8-Day / 7-Night Ananda Myanmar Cruise
Bagan – Mandalay – Bagan
Downstream and upstream river cruise on the beautiful Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Bagan and then back to Mandalay. An 8-Day cruise will give you enough time to explore and enjoy everything Myanmar has
to offer. Each day on Sanctuary Ananda brings you new experiences, new sights, and new delights while exploring this fascinating emerging destination. What are you waiting for?
The itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, and accessibility to locations, so touring may vary.
Day 1 – Bagan
Check in at 12:30pm and settle into your suite.
If you arrive on an early flight we will arrange for you to take a tour in Bagan. Leaving at 9am we will visit a local village in the heart of the Bagan plain, to see the way of life of the local people, before visiting a lacquerware workshop. This ancient craft has been practised in Bagan since the time of King Anawrahta around 1050AD. Here in the workshop, the traditional methods are still used.
After lunch on board, we will visit Kayminga pagoda complex to see the different architecture of the stupas first-hand. This is the perfect starting point to understand how Bagan was built over several centuries and how the architectural style has evolved.
Next, we visit the Ananda Temple. Completed in 1091 AD, it is commonly referred to as one of the four great temples in Bagan. The Ananda is regarded by folklore as one of the most beautiful temples in Myanmar.
Enjoy the sunset over the Bagan plains and admire the light change on the pagodas as they exude antiquity and mystery. Finally the sun sets behind the hills on the far side of the Ayeyarwady River, filling the sky with a reddish glow - a truly magic moment.
A welcome briefing and champagne reception will be hosted in the Kansi Panorama Lounge, before a candlelit sandbank dinner is served with the backdrop of the twinkling lights of Bagan.
Day 2 – Bagan
Take an optional early morning balloon tour* to capture a birds-eye view of the Bagan plain, followed by breakfast back on board. Alternatively, visit the bustling local market of Nyaung U, the daily market where farmers meet to buy and sell a variety of goods, ranging from fruit and vegetables to china and lacquerware.
After our visit to Nyaung U, we will move on to the great golden Shwezigon Pagoda. This holds a special place among Burmese pagodas for two reasons: it was the first major monument built in the Burmese style following the country’s conversion to Theravada Buddhism, and it was the first pagoda to have nat (spirit) images allowed within the precinct. The Shwezigon is said to contain important relics of the Gautama Buddha - two bones and a copy of a tooth.
We will then return to the ship for lunch and start sailing upstream towards Sagaing. Visually, Myanmar is unique: the eye is constantly delighted by scenes of beauty. A group of ladies perch on rocks chatting during their daily wash. An ox-cart waits on the banks for a boat to arrive and unload its goods. There is no better way to enjoy this riverine picture than from the Kansi Panorama Lounge.
After lunch, a variety of on board activities will be on offer, including a longyi (sarong) and thanaka (cosmetic) demonstration, a back of house tour, and a talk on Myanmar – covering the country’s incredibly rich history, more recent and controversial events and prospects for the future.
A delicious dinner in the Talifoo Restaurant will then follow.
*Balloon tour is available at an additional cost. Please book in advance. Available 1 October - 30 March. Subject to weather conditions on the day of flight.
Day 3 – Mandalay
The morning will be spent sailing as you enjoy the passing countryside. A cooking class with our Executive Chef will be available.
In the afternoon visit the pagoda sprinkled Sagaing Hill, an important religious and monastic centre, home to some 554 monasteries and 6,000 monks and nuns. Here we will visit a Monastic school and orphanage where you will have the opportunity to meet some of the residents and understand the teachings of Buddhism.
Next, take in the views from the top of the hill on the terraces of the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda which are truly breathtaking. Below and all around, pagodas of different shapes and sizes dot the landscape.
Amarapura was once known as ‘The City of Immortals’. Today, the leisurely ‘clack-clack’ from the looms of the cotton and silk weavers has replaced the noisy bustle of this former capital.
Visit the U Bein Bridge, a spectacular place to enjoy the sunset. This long teak bridge snakes across the Taungthaman Lake and each evening you can watch monks crossing the bridge to collect food donations. This is a wonderfully spiritual experience. The view of the bridge as the sun goes down is perhaps one of the most beautiful sights in Mandalay, making it an excellent photograph opportunity. After sunset, return to the Sanctuary Ananda.
A local performance will be followed by dinner on board.
Day 4 – Mandalay
This morning enjoy a tour of Mandalay. This will include a visit to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only palace building to survive the bombings of World War II. This beautiful teak monastery had been the apartment of King Mindon and after his death in 1879, his son King Theebaw, moved the monastery out of the palace.
Lastly a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda (Maha Lawka Marazein) built by King Mindon in 1857, in effect a copy of the Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan. Kuthodaw is often called the biggest book in the world, for surrounding it are 729 marble slabs inscribed with the Tripitaka texts (Buddhist cannon). Then, we will move to Mahamuni Pagoda, one of Myanmar’s most religious monuments housing the revered Mahamuni Image.
Enjoy lunch in one of the local restaurants.
In the afternoon, visit a gold leaf beating workshop where you will see how the thin gold leaf that covers Buddha statues is produced. Follow this with a visit to a bronze-casting workshop to learn how the impressively-large statues you’ve seen across Myanmar are made.
Your last stop of the day will be at the 774 foot (236m) high Mandalay Hill upon which the Su Taung Pyai Pagoda rests. Once you reach the summit (via either one of the staircases or more relaxing escalators) you will be afforded a 360-degree view of Mandalay, from the Shan mountain range to the east to the Royal Palace in the south.
Dinner will be served on board.
Day 5 – Sin Kyun
Early this morning Sanctuary Ananda will sail north to the quaint village of Sin Kyun, a village just north of Mandalay which is sponsored by Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy. It has a population of just under 1,000 inhabitants and specializes in farming and hat making.
Take an optional tour to witness first-hand the way of life in this unspoilt location seldom viewed by outsiders. Following the Village Chief’s request for a library and a house for an English teacher, Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy donated the money necessary to begin this new partnership. We hope that with the support of Sanctuary Ananda guests, we will be able to provide further funds to improve the quality of life for the villagers.
After the village tour we set sail towards Tan Chi Taung. Enjoy the beautiful scenery from the ship while passing Mingun, where you can see the unfinished Mingun Pagoda.
As we continue our journey south, relax as we sail past villages, set against a backdrop of soft browns and rich tamarind trees with white and golden pagodas gracing the distant hills.
After lunch, enjoy our onboard activities, including a back of house tour, followed by a delicious dinner.
Day 6 – Tan Chi Taung
After breakfast, join our Executive Chef for a cooking demonstration to test your knowledge of local delicacies and learn how to create delicious Asian dishes.
We’ll spend the rest of the morning sailing downstream towards Bagan, which means you have ample time to enjoy the luxuries on board Sanctuary Ananda. Maybe have a spa treatment or relax by the pool with a book from our library?
Enjoy lunch as we enter pagoda sprinkled Bagan.
After lunch on board, we will head to the top of Tan Chi Taung mountain to enjoy your first glimpse of the Bagan plain, containing more than 2,000 pagodas and stupas. Next, we will watch an Elephant dance on the shore, an age old acrobatic dance used to entertain the Bagan people. As we sail back to our jetty, enjoy the breathtaking and beautiful sunset from the Kansi Panorama Lounge with one of our signature cocktails.
Tonight, a candlelit dinner is served on the banks of the Irrawaddy river.
Day 7 – Bagan
Enjoy a morning tour of Bagan. Leaving at 9am we will visit the three tiered Htilominlo temple built during the regin of King Htilominlo in the heart of the Bagan plain, to see the way of life of the local people. A horse-cart will be your mode of transport through the Bagan plains, with several photo stops and a visit to Sulamani pagoda along the way.
After lunch on board, depart to visit Kyauk Gu U Min Temple, one of only four temples in Bagan built from stone brick. Built into a river bank, this is a temple unlike any other in Bagan. Known as the ‘Rock Cave Tunnel’, this cave-like temple is the perfect place to meditate. Enjoy this wonder as you stroll past the underground corridors lit up by light wells.
Before returning to the ship, visit a local village where you will be able to witness the traditional way of life for the Burmese people of this region. Get the chance to feel like a local as you wander past their settlements. It is interesting to see how unaffected their daily routine is in the shadow of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The day will come to an end with a farewell dinner on board.
Day 8 – Bagan
Enjoy an early breakfast on your final morning before check-out at 9am.
If you are departing on a later flight we will arrange for you to take a tour in Bagan, departing at 9am.
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).