There is an extraordinary timeless quality to Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River. Rising among Himalayan glaciers and flowing freely for almost 2,200 km across the whole country. The kings of medieval Bagan would almost certainly recognize its riverbank life today with its bullock cart or the tiered pagodas atop rambling teak monasteries.
DAY01: Mandalay - Sagaing & Ava
Before noon you board the luxurious Anawrahta, berthed at the quay of Mandalay’s riverside.
After a friendly welcome by our staff offering some refreshments you move into your “home” for the next days. The ship sets sail towards Sagaing, one of the ancient capitals of Myanmar. Please find your way to the restaurant “Hinta Hall” for lunchtime. After feel free to enjoy your time at the open air Kipling’s Bar or on the sun deck while Anawrahta is approaching Saigaing.
We disembark for a wonderful discovery of some very highlights of Sagaing and the former royal capital of Ava. We cross the well-known 16 span cantilever “Ava bridge”, built in 1934 by the British, which connects the two old capitals. Ava (also called Innwa) was the metroplois of the Burmese kingdoms between the 14th to 19th century. By horse-drawn carriage we explore this area, sprinkled with many kinds of distingueshed ancient monasteries and fanes: Bagaya Kyaung a jaw dropping teak monastery built in 1834, which nowadays continues to be a monastic school; Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery or the Nanmyint watch tower come both in a different art and creation. It is the peace of Ava which you by then hopefully absorb during a laidback picnic teatime at a secret place in the middle of this sacred spot on earth.
Back on board, we learn more about some of the long-lasting tradtions (Longyi and Thanaka demonstration). A fascinating presentation about the history and culture of Myanmar follows afterwards.
Before your first dinner onboard you are warmly invited by our cruise manager to a cocktail gathering at Kipling’s Bar.
DAY02: Ava - Yanderbo
For early morning risers there is a special opportunity to participate at a yoga session on the sun deck. Strengthen your muscles and ease your mind by merging with the Ayeyarwady and its therapeutical flow downstream. Our next stop is Yanderbo.
After the breakfast, a lecture about Bagan’s history is offered at the Mandalay Lounge. We have some cruising relaxation time during the morning. Gaze on the river banks of this eternal stream from your bench on the sun deck or alternatively, a spa treatment would have the same recreation effects.
After lunch on board the ship arrives at the quiet, small riverside village of Yanderbo. An unique and fascinating gem of a village where in 1826 the King of Ava signed the Treaty of Yanderbo, signaling the end of the First Anglo-Burmese war. Nowadays the villagers produce a type of water pot which is reputed to keep water cooler than pots from anywhere else in the country. Anawrahta’s broad-knowledge guides will offer you the explanation to that.
On foot we explore the village. You quickly notice that the villagers here are extremely friendly, charming and open for chitchats. You will definitely take back home some enchanting memories. Their techniques and skills to produce a variety of pots and utensils are perplexing. Try yourself to work on one of these pots.
We return to the ship for the afternoon high tea. As we sail on to the next overnight spot Pakokku, we pass the confluence of the Ayeyarwady and it’s greatest tributary, Chindwin River.
As the evening approaches and the Burmese sun immerse everything in a golden light a special event will take place at the Kipling’s Bar. Dress up in style as we send “A toast to the past” during a British club where gents may whiff cigars and ladies sip on tasty gins with tonic. Share some tales of the old (British-Burmese) days. Isn’t sometimes the time to lose time.
Adjacent dinner is served at the Hintha Hall. If you feel like it you can join our open air cinema under the stars on the sun deck showing classic movies (depends on weather conditions).
DAY03: Pakokku - Bagan
In the morning our yoga class will help to get in the right form for another day of great explorations.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast as the ship sails some more miles southwards before we arrive in Pakkoku. Pakkoku is an old trading town on the western riverbank of the Ayeyarwady. Right before the arrival you see the longest bridge of Myanmar (Pakokku Bridge).
On shore the tour takes us to some of the small industries in this area, such as a cheroot-rolling factory and a producer of ‘Burmese slippers’ (“flip-flops”). Local handicraft vendors try to make their living with it. A visit of the thriving market gives us an insight of local goods and trading pratices. Pakokku is also well known for the production of Tobacco. If you like to buy some Burmese cigars, this is the place.
We continue touring to the Shwegu Temple. This temple features incredible, intricate carvings made from rare Yamanei wood. It also houses a unique Buddha image seated on a lotus throne. Back on board lunch is served and Anawrahta continues her journey southwards, evetually arriving at the utmost highlight of this journey - Bagan. The ship will dock at Bagan at the early afternoon (approx. 2PM).
At this time we bid farewell to our guests of the 3-day/2-night cruise.
In the afternoon a magnificent temple serendipity starts. There are over 2000 temples, stupas and pagodas in an area of just 30 square kilometers. We explore the most remarkable ones, like the Ananda Temple or the pretty Sulamani Pagoda. As the final blowoff during dusk we are going to enjoy a breathtaking vista from a pagoda “summit” to marvel at the temple strewn plains.
We wistfully return to the boat. After some refreshing time and before dinner you are invited to watch a traditional Bagan dance performance at the Mandalay Lounge.
After dinner our nightly open air cinema is offering another classic movie on the sun deck (depends on weather conditions).
In the morning we provide an once-in-a lifetime opportunity to sign up for a sunrise balloon flight over the Bagan area (on extra cost, pre-booking required, subject to season).
After breakfast we say good-bye to our guests of the 4-day/3-night cruise.
The morning tour starts with a visit of the bustling Nyaung-U market. This is a truly Burmese market where everything is offered. The tour around the market provides best photo-moments of local life and people. After the market we visit the revered Shwezigon Pagoda. This prototype of Burmese stupas consists of a circular gold leaf-gilded stupa surrounded by many smaller temples and shrines. We make a stop at a lacquerware workshop. This is a must-see of a long standing, fascinating craftsmanship. We complete the varied morning tour with a look on the fine frescoes inside the Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi Pagoda before returning to the ship for lunch time.
The afternoon holds two options in readiness. The first is a visit to the sacred Mount Popa monastery which sits picturesquely on an extinct volcano (some mobility and fitness is required to reach the top). The place is believed by the Burmese to be home to their animist spirits - the Nats. The trip stops en route at an enjoyable palm sugar plantation where we can look over the shoulders of a typical local candies manufacturer.
The second option includes an exploration of Myinkaba Village. You visit the Manuha Pagoda, dating from 1059 where King Anawrahta imprisoned the Mon King, Manuha. A short distance is the beautiful architecture of the Gubyaukyi temple. Take some individual time to explore the village of Minnanthu on your own pace afterwards.
Back on board and after some refreshing time, Dinner is served. Afterwards the crew is happy to invite you to some farewell entertainment in the lounge.
After breakfast your stay on your floating, luxury home regrettably ends. Heritage Line and the Anawrahta crew wish you a wonderful onward journey in the land of Ancient Capitals - Myanmar.