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ayarwaddy

Between Mandalay and Prome
Downstream: Mandalay - Amarapura - Mingun - Ava - Monywa (Hpowindaung & Shwebadaung Caves) - Yandabo - Shwe Pyi Thar Village - Bagan - Tan Kyi Mountain - Salay - Magwe - Thayetmyo - Prome (Pyay ) - Yangon
Duration: 10 Days / 09 Nights
 

Itinerary

Day 1: Mandalay/Embarkation/Amarapura

mandalay 05Pick-up point: Mandalay Hill Resort
Enjoy a morning tour Mandalay. First we visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda, which contains the world's biggest book, as well as the Shwe Nan Daw Kyaung Monastery, the only original monastery left from the royal era. Then we proceed to Mandalay Hill, and board a local Mandalay Hill truck as used by Myanmar pilgrims to go up the hill for sweeping views of the city and its temples. Our final stops on the way to the ship are a workshop that produces the gold leaf commonly used to adorn Buddha images at temples throughout Myanmar, and the Mahamuni Pagoda, to see how the gold leaf is used.
This afternoon, we travel by coach to the penultimate Burmese royal capital of Amarapura to visit marble and silk workshops before driving to U-Bein Bridge, believed to be the world’s longest and oldest teakwood bridge. Local sampans wait to take us on a leisurely cruise of the lake, enjoying the sundown at the bridge.
(L/Welcome Reception/Dinner)

Day 2: Mingun - Ava

migun 01After breakfast we will enjoy a leisurely walking tour of the small town of Mingun. Our first stop is King Bodawpaya’s monumental, uncompleted stupa. During construction, an astrologer to the king argued that the king would die upon completion of the temple, and work was immediately halted. Had it been completed, it would have been the largest in the world. The cracks we see are the result of the 23 March 1839 earthquake that shook the area. We continue our walk to the Mingun Bell, which was the heaviest working bell in the world until 2000 when the Bell of Good Luck was unveiled in Henan, China. After having the opportunity to stand inside the bell as it is rung, we have time to shop in the local market, famous for its makeshift galleries that display inexpensive art from both local and internationally known artists.
The Ava Kingdom ruled upper Burma from 1364 to 1555. After lunch local horse carts wait for us as we disembark the ship for our tour of the town of Ava. Our first stop is the beautiful, 200-year-old, teak Bagaya Monastery (also known as Maha Walyan Bontha Bagaya Monastery). Originally built in 1593, it was destroyed by fire in 1821, and reconstructed with 267 gigantic teak wood posts. After exploring the incredible carvings, ornamentations, and other artistic works of the Inwa Era, we rejoin our horse carts for the ride to impressive Mei Nu Oak Kaung Brick Monastery.
(B/L/D)

Day 3: Monywa (Hpowindaung and Shwebadaung Caves)

monywa 03We depart the ship early this morning by motor coach for the drive past Monywa to the Hpowindaung caves, where we find hundreds of Buddha statues placed inside 947 small and large, richly decorated niches. The statues and paintings date to periods between the 14th and 18th centuries. The walk will last for one hour, over and through the sandstone hills, while monkeys follow along, waiting to see if there will be a snack of bananas at the end. We reboard our coaches and stop at the amazing Thanboddhay Pagoda, famous for its collection of Buddha statues. Dating back to the 13th century, the pagoda’s reconstruction began in 1939, and saw the addition of rows of golden stupas and two sculpted white elephants to guard the entrance. Still the most impressive offering of this temple, however, is the almost 600,000 large and small Buddhas that are housed within. We will enjoy a box lunch in Monywa, and afternoon snacks and beverages await us on our return to the ship.
(B/L/D)

Day 4: Yandabo – Hnaw Gone Village

On 24 February 1826, the peace treaty of the first Anglo-Burmese War was signed at Yandabo. Today, it is a picturesque village famous for its pottery. As we take a leisurely walk through the village, we have the opportunity to stop at the various family homes and workshops, each with its own unique style and markings, to witness the making and firing of the Yandabo pottery, famous throughout Myanmar. If the local school is in session, we have an opportunity to stop and meet the local children and schoolmaster.
This afternoon we sail to the village of Hnaw Kone, and enjoy our second leisurely walk of the day. Hnaw Kone is a typical, rural, river village, with friendly residents and adorable children. During our exploration of the village we will stop to see the local handicraft of bamboo cane basket weaving. We will watch the villagers as they expertly split bamboo and skillfully weave the strands into baskets or larger panels for building homes.
(B/L/D)

Day 5: Bagan

bagan 05(Site order and timing for today may vary by groups)
This morning our excursion takes us to one of the most incredible areas of Myanmar: Bagan. Once the center of the Pagan Empire, Bagan today is a tourist, artist, and archeological mecca. After a short coach ride we begin our morning by climbing aboard traditional, ceremonial oxcarts for a short ride to the massive Htilominlo, built by King Htilominlo on the site where he was chosen from the five sons of King Nadaungmya to be the crown prince of Pagan. While the murals that once decorated much of the inside of this temple have only survived on the ceilings, Htilominlo boasts the finest plaster carvings which still remain undamaged on the arch pediments. Next we explore one of the most famous temples of Bagan, Ananda. Built in 1105 CE during King Kyanzittha’s reign, it is one of only four surviving temples from this period. We will explore the cruciform of the temple, with four standing Buddhas facing north, south, east, and west. Our final stop this morning is a photo opportunity at Dhammayangi, the largest of the Bagan temples. It was built in the 12th century by King Narathu, to atone for his sins. This morning we will also see a sand painting demonstration by a local artist before returning to the ship.
After lunch, we visit a local workshop where the traditional methods of creating lacquerware (known as yun-de in Burmese) are still practiced. After a demonstration of the labor-intensive process required in making each piece, we have time to shop before continuing on our tour (for truly unique, special pieces, ask the proprietor to visit the air conditioned Royal Room behind the counter). Next we take a short coach ride to Gubyaukgyi Temple (Great Painted Cave Temple), where the richly-colored paintings are thought to date to the original construction period in the early 12th century. Next to this temple is the gilded Myazedi Stupa, which offers both a linguistic and a historical significance: an inscription consecrating Gubyaukgyi in four languages (Pyu, Mon, Old Burmese, and Pali), which established Pyu as an important cultural influence in the early Pagan period. We then proceed to our last temple of the day, Shwe San Daw, where we will view the sunset over the pagodas and stupas of Bagan. This temple offers five levels of panoramic viewing terraces connected by four sets of steep exterior stairs. Those who wish may (carefully) climb to any of the five terraces to view the sunset before returning to the ship.
(B/L/D)

Day 6 : Bagan – Tan Kyi Mountain

bagan 06(Site order and timing for today may vary by groups)
This morning, we transfer by motor coach to Bagan’s largest open market, where fresh produce, meats, spices, woodcarvings, longyis, thanaka, and rattan products are sold every day. We have the opportunity to watch the negotiations and transactions taking place, and if we are lucky, see one of the local women carrying their purchases on their heads. After our walk through the market, we proceed to the gilded Shwezigon Pagoda. This important religious site dates to the reign of King Anawrahta, founder of the Bagan Empire. The construction of this complex spanned both King Anawrahta’s lifetime, as well as his son and successor King Kyanzittha’s lifetime. The golden stupa at its center is said to contain a bone and tooth relic of the Buddha, a gold image of Anawrahta and a Chinese emerald Buddha. After exploring this large temple complex we will say goodbye to the temples of Bagan as our coach returns us to the ship and we set sail.
After lunch today, we are met on the opposite side of the river by vans that will take us on a scenic half-hour drive up to Tan Kyi Mountain, where we climb to the top of the temple and admire the panoramic view of the Bagan plain across the Irrawaddy. Buddhists who practice Mahabote believe there is an animal protector based on the day of the week you were born, and the eight animals representing the days (Wednesday has two elephants: one with tusks for morning; one without for afternoon/evening). If you wish, you may visit your Mahabote zodiac animal before returning to the vans for our return trip to the ship.
(B/L/D)

Day 7 : Salay

salay 01(Site order and timing for today may vary by groups)
This morning we walk ashore at Salay, a small town founded in the 13th century with Bagan-era shrines, beautiful 19th century teak monasteries and preserved British colonial buildings. We begin by exploring the Salay House, a restored 1906 colonial trading company warehouse on the bank of the Irrawaddy. Our walk then takes us along the town’s main Strand Street towards the local market before turning away from the river to visit the beautiful Yoke Soun Kyaung Taw Gyi wooden monastery. This ornately carved teak monastery was designed as a copy of the Crown Prince House of Mandalay, and is now a museum boasting remarkable wood carvings and artifacts. We continue past some interesting Bagan-era monuments, visiting Mann Paya, a pagoda with a beautiful lacquerware Buddha, before returning to our ship with a stroll past some of Salay’s many beautiful colonial buildings.
(B/L/D)

Day 8 : Magwe

This morning we venture out into the district capitol city of Magwe aboard Trishaws (three wheeled bicycle where one person sits alongside the driver). Our trishaws will take us on a ride through the city to the local market. After some time to explore and shop at the market we board our trishaws and return close to the ship for a visit to Mya Tha Lun pagoda. Mya Tha Lun is a beautifully gilded stupa set atop Naguttama Hill which offers a wonderful view of the river and surrounding area.
(B/L/D)

Day 9 : Thayet Myo

(Site order and timing for today may vary by groups)
This morning after breakfast local horse carts meet us for our visit to the charming town of Thayet Myo. Our first stop is at the oldest golf course in Myanmar, which has a fascinating British history. We then board our horse carts for a ride to the local market. Along our way to the market we will pass several colonial buildings and homes constructed during the British colonization of Burma before returning to the ship.
Once controlled by the Mon tribe during the Bagan Era, and then conquered by the Burmese King Alaungpaya in 1754, Prome (known as Pyay to the locals) boomed along with the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in the 1890s and is now an important trading post for goods traveling between northern and southern Myanmar. This afternoon we drive to Thayekhittaya (also known as Sri Ksetra, the “Fabulous City” in the Pali language), an ancient Pyu city that ruled in this area between the 5th and the 9th centuries. We visit the well-documented Sri Ksetra Museum, full of excellent maps and artifacts including Hindu deities, Buddha images from as far back as the 6th century, Pyu beads, and silver coins, then enjoy a short tour of the excavation sites. Before returning to the ship, we make our way to central Prome to visit the impressive Shwesandaw Pagoda complex, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites of Myanmar.
(B/L/Farewell Reception/Dinner)

Day 10 : Prome (Pyay) - Yangon

pyay 01This morning we enjoy breakfast on board before we disembark around 7:00 am and transfer to Yangon by coach. Drop off point: Sule Shangri-La hotel
(B)

RIVER CONDITIONS WARNING

The Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers are subject to seasonal rises and falls of water level. In the case of water levels being too high or low an alternative itinerary will be offered to Passenger. Published itineraries are indication only and subject to sudden change. In such events alternative itineraries will be provided and we do our best to ensure that if a stop is missed we make up for it with another stop. Though every effort will be made to ensure that the published itinerary is followed as closely as possible, given uncertain river and other local conditions, all schedules and itineraries may be subject to alterations and delays at short notice. The ship’s manager and captain are jointly responsible for passengers’ comfort and safety. Passengers must accept their decisions and instructions.