AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
Journey  alongside the Irrawaddy

Journey alongside the Irrawaddy

Journey alongside the Irrawaddy Overview

Follow the course of the Irrawaddy River as you journey along its banks and along its peaceful waters, exploring the cities, towns, and villages found nearby. Travel from the vibrant capital of Yangon with its majestic pagodas to the ancient cities of Beikthano and Bagan, and be captivated by Myanmar's spectacular scenery and its people.

Journey along the banks of the Irrawaddy

Follow the course of the Irrawaddy River as you journey along its banks and along its peaceful waters, exploring the cities, towns, and villages found nearby. Travel from the vibrant capital of Yangon with its majestic pagodas to the ancient cities of Beikthano and Bagan. Travel through spectacular landscapes and be captivated by Myanmar's scenery and its people.

Best time to visit Myanmar/Burma is the dry winter season from November to February.

Touring style: Professional English speaking guide and driver, private basis.

Day 1: Arrive Yangon

On arrival, meet your guide and transfer to hotel.

Ease into the relaxed pace of this former colonial capital with a rickshaw ride through its historic centre, step back in time with a cool drink at a local teashop, the ideal place to observe local life… Complete your day amid the aroma of incense, the twinkling oil lamps of the Shwedagon Pagoda. Floating above the green, teak-lined roads, layered with more than 60 tonnes of gold leaf the pagoda’s stupa glitters before you in the rays of the setting sun. Overnight in Yangon.

Distance and journey time: 14 km, 30 mins

Day 2: Yangon to Pyay By Train

Following breakfast, join your guide for a tour of the fabulously gilded Sule Pagoda before an easy stroll along Mahabandoola Road, Pansodan Street, to the bustling and colourful Yangon Jetty market. From the market, a short walk will bring you to downtown Yangon, where you will observe local life among faded colonial buildings, glittering temples.

Experience the peace of a Chinese temple in the middle of Yangon’s vibrant and colourful Chinatown before transferring to the railway station, and your relaxing, scenic journey through rural Myanmar to Pyay. On arrival, transfer to hotel. Overnight in Pyay.

Distance and journey time: 288 km, 6 hrs

Day 3: Pyay

Join your guide after breakfast to tour on foot the vibrant market on Pyay Jetty. From Shwe Sandaw Pagoda, marvel at the gigantic sitting Buddha of Hsehtatkyi Pagoda. In the afternoon, a short journey by road will bring you to the ancient city of Thayeikhittaya, or Sriketra. Now overgrown, covering an area of 19 square km, this was once an entirely walled city, the largest and grandest of the ancient Pyu. Complete your day with a walk along Strand Road and night market. Overnight in Pyay.

Day 4: Pyay to Magway (Magwe)

Experience a fascinating, 4-hour journey by road through rural Myanmar, the small town of Aung Lan to Taung Dwin Gyi, and the 2000-year-old city of Beikthano. From here continue on to the Magway Division, check in to your hotel. Arriving in Magway, its production of both groundnut and sesame oils earning it the nickname the ‘Oil pot of Myanmar’, marvel at the profusion of exotic fruits, in particular, the rare yet delicious Phangar fruit (Chebulic myorobalan). Complete your day by wandering through the magical Mya Tha Lun Pagoda on the banks of the Irrawaddy. Overnight in Magway.

Distance and journey time: 201 km, 4 hrs

Day 5: Magway to Pwint Phyu, Minbu, Magway

Today, your short journey by road will bring you to the banks of the mighty Irrawaddy and Nagar Pwet Taung, or Dragon Lake, a pool of bubbling mud. At nearby Pwint Phyu you will find the Kyaung Taw Yar Pagoda, before completing your day among the temples and pagodas of Min Bu township to experience panoramic views across the Irrawaddy. Overnight in Magway.

Distances and journey times:

Magway to Pwint Phyu: 50 km, 40 mins

Pwint Phyu to Minbu: 36 km, 30 mins

Minbu to Magway: 14 km, 20 mins

Day 6: Magway to Bagan

Begin your relaxing and fascinating journey by road to Bagan, your route taking you from the banks of the Irrawaddy across the arid region of Myanmar. Travel through vast fields of toddy palm, before stopping to observe the process of toddy juice production. The toddy palm crop plays a central role in Myanmar rural life, providing not only juice and sugars but also shade from the heat. The palm continues to be used for making utensils, building material and is even used in the making of traditional medicines. On arrival in Bagan, check in to your hotel before boarding a local boat for a sunset cruise down the Irrawaddy. Floating past fishermen and riverside villages, an unforgettable view of the hundreds of temples dotting the shore completes your day. Overnight in Bagan.

Distance and journey time: 156 km, 2.30 hrs

Day 7: Bagan

Begin your day at dawn with an exhilarating hot-air balloon flight over the plains of Bagan. As the sun rises, glinting off the mighty Irrawaddy, the gold leaf glittering on the hundreds of stupas along its shore, gaze in wonder at this unique and truly unforgettable experience. Coming back down to earth, follow your guide to the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda for an introduction to Bagan’s rich history. From nearby Wetkyi In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple featuring exquisitely preserved jataka mural paintings, wander among the fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations of the elegant Htilominlo Temple. Your tour continues to Ananda Temple, built in the early Mon style and one of Bagan’s most beautiful temples. The temple is also known for two unique Buddha images, the expressions appearing to change depending on the distance of the viewer from the image. By contrast, the neighbouring brick monastery of Ananda Okkyaung is one of few surviving from the early Bagan period and is filled with intricate paintings. From here journey by horse and cart to Thatbyinnyu, the highest temple in Bagan, then on to the massive temple of Dhammayangyi, noted for its remarkable brickwork. Complete your day on the terrace of Sulamani Temple, for an unforgettable sunset over the stupa dotted plains. Overnight in Bagan.

Day 8: Bagan to Mandalay

Begin your day in the cool and calm of Ngat Pyit Taung Monastery. Explore the temple’s caves, learning about local traditions and the spiritual beliefs of the Burmese before observing local children at their lessons in the Monastic Primary School.

In the afternoon, continue to the rural village of Minnanthu in one of Bagan’s least visited areas, to explore the temples of Payathonzu, Lemyentha and Nandamannya, their distinct architecture reflecting the influence of Tantric Buddhism. Transfer to Nyaung Oo airport for your flight to Mandalay, transferring on arrival to your hotel. Overnight in Mandalay.

Day 9: Mandalay to Mingun, Mandalay

Following breakfast transfer to the Mandalay jetty, board a private local boat for a 1-hr cruise on the Irrawaddy to the ancient capital of Mingun.

Explore the massive ruin of Mingun Pahtodawqyi. An astrologer predicting the Kings’ line would die out if it was ever completed, this huge brick structure remains unfinished. Continue to the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda, built in imitation of the mythical Mount Meru before marvelling at the Mingun Bell, at 90 tonnes the world’s largest un-cracked ringing bell. From Mingun drift back along the mighty Irrawaddy to Mandalay and the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images, through time so thickly overlaid with gold leaf that the features are barely recognisable. As you wander through traditional workshops observe craftsmen hammer out tiny pieces of gold into sheets of gold leaf, produce wondrous teak carvings, rich kalaga tapestries, as their ancestors would have done for the Royal Burmese Court. From here continue to Kuthodaw Pagoda, where 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scripture have earned it the title ‘World’s Biggest Book’, on to the exquisite teak Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. Complete your day with a sunset view of the city from the top of Mandalay Hill. Overnight in Mandalay.

Day 10: Departure

Mandalay, and the end of your Journey along the Irrawaddy with Eastravel.

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