Downstream river cruise on the beautiful Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Bagan with daily sailing and excursions to village, markets and historic sites.
Our luxurious all suite ship will take you in style on voyages of breathtaking beauty and discovery on the mysterious rivers of Myanmar (Burma). Visit temples, pagodas, palaces and monasteries along the Irrawaddy River on a choice of cruises from Mandalay to Bagan, Bhamo or Yangon. Journeys on its great tributary, the Chindwin, will take you to places visitors rarely see – through the jungles of the north, forgotten villages, and ancient towns almost to the Indian border.
The cruise may be fantastic on its own or as an add-on for your holiday. This tour starts in Mandalay and ends in Bagan or vice versa, however transfers from other locations can be arranged as required. Discuss options with our Asia Travel Experts.
Day 1: Mandalay
Welcome on board the Sanctuary Ananda.
Check in at 12:30pm and se le into your suite. If you arrive on an earlier flight we can arrange a tour of Mandalay. This will include a visit to Mahamuni Pagoda, Shwenandaw Monastery and lastly a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda (Maha Lawka Marazein). Kuthodaw is often called the biggest book in the world, for surrounding it are 729 marble slabs inscribed with the Tripitaka texts (Buddhist cannon).
Lunch will be served on board as we cruise towards the pagoda sprinkled hills of Sagaing. In the afternoon visit the pagoda sprinkled Sagaing Hill, an important religious and monastic centre, home to some 554 monasteries and 6,000 monks and nuns. Here we will visit a Monastic school and orphanage where you will have the opportunity to meet some of the residents and understand the U BEIN BRIDGE teachings of Buddhism.
Next, take in the views from the top of the hill on the terraces of the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, which are truly breathtaking. Below and all around, pagodas of different shapes and sizes dot the landscape.
Amarapura, was once known as ‘The City of Immortals’. Today, the leisurely ‘clack-clack’ from the looms of the cotton and silk weavers has replaced the noisy bustle of this former capital. Visit the U Bein Bridge, a spectacular place to enjoy the sunset. This long teak bridge snakes across
the Taungthaman Lake. After sunset, return to the Sanctuary Ananda.
A local performance will be followed by dinner on board.
Itinerary Option: If you wish to spend some more time in Mandalay before embarking on the cruise, discuss additional nights in Mandalay with our Asia experts.
Day 2: Sin Kyun & Mingun
Early this morning Sanctuary Ananda will sail north to the quaint village of Sin Kyun, a village just north of Mandalay sponsored by Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy. It has a population of just under 1,000 inhabitants and specialises in farming and hat making. Take an optional tour to witness firsthand the way of life in this unspoilt location seldom viewed by outsiders.
Departing the village after breakfast and sailing towards Pakokku. Enjoy the beautiful sightseeing from the ship while passing Mingun, where you can see the unfinished Mingun Pagoda.
As we continue to sail south, relax as we sail past villages, set against a backdrop of soft browns, rich tamarind trees with white and golden pagodas gracing the distant hills. There is no better way to enjoy this riverine picture than from the Kansi panorama lounge.
Afer lunch a variety of on board activities will be offered including a longyi (sarong) and thanaka (cosmetic) demonstration and a talk on Myanmar – covering the country’s incredibly rich history, the recent controversial decades to the outlook for the future of The Golden Land.
Day 3: Pakokku
After breakfast, join our back of house tour and take a cooking class with our Executive Chef. One of our chefs will take you to the local market in Pakokku where mouth-watering fruit and vegetables are laid out with consummate style.
We will return to the cruise ship for lunch as we sail on to Bagan. After lunch on board, we will visit a small pagoda complex to see the different architecture of the stupas first-hand.
Next, on to the great golden Shwezigon Pagoda. This holds a special place among Burmese pagodas for two reasons: it was the first major monument built in the Burmese style (as distinct from Mon style) following the country’s conversion to Theravada Buddhism, and was the first pagoda to have nat (spirit) images allowed within the precinct. The Shwezigon is said to contain important relics of the Gautama Buddha, two bones and a copy of a tooth.
Enjoy the sunset over the Bagan plains. Admire the light change on the pagodas as they exude antiquity and mystery. Finally the sun sets behind the hills on the far side of the Ayeyarwady River, filling the sky with a reddish glow, a truly magic moment.
Day 4: Bagan
Take an optional early morning balloon tour to capture a birds-eye view of the Bagan plain, followed by breakfast back on board.
This morning visit the temples of Bagan. First, visit the Ananda Temple. Completed in 1091 AD, it is commonly referred to as one of the four great temples in Bagan. The Ananda is regarded by folklore as one of the most beautiful temples in Myanmar. A horse-cart will be your mode of transport through the Bagan plains, with several photo shops and a visit to Sulamani pagoda.
En route to Mount Popa, visit a jaggery workshop which produces unrefined sugar. Lunch will be served at Popa Mountain Resort with spectacular views of the site. Mount Popa is best known as a pilgrimage site, with numerous Nat temples and relics. Choose to climb the 777 steps where pilgrims give offerings and pray to carved figures; it’s a climb to take slowly, relishing the views.
Return to the ship in the early evening and enjoy the sunset as we sail. Tonight, a candlelit sandbank dinner is served with the backdrop of the twinkling lights of Bagan.
Day 5: Bagan
Enjoy an early breakfast on your final morning before check out at 9am.
If you are departing on a later flight we will arrange for you to take a tour in Bagan. Leaving at 9am we will visit a local village in the heart of the Bagan plain, to see the way of life of the local people. Next visit a lacquerware workshop. This ancient craft has been produced in Bagan since the time of King Anawrahta around 1050 AD. Here in the workshop the traditional methods are still used.
Personalise Your Trip
Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.
The Cruise Ship
Sanctuary Ananda is custom built by local craftsmen using traditional materials while offering sleek contemporary luxury. Sanctuary Ananda set sail on the Myanmar Rivers in November 2014 and offers 20 spacious suites on three decks, the luxurious Owner's suite, a sundeck with an outdoor pool and the Kansi panorama lounge.