Twenty nights on a river cruise may seem a long time but the majority of our passengers were old clients and happy to spend so long in the convivial atmosphere of a Pandaw. No two days were the same with varied scenery and diverse cultural sites. In view of the success of this expedition we will repeat it again as a special offer to old passengers with a considerably reduced price.
Day 1: Rangoon. Arrive Yangon International Airport and stay overnight at the Dusit Inya Lake Hotel (or equivalent 4 star); sunset visit to the Shwedagon Pagoda.
Day 2: Rangoon - Kalemyo. The gateway town for the Chin State. We explore Kalewa with its markets and quaint wooden architecture.
Day 3: Kalewa - Kindat. Stop for morning walk at Balet, a charming and typical river community.
Day 4: Kindat - Paungbyin. Kindat was as far as the old IFC steamers ventured outside of the Monsoon season. This part of the Chindwin valley is very sparsely populated and villages are few and far between.
Day 5: Paungbyin - Sitthaung. We pass the mouth of the Yu River which drains the Kubu valley. Sitthaung was the final resting place of a number of IFC steamers scuppered there in 1942.
Day 6: Sithaung - Toungdoot. Toungdoot or Hsawng-hsup in Tai, is an ancient Shan enclave which in British times still had a ruling prince or sawbwa complete with palace and court.
Day 7: Toungdoot - Homalin. We pass the Uyu River worked by gold washers on the way to Homalin, the furthest navigable point on the Chindwin for vessels of our size.
Day 8: Homalin - Mawlaik. Mawlaik replaced Kindat as the administrative capital. Like other towns of the Upper Chindwin, they can only be reached by boat so cars are few.
Day 9: Mawlaik - Mingkin. Mingkin with its Konbaung court style teak monasteries are sumptuously decorated. Mingkin may be described as the Luang Prabang of the Chindwin.
Day 10: Mingkin - Monywa. Entering the Lower Chindwin where the river widens and the forested hills fall away to farmland we pass a number of attractive villages. We will explore Monywa and time permitting make a quick trip to the Thanbodi Temple with its million Buddha images.
Day 11: Monywa - Pagan. Cruise all day through the great Lower Chindwin plain.
Day 12: Pagan. Tour a selection of the most significant of the 3,000 Buddhist monuments found at this World Heritage Site. We will visit lacquer ware manufacturers. Sail in the afternoon and moor overnight at Thein Gone village to visit the new school and the monastery.
Day 13: Yandabo Village. We head upstream to the Chindwin confluence and stop in the evening at Yandabo. Here we visit the Pandaw School built with donations from past Pandaw passengers.
Day 14: Ava and Amarapura. In the morning we travel to Ava and explore the ruins, visiting Bagaya Kyaung, a 200 year old royal monastery made of teak with elaborate wood carvings. In the afternoon travel to Mandalay for an orientation tour of the city area visiting the Mahamuni Pagoda and sunset at Amarapura U-Bein Bridge.
Day 15: Mingun Pagoda and Bell. We cast off early and stop at Mingun to see the largest working bell in the world and the unfinished pagoda that is the largest single mass of brick building in the world. We also visit the Mingun Old People’s Home originally established with the assistance of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1930s.
Day 16: Kyaung-myoung Potteries. Visit the spectacular potteries near Kyauk-myoung We enter the Third Defile and sail upstream all day stopping at Khan-nyat village with its many Buddhist monasteries and an orphanage we support.
Day 17: Tagaung Ancient City. Explore by foot the ancient city of Tagaung viewing the fortifications. In the evening we climb the Pagoda Hill at Tigyang with its stunning views of the Irrawaddy.
Day 18: Burmese Days. We reach the enchanting colonial town of Katha, setting for George Orwell’s Myanma Days. Katha was the final resting place of the old flotilla and here over a hundred ships were scuppered in 1942.
Day 19: Shwegu. We continue upstream to Shwegu, another center of pot making, and Kyun-daw a midstream island of monasteries and countless small pagodas.
Day 20: Bhamo. Cruise through the 2nd Defile, the most dramatic of the three gorges with cliffs towering over the narrow channel. Reach Bhamo in the afternoon, an important trading town close to the Chinese border.
Day 21: 1st Defile. Chartering a smaller ‘country boat’ we will proceed upstream from Bhamo and attempt to reach the dramatic 1st Defile. In the evening explore Bhamo’s bustling markets.
Day 22: Bhamo - Rangoon. Disembark at Bhamo, transfer to airport by local bus, and fly to Rangoon and check in to Dusit Inya Lake Hotel. Coach trip to visit the famous Scots Market and if of interest the gem emporia.
Day 23: Rangoon. Optional early morning visit the World War II cemetery at Htaukchan. International departures.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Myanmar Outdoor: Water Drifter Boating and Sailing Cultural Journey