5-Day / 4-Night The Strand Cruise: Bagan to Mandalay
Explore the highlights of Myanmar on this 5-Day Irrawaddy cruise itinerary. From Bagan to Mandalay you will cruise to each fascinating destination. Explore the temples in Mandalay, walk across the iconic U-Bein
Bridge, marvel at Ananda temple in Bagan, soar across the sky in a hot air balloon and much more. This is the perfect itinerary for those looking to combine a cruise with a Myanmar land tour.
The itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, and accessibility to locations, so touring may vary.
Day 1 – Bagan
We begin our journey through this golden land with a freshly made welcome breakfast in the tranquil shaded gardens of the oldest lacquerware house in Bagan. Lacquerware is a traditional art that began when the Pagodas of Bagan were first being built in the 11th century and is still practiced today. We will then move onto the nearby Shwezigon Pagoda, famous for it’s gold leaf décor, and the Ananda temple, famous as being one of the four great temples of Bagan and one of most exquisite temples in Myanmar.
A short scenic transfer takes us to The Strand Cruise for check-in and to meet fellow passengers over lunch on the Sundeck. For those arriving in Bagan later in the day, our rendezvous point is aboard the ship. Once settled into your cabin, meet your fellow passengers for lunch prepared by our Chef. During the afternoon, we will continue our exploration of the Bagan Heritage Trail, including the beautiful Sulamani and Gubyaukgyi temples. As the sun sets, admire Bagan’s magnificent sights over the Ayeyarwady river from the ship’s sundeck, sipping a Strand signature cocktail. After sundown, enjoy a traditional Myanmar cultural show before joining your fellow travellers in our fine dining restaurant for a Myanmar dinner.
Day 2 – Bagan, Hot Air Balloon Excursion
Early risers this morning can enjoy tea, coffee and pastries in the Sarkies Bar before joining an excursion to view sunrise over Bagan from the Shwe San Daw temple. This pagoda contains a series of five terraces, topped with a cylindrical stupa, which has a bejewelled umbrella. From the top you get an impressive 360-degree view of the entire area of Bagan. A leisurely brunch will then be served in the restaurant as we begin cruising upstream to Mandalay. The passing landscapes and typical Ayeyarwady villages have inspired many authors and artists throughout history, including Rudyard Kipling. As we spend the afternoon drifting on the gentle waters of the Ayeyarwady, relax on the sun deck, meditate, visit the spa or enjoy the many activities and workshops arranged by our experienced crew, before enjoying a traditional Strand afternoon tea.
As night falls, our ship will moor on a remote and wild section of the river. Surrounded only by the soft whispering of nature, our Captain invites you to a cocktail and tapas dinner in the Sarkies Bar, followed by a traditional Myanmar puppet show in the restaurant. Night owls can linger in the bar over a glass of fine wine or single malt whiskey and recreate the golden age of the Strand as a meeting place for explorers and raconteurs. We also offer additional activity options today, including a hot air balloon ride at sunrise, where you can gently float above the 2,000 pagodas of Bagan.
Day 3 – Mingun
Enjoy a late breakfast this morning as the ship will cruise until mid afternoon when we arrive in Mingun. Throughout the morning, relax by the pool with a book or participate in the many activities and workshops prepared by the crew as we pass through the wonderful countryside, such as a cooking demonstration or an introduction to the traditional Myanmar thanaka and longyi.
After a generous Asian family style lunch taken on the Sundeck, we will stop in Mingun, one of the country’s former capitals, at the foot of the unfinished pagoda, one of the largest pagoda’s ever constructed in the history of Myanmar. We will visit the pagoda by a popular local means of transportation, the Tuk Tuk. The pagoda is home to the magnificent Mingun Bell, claimed to be the largest un-cracked hanging bell in the world. We will also visit Paya Hsinbyume, an impressive pagoda that rises in seven curved whitewashed terraces representing the seven mountain ranges around Mt Meru, the mountain at the centre of the Buddhist universe. Once back on-board, relax with a glass of champagne on the Sundeck before a grill dinner in the Strand Restaurant.
Day 4 – Mandalay, U-Bein Bridge, Ava
We begin our day with a freshly prepared breakfast while surveying the next and most awaited stop, Mandalay, the second- largest city and the last royal capital of Myanmar. After making a traditional food offering to the monks in their monastery in Mandalay, our first stop is the U-Bein Bridge, a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura. The bridge is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. We continue the Mandalay Heritage Trail by visiting the Mahamui Buddha temple. Legend has it that the great Buddha himself visited the city of Arakan in 554 and that King Sanda Thuriya ordered a likeness of Buddha’s face to be created and placed in the temple.
From here we visit the Shwe In Bin monastery before re-joining the Strand Cruise. After a buffet lunch on board as we cruise, we will explore Ava, the ancient imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries. Horse carts await the ship to transport guests for a delightful ride through the naturally preserved Ava landscape and key landmarks. We will have an exclusive mooring overnight at Ava next to a remarkable temple, allowing Strand Cruise passengers access to the site after the crowds have departed in the late afternoon until the following morning. As we reach the end of the day, a sunset cocktail will be held on the Sundeck, before a French dinner in the Strand Restaurant.
Day 5 – Mandalay
In the early morning, as a last farewell to the locals, guests will attend a private Alms Giving Ceremony with the Monks before heading back on board for a healthy breakfast. We disembark at the Gaw Wein jetty in Mandalay. Onward transport to the airport can be arranged, or guests may continue their adventures in this Golden Land.
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).