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SPIRIT OF MYANMAR & THE UNTOUCHED UPPER IRRAWADDY (UPSTREAM) - CATEGORY B - 2018

Explore the best of Myanmar, known as “The Golden Land,” on this captivating river cruise along the Irrawaddy River. In Yangon, formerly Rangoon, you’ll see the magnificent, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda—considered the oldest pagoda in the world. Bagan, a medieval capital of Myanmar, with thousands of historical structures still standing, is one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites. Visit one of the many spiritual temples at sunrise and a local market selling the unique handicrafts of the region. Feel the unique energy of the people on a walking tour through the village of Shwe Pyi Thar as you interact with locals and see the daily work done at a farmer’s home. In Sagaing, see the stunning Kaunghmudaw Pagoda with its egg-shaped dome and watch a local silversmith at work. Continue this river cruise through traditional lands to the impressive city of Mandalay, where you’ll visit the revered shrine of Mahamuni Pagoda with its impressive gold-leaf Buddha and enjoy a traditional dance by local performers. Sail along the untouched upper Irrawaddy and pass through the dramatic second defile with its magnificent cliffs. Visit remote villages for fascinating interactions with schoolchildren, nuns, monks, and pottery makers. The tranquil Inle Lake is a beautiful area surrounded by mountains with stilted houses dotting the shorelines. You will explore this area, stopping in Silk, Silversmith, and Cheroot Workshops, and attend a traditional song and dance performance by the Padaung long-necked women who live in this part of Myanmar.

This river cruise vacation along the Irrawaddy offers everything from peaceful sailing and alluring scenery to grand, majestic temples and shrines and plenty of interaction with locals to learn and feel a part of the ancient culture. More than just a river cruise—an unforgettable adventure!

Inclusions

15 breakfasts
15 lunches
15 dinners
Tour Provider Avalon Waterways
Number of Days
16
Price From
AUD $10,053
Start Location
Yangon, Myanmar
End Location
Yangon, Myanmar
Age Range
Avg. 40+
Group Size
20 to 44
Tour Style
Comfort
Tour Themes
Cycling/Trekking, Marine/Cruise
Physical Rating
Easy to Moderate
Tour departure dates
StartEndAvailabilityPrice
09 Oct 201824 Oct 2018OpenAUD $10,053
29 Oct 201813 Nov 2018OpenAUD $10,053
18 Nov 201803 Dec 2018On RequestAUD $10,053
08 Dec 201823 Dec 2018On RequestAUD $9,573
28 Dec 201812 Jan 2019Stop SalesAUD $10,063
ItineraryExpand
Day 1: ARRIVE IN YANGON, MYANMAR.
Welcome to Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, the country's largest city and former capital. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Day 2: YANGON.
This morning, take a WALKING TOUR of the city's famous and historic landmarks, including the High Court, City Hall, Central Railway Station, and Sule Pagoda, built during the time of Buddha. Stop along the way at a LOCAL TEA SHOP for a cup of tea/coffee with the locals. Next, stop at CHAUKHTATGYI to see the massive Reclining Buddha measuring in at 65 metres (213 feet). Later in the day, visit SHWEDAGON PAGODA, the most important religious site in the country and a national symbol. Here, a truly enchanting scene unfolds as the sun sets on the golden stupa and locals come to pay their respects. Tonight, your welcome dinner is in one of Yangon's best restaurants. (B,L,D)
Day 3: YANGON-BAGAN (EMBARKATION).
Late this morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Bagan. Upon arrival, transfer to the port and board the Avalon Myanmar to begin your CRUISE up the Irrawaddy. Get acquainted with the ship before your welcome reception this evening. After dinner, a TRADITIONAL PUPPET SHOW will be presented in one of the lounges. (B,D)
Day 4: BAGAN.
Today, explore Bagan, capital of Myanmar from the 9th to the 13th centuries. It is estimated that during this time over 13,000 temples, monasteries, and pagodas were built in the plains surrounding the city-an area of about 65 square kilometres (40 square miles). Many of these structures have been lost over time, but around 2,300 still stand today, making this one of the world's greatest archaeological sites. Early risers can visit one of the temples with a Local Guide to witness sunrise. After breakfast, your morning excursion starts with a visit to a LOCAL MARKET selling handicrafts, fabrics, and longyis-a versatile sheet of cloth worn around the waist by most local men and women. Then, stop at the ornate SHWEZIGON PAGODA, one of the country's most important shrines. You will also visit a LACQUER WORKSHOP to learn more about this ancient craft. After lunch, your sightseeing centres on the BAGAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL ZONE. Highlights include ANANDA, considered by many to be the most beautiful temple, and DHAMMAYANGYI, the best preserved monument left standing. Also, stop to see the exquisite and well-preserved fresco paintings at SULAMANI. Your day ends with an OX CART RIDE to a temple, where you will ascend to the top as the sun sets. (B,L,D)
Day 5: SHWE PYI THAR-CRUISING.
This morning, take a WALKING TOUR through Shwe Pyi Thar, a typical village along the Irrawaddy. Here, you will visit a FARMER'S HOME to learn more about daily life and see the locals making palm candy, a sweet and smoky candy, from the sap of the toddy palm. To harvest the sap, a climber scales the toddy palm and hangs an earthen pot under a slit he cuts in the tree. The sap is then cooked in an iron pan over an open wood fire until it thickens and can be formed into small pieces by hand. This afternoon, enjoy time on board the ship as we sail north for Mandalay. (B,L,D)
Day 6: SAGAING-AMARAPURA.
Relax this morning and take in the sights from one of the ship's lounges or your suite. In the afternoon, visit Sagaing, an important religious site with countless pagodas dotting the surrounding hillsides. Here, stop to see KAUNGHMUDAW PAGODA with its golden egg-shaped dome- unique among more traditional pagodas in Myanmar. Next, on to a SILVERSMITH WORKSHOP to learn how the local artisans turn silver into beautiful works of art. Lastly, explore SOON U PONYA SHIN PAGODA at the top of Sagaing Hill for stunning views of the Irrawaddy and across to Mandalay. Cross the Ava Bridge to Amarapura, former capital of Myanmar. Your visit focuses on the famous U BEIN BRIDGE, a 1.2-kilometre-long (three-quarter-mile-long) bridge built in 1783 from reclaimed teakwood from the old royal palace in Inwa. The bridge is still a cornerstone of the community as locals and monks use it daily to cross Taungthaman Lake while fishermen and farmers go about their daily work below. Take a SAMPAN RIDE on the lake for memorable views of the sunset behind the iconic bridge. (B,L,D)
Day 7: MANDALAY.
This morning, visit a TAPESTRY & WOODCARVING WORKSHOP to learn more about these cottage industries and see the skilled artisans at work. Then, stop at a GOLD-LEAF WORKSHOP to see how it is made. Lastly, visit MAHAMUNI PAGODA, the most revered shrine in Mandalay, to see its impressive gold-leaf Buddha. Due to the continual application of gold leaves, officials estimate the gold is approximately six inches thick. This afternoon, visit KUTHODAW PAGODA and SHWENANDAW MONASTERY, the only remnants of former King Mindon's "Golden City" to survive the bombing of World War II. Originally the king's living quarters, the building was moved after his death to its current location and converted into a monastery. Today, the original gilding has faded, but the intricate wood carvings endure, giving you a sense of how extravagant the original teak palace complex was. This evening, enjoy a TRADITIONAL DANCE PERFORMANCE featuring local song and dance. (B,L,D)
Day 8: KYAUK MYAUNG.
Today, take a WALKING TOUR through the captivating pottery-making village of Kyauk Myaung. Here, you will learn more about the pottery-making process and see how they are formed, fired, and glazed. Most interesting is the eye-catching 189-litre (50-gallon) variety, often referred to as Martaban or Ali Baba jars in colonial times. These pots could transport large quantities of liquor, fish sauce, peanut oil, and more, and have played an important part of maritime trade throughout Asia for centuries. (B,L,D)
Day 9: KYA HNYAT.
This morning, visit the village of Kya Hnyat with its many Buddhist monasteries. Here, you will INTERACT WITH THE MONKS at a local monastery. Each morning, they don their distinctive saffron-coloured robes and walk through the streets to collect alms and offerings of food like cooked rice and curry. This is a truly memorable experience as you present alms to the monks and witness their lunch ritual. (B,L,D)
Day 10: TIGYANG.
Visit the small village of Tigyang for a WALKING TOUR through its narrow lanes and to visit the pagoda and Reclining Buddha on a hilltop with stunning views. (B,L,D)
Day 11: KATHA.
Start your day with a visit to the LOCAL MARKET, where you will see the locals buying and selling fish, meat, produce, and more. Next, stop at the former British Club, featured in George Orwell's novel, "Burmese Days." Here, learn a bit more about how life was here during British rule. Lastly, journey a short distance to a local JINGPO VILLAGE. A subset of the Kachin, the Jingpo are one of over 100 ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. Here, you will learn about their culture, traditional dress, and unique method of making rice wine. As you sail north this afternoon, with some luck, you may catch a glimpse of the rare Irrawaddy dolphin, with its distinctive round forehead. (B,L,D)
Day 12: KYUN DAW-SECOND DEFILE-BHAMO.
This morning, visit the fascinating island village of Kyun Daw, where over 7,000 stupas surround the monastery. Take a WALKING TOUR for memorable encounters with the villagers. Visit a FISHERMAN'S HOME to learn more about daily life here and a SCHOOL to interact with the children. You will also visit a NUNNERY to present the nuns with food purchased the day before at the market in Katha. Unlike monks, they have to collect and cook their own food. This afternoon, sail through the DRAMATIC SECOND DEFILE with its magnificent cliffs reaching down the narrow channel. Continue to Bhamo, the northernmost point ships can navigate the Irrawaddy. (B,L,D)
Day 13: BHAMO (DISEMBARKATION)-HEHO.
After breakfast, disembark the ship and EXPLORE BHAMO by local trishaw and by foot. Afterward, transfer to the airport and fly to Heho, gateway to Inle Lake, a tranquil body of water surrounded by mountains. Pause at Red Mountain Estate to bask in the beautiful scenery as you enjoy a lunch of authentic fare and wine produced from the vineyards here. Continue to your lakeside resort, where you will spend the next two nights. (B,L,D)
Day 14: INLE LAKE.
Today, a fascinating excursion to see scenes of life around the lake. Stilted houses dot the shorelines, and the local Intha people use the famous one-legged rowing technique to fish and tend their floating gardens of tomats, cucumbers, aubergine, and more. These clever gardens are made from weeds lashed together and mud from the lake bottom, then anchored using bamboo poles, allowing them to rise and fall with the water level of the lake. Along the way, stop at a SILK WORKSHOP, where they use the fibres of the lotus plant to weave garments. You will also visit a SILVERSMITH WORKSHOP and a CHEROOT WORKSHOP, where young girls roll the cigars at a dizzying pace. Before dinner, attend a MUSIC & DANCE PERFORMANCE by the Padaung long-necked women who live in this part of the country. (B,L,D)
Day 15: INLE LAKE-HEHO-YANGON.
Today, transfer to Heho for your flight back to Yangon for an overnight. (B)
Day 16: YANGON.
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)