02 January 2018
Far-flung Myanmar is an intriguing destination with ornate temples, picturesque landscapes, charming villages and frenetic city streets. Discover the hidden gems of this beguiling South-East Asian nation by taking an 11-night cruise along the Irrawaddy River with Belmond.
Travel in style on ‘Belmond Road to Mandalay’. An intimate experience awaits on this ship, which has just 46 cabins that come with wood-carved fittings, locally-weaved furnishings and spacious en-suite bathrooms. Enjoy opulent amenities like a top-deck pool, fine dining experiences with European and Burmese flavours and elegantly-appointed lounges, as you sail along the Irrawaddy River…
Start your journey by boarding the ship and setting sail on the winding Irrawaddy River. Embarking from Bhamo, on your first day you’ll visit Mingun where you can see the world’s largest brick-built pagoda – an ornate affair renowned for housing the heaviest functioning bell on earth – before enjoying a sumptuous welcome dinner with your fellow travellers. Your second day will take you to the local town of Nwe Nyein, where you can view traditional clay pot sculpting as you enjoy a walking tour. You’ll also sail past the spectacular Thihadaw Island Pagoda and you can attend a lively cocktail party on the top deck.
Spend your third morning meeting the community and browsing authentic market stalls as you take a jaunt through the charming village of Kyan Katha. While away your afternoon spotting more settlements on the river banks as you sail down the Irrawaddy River, before docking in Katha on your fourth day. Live like a local by touring Katha via rickshaw, and then stop at the area’s legendary market which you may have come across before in George Orwell’s iconic work Burmese Days. In the afternoon you’ll get the chance to see how people live in Irrawaddy riverside villages by visiting the Shan settlement near Shwegu with its dirt roads, thatched houses and lush greenery.
The fifth day is your chance to explore Myanmar’s northernmost city of Bhamo. Hike through its nearby mountains which stand tall against the sky, stroll along the Tapin River via the rickety Bamboo Bridge or take in some culture by visiting the Shwe Kyina Paya with its two gold-topped stupas. Spend your sixth day witnessing traditional Buddhist novitiation ceremonies, known for their esoteric rituals, at age-old pagodas on the idyllic Shwe Paw Island, while on your seventh day you’ll ride on a train to Naba where you can trek through Myanmar’s dense Kachin jungle brush.
Nature lovers, day eight is for you. After your ship docks in Thabeikkyin visit the Mogok forestry reserve, where you can observe gentle elephants working in magnificent teak forests or look for the precious botanical species which dot the area. As you wake on your ninth day watch as the old royal capital of Mandalay comes into view. While you’re in this intriguing city view architectural marvels like the Bagaya Monastery and the many-towered Sandamuni and Kuthodaw pagodas, or find panoramic views at the summit of Mandalay Hill, before watching tribal dancing in Shwe Kyet during the evening.
The tenth day of your trip will be filled with captivating views. Unwind on your elegant ship as you journey past spectacularly beautiful lush scenery on your way to Bagan, where you’ll get a chance to view its magical sunset and watch Bagan artists give traditional performances. On your penultimate day an expert guide will take you on a tour of the time-honoured sites of Bagan including the imposing Dhammayangyi Temple and the gold-leaf covered Shwezigon Pagoda. Your final afternoon will see you take a trek up the mythical Mount Popa, with its intriguing summit monastery.
On the morning of day 12 you’ll transfer to Bagan Airport and take a flight to the capital Yangon. You can carry on home, or ask your Travel Counsellor to arrange a stay in Yangon, allowing you to discover this splendid city. Top attractions for your Yangon bucket list include the Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple with its reclining statue, the elaborately gilded Shwedagon Pagoda and 70-acre recreational park Yangon Zoological Gardens. As you travel through Yangon check out more ornate temples and pagodas, view artefacts at the National Museum and sample delicious street food!