- Mandalay and the ancient capitals, Bagan, Yangon: explore the richness of Burmese civilisation along the Irrawaddy River
- Gentle boat ride aboard a traditional vessel: wonderful four-day cruise
- Meeting monks, cycling tours, explore Inle Lake by canoe: it's all included in the itinerary
- Our local Concierge service and all our usual additional services
Contact one of our Myanmar specialists + 44 (0) 20 3958 6120
ALONG THE RIVER AND ACROSS INLE LAKE
The journey begins in Mandalay, walk through rice fields to a monastery that's home to 300 monks, and watch as they recite their psalms as night falls. Then board a boat for a five-day cruise between Mandalay and Bagan, on the Irrawaddy River. Burmese civilisation developed along its banks and this gentle boat ride downstream is a chance to explore the ancient capitals of Sagaing, Ava and Amarapura - witnessing the monks file across the U Bein Bridge chanting mantras. Stop in the villages that line the way between cotton and rice fields, along the shores planted with coconut trees, bamboos and large tropical trees. Along the gentle river ride, watch the passing landscape of scenes from everyday life:
Logistics - Private and accompanied tours, charming places to stay, private car transfers with driver. And throughout your journey, you have the contact details of our local Concierge service who can be reached at any time: they are there to help with the unexpected.
PRIVATE CRUISE ON THE IRRAWADDY RIVER
Built by Burmese carpenters, this unique traditional vessel exudes a retro elegance while still meeting the requirements of modern-day luxury. The cabins are very comfortable and the communal areas – two restaurants, a library, a panoramic lounge, a gym, a spa, a swimming pool and sundeck – perfectly reflect Asian design style. Life on board lacks for nothing and is a delight. Not forgetting the cuisine: the galley serves deliciously light dishes. Yoga classes, meditation sessions and traditional music concerts are all available to guests to enhance the onboard experience.
Flight to Mandalay
Overnight flight, arriving the next day.
Transfer and overnight stay a short distance away from the royal palace, in a hotel that honours traditional architectural design. It features a marble and teak interior, lush gardens, a spa, a swimming pool and a gourmet restaurant.
Mandalay is home to some of the country's most famous monasteries, and the monastic community – 40,000 monks among 500,000 inhabitants – is particularly large. Here, age-old culture is passed on in the shade of pagodas.
Incuded in the itinerary - Stroll through the countryside's rice fields and villages to the top of Yankin Hill to watch the sun go down. On the way back, stop at a monastery inhabited by 350 monks to witness their daily psalm recital. After the ceremony, meet them to talk about their beliefs and way of life. Walking tour and meeting experience are with a private guide.
Mandalay - Irrawaddy River Cruise
Board the boat, meet the crew and tour the facilities. The boat is 200ft long and 40ft wide, making it highly manoeuvrable. It carries 42 passengers in 21 cabins and 34 crew members, including English-speaking guides. The staff are friendly and smiling. As always on cruises, the itinerary may vary depending on sailing conditions. Sailing down the river, come across all the major sites. Amarapura, with its Mahagandayon Monastery, a centre of monastic and religious study, and the legendary teak U Bein Bridge that dates back to the 19th century, across Taungthaman Lake. Sagaing is the spiritual centre of the country: it boasts nearly 600 Buddhist pagodas and monasteries and is home to 3,000 monks; golden roofs peak out everywhere above the treetops. The ancient imperial capital of Ava and its stupas out in the open field. Bagaya, a stunning teak monastery built in the 18th century. Pakokku, a large settlement with a thriving craft trade. And the 50 monasteries of Sale, south of Bagan. On the banks of the river, forests of teak follow on from rice fields, banana fields and orchards.
Cruise - Bagan
Time to disembark. Transfer to Bagan and two-night stay in a hotel with a Burmese architectural style that perfectly fits in with the surroundings. The villas are comfortable with suitable simplicity and excellent facilities. They feature a swimming pool, restaurant, spa and service to meet the expectations of 21st-century guests. The staff are genuinely warm and friendly.
Included in the itinerary - Cycling through the Bagan countryside, with a private guide, on the dirt trails and along the Irrawaddy River. This is the perfect opportunity to meet the inhabitants of the city's neighbouring villages, from village hairdressers to cabinetmaking workshops.
Already included in the itinerary - Tour of the hinterland with a private guide. Roam the countryside from rustic temples to country villages, such as Kyat Khayon Cave Monastery (12th century). In Myinkaba, traditional houses with palm latticework each have their own altar for offerings, while children play with spinning tops. Also pay a visit to a lacquerware workshop. The Gubyaukgyi Temple, which dates back to the 12th century, has preserved a beautiful collection of Buddhist murals, while Nanpaya Temple is renowned for its remarkable statues of Buddha.
Bagan - Heho - Inle Lake
Private transfer to the airport and flight to Heho. Another private transfer to Inle Lake, sailing by canoe to the hotel on the shores of Inle Lake, for a three-night stay. The wooden architecture of the hotel's chalets is inspired by the style of the Shan people. The spa treatments draw on the heritage of the mountain people and are delivered in exquisite surroundings. The restaurant reflects the crossroads of cultures in these regions: Burmese, Shan, Chinese, European cuisine... A perfect balance for tuning into the lakeside lifestyle.
Included in the itinerary - With a private guide, board a traditional canoe to explore the floating gardens, meet the market gardeners and fishermen in and around Inle Lake. And on the eastern shore of the lake, take a stroll through villages to learn about traditional Intha market gardening techniques.
Already included in the itinerary - On Inle Lake. The day, with a private guide, begins on the lake, in a motorised canoe: villages made of wood and plant mesh, markets and floating gardens, net fishermen, helmsmen rowing with one leg... pagodas, like Hpaung Daw U, whose five Buddhas are mummified under the gold leaf. Lunch by the water's edge. Then, reach the village of Indein, where, at the end of a long, covered gallery, lies the Alaungsithu Monastery and its forest of ten thousand stupas, built by the inhabitants of the region since the 12th century.
Already included in the itinerary - The Sagar region, off the beaten track, at the very far southern end of Inle Lake, is one of the most beautiful in Shan State, with its mountains, small villages and rice fields. Located on the southern tip of Inle Lake, it feeds rich birdlife. Pass through it with a knowledgeable guide, looking for the 108 sunken stupas, built in the 16th and 17th centuries. The beauty of these constructions, adorned with greenery, in an untouched countryside, is a truly unique experience. The region is also a producer of renowned rice wine. Undoubtedly less spiritual than Buddha's doctrine, but just as Burmese.
Inle Lake - Heho - Yangon
Transfer to Heho and flight to Yangon. Two-night stay in a hotel whose colonial charm has been tailored to the requirements of contemporary guests. It features teak, terraces, beautiful craftsmanship and curtains, as well as a swimming pool and spa. The rooms are elegant and spacious. In the evening, at the restaurant window, the Shwedagon Pagoda's stupa shines in the royal blue sky.
Included in the itinerary - Private tour of the pagodas of Yangon. Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple, and its famous 230ft-long reclining Buddha; Shwedagon Pagoda, centre of Burmese religious devotion, which has preserved eight strands of hair from Buddha under forty tonnes of gold leaf, and is a place to wander around silently listening to the mantras of the monks that you will visit nearby.
YANGON - RETURN FLIGHT
There are two sides to Myanmar's former capital. The former is imbued with the old-fashioned charm of the different periods in its history: golden pagodas and giant Buddhas, parasols and 'longyis', colonial facades swamped in greenery: The British atmosphere lives on under the banyan trees. The second is creative and dynamic, giving Yangon a new lease of life. Rampant urban development brings with it a host of different surprises, from contemporary art to gastronomy.
In the itinerary - Private half-day tour of Yangon. A visit that starts at Le Planteur, a beautiful colonial house nestled in a tropical garden that has retained refined culinary know-how from the British colonial era, transporting guests back to the Burma of Kipling during an afternoon tea in the pure English tradition. Then, board the circular railway that connects Yangon to its outskirts - onboard, school children sit alongside street vendors and workers returning home after their day's work. And in the city centre, stroll between ancient colonial neighbourhoods and art galleries that are testament to the city's revival.
Private transfer to the airport and catch your flight home early in the evening. Arrive the next morning.
A la carte
Lunch aboard a rice barge - Inle Lake
Taking a trip out onto the lake on one of the sturdy boats used to carry grain is a great way to soak up the special atmosphere of Inle Lake, designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2015, to observe the wildlife that lives along the banks, fish and birds, such as brown-headed gulls and black-winged stilts... And the cuisine of the lake has its own flavours that are especially delicious on the water.
Option - Half day
EXPLORE NGAPALI WITH A FEW EXTRA DAYS
After the countless depictions of Buddha in the temples, after the ceremonies and processions, palaces and rice fields, take it easy for a few days on a white sandy beach by the Bay of Bengal, in Ngapali. Palm trees, the blue sea... the perfect setting for relaxing body and mind and reflecting on all the experiences of the trip.
Optional - October - April
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