The Irrawaddy Experience with Pandaw Cruises

The Irrawaddy – a spectacular river flowing through Myanmar (formerly Burma) past magnificent teak monasteries, golden pagodas, colourful markets and local people engaged in their daily tasks much as they have done for centuries.

Irrawaddy market day - photo by Samoano

Irrawaddy market day – photo by Samoano

Nowadays you can travel in style and luxury aboard river cruise ships that evoke a world when time passed more slowly and life was lived without the necessity of being in contact 24/7.The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company was founded in 1865 by Scots merchants and in the early 1900s hundreds of vessels sailed up and down the rivers of Burma. By the 1920s it was the largest privately owned fleet of ships in the world. Having been virtually destroyed by the Japanese during WW2 it was revived in 1995 by another Scot, Burma historian Paul Strachan. Pandaw River Expeditions is now the leading river cruise specialist in this part of the world and we are proud to partner with them to offer unforgettable holidays afloat in a very special part of Asia.

MV Orient Pandaw

MV Orient Pandaw

On our Irrawaddy Experience you fly from the UK to Bangkok in Thaland then on to Yangon (Rangoon as was) to see the famous Shwedagon Pagoda, towering above Yangon in golden splendour.

Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon Pagoda

The site of the pagoda, Singuttara Hill, is important because it was the holy resting spot of the relics of three Buddhas.  The details of when and how the construction of the pagoda began are unclear but it was well-known and visible by the 11th century. Today it is probably the most visited edifice in Myanmar.

Mandalay Palace from-Watch Tower - photo by Hybernator

Mandalay Palace – photo by Hybernator

From here we don’t take the road to Mandalay but the much quicker flight so you can join your wonderful 7 day river cruise along the Irrawaddy.  On arrival you’ll visit the Mandalay Palace, last royal residence of the Kings of Burma.  You’ll also have time to look round the historic hill area, craft workshops and so some shopping.

The MV Orient Pandaw is hand finished in brass and teak by traditional craftsmen, with a luxurious colonial character and superb service.

MV Orient Pandaw - photo by Ansicht Palmen

MV ‘Orient Pandaw’ – courtesy of Pandaw

You’ll sleep in a comfortable, roomy stateroom but undoubtedly you’ll spend many hours outside, enjoying the passing scenery on the promenade decks or on the vast observation deck. “There is no dressing up for dinner and no ‘captain’s table’. The atmosphere on board is friendly and informal, more like a party on a private yacht than a cruise ship.”

Over the coming days you will completely unwind in this tropical idyll, drifting along the timeless river, occasionally going ashore to explore local sights.  Don’t miss Mingun with its massive unfinished stupa and the world’s largest ringing bell, weighing 90 tons.

Mingun Pagoda and Myanmar Irrawaddy - photo by Dr.A.Hugentobler

Mingun Pagoda – photo by Dr.A.Hugentobler

Other stops include the amazing pot manufacturies of Lon Yien, and the picturesque hills and hermitages around Saigang Ava and and the lost cities of Ava and Amarapura.  It’s just possible you may catch a glimps of the Irrawaddy Dolpin, regarded as sacred by some communities in Indochina .  After a visit to Pakokku you’ll spend two days exploring the 1000s of ancient monuments in and around mystical Pagan. Your cruise ends up back at Yangon before you return home relaxed and delighted by this trip of lifetime.

Burma monk and pagodas

Burma – monk and pagodas

The Burmese are warm and charming people and Pandaw is very keen to help them with sustainable tourism. “We do our best to support the local domestic economy and make sure our suppliers and contractors are small local businesses. We are very careful to make sure our clients’ money falls into the right hands.” Pandaw Expeditions.

For details of our Special Offer on this very special river cruise August 7th – 17th 2014 contact us here or phone 020 8901 7320  to speak to one of our friendly destination specialists.

For other river cruises through Indochina, Thailand and Burma, download our inspirational online brochure.

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