Choose between the country’s Irrawaddy centrepieces or Chindwin’s rural delights to enjoy all the trappings that you’d expect from a luxury river cruise
City | History & culture | Off the beaten track | River cruise
The Belmond Orcaella plies Myanmar’s two main rivers – the Chindwin and the Irrawaddy. Perhaps make use of the latter – the country’s great artery – to link Yangon, Myanmar’s fabled city gateway in the south, with the country’s central sights. Prime among them are the lost empire of Bagan and Mandalay’s royal capital beauty; it’s a journey that takes in the country’s famed highlights taking eight nights to reach Bagan from Yangon. For something more off the beaten track, head north on the Chindwin for unspoilt, rugged scenery that brings you to dramatic gorges, rural villages and remote monasteries. This is a Myanmar few have experienced. Alternatively, link the headline grabbing sights of Mandalay and Bagan on a shorter, three night jaunt.
Boutique cabins mix in contemporary slick with traditional detailing. Think locally commissioned artworks, hardwood furniture and rich fabrics that ground modern amenities such as satellite TVs, iPod docks and air-conditioning. Generous closet space and spacious en-suite bathrooms – complete with locally made soaps and twin vanity sinks – make life on board more than comfortable. However, the real highlight is the view. Look out to hilltop villages and riverside verdure through floor-to-ceiling sliding doors that open onto Juliet balconies. Consider upgrading for the more spacious suites, complete with walk out balconies and king size beds.
The ship’s excellent kitchen showcases only the freshest local ingredients in menus that span from innovative Asian dishes to European delicacies. Buffet breakfasts and lunches are indulgent treats – consider taking your meals on the Observation Deck for yet more of those stunning views – while the table d’hôte dinners are the real highlight. The refreshing Burmese salads and risotto are particularly good. Complimentary soft drinks, mineral water, local bear and house wine are all served with lunch and dinner while signature welcome and farewell meals add extra extravagance to proceedings. In your rooms, welcome fruit baskets and a butler-served morning tea and coffee are a nice touch. Suites – with their courtesy mini-bar – are more welcoming still.
The ship’s topmost Observation Deck is its hub, complete with sun loungers, that all-important swimming pool and lounge bar. It’s here that you’ll have the chance to mingle with your fellow guests over complimentary cocktails at the farewell and welcome parties. The wellness centre is equally enticing, featuring a range of pampering massages and spa treatments along with a selection of fitness equipment. Additionally, while you’re not out exploring on the wide range of guided shore excursions, there are plenty of activities to keep you occupied – including yoga sessions and insightful lectures – along with a library, WiFi and satellite movies and sports in your cabin.
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