From a country seen as fairly remarkable, Myanmar is fastly turning into one of the most popular river cruise destinations across Asia. Thanks to drastic changes in political policies, tons of visitors, and cruise lines have been caught attention to join river cruises Myanmar.
The Irrawaddy is the longest river in Malaysia which flows from the north to south, through the center of the country. From the mouth, its navigability is about 1,400km (870 miles). It takes only three or four days to finish river cruises Myanmar along on the Irrawaddy river from Bagan to Mandalay. The route also offers a chance for you to stay in hotels and sightseeing Bagan, Yangon, Mandalay or Inle Lake, which is famous for their fishermen leg-rowers. Regarding scenery, tourists can admire dense jungle-clad river banks, grand gorges, endless rice paddies and snapshots of rural life displayed along the riverbank.
The Irrawaddy river cruises
Typical cruises in Myanmar on Irrawaddy river lasts for seven nights (Mandalay to Bagan-Mandalay), four nights (Bagan to Mandalay) and three nights (Mandalay to Bagan). Occasionally, tourists can join special sailings like an 11-night cruise from Mandalay to Bhamo in August, and a seven-night cruise from Mandalay to the Chindwin River in September. The trip from the north of Mandalay via Mingun, Kyauk Myaung, Tagaung and Katha to Shwegu will take 17 nights. Witnessing the donation of alms to monks is among one of the most memorable during the cruise to Bagan. You can also see the temples from a hot air balloon.
The Chindwin is the Irrawaddy’s largest tributary Lush jungles. Its mountains and steeply-sided gorges peppered with the odd village will add more excitement to your Myanmar cruises. There are some tourist attractions in the Chindwin. They are:
- The Sambuddhai Temple of Monywa which includes 600,000 Buddha images
- The cave pagodas of Hpowintaung and Shwebataung
- The town of Kani and Mingin which is home to temples and characterful wooden houses.
Traveling on river boats
If you want to see the beautiful scenery of Myanmar nearby during your river cruises, you should travel on small boats, while big express boat journey is suitable for big villages. Express boats, with benches set crosswise in a shallow-draft hull, can hold about 80 passengers.
If you need some food to eat, you can buy from vendors before the departure because express boards hardly stop on the route. There is a variety ranging from fried chicken and fish, steamed beans to teashop doughnuts and samosas, cheroots, fruit juice.
The price of renting river boats falls in $12-$45 each person, it is up to the distance. You are advised to buy tickets in advance, probably the night before or day of departure.
Several cruise agencies
If you join Viking Cruises, your Myanmar excursions start along the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) in a vessel. Bagan and Mandalay are key destinations during the trip, in which you will have further exploration into the country.
AmaWaterways is another outstanding cruise along the river. This agency offers you two 14-night itineraries sailing from Pyay to Mandalay on AmaPura and including three nights in Yangon.
Meanwhile, Belmond (formerly known as Orient-Express Hotels) is a pioneer in short cruises on the Irrawaddy between Mandalay and Bagan. Its MV Orcaella, which was named after the beakless dolphins that inhabit the river, will take tourists along the enchanting Chindwin valley to the northern city of Bhamo, which is a true highlight of Myanmar day tour. Belmond now offers three, seven and 11-night itineraries including longer journeys downstream to Yangon and upstream to Bhamo on the Chinese border. On the 82-passenger ship, you can enjoy luxury services of European rivers with plenty of opportunities to engage with local people.
Another choice is Ayravata Cruises, whose Pandaw ships are built in the style of colonial river steamers. The ship is capable of carrying a small number of passengers but quite comfortable. What’s more, the company launched another called the Orcaella in the year of 2013. This is a contemporary sister ship for tourists can join holidays to Mandalay. It has 25 cabins and is built to withstand long and exploratory voyages. In that way, tourists can explore remote parts during their river cruises Myanmar, including the Chindwin and up to Bhamo.