Cruising the Golden Land, Myanmar

Cruising the Golden Land, Myanmar

Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) remains one of the world’s most mysterious and undiscovered destinations.

Much of this developing country remains untouched by the modern world. This exciting tour begins in the capital city, Yangon (formerly Rangoon). With its lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes the city has rightfully earned the nickname “Garden City of the East.”

We then travel to Bagan – dotted with thousands of ancient temples, it is one of Asia’s richest archaeological sites. After touring here we board our luxury riverboat for a 7-night expedition cruise on the Irrawaddy River from Bagan to Mandalay. We will observe life along the river and explore local villages, learning about the local culture and livelihoods that sustain these friendly people.

Our floating hotel will be the RV Katha Pandaw, a luxury riverboat with walk-around passenger decks and covered upper and forward decks where you can relax, enjoy the sights and take photos. All cabins have panoramic French windows and are furnished with twin beds, desk, safe, air-conditioning, private bathroom as well as bathrobes, hair dryers and slippers. Meals feature fresh, regional fare, and are served bistro-style outdoors or indoors on the upper deck. Breakfast is buffet style preceded by coffee, tea and light bites for early risers. Lunch is either buffet style or standard sit-down while dinners are table served. Katha Pandaw onboard guides give periodic informative briefings, and some local entertainment such as folkloric dancing and puppet shows will be offered. Note – Wi-Fi is limited due to the remote areas traveled.

After the cruise we will explore Mandalay, with its remains of the Royal City and old monasteries – a showcase for old Myanmar art and architecture. We then fly to Inle Lake where we will take a variety of boat trips to discover the spectacular scenery of this unique region and to experience the unique life of the Intha people. Our tour ends back in Yangon.

*** Those joining any of our tours to Asia must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tentative Itinerary

Day 1: Depart

We depart for Yangon via Hong Kong.

Day 2: Yangon

We arrive in Yangon in the late evening and transfer to our hotel.

Day 3: Yangon

Morning at leisure. Our afternoon tour will take in the General Aung San Museum, Reclining Buddha and Scott Market with the country’s largest selection of handicrafts. This evening we see the vibrant fresh fruit market as we stroll through Chinatown. Our Welcome Dinner will be at House of Memories - an old colonial mansion set in a beautiful garden.

Day 4: Yangon

We first visit the local home of a family of puppet makers - a unique opportunity to experience local life, admire this family’s creativity and enjoy a traditional puppet show. Then we visit the 2500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda which towers above the city. We finish our day at the Rangoon Tea House, carefully restored to its British colonial grandeur.

Day 5: Bagan

We fly to Bagan, known as the “City of Four Million Pagodas” and one of Asia’s richest archaeological sites. After arrival we’ll meet with a renowned archaeologist at Ananda Pahto - one of Bagan’s best preserved temples, who will discuss Myanmar’s history, architecture and temple preservation. This evening presents the perfect opportunity to watch the sunset at this incredible place.

Day 6: Bagan

We visit the bustling Nyaung Oo produce market, then visit Phwar Saw Village where we will be welcomed by a local family to learn about their daily lives, followed by a lunch of local specialties.

Day 7: Bagan / Embarkation

We embark the RV Katha Pandaw, have lunch on board and then further explore Bagan’s many temples and pagodas, including Hti Lo Min Lo - a Buddhist temple built with red brick.

Day 8: Bagan

We visit Shwezigone Pagoda - a circular gold leaf-gilded stupa, Gu Byauk Gyi Temple with its intricate paintings, and a traditional lacquer workshop. Later enjoy the sunset from one of the temples - an incredible experience!

Day 9: Pakokku

We visit the friendly river town of Pakokku, famous for its tobacco and “thanakha” (a cosmetic paste made from ground bark). A Tuk Tuk ride will take us to see the local market and town center.

Day 10: Yandabo

This morning we stroll through Yandabo village where terracotta pottery made from the clay found along the riverbank is the main industry. We will visit the Pandaw School built with donations from past passengers, then cruise north towards Mandalay.

Day 11: Ava

We arrive in Mandalay and take an excursion to Ava - an ancient imperial capital. The city was sacked and rebuilt many times and finally abandoned after it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1839. The area is now farmland, and a horse cart ride through the paddy fields from monument to monument gives a glimpse of life in rural Burma. Bagaya Kyaung is a 200 year old royal monastery made of teak with elaborate wood carvings.

Day 12: Mingun

We visit Mingun to see the largest working bell in the world, ordered for the Mingun Temple which was never completed because an astrologer told the king he would die once the stupa was finished. We also visit the Mingun Old People’s Home, originally established in the 1930s.

Day 13: Mandalay

The bustling city of Mandalay is situated at the hub of river and land trading routes. It is the religious capital of Burma with many living monasteries and pagodas. On our city tour we will see the impressive palace, the hill areas, crafts workshops and shopping districts.

Day 14: Disembark / Inle Lake

We disembark our riverboat and fly to the Inle Lake area. We will take a scenic boat tour of the lake, dotted with villages and floating gardens. See the unique technique of “leg rowing” used by the Intha fisherman.

Day 15: Inle Lake / Sagar

We board a “long boat” for a trip to Sagar, passing villages, Chinese-style fishing nets, stupas, monasteries, bamboo forests and floating gardens. In Sagar we will see many stupas and pagodas partially submerged by flooding. We will visit the village and enjoy lunch at a lodge before returning to Inle Lake, stopping en route at Jungle Mountain - a family run rice-wine distillery where three generations have been making liquor from wild mountain rice.

Day 16: Inle Lake / Inndein / Yangon

We visit the local market and then see the ruined stupas and temples at the lake-side village of Inndein, as well as the unique Shwe Inn Thein Paya - an ancient group of pagodas with great views across the lake. Later we fly back to Yangon and transfer to our hotel. Our dinner will be at one of Yangon’s most elegant restaurants located in a lovely old colonial building.

Day 17: Yangon

We explore downtown Yangon, home to some of the most splendidly kept colonial buildings meshed with ancient Pagodas. There will be time to shop for souvenirs at Pomelo, where Myanmar’s challenged citizens sell quality handmade products. The afternoon is at leisure until our transfer to the airport for our flight home, via Hong Kong.

Day 18: Home

We arrive home.

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Cost per person: $5197
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