Samatha, Hidden Wonders of Myanmar ex Mandalay to Yangon

Asian Rivers


14 Night Cruise sailing from Mandalay to Yangon aboard Samatha.

14 Night Cruise sailing from Mandalay to Yangon aboard Samatha.

Day 1 Arrive Mandalay, Embark Ship
Welcome to Myanmar! Arrive in Yangon and board an included flight to Mandalay. Once you land in the country’s former royal capital, transfer to the Irrawaddy River, where your ship awaits. Tonight, enjoy a welcome dinner and onboard cultural show from the Mandalay Fine Art School.

Stay: 14 Nights, Irrawaddy River, RV Samatha

Day 2 Mingun, Mandalay
What better way to admire a fiery sunset than a sampan cruise alongside the U-Bein Bridge, accompanied by the fizz and bubble of a celebratory drink?

Don your explorer hat today, as you hit the ground running with your explorations of Myanmar. Cruise to Mingun and explore the massive ruins of Pahtodawgyi (Unfinished Pagoda). You’ll also see the towering bronze bell and admire the Myatheindan Pagoda. Back in Mandalay, visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda and the Shwenandaw Monastery, then travel to Amarapura to see the iconic U-Bein Bridge.

Day 3 Mandalay, Sagaing
Before leaving Mandalay, enjoy a visit to the Mahamuni Temple, a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Afterwards, your ship follows the Irrawaddy River to Sagaing, where you will visit the Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda to take in the views over the river and rolling green hills. Silver plays an important role in local cultural celebrations, so it’s only fitting you visit a silversmith workshop for a local’s insight into the craft. Admire jewellery, intricate bowls, Buddha statues and more, all crafted by hand. The rest of the afternoon is spent on board, where the ever-changing scenery acts as the perfect backdrop.

Day 4 Yandabo, Pakokku
Go ashore to explore Yandabo today, a village known for its terracotta wares. See a pottery-making demonstration by local artisans and gain a glimpse into village life. Enjoy lunch back on board as your ship makes its way to the village of Pakokku. A tuk tuk ride reveals a series of local workshops which feature cheroot (cigar) and textiles, including the famous Burmese sarong – the longyi.

Day 5 Bagan
Top off an exciting day with a glorious sunset over the glittering temples of Bagan, complete with free-flowing drinks and canapes.

If you’re feeling active, jump on an electric bicycle and zip through the archaeological wonders of Bagan. Alternatively, perhaps visit the golden Shwezigon Pagoda, followed by a discovery of the buzzing Nyaung U Market, which offers a great chance to mingle with the locals. Otherwise, visit a sugar palm workshop where products including plum jam and local spirits are made. This is followed by a visit to the village of Phwar-Saw, where you can see the locals weaving bamboo, as well as constructing the parts used to make bullock carts.

Early birds may like to rise early to capture a first glimpse of World Heritage-listed Bagan aboard a hot air balloon (own expense). Scattered across its lush plains lie more than 2,200 sacred stupas, many dating as far back as the 11th and 13th centuries. Discover the ancient kingdom with a selection of Freedom of Choice Sightseeing options. This afternoon, go on foot to discover more of Bagan’s temples, including the well-preserved Ananda Temple, affectionately coined the ‘Westminster Abbey of Myanmar’. Later, enjoy your Signature Experience.

Day 6 Bagan, Salay
Why not start your day in the best way possible and head up to the Sun Deck this morning, the perfect place to enjoy the sunrise? After breakfast, go ashore to New Bagan and witness a cultural elephant dance, where locals create life-sized elephant figures out of bamboo and paper and dance to drums, cymbals and bamboo clappers. You’ll also have the chance to visit Gubyaukgyi Temple. Back on board, cruise downstream towards Salay, a religious village with more than 50 monasteries. Visit Yoke Sone Kyaung, the region’s oldest surviving wooden monastery built in 1882. Next up is Man Paya Pagoda, home to Myanmar’s largest lacquer Buddha image dating back to the 13th century.

Day 7 Magwe
The morning is yours to spend at leisure. This afternoon in Magwe, visit Mya Tha Lon Pagoda, perched on a hill overlooking the Irrawaddy River. Take in the views and explore the pagoda, which was constructed with thousands of solid gold bricks and home to numerous shrines devoted to nats (Buddhist spirits). On the riverbank, spot the statue of General Aung San ‘Bagyoke’, founder of the modern Burmese army. Later, visit a Buddhist nunnery before experiencing the downtown area.

Day 8 Minhla, Thayetmyo
Stop in the town of Minhla and visit the famous fort, then continue on to Thayetmyo, a peaceful port town that once sat on the border between Upper and Lower Burma, which the British annexed during the Second Anglo-Burmese War. Here, join a tour of the historic colonial-era post office before taking a swing at Myanmar’s oldest golf course.

Day 9 Pyay
On arrival in Pyay, a lively riverside village, disembark for a tour of the imposing Shwesandaw Pagoda. Later, travel to the south-east of Pyay to the ancient ruins at the old Pyu kingdom capital, Sri Ksetra. The region’s 1,500-year-old stupas are among the world’s earliest and most intriguing Buddhist monuments.

Day 10 Myanaung
As you cruise towards the quiet riverside township of Myanaung, be sure to head out on deck and check out the spectacular views of the Akauk Mountains and its famous cliff carvings. Once you’ve stepped ashore at Myanaung, join a walking tour through a range of preserved colonial houses towards a bustling local market.

Day 11 Shwekyin
Today, set out on a local village tour of Shwekyin. Meet the friendly locals and catch a glimpse of unspoiled country life.

Day 12 Danuphyu
We arrive at Danuphyu, and first things first: hop aboard a trishaw, a popular form of transport here. Visit a local workshop and see how the locals prepare a yellowish paste called thanaka, which is applied to protect their skin from the sun. Burmese men and women have been wearing thanaka for more than 2,000 years and applying it to the cheeks in different patterns is a time-honoured ritual in Myanmar. You’ll also pay a visit to a local monastery.

Day 13 Maubin, Yangon
Your ship docks in Maubin this morning. Enjoy the chance to stroll through the local market, which is the perfect way to gauge how local life unfolds here. Back aboard your ship, be steered towards the bustling city of Yangon. Join a walking tour and take in the colonial buildings of Pansodan Street. Walk through Mahabandool Park on your way to Sule Pagoda, a unique structure that also now acts as a round-about. Later, one of the world’s most famous pagodas awaits – the Shwedagon Pagoda. No visit to Yangon is complete without gazing in awe at this 99-metre tall golden masterpiece.

Day 14 Yangon
Take a short ferry ride to the small village of Dala today. Situated on the banks of the Yangon River, this village offers the chance to experience an authentic way of life for the local Burmese people. Hop on a trishaw to visit a candle-making workshop. You’ll also see how the villagers make crafts by utilising materials from a recycling workshop. The remainder of the day is yours to spend at leisure. You might like to discover more about the history of Yangon with a visit to the Secretariat Building. Alternatively, search for that perfect gift on a shopping tour, which includes a visit to the Bogyoke Markets.

Day 15 Disembark Ship, Depart Yangon
Disembark your ship for the final time this morning and be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.

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