From £3,144 pp incl. UK flights
The Irrawaddy Delta covers over 1000 square miles and is made to be explored by boat as it’s riven by a myriad of channels that spider web all the way to the coast revealing a land rich in birdlife, agriculture and bustling towns & markets.
Starting and finishing in Yangon this 7 night luxury cruise is the most enjoyable way to explore a colourful corner of this beautiful country. We've included 4 days (or more) relaxing on a beautiful Burmese beach but if you’d rather finish in Thailand this can be easily arranged.
Day 1: Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Yangon, Myanmar
Day 2: Private hotel transfer - 1 night Yangon. Private city tour incl. evening at Shwedagon Pagoda
Day 3: Private transfer to luxury Pandaw boat - 7 nights exploring Irrawaddy Delta
Day 4: Cruise to Pyapon and Bogalee in the heart of the delta. Explore Mangrove reserve
Day 5: Today weave through creeks and channels cross-country to Myaungmya. Explore town
Day 6: Cruise Bassein River up to Bassein, the capital of the delta, with time to explore
Day 7: A free day in this charming port town. optional day trip to Ngwesaung Beach
Day 8: Cruise along main channel to idyllic town of Wakema, set in a lush green riverscape
Day 9: Continue along main channel past riverbanks teaming with life to bustling Maubin
Day 10: Morning arrival back in Yangon. Fly to Ngapali for 4 nights on the beach
Day 11-13: 3 days to relax on beautiful beach, take a swim, walk to fishing villages & explore coast
Day 14: Afternoon flight to Yangon. Day room at hotel until overnight flight home
Day 15: Arrive home
Day 1: UK Airport / Yangon
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Yangon. There are no direct flights and so there is the chance to perhaps break your journey in Bangkok, Hanoi, Singapore or Dubai.
Day 2: Arrive Yangon - Private Guided City Tour
On arrival your oprivate guide will meet and transferred to your choice of hotel for 1 night. Morning free, then early afternoon rejoin your guide for a private city tour. Although the city is no longer the official capital of the country it’s the most dynamic and forward facing city in the country. There are many cultural and historical highlights to be found in between the hustle and bustle of city life here. Visit Botahtaung Pagoda, the colossal reclining Buddha Chaukhtatkyi and Kandawgyi Lake. Lunch will be in a local restaurant at own expense. Walk through old streets lined with colonial buildings and do some shopping at Scott Market. In the evening take in the spectacular view of Shwedagon Pagoda all lit up. This is the most important Buddhist site in the country and is said to hold strands of Buddha’s hair and other relics. The spire reaches up to 99m and is encrusted with diamonds and covered by gold plate. Join the hundreds of locals who pray here as the sun sets and you get an indication of how Buddhism is the keystone of Burmese life.
Day 3:Yangon - Board Pandaw Boat for 7 Night Irrawaddy Delta Cruise (B / L / D)
Early transfer to the jetty to board the intimate Pandaw cruise ship with just 14 cabins. Designed to take you back to the 1880’s when these beautiful craft made use of their shallow draft to take produce and passengers up and down the delta system this a fantastic addition to any holiday. Settle into your cabin then join fellow guests on deck as the adventure begins.
First stop is at Twante to be shown around the potteries and then on to Pyapon a small fishing village 75 miles south of Rangoon. Although it’s still known for its fishing, the marshlands were reclaimed in the 20th century for rice production and it's still known as the “Rice Basket” of Burma. The rice paddies attracted Burman and Karen settlers, many of which are still in Pyapon today mixed with the ancient, indigenous Mon race.
The natural beauty of Pyapon is what stands out the most as you float towards it. Paddies dominate the landscape and keep your eyes out birds, river crocodiles and even dolphins that occasionally use the backwaters as a nursery. On dry land explore this island like town with its lively docks and vibrant market that sells everything from rice and fish to flavoursome spices.
Back to the boat for cocktails & dinner. Moor overnight at Pyapon.
Day 4: Cruise Pyapon to Bogale (B / L / D)
After breakfast the cruise continues to Bogale in the heart of the delta and once a Mon capital and trading port that connected international trading routes between the 15th and 18th centuries. It now features the Delta’s only mangrove reserve, vital for the ecosystem’s well-being. You’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the local efforts to preserve this vital plant and also explore the town with a visit to the town’s monastery.
Day 5: Cruise Bogale to Myaungmya (B / L / D)
This will be the most fascinating day’s sailing as you weave through creeks and channels cross-country across the heart of the delta, stopping for village visits along the way.
Your destination is Myaungmya, one of Myanmar’s most beautiful destinations well off the beaten track and dominated by scenes of small fishing boats and rice paddies. Myaungmya is the original ancestral home of the Mon Nya who were among the earliest people to inhabit southeast Asia and were responsible for the spread of Theravada Buddhism. Your guide will take you through the town before returning to the ship for dinner.
Day 6: Cruise Myaungmya to Bassein (B / L / D)
This morning the cruise slowly makes its way out of the delta backwaters to join the great Bassein River and travel up to Bassein, the capital of the delta and vital seaport. Bassein has been an important trading centre for almost 1,000 years, initially as part of the Indian Yadava Kingdom, then in 1317 the Gujarat Muslim Kings expanded it as a port before the Portuguese fortified it with a fort in 1526. The fort is now in ruins and Bassein developed as an important centre of shipbuilding.
Disembark and the guide will take you round the town to explore the markets, temples and shrines. Keep your eye out for the traditional umbrella manufacturers where the typical monk’s waxed cloth umbrellas are made.
Day 7: Free Day in Bassein - Optional Day Trip to Beach (B / L / D)
A day at leisure in this charming port town or optional day trip by car to Ngwesaung Beach with the obligatory white sand, palm fringed beach that stretches over 10 miles. Enjoy lunch by the sea and the chance to dip your toes in the warm Indian Ocean before returning to the ship for dinner.
Day 8: Cruise from Bassein to Wakema (B / L / D)
Today is a day on the river, taking the more usual upper delta route of the old Irrawaddy Flotilla Company ‘launch service’ between Rangoon and Bassein. Your destination is Wakema, a small, bustling town surrounded by beautiful greenery and known as a melting pot of religions, with Baptist, Buddhism and Muslim places of worship scattered around it. On arrival disembark and explore the town with your guide.
Hidden amongst the lush greenery you’ll find the Hantharwaddy Kamahtann Monastery, one of the country’s most authentic, at one with nature and a must-see for those looking to dip their toes into the culture of Myanmar. You’ll then take a walk through BoGyoke Park, a beautiful green space right next to the river. In the town centre you’ll find the beautifully ornate Thet Kya Ma Har Thiri Pagoda, then continue on to the busy streets of the port, sample some local culinary delights and enjoy the frenetic market. Return to the ship for dinner.
Day 9: Cruise from Wakema to Maubin (B / L / D)
As the ship heads further up towards the capital the channels get busier with river traffic and the banks team with life and activity. Your destination today is Maubin, a busy confluence for waterway and road systems that makes for a vibrant overnight stay.
With your guide explore the town’s pagodas, market and sandbank beach, a popular swimming spot for locals. The highlight will probably be Dae Thin Yay Kyaw, a floating village that will transport you into a different world. With no bicycles, motorbikes, cars or roads, it’s made up of just stilted houses surrounded by a mass of water fields used for fish farming and other agricultural purposes. Back to the ship for dinner.
Day 10: Cruise to Yangon (B) Fly to Ngapali Beach
Early this morning you cross the Twante Canal and arrive in Rangoon River at approximately midday. Time to leave the boat and fly to the coast for a change of pace relaxing on the beach. Flying in Myanmar is part of the adventure as outside Yangon the airports are still very simple and the service is more like a bus service with coloured stickers denoting which flight you’re on. The flight will be by prop-plane. On arrival your private guide will transfer you to your choice of beach hotel for 4 nights (or less / more).
Days 11-13: Ngapali Beach (B) - Free days
Ngapali Beach is perfect place to conclude any holiday around Myanmar. A short flight from the country’s main destinations, even the airport overlooks a palm lined beach. Ngapali offers everything you could want from a beach destination: miles & miles of wide white sand beach, clear blue sea, discreet low rise upmarket beachside resorts and plenty of local restaurants. It seems to have reached the sweet spot, whereby the facilities mean you can relax in comfort but the development hasn’t ruined the reason you visit.
The most active part of the day will probably be watching the fisherman bringing back their catch, but if you want to explore more there are snorkelling trips to outlying islands, you can rent a bike or perhaps hire a car and driver to explore the largely undeveloped bays that form a ribbon down the coast.
Day 14: Ngapali (B) / Yangon - Day Room - Fly Home
Morning free then early afternoon airport transfer and short flight to Yangon. On arrival your guide will transfer you to a city centre hotel (or add 1 night) so you can rest & explore the city before your evening flight home. Arrive back in UK the following morning.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation with breakfast
- First class river cruise on full board
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas (if applicable)
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Irrawaddy River Cruise Boats
Relax as you cruise in luxury aboard a beautiful Pandaw boat down the Irrawaddy River through Myanmar
Hotels on Ngapali Beach
Ngapali offers everything you could want from a beach destination
Hotels in Yangon
Perhaps more famous to us as “Rangoon”, Yangon is Myanmar’s largest city