Burma - Rivers & Royal Capitals
18 Day Tour, from £5450 per person
Experience the luxury and grace of travelling down the Chindwin River aboard the new Sanctuary Ananda Cruise on this wonderful 18 day Burma holiday. Explore the cultural heritage of Yangon, home to the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, and discover the plains of Bagan, the site of over 3,000 temples dating back to the 11th-13th centuries. Embark on the elegant Sanctuary Ananda Cruise and enjoy riverside stops to visit more temples at sunrise, the colourful market at Nyaung Oo, a great place to meet the locals, and the pagodas of Bagaya, Sagaing and Amarapura. This luxury Burma holiday sets out to experience an increasingly popular form of transport in the country in true style while also discovering the many wonderful sights the country has to offer, a real trip of a lifetime.
Arrive in Yangon and transfer to the hotel.
After time to freshen up visit Shwedagon Pagoda, the most revered Buddhist temple in Myanmar. Although the origins of the pagoda are unclear, the local legend states that the original structure was built 2500 years ago then renovated several times until taking its current shape in the 15th century. Enjoy breathtaking views of the golden stupa.
Overnight in Yangon.
After breakfast explore the city centre on foot and its fabulous mix of architecture and sites. Highlights include City Hall, the old railway station and the former Minister’s office where General Aung San was assassinated. Witness local life up close - from the busy bus and boat stations to the tea shops and hidden street markets. There are plenty of chances to interact with Yangon residents and learn more about the Burmese culture.
After lunch visit Kyaukhtatgyi Pagoda, home to a 70-metre long reclining Buddha. Continue to a local tea shop for a chance to experience an integral part of Burmese life: drinking tea! Enjoy a brew amid businessmen, friends and families who gather at the tea shop to socialize or conduct business. End the day at Kandawagyi Park, one of central Yangon’s greenest spots and marvel at the glittering Karaweik barge.
Overnight in Yangon. (B)
Fly to Nyaung Oo and head to the plains of Bagan. Visit an elevated temple and marvel at the awe-inspiring panoramic view of the magnificent plains below. Visit the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for an introduction in to Bagan’s rich history and explore Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jataka mural paintings.
This afternoon visit a traditional lacquerware workshop and observe the production of one of Myanmar’s best known handicrafts. Continue to Ananda Temple one of Bagan’s most beautiful temples. From here, travel by horse cart for a tour passing Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan, Dhammayangyi Temple, noted for its remarkable brickwork, and Sulamani Temple.
Enjoy an unforgettable sunset over the plains from the upper terrace of one of the temples.
Overnight in Bagan. (B)
After breakfast, transfer to the Bagan jetty and embark the Sanctuary Cruise for 10 nights.
Join the cruise program and enjoy the services and facilities onboard.
Overnight onboard. (B/L/D)
This morning sail from Pakokku to Yesagyo. This is an opportunity to watch cotton-blanket weavers and visit the local market with Sanctuary Ananda's chef. (B, L, D)
Disembark and visit the Po Win Taung caves near Shwe Ba Taung. Carved out of the sandstone hills, this setting is breathtaking to behold and a highlight of any trip to Myanmar. There are almost one thousand caves in which both the Buddha images and thrones were carved out of living rock. The natural shape of the caves was kept, and 17th century wall paintings in exquisite detail cover the interior walls. The entrances are rimmed with traditional motifs of vines and flowers. (B, L, D)
Today, enjoy a chance to see an extraordinary blend of European and Burmese architecture of the Mahar Minkyaung Monastery, the oldest wooden Monastery. The Shwe Sagar Buddha is especially remarkable - it was carved from a single piece of wood a thousand years ago. (B, L, D)
Explore more of Masein and witness misty blue and green hills rising high on the horizon and near the village, a row of 28 white-washed pagodas line the crest of a sloping hill and file down towards the river. The number signifies the 28 Buddhas that have brought enlightenment to the world. Enjoy a restful afternoon on board and take full advantage of Sanctuary Ananda's extensive services and facilities during the sailing to Sitthaung. (B, L, D)
Today visit Paung Pyin, the northernmost point of the cruise. The Uyu River is a major tributary of the Chindwin River, and the sand in this part of the river gets a lot of attention from local people - look out for folks panning for gold here in the hope of finding small nuggets. See the emerald green paddy fields on the way to the village pagoda. Near the mouth of the Yu River which drains the Kubu valley, Sitthaung was the final resting place of a number of IFC steamers scuppered there in 1942.
Mawleik, once the administrative centre of the Bombay Burma Trading Company, is still a lively town with a vibrant market and colonial charm. This is a part of Myanmar that very few tourists see. This afternoon, take tea in the panoramic lounge onboard and enjoy awe-inspiring views of thatched homes and local life. (B, L,D)
Today visit Kalewa. Kalewa is the trading post between Myanmar and India, and this town rests at the point where the Myit Tha River with its source in India joins with the Chindwin. Kalewa is right at the foot of the Western Mountain Ranges that loom over the town, the pagoda on the hill and the placid waters of the river. The cruise continues after lunch taking you through lush gorges, past wild jungle and tiny riverside villages - the scenery here looks like that of a land that time forgot. Enjoy interesting talks on board the ship during the afternoon.
Relax on board and sail towards the village of Maukkadaw. Arrive at the village, once an important teak port. Explore the town and its stunning teak buildings made even more exotic by the tropical jungle that surrounds them. Wander around the village and visit the brick monastery. (B, L, D)
Arrive in Monywa in the Sagaing Region and enjoy unspoiled scenery that rarely gets exposed to tourists. After exploring the city visit the intricately decorated golden Thanboddhay Pagoda. It is truly staggering with its hundreds of crumbling stupas and almost half a million images of Buddha located in the niches around the inner wall. Tour the Bodhi Tataung and see the two enormous Buddha statues - the one reclining is about 333 foot long, and the other stands at a record height of 424 feet. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark the ship and meet the local guide to head into Mandalay city.
This afternoon, visit Mahamuni Pagoda which is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with gold leaf. If time permits, visit Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures have earned it the title ‘World’s Biggest Book’. Continue to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. This grand teak building is known for its exquisite woodcarving.
Overnight in Mandalay. (B)
Early this morning, head to the top of Mandalay Hill as the sun begins to rise. Enjoy magnificent views of the city and Irrawaddy River from atop the hill. From here depart the city on a scenic two-hour drive to the former British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin (also known as Maymyo) located on a plateau 1,000m above sea level. Many reminders of the colonial era are still present in Pyin Oo Lwin, including brick and timber houses.
Enjoy lunch at The Club Terrace Restaurant and this afternoon, take a traditional horse cart and carriage ride through town. Stop at the Botanical Gardens, 432 acres of leafy gardens home to a diverse mix of botanical species from around the world.
Overnight in Mandalay. (B)
After breakfast depart for an excursion to explore the former capitals of Ava, Sagaing and Amarapura. Cross a bridge over the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing which is covered with 600 white-painted pagodas and monasteries and is widely regarded as the religious centre of Myanmar. Visit pagodas such as Swan Oo Pon Nya Shin and U Min Thone Sae.
Continue south of the city to Ava, the capital from 14th to 18th centuries, before taking a short ferry ride to visit the old wooden Bagaya Monastery and the remains of the Royal Palace and Fort.
This afternoon, return toward the city and stop at Amarapura, a former capital whose name means ‘City of Immortality’. Visit a silk weaving workshop producing exquisite handmade products and Mahagandayon monastery, where over one thousand monks reside. Continue to U Bein Bridge for a walk along this 200 year old teak bridge. Enjoy a stroll along the bridge and the fabulous views of the surrounding farms and streams.
Overnight in Mandalay. (B/L)
Transfer to Mandalay Airport for the flight to Yangon. Land and drive to visit the Allied War Cemetery , a beautifully landscaped, peaceful area which is the final resting place for more than 27,000 Allied Soldiers who perished during the World War II campaign in Myanmar. Transfer to Insein Township to board the local ‘circle train’ which runs from Yangon’s main railway station in a circle. Marvel at the colourful life of the rural Burmese people.
Overnight in Yangon. (B)
Enjoy the guide and car at your disposal for any additional sightseeing or shopping in Yangon before the transfer to Yangon airport for the flight to the UK.
18 day tour, from £5450 per person
- Return flights in economy class with Thai Airways via Bangkok from London Heathrow
- All airport taxes & security charges
- Accommodation in hotels / ship with breakfast
- Meals as specified (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
- All transfers and transportation
- Sightseeing with English-speaking guide/driver
- All entrance fees and sightseeing as mentioned in the program
- Myanmar visa
- Travel insurance
- Tips and gratuities
- Meals that are not listed on the itinerary
Sanctuary Ananda Cruise
Sanctuary Ananda Cruise launched in November 2014 offering an all-suite ship with 21 spacious and luxurious cabins spread over 3 decks. All cabins offer top quality amenities and facilities including air-conditioning and WiFi and Sanctuary Ananda Cruise is also the only all-balcony cruiser on the river allowing guests to watch rural Burma glide by from the comfort of their own cabin.
The cruiser has a range of excellent on-board facilities including the Thambyadine Spa and gym, a plunge pool on the sundeck, the Dufferin library and the Kansi Panorama Lounge. The indoor Talifoo Restaurant offers local and international cuisine and for outdoor dining the Mindoon Al Fresco Restaurant on the Mandalay Deck is the venue for breakfast and lunch. The Kansi Panorama Lounge on the Bhamo Deck offers afternoon tea and cocktails and lovely views of the passing riverbank.
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Click on images to enlarge