Golden Myanmar

Cruising the Irrawaddy River from Yangon to Mandalay aboard the Irrawaddy Explorer

Golden Myanmar  route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $3099  
Length: 10 days
Arrive: Yangon, Myanmar
Depart: Yangon, Myanmar
Lodging: 9 nights aboard a 56-passenger river vessel
Meals: All meals included aboard ship and with the group ashore
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, River Cruising
Trip Level: 10-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours
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Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Join us for an incredible voyage into the mysterious land of the Irrawaddy River, virtually closed to Westerners for decades. From cosmopolitan Yangon, home of the amazing Shwedagon Pagoda, we venture to Mandalay, the cultural center of Myanmar, and explore the diverse ecosystems of the river as we cruise to Bagan, home to more than 2,000 ethereal temples.

Itinerary


Sample Upstream Itinerary (Yangon to Mandalay)

Day 1
Yangon / Shwesandaw Pagoda complex of Prome / Embark Irrawaddy Explorer

Meeting in Yangon, we enjoy a scenic drive to Prome. Once controlled by the Mon tribe during the Bagan Era and then conquered by the Burmese King Alaungpaya in 1754, Prome  boomed along with the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1890s and is now an important trading post. In the afternoon we drive to Thayekhittaya (also known as Sri Ksetra, the “Fabulous City” in the Pali language), an ancient Pyu city that ruled in this area between the 5th and the 9th centuries AD. In Prome, we visit the impressive Shwesandaw Pagoda complex, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites of Myanmar, and the Wunchataung Paya (Apology Mountain Pagoda), a fabulous vantage point of the Shwesandaw Pagoda and the surrounding mountains. This afternoon we embark on the Irrawaddy Explorer and set sail on the Irrawaddy River.

Day 2
Thayetmo

We explore the town of Thayetmyo, with its fascinating history and golf course (the oldest in Myanmar), along with the local market and several colonial homes constructed during the British colonization of Burma.

Day 3
Magwe

We arrive at Magwe and visit Myat Than Lun Paya, a 1929-built pagoda of gold solid bricks set on a hilltop with a beautiful panoramic vantage point.

Day 4
Salay / Tan Kyi

Salay, a village founded in the 13th century with Bagan-era shrines, features beautiful 19th century teak monasteries and preserved British colonial buildings. After lunch, we continue upstream to the village of Tan Kyi. Reaching the mountaintop by jeep, we see one of the four stupas that marked the original edges of the city and enjoy a marvelous sunset over the Bagan plains.

Day 5
Bagan

We enjoy a full-day visit of the most significant pagodas and temples of the 2,000 listed around Bagan. Following lunch on board we set out via local oxcart to view sunset atop the most significant temple in the area, complete with a champagne toast!

Day 6
Bagan

We explore some of Bagan’s local markets brimming with woodcarvings, fabrics, longyis, and rattan products for sale. In a local workshop we see the ancient technique of Burmese lacquerware making. Options (at extra cost) include hiring a horse cart or a bicycle and exploring the site on your own or enjoying a splendid early morning balloon flight over Bagan. This afternoon we sail to Shwe Pyi Thar for a leisurely walk through a typical village along the Irrawaddy River. Dinner this evening dinner is followed by a puppet show performance.

Day 7
Yandabo

We arrive at Yandabo, a picturesque village famous for its pottery. It’s also the site where the peace treaty of the first Anglo-Burmese war was signed on Feb. 24, 1826. We go ashore for a walk, stopping at workshops to witness their craft and interesting way of firing their pottery, followed by a visit to the local school and monastery.

Day 8
Monywa

In Monywa, we visit the Hpowindaung and Shwebadaung Caves, where hundreds of Buddha statues are placed inside niches decorated with wonderful mural paintings. After lunch, we visit the splendid Sambuddhai Kat Kyaw pagoda with its more than 500,000 Buddha images. We rejoin the ship in Sagaing.

Day 9
Mingun / Ava / Amarapura and U-Bein Bridge

Mingun is the site of the famous “unfinished pagoda” and the largest working bell in the world. After lunch, we explore Ava by horse-cart, visiting the beautiful 200-year-old teak Bagaya Kyaung Monastery, Nanmyin watchtower, and the Me Nu Ok Kyaung monastery. We travel to Amarapura, the penultimate Burmese Royal Capital (1783) to visit U-Bein Bridge at sunset. We enjoy a sampan cruise and champagne toast before returning to the ship for our farewell dinner, followed by a dance and theatre performance.

Day 10
Mandalay / Yangon / Depart

In Mandalay we explore Mahamuni Pagoda and Mandalay Hill, where spiraling staircases lead to sweeping views of the city and its temples. Nearby is Kuthodaw Paya, which contains the world’s biggest book, and the workshops of gold leaf and tapestry making, woodcarving, marble carving, and bronze casting. We enjoy lunch onboard before disembarking and flying to Yangon for homeward-bound flights (or join our optional extension to Inle Lake).

 


Sample Downstream Itinerary (Mandalay to Yangon)

Day 1
Mandalay / Embark Irrawaddy Explorer / Mingun

In Mandalay we explore Mahamuni Pagoda and Mandalay Hill, where spiraling staircases lead to sweeping views of the city and its temples. Nearby is Kuthodaw Paya, which contains the world’s biggest book, and a gold leaf  workshop commonly used to adorn Buddha images at temples throughout Myanmar. We embark the Irrawaddy Explorer at Gawein Jetty and, following a safety briefing, we sail a short distance upstream to the small town of Mingun. Here we will visit the unfinished pagoda and the largest working bell in the world before returning to the ship for a welcome reception and dinner onboard.

Day 2

We explore the town of Ava by horse-cart, visiting the beautiful 200-year-old teak Bagaya Kyaung Monastery, Nanmyin watchtower, and the Me Nu Ok Kyaung monastery. We then travel to Amarapura, the penultimate Burmese Royal Capital (1783) to visit U-Bein Bridge at sunset. We enjoy a sampan cruise and champagne toast before returning to the ship dinner, followed by a dance and theatre performance.

Day 3
Monywa

In Monywa, we visit the Hpowindaung and Shwebadaung Caves, where hundreds of Buddha statues are placed inside niches decorated with wonderful mural paintings. After lunch, we visit the splendid Sambuddhai Kat Kyaw pagoda with its more than 500,000 Buddha images.

Day 4
Yandabo / Shwe Pyi Thar

We arrive at Yandabo, a picturesque village famous for its pottery. It’s also the site where the peace treaty of the first Anglo-Burmese war was signed on Feb. 24, 1826. We go ashore for a walk, stopping at workshops to witness their craft and interesting way of firing their pottery, followed by a visit to the local school and monastery. This afternoon we sail to Shwe Pyi Thar for a leisurely walk through a typical village along the Irrawaddy River.

Day 5
Bagan

We enjoy a full-day visit of the most significant pagodas and temples of the 2,000 listed around Bagan. Following lunch on board we set out via local oxcart to view sunset atop the most significant temple in the area.

Day 6
Bagan

We explore some of Bagan’s local markets brimming with woodcarvings, fabrics, longyis, and rattan products for sale. In a local workshop we see the ancient technique of Burmese lacquerware making. Options (at extra cost) include hiring a horse cart or a bicycle and exploring the site on your own or enjoying a splendid early morning balloon flight over Bagan. After lunch, we continue to the village of Tan Kyi. Reaching the mountaintop by jeep, we see one of the four stupas that marked the original edges of the city and enjoy a marvelous sunset over the Bagan plains.

Day 7
Salay

We sail downstream to Salay, a 7,000-resident village founded in the 13th century with Bagan-era shrines, beautiful 19th century teak monasteries, and preserved British colonial buildings. Our explorations include the huge Youqson Kyaung wooden monastery, designed as a copy of the Crown Prince House of Mandalay, an area of colonial buildings, and some interesting Bagan-era monuments such as Payathonzu and the Shinpinsarkyo Paya. We then return to the ship for lunch and enjoy a scenic cruise south to Magwe.

Day 8

We arrive at Magwe and visit Myat Than Lun Paya, a 1929-built pagoda of gold solid bricks set on a hilltop with a beautiful view of the river. We then sail downstream to the town of Thayetmyo, with its fascinating history and golf course (the oldest in Myanmar), along with the local market and several colonial homes constructed during the British colonization of Burma.

Day 9
Prome

Once controlled by the Mon tribe during the Bagan Era and then conquered by the Burmese King Alaungpaya in 1754, Prome  boomed along with the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1890s and is now an important trading post. In the afternoon we drive to Thayekhittaya (also known as Sri Ksetra, the “Fabulous City” in the Pali language), an ancient Pyu city that ruled in this area between the 5th and the 9th centuries AD. In Prome, we visit the impressive Shwesandaw Pagoda complex, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites of Myanmar, and the Wunchataung Paya (Apology Mountain Pagoda), a fabulous vantage point of the Shwesandaw Pagoda and the surrounding mountains. We return to the ship for our farewell dinner.

Day 10
Yangon / Depart

We disembark and transfer to Yangon for departure on homeward-bound flights.

Note: This cruise is not an exclusive Wilderness Travel departure. The itinerary, lecturers, and other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the ship operator.

2015 Cruise Collection Brochure

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Download our online digital brochure to view on your computer or mobile device, or as a PDF! Or request a printed copy to be sent by mail, or by calling 800-368-2794.

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 1, Easiest, and is appropriate for anyone in good health who is physically active. Shore excursions include walks to cultural monuments and local towns and villages.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures

2014
Dec 29, 2014-Jan 7, 2015  SOLD OUT

2015
Feb 12-21, 2015  SOLD OUT
Mar 20-29, 2015  SOLD OUT
Apr 16-25, 2015  Mandalay to Yangon
Apr 25-May 4, 2015  Yangon to Mandalay
Nov 27-Dec 6, 2015  SOLD OUT
Dec 15-24, 2015  Yangon to Mandalay
Dec 24, 2015-Jan 2, 2016  Mandalay to Yangon

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2014

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise PriceSingle Price
Maugham Stateroom $2,899 4,899
Orwell Stateroom $3,299 5,599
Kipling Stateroom $3,999 7,999
Mandalay Suite $4,599 9,199
Internal airfare: $225 (subject to change)
Port Charges: $98

Prices are for 2015

Cruise Rates by Cabin Category
Per person, double occupancy

CategoriesCruise PriceSingle Price
Maugham Stateroom $3,099 5,299
Orwell Stateroom $3,499 5,999
Kipling Stateroom $4,199 8,399
Mandalay Suite $4,799 9,599
Internal airfare: $225 (subject to change)
Port Charges: $129

Extension Costs
Bangkok Extension
   from: $645
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $490
Phuket Extension
   from: $795

Deck Plan

Trip Cost Includes:

  • all shore excursions
  • cold towel service, shoe cleaning and welcome drink after shore excursions
  • Listening devices during shore excursions
  • bottled water, replenished daily
  • Coffee, water, tea, soft drinks.
  • Local beer and wine with dinner only
  • hair dryer in cabins
  • fitness center
  • WIFI in all public areas
  • iPhone docking station with alarm clock
  • daily international newspapers
  • laundry service and one hour spa service for Mandalay Suite guests
  • welcome and farewell reception
  • nightly entertainment in lounge
  • transfer to/from the boat

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

Laundry service, gratuities, international phone calls, medical services on board, spa services on board, any taxes, government fees and fuel supplements

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: 25% of trip cost
130 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $500.0 per person
91-120 days prior to departure: 50.0% of trip cost
90 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Arrival & Departure Information

For Upstream Cruises from Yangon to Mandalay:

Arrival & Meeting Place
Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)
Sule Shangri-La
Date: Day 1
Time: 7:15am
Suggested arrival time: 1 day prior to Day 1 of the trip

Suggested arrival airport
Yangon, Burma (Myanmar) (airport code RGN)

For upstream cruises, you must arrive Yangon at least 1 day before the trip starts. There will be an 7:15am group transfer to meet the boat in Prome. We strongly recommend overnighting at the Sule Shangri-La (not included in trip cost) the night before so that you do not miss the early morning transfer. 

Departure
Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)
Date: Day 10
Time: After 9:00pm

Suggested departure airport
Yangon, Burma (Myanmar) (airport code RGN)

The cruise concludes on Day 9 in Mandalay. Travelers will spend the day touring Mandalay and will overnight on board the ship. On the morning of Day 10, after a morning of sightseeing and lunch on board the ship, everyone will transfer to Yangon. You can schedule your return flight from Yangon anytime after 9:00pm, but the more logical option is to overnight at the Trader's Hotel in Yangon (not included in trip cost) and depart leisurely on Day 11.

 

For Downstream Cruises from Mandalay to Yangon:

Arrival & Meeting Place
Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar)
Mandalay Hill Hotel
Date: Day 1
Time: 8:00am
Suggested arrival time: 2 days prior to Day 1 of the trip

Suggested arrival airport
Yangon, Burma (Myanmar) (airport code RGN)

For downstream cruises, you must arrive Yangon at least 2 days before the trip starts. Upon arrival, it is recommended that you spend the first night at the Trader's Hotel in Yangon (not included in trip cost). The next night it's recommended that you stay at the Mandalay Hill Hotel (not included in trip cost). The morning that you wake up at the Mandalay Hill Hotel will be Day 1 of your trip. On this day, there will be an 8:00am group transfer to the boat.

Departure
Yangon, Burma (Myanmar)
Date: Day 10
Time: After 6:00pm

Suggested departure airport
Yangon, Burma (Myanmar) (airport code RGN)

The cruise concludes on Day 10 in Prome. Travelers will disembark the ship at 9:00am and will be transferred to Yangon to arrive by 2:00pm. The Trader's Hotel in Yangon is the drop off point and unless you have a late evening flight scheduled from Yangon, it is strongly recommended that you overnight at the Trader's Hotel (not included in trip cost) for a leisurely departure on Day 11. 

Irrawaddy Explorer

Experience the wonders of the Irrawaddy River while sailing in comfort aboard the recently built 56-passenger Irrawaddy Explorer. Spacious cabins, ranging from 273-409 sq. ft. in area, offer views of the river, and feature individually controlled air conditioning, flat screen television with on-demand movies, iPhone® docking station with alarm clock, and in-room safe. Bathrooms are stocked with fine bath and body products, hairdryer, bathrobe, and slippers, and bottled water is provided daily. Public areas include a sun deck, lounge with full-service bar, dining room, and gallery.

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Burma

Inle Lake Extension

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Yangon and the Shwedagon Pagoda Extension

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Myanmar

Inle Lake Extension

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 1

Yangon and the Shwedagon Pagoda Extension

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Thailand

wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2