Explore the city of Yangon and cross the famous Gokteik Viaduct on a scenic railway journey to Hsipaw before boarding the Road to Mandalay – Belmond's deluxe river cruiser. With elegantly decorated, spacious en-suite cabins, an onboard pool, boutique and piano bar, experience the Irrawaddy River in luxury.
Arrive Yangon and transfer to the Strand Hotel (or similar). This afternoon enjoy a short walking tour of the city. Visit Mahabandoola Park and Sule Pagoda and stop for a cup of tea or coffee at Let Ywae Sin Tea Shop - a local favourite. Continue to the old railway station before reaching Bogyoke Market - enjoy time browsing through the wide selection of local handicrafts and other goods before returning to the hotel.
Fly to Mandalay and drive to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin located on a plateau 1,000 metres above sea level. Pyin Oo Lwin is home for many ethnic tribes as well as a considerable numbers of Nepalese and Hindu who migrated during the British occupation. Take a traditional horse cart and carriage ride through town and stop at the large Botanical Gardens. Continue to the local market to see the flowers and vegetables on sale. Overnight Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin (or similar). (B)
Hotel Pyin Oo Lwin
Transfer to the railway station for a six hour train journey to Hsipaw which crosses the famous scenic Gokteik Viaduct which spans a 300 metre deep gorge in the Shan mountains. The views from the train are spectacular. Enjoy a picnic lunch on board. In the evening arrive in Hsipaw, a pleasant small town on the banks of the Dokhtawady River and check in to Mr Charles Hotel (or similar). (B,L)
Mr Charles Hotel
After breakfast at a tea shop, take a walk around Hsipaw with a local guide before departing on a five hour drive back to Mandalay. Stop at Amarapura and visit a silk weaving workshop and Mahagandayon monastery, where over one thousand monks reside. After touring this tranquil site, continue to U Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teak bridge, enjoy a stroll along the bridge and admire the fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams. Overnight Rupar Mandalar Resort (or similar). (B)
Rupar Mandalar Resort
This morning transfer to the Road To Mandalay river cruiser operated by Belmond. After lunch on board, enjoy a guided tour of the key sights of Mandalay. Return to the Road To Mandalay for dinner and local entertainment in the evening. Overnight on board. (B,L,D)
Visit Sagaing, famous for its silversmiths who still work in much the same way as their ancestors did. The ship sails around mid-morning, and begins its journey south. Spend the day relaxing on board observing the local river life from the top deck. A casual cocktail party is followed by dinner on board. (B,L,D)
The ship arrives at Bagan where over 2,000 temples and pagodas are scattered on an awe-inspiring plain beside the river. A guided orientation tour introduces the most important temples. After lunch visit the inside of some of the more significant pagodas. Alternatively, hire a bicycle or horse-drawn cart and explore the area at leisure. Late afternoon witness the breathtaking vista of the sun setting over the plain. Dinner and local entertainment on board. (B,L,D)
Disembark the Road to Mandalay and drive through the plains to Mt Popa which is a place of great importance to the Burmese who believe it is the house of the 37 Nats, or Burmese ancient animist spirits. The shrine is located on a volcanic plug, Taung Kalat - walk the 777 stairs to the top if you wish. Return to the base of the shrine and drive back to Bagan, stopping en route in a village which makes its living by producing various items from the toddy palm trees. Enjoy a traditional Burmese lunch under shade of Toddy Palm trees before returning to Bagan. Overnight Bagan Lodge (or similar). (B,L)
Fly to Heho and transfer to Nyaung Shwe. This afternoon visit the town’s famous Pindaya Caves. Nestled on a hillside, the cave consists of many chambers filled with hundreds of Buddha statues. Return to the hotel via a local workshop making umbrellas and paper from local materials. Overnight Pindaya Inle Inn (or similar). (B)
Pindaya Inle Inn
This morning drive through the Shan Hills to the Nyaung Shwe morning market. Continue by local trishaw down to the bustling canal which is a hive of activity in the morning - watch as baskets laden with produce are transferred from boats to trucks and bikes. Hop back on the trishaw and wind through quiet streets and board a private motorboat to head out to Inle Lake. Pass villages built on stilts over the lake and observe the leg-rowing fishermen and see their floating gardens built up from strips of water hyacinth and mud and anchored to the bottom with bamboo poles. Overnight Villa Inle Resort & Spa (or similar). (B)
Villa Inle Resort & Spa
After breakfast begin a full day excursion on Inle Lake. Start with a visit to Khaung Dine village and continue to Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda which contains five sacred Buddha images. Proceed to the village of Inpawkhone to observe the traditional silk weaving techniques of Inthar people and visit a cheroot factory where the local Burmese cigars are rolled by hand. This afternoon continue to the Pa-oh village of Indein and explore the area on foot and wander through the beautiful Alaung Sitthou area. (B)
Sail to Sagar on the southern region of Inle lake, a journey of two to three hours. Very few tourists make the trip down to this region yet it is one of the most beautiful places in the Shan State. Visit the ‘sunken’ stupas of Sagar - 108 stupas from the 16-17th centuries that are partially underwater for a few months a year. Continue to a local monastery and to the village of Thaya Gone, a village known for its production of local rice wine. Enjoy fantastic views of the lake and surrounding villages from a nearby hilltop before visiting a pottery village to witness the crafting of oil and water pots. In the afternoon travel back and observe the rice noodles drying in the sun, spun cotton hanging out to dry and children returning from school. (B,L)
This morning transfer to Heho for the flight to Yangon and transfer to the Governor’s Residence (or similar) to freshen up before sightseeing. Start your city tour with a visit to Kandawgyi Park, one of central Yangon’s greenest spots. Discover the glittering Karaweik barge and the vast lake with views of Shwedagon in the background. Stop at a local tea shop for a chance to experience an integral part of Burmese life -enjoy a coffee or tea as you sit with friends and families who gather at the tea shop to socialise. Continue to Shwedagon Pagoda the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Take a walk around this stunning tribute to Buddhism and hear about the sites trials and tribulations including a near miss with an earthquake! (B)
Transfer to airport for flight back to the UK. (B)
15 day tour, from £4850 per person
- Return flights in economy class with Malaysia Airlines via Kuala Lumpur
- All airport taxes & security charges
- Accommodation in hotels with breakfast
- Meals as specified (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- All transfers and transportation
- Sightseeing with English-speaking guide/driver
- All local boat rentals and cycling as mentioned in the program
- All entrance fees and sightseeing as mentioned in the program
- Myanmar Visa
- International airport departure tax in Myanmar, $10 USD per person, at present
- Travel Insurance
- Tips and gratuities
- Meals that are not listed on the itinerary – please note that over the Christmas and New Year period there may be gala dinner supplements
Road to Mandalay
Originally built as a Rhine cruiser in Germany in 1964, the ship was later purchased and refurbished by Orient-Express and transported to Myanmar in 1995, where it's been plying the Irrawaddy River ever since.
The Road to Mandalay puts a high priority on comfort and the boat's 56 cabins are no exception. Air-conditioned, with en-suite shower facilities, the rooms offer the ultimate in privacy whilst aboard the boat. Each cabin is decorated in fine linens and beautiful fabrics bringing an unexpected touch of class to the cabins.
However, passengers are more like to spend time on-deck as the boat meanders along the Irrawaddy river. From the ship's canopied Observation Deck, lounge in a comfortable chair and gaze at the surrounding beauty or, enjoy a swim in the on-deck pool. As the sun sets, retire to the Piano Bar to enjoy a range of cocktails whilst listening to the musical talents of a local pianist. Throughout The Road to Mandalay, cane and teak furniture as well as Burmese textiles and antiques highlight the beauty of the boat.
Should the scenery and peaceful sounds of the river not be enough entertainment, the ship also offers evening marionette and dance shows by local performers. During the day time, demonstrations and lectures are scheduled should you wish to enhance your understanding of local culture.
The Road to Mandalay has a crew of on-board chefs who provide the best in local and international cuisine. The buffet lunch features seven different themes and in the evening, guests have a plethora of both European and Asian dishes, served at the guests' chosen time.
Click on images to enlarge
Click on images to enlarge