Burma & Irrawaddy River Cruise

12 days from only £2,399pp

Just opening to the outside world, with world-class Buddhist monuments, fascinating ethnic minorities and a unique culture

Selected departures March to November 2017

  • Stay in five-star hotels with breakfast
  • Stay in the heart of Rangoon and see the amazing Shwedagon Pagoda, the ‘heart and soul’ of Burmese Buddhism
  • Stay two nights in overwater stilt bungalows overlooking the extraordinary Inle Lake
  • Gaze in awe across the plains of Bagan, studded with thousands of pagodas as far as the eye can see
  • Guided tour of Mandalay and cross the world’s longest teak bridge
  • See the floating gardens, cottage industries and unique water-borne life of Inle Lake
  • Experience a four-day luxury river cruise on board the five-star RV Sanctuary Ananda
  • All staterooms and suites are outside cabins with private balconies
  • Explore the Irrawaddy’s fascinating riverside villages, colourful local markets and intriguing Buddhist temples
  • All shore excursions and meals included whilst on the cruise
  • Escorted by our experienced tour manager
  • Return scheduled flights and transfers included
  • Read our Blog post 'A Morning In Burma' here
Fact File
  Flight Time 12 hrs 35 mins
  Currencies Myanma kyat
  Time Zone GMT+6.5
  Languages Burmese
  Deposit £500 per person

Your Itinerary


Travel to the airport for your overnight flight to Rangoon (Yangon), via Bangkok.

Larger version of the map > Larger version of the map >


After our afternoon arrival in Bangkok, we connect on to Rangoon for two nights at the five-star Sule Shangri-La Hotel, with breakfast.


Today, we begin our tour of the picturesque garden city of Yangon. There’s an eclectic mix of Buddhist shrines and many impressive remains of the old colonial city centre, like the Secretariat Building and Post Office. We visit Scott Market - crammed with colourful, aromatic and exotic vegetables and plenty of local handicrafts.

But the truly unforgettable highlight is the Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the world's most spectacular religious monuments. We time our visit for the late afternoon to benefit from the extraordinary light at its most magical. The pagoda’s astonishing shining golden dome, Buddhist Myanmar’s heart and soul, rises to 321 feet and is covered with 60 tons of pure gold. We’ll have ample time here watching the devoted praying and making their offerings.


We fly to the hill town of Heho before continuing to Inle Lake. Locally-made long-tail wooden boats transport you to our hotel for two nights, the five-star Myanmar Treasure Resort, with breakfast.

This afternoon we explore the local handicraft and cottage industries that thrive in rural Burma. You’ll visit a boatyard where sleek long-tail boats are constructed using age-old techniques, and a weaving workshop using wooden looms like those from pre-industrial Britain to produce intricate items from silk and lotus fibres. There are so few places left in the world where such remarkable artisanal skill can now be seen. We visit Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, the holiest religious site in Shan State.




We continue our exploration by long-tail boat of the lake and its fascinating villages, visiting local markets for an insight into the lifestyle of the ethnic Pa-O, Danu and Intha tribal minorities in their colourful and distinctive clothes and headdresses. We see the famous leg rowers, local fishermen and floating gardens where fruit and vegetables are grown.

Our scenic afternoon long-tailed boat ride takes us into the verdant canals around the shores of the lake. Our destination is the 14-18th century Nyaung Ohak ruins. Many pagodas here are slowly being reclaimed by the jungle, with plants and small trees growing out of them at bizarre angles. Breathtaking views across the valley and the surrounding forest-covered Shan Hills make it well worth the ascent. You return to the hotel in time to enjoy the stunning beauty of a glorious sunset over the mirror-like waters of the lake. As the sun fades in an explosion of fiery reds and oranges, the unparalleled beauty of a tropical sunset will truly astound you.


This morning will be free to relax in the luxurious surroundings of your resort. Later today we say goodbye to Inle Lake and fly on to Mandalay. Upon arrival we’ll visit Mandalay Hill where spiral staircases lead to sweeping views of the city and its temples. We stay one night at the five-star Mandalay Hill Resort.


We explore the small town of Mingun by ox-cart, taking in the unfinished Mingun pagoda with its huge bell. After lunch we continue southwards, enjoying an informative lecture on Burma, sarong tying and a cooking class demonstration.


We explore the small town of Mingun by ox-cart, taking in the unfinished Mingun pagoda with its huge bell. After lunch we continue southwards, enjoying an informative lecture on Burma, sarong tying and a cooking class demonstration.


This morning we arrive at Pokokku and we take a tri-shaw ride to its bustling vegetable market and traditional cigar factory. In the afternoon we arrive at one of the great highlights of our journey along the Irrawaddy – the plain of temples at Bagan. We’ll visit some of the most significant pagodas and temples of the 2,000 listed around Bagan. We’ll also visit a workshop to see the ancient technique of Burmese lacquerware.


You can start the day early with an optional hot-air balloon ride (October to March subject to availability and bookable on board). We then explore some more intriguing local temples and monasteries. We then return to the ship for time to relax, perhaps leaning over the teak handrail of the Sun Deck, with a chilled cocktail in hand before going into the Captain’s splendid dinner.


This morning we enjoy an early breakfast on board before we disembark and fly back to Rangoon. Late afternoon, we will fly to Bangkok to connect with your overnight flight home


We arrive home today.


Imagine stepping back to a time without mobile phones, cash dispensers or even supermarkets. Imagine discovering a deeply spiritual, traditional society that’s only just opening up to the outside world. This is Burma - intriguing, alluring and still the preserve of the discerning visitor. Now’s the time to experience this remarkable country’s true authenticity before it takes its place on the tourist map. Read our Blog post 'A Morning In Burma' here

Price Includes

The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room/cabin, five or six nights bed and breakfast in five-star hotels in Rangoon, Inle Lake and Mandalay, and four nights on full board on the cruise in a suite on Bagan deck (other cabins at a supplement), including non-alcoholic soft drinks, local beer and local wine at dinner on the RV Sanctuary Ananda; all flights as mentioned; all transfers; porterage of one item of luggage per person: guided tours of Rangoon, Inle Lake, Mandalay and all shore excursions as described whilst on the cruise; gratuities for the ship's crew; the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager.

Not included: Burmese visa. 

Important note on Burma & Irrawaddy river cruising: The itinerary, timings and places visited en-route are subject to weather conditions and water levels. You will need to have a sufficient level of mobility to manage getting into small boats, walks up steps and over uneven ground. After so many years of being closed to the outside world, the general facilities in Burma outside the larger towns and hotels tend to be basic, road transport can be lengthy and service slower than in other more developed countries in South East Asia.

Please note: Luggage allowance for internal flights is limited to one bag per person weighing no more that 20kg.

Visa and Health Information

Burmese Visa: All holders of British passports will require a tourist visa to travel to Burma. A tourist visa costs £14 per person and needs to be arranged prior to arrival. The duration of the visa issued is generally 3 months and the visa is valid from the date of issue. We therefore recommend applying for the visa approximately 6-8 weeks before departure, to ensure it covers the full duration of your stay in Burma. Visas are obtainable either by applying in person at the Embassy in London, or by post.Go to www.londonmyanmarembassy.com first to download the application form.

Passports are required to be valid for a minimum 6 months at the time of application. Please allow 5-10 days for processing. The minimum time it takes to issue a visa is 4 working days, so please bear this in mind when applying for your visa.

In person: You can download and complete and application form online here and take it to the Embassy, or you can collect a form from the Embassy reception at:

Myanmar Embassy Visa Section
19A Charles Street,

Postal: Once you have downloaded and completed the application form, send two copies of the form, your passport, two recent passport photos and a postal order for £14 to cover the cost of your visa. The Embassy only accepts postal orders for postal applications and these should be made payable to 'Myanmar Embassy'

You can choose to either collect your visa from the Embassy or to have your Passport and visa posted back to you. If you choose to receive your visa by post you will be required to leave a pre-paid self-addressed envelope at the Embassy. We would recommend using recorded delivery for this service.

Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at time of publication, changes in requirements after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. Therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to application.

Health: Please note that in Burma tap water is not drinkable, therefore, you will need to have bottled water at all times. It is recommended that you contact you GP at least one month prior to departure for any relevant inoculation information.

Please be aware that at all temples and pagodas and spiritual places you are required to take off shoes and socks and be barefooted, however, cleaning wipes are provided by the coach company as we return from each visit.

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