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Irrawaddy River Cruise

8 days from £945pp plus international flights.

The Irrawaddy is Burma's largest river and most important waterway, flowing from north to south, with many of the country's most prestigious sites and cities lining its banks. On this cruise you'll travel upstream from the temple-filled plains of Bagan to the famed city of Mandalay, last royal capital, then back downstream stopping to admire pagodas and visit local villages.

Your home for the week is the luxury Sanctuary Ananda, an elegant river cruiser with spacious, air conditioned interiors and the only all-balcony ship on the Irrawaddy River. With just 21 suites the ship retains an intimate atmosphere. You'll have ample room to relax, reclining on a sofa in the lounge, enjoying haute cuisine in the restaurant and enjoying views of the river from the sundeck, cooling off with a dip in the pool. The whole ship exudes style, and levels of service are first class.

You'll have guided excursions each day, visiting historic temples, monasteries and pagodas, travelling up to the hills to witness fine views, watching craftsman demonstrating their skills in traditional workshops, and visit local villages. Combined with on board lectures, cultural and culinary demonstrations, plus musical performances, you'll gain a rare insight into the past and present of this fascinating country.    
This price is based on travel in low season.  

Settle in to your suite on Sanctuary Ananda


You'll be welcomed on board Sanctuary Ananda moored near Bagan and shown to your suite where you can make yourself at home. You'll meet fellow travellers over lunch after which you'll travel to Bagan by coach for a guided tour of some of the most important temples and pagodas. Your last stop will be Pyathatgyi, where you'll watch the sun setting behind the hills on the far side of the Irrawaddy River. You'll then head back to Sanctuary Ananda in time to shower and change for dinner. Lunch, dinner 

See the pagodas of Bagan on an excursion from Sanctuary Ananada


This morning you'll have a choice of activities. Subject the season and weather conditions, you can take a balloon ride over Bagan, a magical experience, offered for an extra charge. Should this not be possible you'll be taken to one of the temples to witness the sunrise. Alternatively, you can visit Shwezigon Pagoda, which contains a bone and tooth of the Lord Buddha, continuing to Gubyaukgyi Temple and the farmers market at Nyaung-U. After watching a lacquer ware demonstration in Myinkaba village you'll return to the boat, to a choice of lectures and demonstrations, as well as time to relax, maybe enjoying a dip in the pool, before cocktails and dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner   

Sunset at U Bein Bridge


If you rise early you can join a yoga or meditation class, this morning. Otherwise enjoy a leisurely start to the day with a late breakfast as the ship cruises to Ava, a former capital. After lunch you'll disembark for a tour of the pagodas and will then be driven to the 'City of the Immortals', Amarapura, to see skilled silk weavers at work. By sunset you'll be at the famous U Bein Bridge, which looks stunning silhouetted against the reddening sky. Dinner will be served on a sandbank overlooking Mingun and will be followed by a performance of local music. Breakfast, lunch, dinner  

See the Seated Buddha at Mahamuni Pagoda


This morning you'll reach Mandalay, the last royal capital of Burma. You'll tour Mahamuni Pagoda and its 13-foot-tall seated Buddha, believed to be one of just five likenesses created in Buddha's lifetime. You'll also see the beautiful teak carvings at Shwenandaw Monastery and the pagoda at Kuthodaw. After lunch on board you'll be driven into the Sagaing Hills with its many monasteries and fine views. You'll witness the craftsmanship of a local silversmith and pay a visit to a convent. You'll have dinner overlooking the temples of Mingun. Breakfast, lunch, dinner  

The white pagoda at Myatheindan


This morning you'll have the chance to visit the village of Sin Kyun, a rare and privileged opportunity to observe life in rural Burma. You'll then travel by a traditional ox cart to Mingun, so see Mingun Pagoda, the huge Mingun Bell and the distinctive white Myatheindan Pagoda. You'll be back on board for lunch as the ship begins the journey back downstream. This afternoon there are lectures, cultural demonstration and cookery classes for your entertainment. Later cocktails will be served on a sandbank before dinner. Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Enjoy dinner on board Sanctuary Ananda


After breakfast you can ride in a trishaw to Pakokku where you'll have time to stroll around the local vegetable market and visit a shoe maker and a cigar factory. After lunch on the ship you'll see lacquer ware workshops in Myinkaba village and visit several temples in the area. Dinner on board will be followed by a music performance. Breakfast, lunch, dinner 

Relax with a drink on Sanctuary Ananda as you cruise along the Irrawaddy River


There's a chance to take a balloon ride high above the temples of Bagan this morning (at extra charge and subject to conditions), or to travel to a temple to watch the sunrise. Back on board you'll enjoy a hearty breakfast as Sanctuary Ananda cruises south to Sale. Here you'll take a trishaw to Yoke Sone Monastery and the wooden monastery of Tha-ta-na Kyaung. Lunch will be served on board as the ship continues south to Bagan, giving you time to relax on deck. This evening, on your final night of the cruise, you'll be joined by the captain for a traditional Shan dinner, accompanied by a live musical performance. Breakfast, lunch, dinner 

Your final morning on Sanctuary Ananda


You'll have breakfast on the ship and, having packed your bags, will bid farewell to the crew before being transferred to the airport in Bagan for your onward flight. If you have a later flight, you'll have time to visit a local weavers' village and jaggery workshop before travelling to the airport. Breakfast

Price & Dates

Guide price from (pp sharing): £945 (ex. international flights)

Price notes: 2019 prices based on 2 people sharing: 03 - 21 Apr / 07 Aug / 04 - 29 Sept 2019 from £945. 03 - 31 Mar 2019 / 01 - 18 Dec 2019 from £1985. 02 Jan - 27 Feb / 02 Oct - 27 Nov 2019 from £2470. 22 - 25 Dec 2019 from £2865


7 nights twin-share accommodation on Sanctuary Ananda; meals as shown; soft drinks and local beers on board; excursions and entrance fees as per the itinerary; transfer from Bagan airport to the shop on day 1 and from the ship to Bagan airport on day 8; butler service and laundry service in the luxury and owner's suites


International flights and taxes; visas; vaccinations; travel insurance; meals not specified; wines and spirits; optional tours (eg balloon ride in Bagan); tips; items of a psersonal nature (eg purchases fromt he gift shop, laundry unless in the luxury or owner's suites)

Getting there: 

This holiday starts and ends in Bagan. Return flights from the UK to Yangon will cost from around £700 per person and return domestic flights to Bagan will cost around £200 per person, depending on season and availability. We will be happy to book flights for you.

places you will see

places you will see

Bagan is a must-see on a visit to Burma. A vast, 26 square-mile plain filled with pagodas. In the early morning the site is often shrouded in atmospheric mist, and watching the sunset from one of the temples will leave a lasting impression. 
Temple at Mandalay
Mandalay, the very name evokes an air of mystery. In fact, it's Burma's second largest city and considered the capital of Burmese culture, having been the last royal capital. 
Buddha statues in Sagaing
Sagiang, capital of the state of the same name, is an important religious and monastic centre with many striking stupas and pagodas. It's on the west bank of the Irrawaddy River, opposite Amarapura.
Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura
A small hill town with an illustrious history, nowadays known for its busy workshops which produce high quality, handmade goods. It is also the base for visits to Taungthaman Lake.

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facts and information

Time: GMT + 6hrs 30mins

Flight time: There are no direct flights from the UK to Yangon (Rangoon). The flight time is at least 14 hours.

Language: The official language is Myanmar (Burmese). English is widely spoken in major tourist destinations.

Visas: At least 6 months from the end of your trip, and with plenty of room for entry and exit stamps. A visa is required for British travellers and most nationalities.

Health: Yellow fever vaccination is compulsory. Recommended vaccinations include diptheria, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tetanus, cholera & typhoid. Malaria prophylactics recommended for some parts of Burma.


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