable and community activities in Myanmar in the Observation Lounge. Astrology is an important aspect of Myanmar culture and daily life and today an astrologer will be available on board if you would like to have your fortune read. Later, our Housekeeping staff will give a demonstration of how to tie a longyi, the Myanmar sarong worn by both men and women, and how to prepare thanaka, a paste that serves as both decorative make-up and protection from the sun. You might also like to have an afternoon tea and snack in a true local style at our on-board “Burmese Tea Shop”. Later, visit the Observation Lounge for a lecture on “Myanmar Ways of Life” by one of our expert Belmond guides.

Late afternoon, on the port side, the ship will pass the village of Yandabo, where in 1826 the treaty of the same name was signed between the Kingdom of Ava and the invading colonial British. Today this village is known for its production of terracotta clay water pots, which can often be seen drying on the riverbanks.

This evening, you are invited to dress in your longyi for a Longyi Cocktail Party before dinner. After dinner this evening, visit the Observation Deck for an unforgettable surprise on the river (weather permitting).

This ship anchors mid-river for the night.

 

Irrawaddy River Tour

Day 3 – Bagan, Old Bagan

Early birds may wish to rise in time for a sunrise yoga session on the Observation Deck. Later a meditation class will be held in the Lounge.

It might be worth finishing breakfast by about 08.30 this morning so you can be free to enjoy the views from the Observation Deck as we sail into the Bagan area. Fishermen are often to be seen casting their nets as local boats carry passengers from one bank to the other. You can see the gilded hti or crown of pagodas on the river banks as the ship circles and drops anchor near our private jetty at Taung Be village near Old Bagan. Around 09.30, disembark and begin exploring Bagan with the option of three morning tours:

 

Introduction to Bagan
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 historic sites in Southeast Asia. Over 3,000 temples dot the plain beside the Ayeyarwady River, most of which were built between the 11th and 13th centuries. This morning you will visit a complex of pagodas near Old Bagan that provide a perfect introduction to architecture and history of Bagan. Within this one complex you can see an interesting mix of architectural styles from different eras and view samples of restored and unrestored pagodas. You will also take a short walk to a small temple surrounded by fields, where farmers can often be seen working the land amongst the pagodas and growing crops such as peanut, sesame and beans. Later visit a village, not frequently visited by tourists, for a glimpse of a lifestyle unchanged for centuries. Enjoy a stroll through the village, meet the locals and learn about their ways of life.

 

A Day in the Life (Guided in English language only.)
Visit the compound of a family and observe the process of making Ponyegyi (fermented soy bean paste), one of the food specialties of Central Myanmar. Nearby, another family produces colorful fans out of bamboo and paper. These fans are given as gifts on special occasions such as weddings and ordination ceremonies. Next explore the narrow lanes of the bustling morning market at Nyaung U, admiring stalls piled high with exotic fruits and vegetables and typical Myanmar products such as betel leaf, thanaka wood, cheroot cigars and tea leaves. Also enjoy a stroll through the local village, meet the locals and learn about their ways of life. You’ll have the chance to visit a home and try a kyaw sone, a tasty traditional fried snack made with chickpeas.

 

Bagan by Bicycle (Limited space. Please register at Reception. Guided ride in English language only.)
For those interested in an active adventure, mountain bikes are available for a morning of independent biking (a map will be provided). Or opt to join our staff for a leisurely guided bike ride through Old Bagan. Travel along the small dirt paths and roads that wind their way around ancient temples and pagodas. This ride is suitable for advanced beginners and above. Enjoy a ride without any major inclines, but please be prepared for a mix of dirt roads with patches of sand, and short stretches riding on paved roads with motor vehicles.

 

Upon advance request, Belmond can also arrange private guides and drivers for a tour that is tailored to your exact interests, or other activities such as a morning or afternoon of golfing in Bagan (supplement applies).

Around 11.30 all tours will conclude at our jetty in Taung Be village. Located next to our jetty is the free health clinic established by our ship doctor, Dr Hla Tun, with the support of volunteers from the local community and monastery, and the Belmond Myanmar Foundation. The doctor treats hundreds of patients a week when Belmond Road to Mandalay is stationed in Bagan.

After lunch on board, disembark for an afternoon excursion visiting one of the most significant pagodas of Bagan, Ananda Temple. This architectural masterpiece was built in AD 1090 and contains four gilded Buddha statues, each standing 30ft tall. Your Belmond experience also takes you to a small temple that will be opened just for us, where you can discover the murals of the interiors by torchlight. A short walk takes us to a stunning view of Thatbynnyu, one of Bagan’s tallest pagodas which dates back to the 12th century. You will also visit a workshop to observe Bagan's famous lacquerware being crafted. Marvel at the exquisite patience and skill required to produce these finely detailed, handmade pieces, many of which take several months to complete. As daylight starts to fade you gather to watch the sunset over plains peppered with hundreds of ancient pagodas.

A delicious grill dinner is served under the stars on the Observation Deck, with Asian and Myanmar- inspired cuisine and live cooking and grill stations. After dinner, you are treated to a classical marionette performance in the Observation Lounge. Historically these shows were royal entertainment, depicting stories from the early life of Buddha, but they were also considered a safe way to deliver messages to the King.

The ship anchors at Bagan for the night.

Day 4 – Depart Bagan

Today, you may wish to experience one of the highlights of Bagan – a hot air balloon flight over the pagodas at sunrise (operates October-March, advance reservations essential, supplement applies). Guests participating in this activity will return to the ship around 08.30.

An early-bird breakfast is served before you disembark from Belmond Road to Mandalay for your onward travel arrangements. Check out time from your cabin is at 08.30 and guests may use the public spaces of the ship until the final disembarkation time of 11.00.

We wish you a very pleasant onward journey and many fond memories of your time with us in Myanmar.


HIGH WATER: September – January

Road to Mandalay Cruise

Day 1 – Mandalay

Please arrive at our jetty in Shwe Kyet Yet village between 10.30 and 11.00.
NB Late arrivals to Mandalay have the option to board the ship at the following times: 14.00 at the Htin Win Jetty in Mandalay (please note you will miss the afternoon tour as the ship will sail back to Shwe Kyet Yet), or after 17.00 in Shwe Kyet Yet village.

Once on board you are escorted to your cabin and then invited to the Observation Lounge to meet the Captain and crew. A short safety briefing is given.

A buffet lunch is served as Belmond Road to Mandalay sets sail, cruising towards Mandalay.

After lunch you disembark for a guided tour of Mandalay, considered the home of Burmese traditional arts. Explore some of its great treasures, including Kuthodaw Pagoda, a UNESCO-listed site with 729 stone tablets inscribed with Buddhist scriptures, and the atmospheric Shwenandaw, an intricately- carved wooden monastery which used to be part of King Mindon’s living quarters. Pass through the streets of the marble quarter where artisans sculpt Buddhas of all sizes and continue to the outdoor workshop of a family of bronze casters to observe, first hand, the creation of statuesque Buddha images and ceremonial gongs. End the day with a visit to the 200-year-old U Bein Bridge, one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites.

Re-board Belmond Road to Mandalay at Shwe Kyet Yet village where the ship will berth for the night. This evening you are invited to join a cocktail party on the Observation Deck, followed by dinner in the elegant Restaurant. Enjoy a selection of gourmet Asian and Western dishes prepared by our Chef. House wines are included with dinner, or you might prefer to choose a fine wine from our extensive international list.

 

Bagan Myanmar Tour

Day 2 – Ava (Inwa)

Early risers may wish to visit the Healthy Juice Bar on the Observation Deck. An extensive breakfast buffet with à la carte menu is served in the Restaurant and guests also have the option to order tea or coffee to their room.

Those who wish may join our guides on an early-morning visit to the village of Shwe Kyet Yet. This small village holds a special place in our hearts, having been the location of the ship’s berth for 20 years. Visit the village pagoda, where you will have the opportunity to donate food to a procession of monks from the local monastery. On the return walk you can observe the bustling activity around the market and teashops.

Belmond Road to Mandalay sets sail for Ava (or "Inwa"), an ancient imperial capital situated between the Ayeyarwady and Myitnge Rivers. Here you have a choice of two tour options:

 

Ava by Horse and Cart
Perfect for those who wish to explore the most fascinating highlights of the ancient city. Climb into one of the traditional buggies and enjoy a scenic drive. Ava was the capital of Burma four times between 1364 and 1841, although what remains today dates mostly from the early 19th century. See the ruins of King Bagyidaw’s palace walls and moat, visit a beautiful 19th-century teak monastery, now a monastic school, and journey through picturesque villages, farmlands and rice paddies.

 

Ava Adventure (Limited space. Please register at Reception. English-language tour only)
Set off on an independent mountain bike tour (a map will be provided), or join one of our staff for a leisurely, guided bike ride. Head off the beaten track into Ava’s more rural pathways, pedalling past King Bagyidaw’s palace ruins, through farmlands and tranquil villages. The ride is suitable for advanced beginners and above. There are no steep inclines, but be prepared for a mix of paved roads and dirt tracks with rocky or sandy surfaces.

 

Mid-morning, return to the ship and set sail towards Bagan.

You now have ample time to enjoy the ship’s leisure facilities, such as a treatment at the spa, relaxation by the pool or a scenic lunch on the Observation Deck.

Or you may wish to join one of our onboard activities: have your fortune told by an astrologer, or attend a demonstration by our housekeeping staff on how to tie a longyi (Myanmar sarong) or prepare thanaka, a paste that serves as both decorative make-up and protection from the sun. Our onboard doctor will be giving a presentation on his charitable and community activities in Myanmar in the Observation Lounge. Indulge in afternoon tea, Myanmar-style, in our Burmese Tea Shop before visiting the Observation Lounge for a talk on Myanmar Ways of Life by one of the expert Belmond guides.

Late afternoon, on the port side, the ship will pass the village of Yandabo, where in 1826 the treaty of the same name was signed between the Kingdom of Ava and the invading colonial British. Today this village is known for its production of terracotta clay water pots, which can often be seen drying on the riverbanks.

After dinner this evening, visit the Observation Deck for an unforgettable surprise on the river (weather permitting).

The ship anchors mid-river for the night.

 

Orcaella Cruise Itinerary Day 5

Day 3 – Bagan

Sunrise yoga is available on the Observation Deck and later a meditation class will be held in the Lounge.

You may wish to be on the Observation Deck by 08.30 to enjoy the views as we sail into Bagan. Spot fishermen casting their nets, local boats carrying passengers from one bank to the other, and the gilded hti, or crowns, of pagodas as the ship circles and drops anchor near the Taung Be village jetty. Disembark to explore Old Bagan. There are three optional morning tours to choose from:

 

Introduction to Bagan
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 historic sites in Southeast Asia. Over 3,000 temples dot the plain beside the Ayeyarwady River, most of which were built between the 11th and 13th centuries. On this tour you will visit a complex of pagodas, both ruined and restored, offering a fascinating insight into Bagan’s history and architectural styles. You will also visit a small temple surrounded by fields where farmers can often be seen nurturing crops such as peanut, sesame and beans, and later you will discover a village rarely seen by visitors and glimpse a lifestyle unchanged for centuries.

 

A Day in the Life (English-language tour only)
Visit a family compound and observe the process of making ponyegyi (fermented soy bean paste), one of Central Myanmar’s specialities. Nearby, watch as another family produces colourful bamboo and paper fans, which are given as gifts at weddings and other special occasions. Explore the narrow lanes of the bustling morning market at Nyaung-U, admiring stalls piled high with exotic fruits and vegetables and typical Myanmar products such as betel leaf, cheroot cigars and tea leaves. Stroll through the village, meeting local people and learning about their ways of life; sample a homemade kyaw sone, a tasty, fried chickpea snack, in a villager’s home.

 

Bagan by Bicycle (Limited space. Advance reservations essential. English-language tour only)
Set off on an independent mountain bike adventure (a map will be provided), or opt to join our staff on a guided ride through Old Bagan. Pedal along small paths and roads that wind their way around ancient temples and pagodas. The ride is suitable for advanced beginners and above. There are no steep inclines but cyclists should be prepared for a mixture of dirt tracks with patches of sand and short stretches on paved roads with motor vehicles.

 

With advance notice Belmond can also arrange private guides and drivers for a tour tailored to your specific interests, or other activities in Bagan such as golf (supplement applies).

All tours conclude at our jetty in Taung Be village. Next to the jetty is a free health clinic established by our ship’s doctor, Dr Hla Tun, with the support of volunteers from the local community, the monastery and Belmond Myanmar Foundation. Dr Hla Tun treats hundreds of patients a week when the ship is moored in Bagan.

After lunch on board, disembark for an afternoon excursion to one of the most significant pagodas of Bagan, Ananda Temple. This architectural masterpiece was built in AD 1090 and contains four gilded Buddha statues, each standing 30ft tall. You will also be led to a small temple, opened exclusively for Belmond guests, to discover magnificent murals by torchlight. A short walk brings you to a stunning view of 12th-century Thatbyinnyu, one of Bagan’s tallest pagodas. A visit to a lacquerware workshop follows. Marvel at the exquisite patience and skill required to produce these finely detailed pieces, many of which take several months to complete. As daylight starts to fade, gather to watch the sun set over plains peppered with hundreds of pagodas.

Grilled specialities are a highlight of dinner, which is served from live cooking stations under the stars on the Observation Deck. Afterwards you are treated to a classical marionette performance in the Observation Lounge. Historically these shows were royal entertainment, depicting stories from the early life of Buddha, but they were also considered a safe way to deliver messages to the King.

Tonight the ship anchors mid-river in Bagan.

 

Day 4 – Bagan

Dawn risers can experience one of the most magical highlights of Bagan—a sunrise hot-air balloon flight over the pagodas (operates October-March, advance reservations essential, supplement applies). Guests participating in this activity will return to the ship at around 08.30.

An early-bird breakfast is served before you disembark from Belmond Road to Mandalay for your onward travel arrangements. Check-out time from your cabin is at 08.30 and guests may use the public spaces of the ship until the final disembarkation time of 11.00.


  • 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).  

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