We visit the main historic and cultural centers as well as many remoter places well off the beaten track. Such small towns and villages are part of a rich river economy and thriving with local industry and activity. Irrawaddy valley civilization has changed little in hundreds of years and wherever we go the people are warm, friendly and very hospitable. The river varies enormously: it is vast with endless winding channels just above Mandalay and then dark and narrow through the 3rd Defile. It is a constantly changing landscape with a stunning back drop of mountains.
Day 1: Rangoon. Transfer from the airport check in to our 4 star hotel. Lunch and rest. We visit the Shwedagon for the sunset followed by a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Day 2: Pagan. Fly up and board Pandaw II. 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. Puppet show on deck at night.
Day 3: Yandabo Village and School. Upstream to the Chindwin confluence and stop in the evening at Yandabo, a picturesque village with small family run potteries. Here we visit the Pandaw School built with donations from past Pandaw passengers.
Day 4: Ava and Amarapura Old Capitals. In the morning we travel to Ava and explore the ruins, visiting the superb Bagaya Kyaung, a 200 year old royal monastery made of teak with elaborate wood carvings. In the afternoon we travel to Mandalay for an orientation tour of the Mandalay city area visiting the Mahamuni Pagoda and sunset at Amarapura U-Bein Bridge. The Mandalay classical ballet troupe will perform, on deck scenes from court dramas.
Day 5: Mingun Pagoda and Bell. We cast off early in the morning 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 Peoples Home originally established with the assistance of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1930s.
Day 6: Kyaung-myoung Potteries. Visit the spectacular potteries near Kyauk-myoung where the famous 50 gallon water pots are hand made. We see all stages of manufacture from the throwing of the pots to the week long firing in huge kilns. 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. If free, the village orchestra and dancers will perform for us on the sun deck after dinner.
Day 7: Tagaung Ancient City. We explore by foot the ancient city of Tagaung viewing the fortifications, a famous nat or spirit shrine and the archaeological area. In the evening we climb the Pagoda Hill at Tigyang with its stunning views of the Irrawaddy.
Day 8: Katha - Myanma Days. We reach the enchanting colonial town of Katha, setting for George Orwells Myanma Days, and little changed since then. Of interested are the fire stations collection of IFC ships bells taken from sunken ships in the Second War. Katha was the final resting place of the old flotilla and here over a hundred ships were scuppered in 1942 in an Act of Denial before the advancing Japanese.
Day 9: Shwegu. We continue upstream to Shwe-gu, another center of pot making, and Kyun-daw a midstream island of monasteries and countless small pagodas. Stop overnight at a tribal village.
Day 10: Bhamo. Cruise through the second Defile, the most dramatic of the three gorges with cliffs towering over the narrow channel. Reach Bhamo in the afternoon for an evening walking tour of this important trading town set close to the Chinese border.
Day 11: Singu. Chartering a smaller country boat we will proceed upstream from Bhamo and attempt to reach the village of Singu below the dramatic 1st Defile. In the evening we will have more time to explore Bhamos bustling markets and Chinese temples.
Day 12: Bhamo to Rangoon. Disembark at Bhamo, transfer to airport by local bus, and fly to Rangoon and check in to our hotel. Coach trip to visit the famous Scots Market and if of interest the gem emporia.
Day 13: 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