BAGAN – AMARAPURA – SAGAING – MANDALAY – MINGUN – UPPER IRRAWADDY (KATHA, SECOND DEFILE) – DOLPHINS PROTECTED AREA – MANDALAY
DAY 1: BAGAN (EMBARKATION)
Board the RV Paukan 205 at Koe Lone Ye Kin Jetty at noon.
Welcome cocktail and Lunch on board.
Safety Briefing and Orientation.
AFTERNOON EXCURSION: Temples of Bagan and Oxcarts ride
After lunch we visit a selection of the 2,000 listed pagodas and temples in Bagan. We start by visiting one of the famous temples of Bagan, Ananda. Built in 1105 CE during King Kyanzittha’s reign, it is one of only four surviving temples from this period. We will explore the cruciform of the temple, with four standing Buddhas facing north, south, east, and west. We then move on to the Gubyaukgyi Temple. Approximately 900 years old, this is where you’ll find some of the oldest and best-preserved frescoes in Bagan; they’re also accompanied by ink captions written in the old-style Mon alphabet, providing one of the earlies examples of the language’s use in Myanmar. The visit will be followed by a sunset view of the Bagan plain from Nyaung Letphet viewing mound or the Nan Myint Tower.
DAY 2: BAGAN
In the very early morning, we recommend taking a Balloon Flight over Bagan (surcharge applied).
MORNING EXCURSION: Markets and Temples of Bagan
After breakfast, continue the explore of Bagan. We visit one of the local markets where they sell wood carvings, fabrics, longyis and rattan products. We then stop at the ornate Shwezigone Pagoda, one of the country’s most important shrines, and if time permit, we can take a photo at the Htilominlo Temple. On the way, we stop off to experience the ancient technique of lacquerware making. Lacquerware has been produced in Bagan since the 11th century and continues to play an important role in daily life, especially religious practices. The production process has remained unchanged for centuries, giving a sense of authenticity.
Alternative activity: “FREE and EASY in BAGAN” – Guests can hire a horse cart, a bicycle or an e-bike to explore the site at their own pace.
Back to the ship to cruise upstream the whole afternoon.
Moor Overnight midstream.
DAY 3: AMARAPURA
Relax and enjoy your morning upstream.
AFTERNOON EXCURSION: Amarapura
After Lunch, we travel by coach to Amarapura, the penultimate Burmese Royal Capital (1783) to visit a traditional silk weaving workshop followed by U-Bein Bridge, believed to be the world’s longest (1.2 km) and oldest teakwood bridge. Local sampans wait to take us on a leisurely cruise of the lake while admiring the sunset over the bridge
Moor overnight at Sagaing.
DAY 4: SAGAING, MANDALAY AND MINGUN
MORNING EXCURSION: Sagaing and Central Mandalay
After breakfast, we visit Sagaing, an important religious site with countless pagodas dotting the surrounding hillsides. Drive to the top of the Hill to visit Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda for a stunning view of the Irrawaddy and across to Mandalay. We proceed to U Min Thoneze Paya, inside a crescent-shaped platform of 45 sitting Buddha images, which appears to repeat infinitely into the distance (depending on the angle they are viewed). We will then travel to Central Mandalay to visit Mahamuni Pagoda, the most revered shrine in Mandalay, be amazed by its impressive gold-leaf Buddha (officials estimate the gold is approximately 15 cm/6 inches thick). This will be followed by a Gold Leaves Making Workshop. If time permits, we can stop off by the Mandalay Palace Moat for a photo opportunity with the beautiful Mandalay Hill background.
Back to the Ship for Lunch.
AFTERNOON EXCURSION: Mingun
After Lunch, we will enjoy a leisurely walking tour of the ex-Royal Capital of Mingun. Our first stop is King Bodawpaya’s monumental and uncompleted stupa. During the construction, an astrologer to the King argued that the Monarch would have died upon completion of the temple, hence the works were immediately halted. Had it been completed; it would have been the largest in the world. The cracks we see are the result of the earthquake that shook the area on 23rd March 1839. We continue our walk to the Mingun Bell, which was the heaviest working bell in the world until the year 2000 when the Bell of Good Luck was unveiled in Henan, China.
Moor overnight midstream North of Mingun.
DAY 5: KYAUK MYAUNG (NGWE NYEIN POTTERY VILLAGE)
MORNING EXCURSION: Ngwe Nyein Pottery Village
After breakfast, visit the spectacular pottery-making village of Ngwe Nyein and see the manufacturing processes of the famous 50 Gallons (200 liters) pots, often referred to as Martaban or Ali Baba jars in colonial times. They played an important part of maritime trade throughout Asia for centuries.
Sail all day.
Moor overnight mid-stream.
DAY 6: TIGYAING
Enjoy the view from the ship decks while we sail during the morning.
AFTERNOON EXCURSION: Tigyaing
Visit the small village of Tigyaing for an afternoon Walking Tour through its narrow lanes and to visit the pagoda and reclining Buddha on a hilltop with stunning views.
Moor overnight at Inn Ywar Village.
DAY 7: KATHA FOREST ELEPHANT CAMP
MORNING EXCURSION: Elephant Camp
In the morning, visit Katha Elephant Logging Camp located at the edge of the surrounding teak and hardwood forest, once used for the transportation of the Teak logs now they have found themselves “jobless” due to the logging ban, but they are still take care of by their Mahout (the elephant caretaker) with the help of government and private funding. We will experience the Mahout bathing and feeding the Elephants, learn about the close relationship of an elephant to its mahout by reading George Orwell’s essay “Shooting an Elephant”.
Back to the ship for Lunch
Sail to Naung Po Village by the entrance of the Irrawaddy 2nd Defile (Gorges) and moor overnight.
DAY 8: THE SECOND DEFILE, KYUN DAW AND KATHA
MORNING EXCURSION: Second Defile of the Irrawaddy &Kyun Daw
Sunrise by the entrance of the gorges and cast off. We will sail upstream through the spectacular Second defile, the largest of the Irrawaddy gorges, with its magnificent cliffs reaching down the narrow channel to the end, where we will turn around.
Further downstream we will stop at 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, and visit 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.
Back to the ship for Lunch.
AFTERNOON EXCURSION: Katha
In the afternoon, we will arrive at the enchanting colonial town of Katha, the setting for George Orwell’s book “Burmese Days “and the place where in the 1942, hundreds of Irrawaddy Flotilla Company ships were scuttled before the Japanese could seize them. Katha had been an important centre for the Teak trading since the colonial days. We explore the old streets, a fresh market, the former British Club and the Tennis Court featured in the novel “Burmese Days”, to learn more about how life was, during the British Rule. We then visit what is claimed to be the Bungalow where George Orwell resided, when he was posted here as a policeman. It has now been turned into a small museum. We drive a short distance to visit a Kachin ethnic Village where you will see their traditional houses and learn about their culture, traditional dress, and their unique method of making rice wine
Moor overnight in Katha.
DAY 9: KYAUK PONE VILLAGE
MORNING EXCURSION: Kyauk Pone
This morning, we stop at the gorgeous village of Kyauk Pone, with its Pagoda located on a hill for a wonderful view of the Irrawaddy River.
Sail for the rest of the day.
Moor overnight midstream.
DAY 10: KOTE TAK VILLAGE AND IRRAWADDY DOLPHINS PROTECTED AREA
MORNING EXCURSION: Kote Tak Village
After breakfast, we arrive at Kote Tak Village located in a very nice location at the beginning of the 3rd Defile. We will visit the monastery where we will interact with the Monks and school children.
AFTERNOON EXCURSION: Irrawaddy Dolphins Protected Area
In the late afternoon, we will stop by the village of Sheinmaga in the Irrawaddy Dolphins Protected Area. You will board a small local boat to look for dolphins in their natural habitat with the help of some local fishermen. Even if we’re not lucky enough to see them popping up, it will be an awesome experience to meet with the local people and experience the beautiful river scenery.
DAY 11: MANDALAY (DISEMBARKATION)
Disembark at Mandalay Gawein Jetty from 06:00 am onwards.