WITH OVER 8,000 KM OF navigable rivers, Myanmar offers some of Asia’s greatest cruise journeys. Since ancient times, its most important and the legendary Ayeyarwady river has served as an essential route for millions. The country’s most important and historical cities, lush jungles, a wide collection of fascinating villages and archaeological sites are all situated along its banks. A journey by one of luxury cruisers offers a unique perspective on the country. Depending on the length of the trip you can visit both, highlights as well as lesser-known destinations, in five stars, teak-lined vessels. Short and long cruise journeys can be combined with inland itineraries. The cruises operate on a regular basis between October and April.
Luxury cruisers navigate the more beautiful and fascinating river stretches strongly influenced by the old Irrawaddy Flotilla Company steamers. There are excursions organised on dry land at intervals for longer cruises, visiting not so popular places plus the best parts like Bagan. Sometimes, bullock carts are used in transferring passengers to the shore.
A boutique hotel on the river with its timber-walled cabins and colonial furnishing offers suites, deluxe and superior rooms. There is also a spacious sun deck, observation lounge, restaurant, and massage rooms available on board. Paukan offers one and two nights cruises between Bagan and Mandalay.
BELMOND ROAD TO MANDALAY
The Belmond Road to Mandalay is a luxury cruiser that offers two, three, four and seven-night journeys between Mandalay and Bagan. On the top, you will find a spacious observation deck, dining rooms, bar and spa and also a swimming pool. The air-conditioned cabins are designed to reflect local style, blend tradition with complete luxury.
This luxurious all-suite ship will take you in style to less-visited destinations. On its three decks, you will find a sundeck with an outdoor pool, panorama lounge, spa, library and a fitness club. Sanctuary Ananda offers three, four, seven, ten and eleven-night journeys along Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers.
The Belmond Orcaella, with its cabin’s floor-to-celling sliding doors and private balconies, provides a luxurious experience while gliding along Ayeyarwady and Chindwin rivers. The elegant four-deck cruiser offers a wide range of superior facilities including swimming pool, spa and fitness centre during three to elven-night journeys.
Other Means of Travel
Ferries owned by the government offer a typically Burmese way to travel around the river for those travellers who are conscious of cost and long-distance journeys. Also, lots of day trips are available from the main tourist centres.
Double- and triple-decker ferries owned by the government operate all through the year between Bhamo and Mandalay. Even though they're sluggish, they offer a wonderful opportunity to interrelate with locals. Another option is the covered motorboat; they are faster but not very comfortable.
A one-day journey to Mingun, which is an hour upriver from Mandalay, is considered the most well-liked boat excursion for tourist in Myanmar, predominantly because of the view of the stupa. Visitors are also allowed to travel the river between Mandalay and Bagan from September to April.
Travelling the Upper Ayeyarwady
The Upper Ayeyarwady which is the stretch of the river between Mandalay and Bhamo is the abode of the symbolic, green-and-white Inland Water Transport “slow boat.” The trip comprises stops at Shwegu, Katha, and Kyaukmyaung, and takes between 24 hours to 3 nights, conditional on the travel direction. In April, there are usually long delays while crews lift the boats off sandbanks when levels of water are low and the ferries most overloaded.