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Road to Mandalay Cruise: 5-Day Itinerary

Luxury – Myanmar 

 
 

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

Explore the ancient temples of Bagan and the pagoda-topped hills of Sagaing, discover the ancient royal city of Mandalay, and visit Mingun, home of the world's largest ringing bell. 

 

From spiritual Sagaing to the enigmatic ruins of Mingun, embark on a breathtaking journey of discovery and "Images of a Golden Land" as you cruise along the Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay. 

This 5-day itinerary aboard the luxurious Road to Mandalay cruise lets you enjoy your time onboard, while offering just enough excursions for you to explore the highlights of Myanmar. 

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

Bagan Myanmar Tour

Day 1 – 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.

Boarding time for all guests is requested between 10.30 and 11.00 at Taung Be village.

At 11.30 meet your fellow passengers, the Captain and key crew members in the Observation Lounge for a short safety briefing.

After lunch on board, disembark around 15.00 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 that 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. You then proceed to a small temple close to the jetty to participate in an exclusive Belmond experience — a magical candle-lighting ceremony.

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. 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 Bagan this evening.

 

Yangon Myanmar Tour

Day 2 – Bagan & 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, Belmond offers guests a variety of tour options before we set sail at 09.30.

 

Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise (Advance reservations essential, supplement applies)
Experience one of the highlights of Bagan – a hot air balloon ride over the pagodas at sunrise (operates October-March). Guests are collected at around 05.00 and returned to the ship at 08.30.

 

Pagodas in the Morning
Disembark with your guide for a morning tour. Begin with a short walk to a small temple surrounded by fields, where farmers can often be seen working the land amongst the pagodas in the morning, and growing crops such as peanut, sesame and beans. Also visit another of Bagan’s most impressive pagodas, Sulamani (“Crowning Jewel”). This temple has one of the best examples of brick and ornamental work and here you can see murals dating from the 12th to 18th centuries. Tour begins at 07.00.

 

Bagan by Bicycle (Limited space. 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 an early morning guided bike ride through Old Bagan starting at 06.30. 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.

 

Traditional Horse Cart Ride
Travel in traditional style with your own horse and buggy through Old Bagan. Your local buggy driver will take you along a scenic route that passes many ancient temples and pagodas in the heart of Old Bagan’s archaeological zone. Enjoy a leisurely ride with many photo opportunities. Please note that some buggy drivers may have limited English-speaking ability. Starts at 07.00.

 

Village Visit and Social Contribution (English language only)
Spend the morning with our staff in Taung Be village, near our jetty, and participate in one of Belmond’s Social Contribution Projects. Next to the jetty is our free health clinic established by our ship doctor, Dr Hla Tun. The doctor treats hundreds of patients a week when Belmond Road to Mandalay is stationed in Bagan. The activities change depending on the project and community needs and might include: preparing lunch for the visiting patients, working in the pharmacy with the monk, helping to build a new eye clinic. The visit begins at 08.15. Please speak with Reception to learn more.

 

All morning tours and activities conclude by 09.00 at Taung Be village where the transfer boat waits to take guests to the ship anchored mid-river. Belmond Road to Mandalay sets sail at 09.30. 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.

Today there will be an exhibition by a local artist on board. In the afternoon, 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, join a lecture about Myanmar’s Past, Present and Future by one of our expert Belmond guides.

This evening, you are invited to wear your new longyi at a Longyi Cocktail party on the Observation Deck. Dinner is served in the elegant setting of the Restaurant. Enjoy a selection of gourmet Asian and Western dishes prepared by our Executive Chef. After dinner 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 – Myin Mu and Alacapa villages

After a short sail this morning, Belmond Road to Mandalay arrives at Myin Mu, the northern most point for cruising during your journey. 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, instead of at our jetty near the city. This mooring location gives our guests a unique opportunity to experience some beautiful rural areas and less-visited sites in the countryside.

Our experience is that many people consider seeing the natural life of Myanmar and contact with the local people to be the highlight of their stay. Myin Mu is a small town on the shore beside our mooring place with about 30-40,000 people. This morning, join our guides to explore Myin Mu.

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 pedal 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. Return to the ship for lunch.

This afternoon, return to shore to discover another local village in the area. Drive to the picturesque farming village of Alacapa where you are free to walk through the town and experience the warm friendliness of the people, and have a glimpse into a life-style unchanged for centuries. Farmers here grow a variety of crops from corn, sesame, chili peppers, fava beans and onions and other villagers specialize in the production of pottery, making cooking pots and small oil lamp bowls used pagoda offerings. Visit a compound of homes that typically houses multiple generations of the family.

Tonight, there will be an evening of traditional entertainment after dinner on board.

The ship anchors at Myin Mu for the night.

 

Day 4 – Mandalay or Monywa

Today, guests have the choice of two full-day excursions that explore the rich cultural heritage of the surrounding region.

 

Full-day Excursion to Mandalay City, Amarapura & Sagaing:
Disembark with your guide and together you will go to the city centre of Mandalay (approximately 2 hours from Myin Mu overland). Explore some of the city’s great treasures with your guide, 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. Lunch will be at Bistro 82 in the heart of the city.

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 journey back 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.

 

Full-day Excursion to Monywa: (English language only, must be requested on board at least one day in advance)
As an alternative today, opt for an excursion to Monywa. Situated on the Chindwin River around 1.5 hours west of Myin Mu, Monywa is an off the beaten path destination that is less frequented by tourists. Explore some of the fascinating highlights of this remote area including a visit to the world’s tallest Standing Buddha and the accompanying giant Reclining Buddha. Standing some 424 feet high, this standing figure dominates the landscape for miles around, gazing serenely over the toddy-palm trees. Surrounding these enormous statues is an outdoor garden filled with rows of 1,000 meditating Buddha statues, each under their own umbrella and Bodhi tree. You will then continue on to the brightly-coloured Than Buddhay Temple. While the exterior of this pagoda is one of the most vibrant and decorative in Myanmar, it has a cathedral-like quiet on the inside where around half a million Buddha images gaze out from their niches in the walls. Also visit a small Thanaka market in Monywa, where vendors sell the wood and grinding stones used for making Thanaka paste, a popular natural cosmetic worn by many women and children. After lunch at a local restaurant, return to the ship in the late afternoon and enjoy some at leisure at the pool and spa.

 

Tonight, our Chef prepares a sumptuous Farewell Dinner in the Restaurant and the ship anchors mid- river at Myin Mu.

 

Day 5 – Depart Myin Mu

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 – 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.

Please be at Taung Be village between 10.30 and 11.00 ready to board.

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.

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 ancient pagodas. You then proceed to a small temple close to the jetty to participate in an exclusive Belmond experience—a magical candle-lighting ceremony.

Back on board, grilled specialities are a highlight of dinner, which is served from live cooking stations under the stars on the Observation Deck. House wines are included, or you might prefer to choose a fine wine from our extensive international list.

Belmond Road to Mandalay anchors at Bagan this evening.

 

Day 2 – Bagan & 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, Belmond offers guests a variety of tour options before we set sail at 09.30.

 

Hot Air Balloon Ride at Sunrise (Advance reservations essential, supplement applies)
Experience one of the highlights of Bagan – a hot air balloon ride over the pagodas at sunrise (operates October-March). Guests are collected at around 05.00 and returned to the ship at 08.30.

 

Pagodas in the Morning
Disembark with your guide for a morning tour. Begin with a short walk to a small temple surrounded by fields, where farmers can often be seen working the land amongst the pagodas in the morning, and growing crops such as peanut, sesame and beans. Also visit another of Bagan’s most impressive pagodas, Sulamani (“Crowning Jewel”). This temple has one of the best examples of brick and ornamental work and here you can see murals dating from the 12th to 18th centuries. Tour begins at 07.00.

 

Bagan by Bicycle (Limited space. 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 an early morning guided bike ride through Old Bagan starting at 06.30. 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.

 

Traditional Horse Cart Ride
Travel in traditional style with your own horse and buggy through Old Bagan. Your local buggy driver will take you along a scenic route that passes many ancient temples and pagodas in the heart of Old Bagan’s archaeological zone. Enjoy a leisurely ride with many photo opportunities. Please note that some buggy drivers may have limited English-speaking ability. Starts at 07.00.

 

Village Visit and Social Contribution (English language only)
Spend the morning with our staff in Taung Be village, near our jetty, and participate in one of Belmond’s Social Contribution Projects. Next to the jetty is our free health clinic established by our ship doctor, Dr Hla Tun. The doctor treats hundreds of patients a week when Belmond Road to Mandalay is stationed in Bagan. The activities change depending on the project and community needs and might include: preparing lunch for the visiting patients, working in the pharmacy with the monk, helping to build a new eye clinic. The visit begins at 08.15. Please speak with Reception to learn more.

 

After setting sail a leisurely day on board awaits.

Indulge in a treatment at the spa, relax by the pool, enjoy lunch on the Observation Deck and admire the breathtaking vistas. Art lovers may wish to visit an exhibition of local works. In the afternoon 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. Indulge in afternoon tea local-style in our “Burmese Tea Shop” and later attend a fascinating lecture on Myanmar’s Past, Present and Future by one of our expert guides.

This evening, dinner is served in the elegant Restaurant. Enjoy a selection of gourmet Asian and Western dishes prepared by our Executive Chef. After dinner visit the Observation Deck for an unforgettable surprise on the river (weather permitting).

This ship anchors mid-river for the night.

 

Orcaella Cruise Itinerary Day 5

Day 3 – Mingun and Rural Village

The ship continues to sail north. Enjoy a selection of morning activities, including a sunrise yoga session, a meditation class or an enticing cookery demonstration by our Chef.

Before lunch, Dr Hla Tun will give a presentation on the charitable and community activities he is involved with at villages along the river, such as school building and healthcare projects.

After lunch the ship arrives at Mingun and you disembark, by transfer boat, for an afternoon tour. The following two options are available:

 

Classic Mingun
Enjoy a walking tour of Mingun and visit Pahtodawgyi, an enormous unfinished pagoda that was started in the late 18th century by King Bodawpaya but never finished due to a prophecy that the king would die upon its completion. You will have the chance to ring the world’s biggest uncracked bell, which weighs 90 tonnes and stands 13 feet tall. You will also see the dazzling Myatheindan (Hsinbyume) Pagoda, constructed of seven whitewashed terraces designed to symbolise sacred Mount Meru. Those who wish can climb the 88 steps to the top of the pagoda, which represents obtaining nirvana.

 

Village Walk (English language only)
An alternative option is to visit a rural village in the middle of the river. Walk along the island’s narrow dirt paths and across fields of beans, corn and millet and see villagers going about their daily lives. Visit the home of talented woodcarvers who make decorative ox carts used for ordination ceremonies and witness the production of dried lima beans, a vital ingredient in Burmese Tea Leaf Salad.

 

Back on board you are invited to dress in your longyi for a special cocktail party on the Observation Deck.

Belmond Road to Mandalay anchors near Mingun tonight.

 

Day 4 – Mandalay and Sagaing

Early this morning, Belmond Road to Mandalay sails to the city of Mandalay, considered the religious heart of Myanmar and the home of Burmese traditional arts. You have a choice of morning tours:

 

Almsgiving (English language only)
Transfer to shore at 07.30 for an opportunity to donate food to a procession of monks in accordance with the Burmese custom of almsgiving. Those joining this activity can then continue their day with either of the following two tours of Mandalay.

 

Highlights of Mandalay
Explore some of Mandalay’s great treasures with your guide, 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.

 

Mandalay Arts and Shopping (English language only)
This excursion focuses on Mandalay’s local arts and cottage industries. Visit the home of candy makers to see their unusual methods of pulling and stretching sweets made from molasses. Watch artisans sculpting Buddha statues in the marble quarter and browse a store showcasing high-quality crafts. Watch skilled artisans carving intricate wood panels typically used for monasteries and weaving tapestries with semi-precious stones, and visit the outdoor workshop of a family of bronze casters. Finally, observe silk weavers at their looms, creating textiles with traditional ethnic patterns. This is a great place to purchase famous Amarapura silks.

 

Both tours end at Shwe Kyet Yet village, the location of our private jetty near Mandalay, where you rejoin the ship for lunch.

In the afternoon, disembark for an excursion to discover the hills of Sagaing, the spiritual centre of Myanmar, which is home to hundreds of monasteries, nunneries and Buddhist learning centres. Enjoy expansive views of the Ayeyarwady River from the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda and visit a Buddhist nunnery to learn about the monastic way of life. End the day at the magnificent 200-year- old U Bein Bridge, one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites.

Tonight a sumptuous farewell dinner is served in the Restaurant, after which you are treated to an evening of traditional entertainment.

Belmond Road to Mandalay berths at Shwe Kyet Yet village for the night.

 

Day 5 – Mandalay

Enjoy an early breakfast before you disembark from Belmond Road to Mandalay for your onward travel arrangements. Check-out time from your cabin is 08.30 and you are welcome to 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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