Pagan and the Upper Irrawaddy
Tour of Pagan’s temples, pagodas, and stupas
|2||Yandabo||Explore pottery-making town of Yandabo on foot|
|Excursion to Ava and Bagaya Kyuang monastery
See ancient capital of Amarapura
|4||Kyaukmyuang||Discover Kyaukmyuang, known for its pottery|
|5||Khanyat||Explore Khanyat village
Climb pagoda hill in Tigyaing
|6||Katha||Uncover Katha’s colonial history
Visit an elephant logging camp
|7||KyundawIsland||See this river island town’s many small pagodas|
|8||Second Defile||Experience the second defile’s stunning scenery|
|9||Tagaung||Enjoy a walking tour of ancient city of Tagaung|
|10||Mingun||Explore Mingun, including its 90-tonne bell|
Note: This program is also available in the opposite direction.
DAY 1 / PAGAN / EMBARKATION*
After embarking and enjoying lunch on board, set off on a guided exploration of the city of Pagan, one of the richest archeological sites in the world and a contender for UNESCO World Heritage designation. Visit a selection of the city’s 3,000 spectacular pagodas, temples, and stupas, many of which date back to the 11th century, when the kings of the Pagan dynasty ordered the construction of thousands of religious monuments. The ship sets sail in the early evening for Yandabo.
DAY 2 / YANDABO
Cruise past the confluence of the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin rivers, then go ashore to explore this small, rural village, which is famous for its production of terracotta pottery sourced from riverbank clay deposits. Visit a local school, which was built with the help of donations from past passengers. In the afternoon, cruise towards Mandalay.
DAY 3 / AVA / AMARAPURA
Situated at the confluence of the Irrawaddy and Myitnge rivers, Ava, also known as Inwa, was the capital of Burma from the decline of Pagan until 1837. Today, visit the Bagaya Kyaung, a 200-year-old royal teakwood monastery featuring elaborate carvings. Continue to visit the ancient capital of Amarapura, admiring the paintings in the temple.
DAY 4 / KYAUKMYAUNG
The village of Kyaukmyaung is renowned for its 190-litre handmade clay water pots. This morning, witness some stage of the pottery process, from the throwing of the pots to the week-long firing, which takes place in huge kilns. Upon returning to the ship, float through the Irrawaddy’s third defile, a narrow channel or gorge, approximately 100 kilometres north of Mandalay.
DAY 5 / KHAN YAT
Stop in Khan Yat village, which is home to numerous Buddhist monasteries. Here, visit the former head teacher’s house and see his private collections. Sailing onward, go ashore in the town of Tigyaing and climb the pagoda hill, which offers a breathtaking panorama of the upper Irrawaddy.
DAY 6 / KATHA
Enchanting Katha is widely known as the setting for George Orwell’s novel, Burmese Days. Quite surprisingly, little about the town has changed since Orwell’s time there. Of interest are the collection of bells taken from Irrawaddy Flotilla Company ships that sunk during World War II. Katha served as the final resting place of the fleet, with over one hundred ships deliberately sunk here in 1942 as the Japanese army advanced. After touring the town, visit an elephant logging camp upstream, in the hardwood forests of the town’s surrounding hills.
DAY 7 / KYUNDAW ISLAND
Take a local boat to visit Kyundaw village. Located on an island in the Irrawaddy, the village is home to countless miniature pagodas.
DAY 8 / SECOND DEFILE
Cruise through the Irrawaddy’s second defile. Dramatic gorges and cliff faces tower over this narrow strip of river.
DAY 9 / TAGAUNG
Explore the town of Tagaung by foot, making sure to visit the fortifications, the famous nat, or spirit shrine, and the archaeological area.
DAY 10 / MINGUN
After spending the early morning hours cruising, stop at Mingun, which is home to 19th-century, 90-tonne bronze bell that was, until recently, the world’s largest ringable bell. You’ll also see an astounding unfinished pagoda and a local retirement home established with the help of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1930s. In the afternoon, drive through the picturesque Sagaing Hills to a hilltop viewpoint which offers spectacular views of the river.
DAY 11 / MANDALAY / DISEMBARKATION
Savour a leisurely breakfast on board, then disembark in Mandalay to prepare for your onward journey.
*Note: This program is also available in the opposite direction.
**Please note that this itinerary is a general indication of the timing and stops. As this cruise travels to remote areas, changes to the program are more than likely. Only travellers with a sense of adventure and flexibility should consider this cruise.
Dates & Prices
(Name of Itinerary)
|Itinerary Start Date||Ship Name||Route||Duration (Nights)||Main Deck Pricing PP||Upper Deck Pricing PP|
(Pagan and the Upper Irrawaddy)
|9/26/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|10/6/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|10/16/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|10/26/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|11/5/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|11/15/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|11/25/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|12/5/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|12/15/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|12/25/2017||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|1/4/2018||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|1/14/2018||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|1/24/2018||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|2/3/2018||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|2/13/2018||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|2/23/2018||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|3/5/2018||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Pagan/Mandalay||10||$5,200||$6,500|
|3/15/2018||RV Kha Byoo Pandaw||Mandalay/Pagan||10||$5,200||$6,500|
Prices are per person based on double occupancy.
RRAS-06 Port Charge: N/A
RRAS-06 Single Supplement:
- Main Deck: 40%
- Upper Deck: 40%
*Note: No single supplement applicable for start date of 26-Sep-17
- Quality mountain bikes available for independent exploration on Zawgyi and Kindat Pandaws.
- Entrance fees
- Guide services (English speaking)
- Gratuities to crew
- Main meals
- Drinks include locally made soft drinks, local beer and local spirits, jugged coffee, mineral water and selection of teas and tisanes
RV Kha Byoo Pandaw
Travel TipsThe Irrawaddy
Travel Documents / Visas
Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the last date of travel in Myanmar.
Citizens of other countries should consult with their travel agent or our office.
Canadians require a tourist visa to enter Myanmar. Visas can be obtained online in advance by visiting the Myanmar Department of Immigration website here.
A handy checklist of what to bring on your trip can be downloaded here.
We very strongly recommend the purchase of appropriate travel insurance for any trip outside of Canada. Information on travel insurance options can be found here.
Not permitted anywhere indoors. There are designated areas on the outside decks.
January – February: Warm days in the mid to high 20’s. Very dry. Seldom rains.
March – May: Hot days in the mid to high 20’s and cool evenings. Mostly dry.
October – cool days in the mid to high 10’s. Occasional frost but mostly dry.
Arrival / Departure
Upon booking, we will provide detail instructions on how to meet your ship on embarkation day. In some cases, the transfer from a pre-designated pickup point will be included in your cruise fare. If you have not made any pre or post tour arrangements with us, you will have to arrange your own transportation to and from the port of embarkation or the pickup point. We are happy to provide advice or to assist in arranging transfers.
The ship will not be ready for check-in before midday (unless otherwise stipulated in the itinerary). If you have luggage that you need to deposit so you can enjoy some free time in port, the purser may be able to accommodate you provided we know in advance.
The cruise will finish in the morning (usually around 7-8am) on the final day. It is necessary to have settled your onboard account and to have disembarked by this time as instructed by the cruise director on the day before.
The currency is the Burmese Kyat. It is approximately 1,000 Kyat for 1 $CAD.
Relatively few places accept credit cards. There are ATMs available in the major cities and airports, but in the country they are difficult to find.
Gratuities are included in the price of your Myanmar cruise. If you feel that a member of the crew provided exceptional service, you are welcome to discreetly show your appreciation by personally giving them a tip in an envelope.
Onshore, local drivers and guides can be tipped at your discretion. Typically USD$1 or 2 is very well received.
A laundry bag is provided in each stateroom for your laundry needs. Laundry is collected each morning when your room is made up and will be returned to you by the following day. We regret that dry cleaning services are not available.
Most of our programs include a full complement of excursions. Some additional excursions may be available on board at an extra cost. Please check with us or consult the purser on board for additional information.
Excursions will usually involve a lot of walking, often on dirt roads and on stone steps. If you have difficulty walking any distance, please let us know in advance and we will advise how best we can accommodate you.
South-East Asians are generally tolerant and easy going, however discussions about politics and religion are probably best avoided. In Myanmar, any form of disrespect for the national religion, Theravada Buddhism, is inappropriate. Unlike many faiths, Buddhists make their temples open to foreigners, permitting the taking of pictures (not always!) and general invasion of their sacred space. They ask only one thing: that we take our shoes and socks off. In addition please pay particular attention to the following:
- Do not point with your feet.
- In the company of monks or elders never cross your legs.
- Do not touch people on the head or upper body.
- When beckoning someone to come over do not flap your hand in the standard
Western ‘come over here’ motion; instead turn your hand around so that your palm points down towards yourself.
- Do not attempt to shake hands with monks or nuns. Note that people in general
rarely shake hands here but rather smile and nod.
- Women should never sit down next to a monk.
- In all temples and pagodas, shorts and skirts must cover the knees for both men and women. Arms can be exposed by shoulders should be covered. (ie. No tank tops or sleeveless blouses)
Activity Level / Strenuousness
Light to Moderate – The ship will often dock on a riverbank with a gangplank. It is necessary to be reasonably sure-footed as walking will be on dirt roads and paths. Temples often have many stairs which are mostly not obligatory to climb, but for the full benefit you will need to. Note that the high temperatures and humidity in summer may also make participation on this trip more strenuous than you may be accustomed to compared to the climate at home.
Regrettably, we cannot accommodate guests in a wheelchair on this program.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all included in your cruise fare so you shouldn’t be too hungry.
Among the more interesting dishes in Myanmar is “Mohinga”, which is a bowl of rice noodles in a fish soup. You’ll often find it on the breakfast menu which takes some getting used to, but is well worth the try. Burmese curry, particularly the fish curry has a flavour which is quite different from those of its neighbours, but also to be recommended.
Your shipboard staff almost all speak English of course, but onshore, few of the locals will be able to. For this reason it is wise to have a guidebook with a few of the most common and polite phrases. The crew will also be more than happy to teach you a few words of Burmese.
There are no medical personnel onboard the ship. However, the purser can contact onshore medical people for emergency and non-emergency situations and rapid evacuation can easily be facilitated in the most urgent cases.
Phone & Internet
Free Wi-Fi is available in the main public areas of the ship but not necessarily in all cabins. As internet is provided through a mobile network, bandwidth (speed) will vary depending on the number of concurrent users, the proximity to a cell tower and other factors. It will almost certainly be much slower than you are accustomed to at home.
If you would like to have regular data and phone connection, we suggest either arranging an overseas roaming plan with your mobile operator, or pick up a local SIM card if you have an unlocked phone.
Health / Vaccinations
There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in Myanmar. It would be wise to consult your physician or a travel medical clinic for advice on any precautions that should be taken.
As always, we recommend being in good health prior to any long distance travel.
Consult your physician with any specific concerns in regard to this program.
Safety & Security
Myanmar has undergone significant political change in the last few years. Regardless of this, most places you will visit are very safe and even petty crime against tourists happens seldom.
In larger cities it is always wise to be aware of your surroundings and to avoid large gatherings of people.
You can access current information about the security situation in Myanmar by referring to the Canadian government travel advisory site at: