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Shwedagon in Yangon, Myanmar

Majestic Myanmar

17-day river cruise from £4,395 pp incl. flights


Short description

Compare Myanmar’s glittering icons and its undiscovered gems on a luxury river cruise


  • Take in Bagan – a world-wonder temple city
  • Discover lesser-visited forts, colonial towns and market villages
  • Pause at Myanmar’s former royal capitals – Mandalay, Ava and Sagaing
  • Explore with included touring throughout, from trishaw rides to city tours
  • Enjoy full-board dining with complimentary drinks

In Brief

  • 1 Night Yangon
  • 1 Night Danuphyu
  • 1 Night Hinthata
  • 1 Night Myanaung
  • 1 Night Sri Ksetra
  • 1 Night Thayetmyo
  • 1 Night Magwe Region
  • 1 Night Sale
  • 2 Nights Bagan
  • 1 Night Yandabo
  • 1 Night Inwa
  • 1 Night Mingun
  • 1 Night Mandalay


Recommended for:
Escorted tour | History & culture | River cruise

Taking the stress out of it all, a boutique river cruise along the Irrawaddy is surely the best way to see Myanmar. And, while most itineraries focus on the northern sections, this in-depth route brings you nearly the full length. So, along with royal-capital Mandalay, the lost temple city of Bagan and the glittering pagaodas of Yangon, you’ll also head off the beaten track. Expect everything from riverside potters and market villages to colonial forts and crumbling ancient capitals. It’s all brought to life with included excursions throughout, with highlights including monastery visits, trishaw rides and horse-and-carriage tours. You’ll return each day to full-board dining, complemented by included drinks.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
Depart UK

Begin your trip with complimentary airport lounge access before your overnight flight to Myanmar.

Day 2
Arrive Yangon

Upon arrival in Yangon, you’ll be met and transferred to the RV Princess Panhwar to settle in to your pristinely modern suite. Complete with French or outside balcony, you’ll be treated to perfect views of the Irrawaddy. Then, outside your cabin, there’s a cute spa, gym and lounge wrapped in picture windows, while the Sun Deck offers the best views. A generous staff-to-guest ratio also serves up an entertainment programme of lectures and cultural performances, along with full-board dining – washed down with complimentary wines and beers. Expect local flavours matched with international favourites. The service is flawless, with 38 crewmembers for the 36 cabins. You’ll also begin your included touring with Shwedagon Pagoda – Yangon’s giant golden icon.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: L D

Day 3

You’ll have some further time to explore Myanmar’s largest city today, with your expert guide bringing you among the fading beauty of its colonial centre. You’ll also take in the glittering Kandawgyi Lake whose surrounding park is an oasis of greenery among Yangon’s bustle. Then, there’s Sule Pagoda. Every bit as impressive as its larger cousin, Shwedagon, it rises in great golden tiers right among the city’s central sprawl. You’ll then board your river ship to set sail north, watching as Yangon’s limits slip into Burmese countryside.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 4

As you move through the delta waterways, you’ll reach Danuphyu, a key site in the first Anglo-Burmese War where General Maha Bandula led a storied defensive against the British troops. And, as you explore by trishaw, you’ll learn how he walked among his troops to boost morale before using fighting elephants to charge the enemy. Your guides will also bring you among the local cottage industry with a visit to a home cheroot-making workshop before a stop at Monastery of Maha Bandula. Its whitewashed spires are capped in, you guessed it, gold.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 5

Relax in the ship’s air-conditioned lounge or on its Sun Deck as you continue onto the sleepy riverside township of Myanaung. Here, you’ll enjoy a guided walking tour past carefully preserved colonial houses to the town’s bustling market. It’s a rare chance to get a glimpse of river life in rural Myanmar, well off the beaten tourist track

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 6
Pyay (Prome)/Sri Ksetra

As you cruise this morning you’ll marvel at the Akauk Mountains whose sheer cliff faces house painted Buddha icons. Then, arriving into Pyay, you’ll visit its gilded pagodas. Prime among them is towering Shwesandaw; at 100m high, it’s taller even than Shwedagon and – like its Yangon sibling – is said to contain a hank of Buddha’s locks. You’ll then continue on to Sri Ksetra, the ancient ruined capital of the Pyu kingdom. Dating back some 1,500 years, its UENSCO-listed sites include religious Indic art, the remains of its royal palace and a collection of 6th-century brick stupas – among the world’s earliest Buddhist monuments. That’s without even mentioning the tombs and cave pagodas.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 7

Once sitting as the border between Upper and Lower Myanmar, Thayetmyo has a fascinating colonial history. Ottoman soldiers captured in the Middle East during WWI were sent here as prisoners of war by the British, an act memorialised by the haunting burial grounds. Today, its chequered past is papered over by its charming colonial houses and Myanmar's oldest golf course, established in 1877. You’ll even have a chance to have a putt on the green.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 8

Your next stop is Minhla – a crucial battleground of the Third Anglo-Burmese War and an inspiration to a certain Rudyard Kipling. His works really are essential readings on this voyage. And, they’ll be brought to life with a visit to the 19th-century forts built by the Italians to repel British invaders. Their capture marked the end to Myanmar’s independence. After, you’ll cruise on to Magwe whose quiet delta-town image belies a bustling market centre.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 9

Although Salay’s colourful monasteries and shrines date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, it’s still an active religious centre to this day; there’s approximately one monastery for every 200 residents. And, you’ll visit the oldest – the wooden Yoke Sone Kyaung Monastery. After taking in its carvings and ancient religious artefacts you’ll then continue on to the tongue-twisting Shinbin Maha Laba Man Paya. Dating back to the 13th century, it’s Myanmar’s largest lacquer Buddha.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 10
Tantkyi Hill/Bagan

You’ll begin today with the short climb up Tantkyi Hill. And, on reaching the summit, you’ll be rewarded with some spectacular views and an 11th-century pagoda, ringed by over thirty elephantine statues. It’s believed to contain a tooth relic of Buddha. Then, back on the ship, you’ll be treated to your first glimpse of Bagan as the pointed spires of this ancient temple complex rise above green plains. You’ll make your introductions with the Ananda Temple – a 12th-century masterpiece, topped by a golden dome and framed by impossible ornate stonework. This evening, you’ll also enjoy a traditional puppet show back on board.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 11

You’ll have a full day to uncover the mysteries of Myanmar’s greatest site. And, with over 2,000 pagodas and stupas to explore, you’ll need it. Gubyaukgyi is a particular highlight; known as the ‘Cave Temple’, it features incredibly detailed frescoes and the oldest original paintings in Bagan. Then, there’s the grand Shwezigon Pagoda. Here, dozens of small, brick pagodas form a considered contrast to its great gold-leaf dome, which shines bright in the sun.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 12

Departing Bagan, you’ll continue on to Yandabo, where the peace treaty that ended the First Anglo-Burmese War was signed in 1826. It’s now better known for its terracotta pots, crafted from the riverbank clay. After an onboard lecture, you’ll watch as teams of two operate a treadle wheel and sculpt the clay before leaving the pots to dry in the sun – each can make up to 70 pots a day. It’s the chance to experience a river life unchanged for centuries.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 13
Inwa (Ava)

Formerly known as Ava, this ancient imperial capital has gone through countless iterations between the 14th and 19th centuries. Explore it like a local with a horse-drawn cart tour, calling at tilted watch towers, sheer city walls, wooden monasteries and sun-bleached temples. One of its most impressive sights – the teakwood Bagaya Monastery – dates back to the end of the 16th century and is decorated throughout with carvings of birds and animals. Rejoin the ship this evening for a cultural show by the Mandalay fine arts school.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 14

Drawing into Sagaing, you’ll be treated to pretty views of its verdant river banks, where temple spires tumble down green slopes. Also famed for its artisan craftsmen, you’ll visit a silversmiths’ workshop before exploring the glittering Buddhas of Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda. It’s then on to Mingun – a riverside village with a kingly history. It’s a royal heritage remembered by its brick monoliths and the pristine white of its pagaodas. The Mingun Bell is even the world’s second-largest ringing bell.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Day 15

The last royal capital of Myanmar, Mandalay is arranged around the mysterious walls and grounds of its palace. Your touring here will bring you to its sacred Mahamuni Temple to watch gold leaf added to its grand Buddha before heading on to the 19th-century Shwenandaw Monastery, with its foreboding darkwood carvings and iconic red roof. Then, after the flawlessly white stupas of Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to what’s thought to be the world’s largest book, you’ll cruise out to the U Bein Bridge at sunset. Constructed in the mid 19th century, it’s both the oldest and longest teak bridge. For your last night in Myanmar, you’ll also enjoy a special farewell dinner.

Stay: RV Princess Panhwar, Myanmar (Superior)

Meals: B L D

Days 16-17

After a last breakfast, an included transfer will see you to the airport for your overnight flight home.

Meals: B



Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Superior

17-day river cruise from £4,395 incl. flights

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