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16 Days | Mystical Myanmar and
Irrawaddy River Cruise


Day 1 | Arrive Rangoon (Yangon), Myanmar (Burma). Mingalaba and welcome to Myanmar! On arrival you will be personally met by your Emerald Waterways and transferred to your accommodation in downtown Yangon. (Please arrive at the hotel by 5.00pm.) Originally a little fishing village, the name Yangon meaning ‘end of strife’ was renamed Rangoon by the British when the country was annexed as a crown colony in 1866. This evening meet your Tour Director for a welcome briefing followed by a traditional Burmese dinner. (D)

Day 2 | Yangon. Discover the rich tapestry of cultures and history during your walking tour through the cobbled streets of Yangon. Admire the impressive architecture, considered to be one of the finest examples of a British colonial city in Asia. Along the way explore local markets selling everything from fresh produce, to temple offerings and traditional medicine. Visit Sule Pagoda, believed to be over 2,000 years old and containing a hair given by the Buddha to two Burmese merchants.

EMERALD PLUS — Traditional tea shops in Myanmar are everywhere and form an important and social aspect; a place to gather outside of home and chat or just hang out. Sit and enjoy tea in a lively tea shop, sample local snacks and meet friendly locals.

Drive past the Kandawgyi Lake and visit Yangon’s reclining Buddha. At 65m in length, the statue’s placid face is topped by a crown encrusted with precious stones and 108 sacred symbols are delicately drawn on the soles of the feet, depicting Buddha’s life. As the sun begins to set, wander through Myanmar's most famous and sacred Buddhist temple, Shwedagon Pagoda, standing over 90 metres tall and gilded with gold leaf. Watch the glistening golden pagoda in the evening light and witness locals as they gather to pray. (B,L,D)

Day 3 | Yangon. Inle Lake. After breakfast transfer to the airport for your flight to Heho. On arrival, journey along narrow roads, pass lively villages to a local winery for lunch. The wines are produced with locally grown grapes from plants imported from France and Spain. Journey to magical Inle Lake, board a private motor boat and cruise past villages built on stilts. Witness the beauty of Myanmar’s second largest lake and observe the native lake dwellers and their unique one-legged rowing technique. (B,L,D)

Day 4 | Inle Lake. Begin this morning with an excursion by boat to visit Inle Lake’s floating market. Wander through the market which moves every five days, and encounter the lake's inhabitants and surrounding hill tribe people in traditional dress, who come to trade their wares.

EMERALD PLUS — Visit a local Intha family restaurant and uncover the secrets of the flavours and ingredients of traditional Intha cooking.

Visit the holiest site in Inle Lake, the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda with five Buddha images inside covered in layers of gold leaf. Explore the small villages of the Lake and discover traditional handicrafts during your visit to a local weaving village and a cheroot factory where typical Burmese cigars are handmade. (B,L,D)

Day 5 | Inle Lake. Mandalay. Spend this morning relaxing and enjoying the beautiful lake scenery. Later transfer to Heho for your short flight to Mandalay, the former Royal City. With many old monasteries, Mandalay is considered the centre of Burmese culture. As the sun begins to set, climb Mandalay Hill for sweeping views of the city, surrounding countryside and the Irrawaddy River below. (B,L,D)

Day 6 | Mandalay. Embark cruise.

EMERALD PLUS — Before sunrise witness the saffron-clad monks and novices file silently along the deserted streets collecting alms. Partake in this serene procession offering rice into the monk's alms bowls, the number of monks could vary between a handful and several hundred.

Discover Mandalay's Mahamuni Pagoda a major pilgrimage site and home to a Buddha statue covered in gold leaf. Explore Shwenandaw or Golden Palace Monastery, a beautiful wooden monastery noted for its intricate carvings. Stop at Kuthodaw Pagoda, referred to as the 'World’s Largest Book’, with a collection of more than 700 marble stone slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings and visit a gold leaf workshop commonly used to adorn Buddha images at temples throughout Myanmar. After a morning of touring embark on the luxurious all suite Irrawaddy Explorer for your Irrawaddy River cruise. Following lunch on board travel to Amarapura, the penultimate Burmese Royal Capital and visit U-Bein Bridge, the world's longest teak bridge. Return to the ship for your Champagne welcome reception and dinner. Nine night special stay on the Irrawaddy Explorer. (B,L,D)

Day 7 | Mingun. Ava. Cruise to Mingun and discover the stories behind the massive unfinished brick pagoda built at the end of the 18th century. Nearby, admire the world’s largest uncracked ringing bell and the all-white Hsinbyume Pagoda built to represent the mythical Mount Meru. Continue sailing to the ancient capital of Ava. Explore Ava, for more than four hundred years the capital of the Ava Kingdom, by horse-cart. Discover a beautiful 200 year old teak monastery and the Innwa Tower, the 27m-high watchtower, all that remains of the palace. Return to the ship for dinner and enjoy a traditional cultural performance on board. (B,L,D)

Day 8 | Monywa. Sail into Myinmu and journey to Monywa and explore the sandstone grottoes decorated with spectacular mural paintings and hundreds of Buddha statues inside niches. Visit the extraordinary Thanboddhay monastery, one of the most intricately decorated temples in the country housing over 500,000 Buddha images and the stupa with the longest reclining Buddha. Return to the ship and cruises slowly downstream soaking in the passing scenery. (B,L,D)

Day 9 | Yandabo. Arrive at the pottery village of Yandabo where, on 24 February 1826, the peace treaty ending the First Anglo-Burmese war was signed. Stroll through the village and witness the craftsmen hone their skills and observe the unusual way of firing the pottery. Return to the ship and continue sailing.

EMERALD PLUS — Take a leisurely stroll through a small village along the Irrawaddy River. Visit a school, listen to the children sing and learn how the people make their livelihood. (B,L,D)

Day 10 | Bagan. Admire the scenery whilst cruising towards Bagan, one of South East Asia’s most significant and richest archaeological sites. Appreciate your full day visit to the most significant of these sites including Gubyaukgyi Pagoda, built in the early 12th century and noted for its mural paintings; Mahabodhi Pagoda built in the 13th century and covered in niches which enclose seated Buddha figures and Ananda Pagoda, one of the most important temples in Bagan, whose base and terraces are decorated with 554 glazed tiles showing scenes and life stories of the Buddha. Bagan is also famous as the centre of Myanmar’s thriving lacquer ware industry and you will discover more about this traditional handicraft during a visit to a workshop.

EMERALD PLUS — Set out via local horse cart to view the sunset atop the most significant temple in the area, Shwesandaw Pagoda and take in the grandeur of Bagan below. (B,L,D)

Day 11 | Bagan. Tan Kyi Paya. Enjoy the morning at leisure or explore the local markets or hire an electric bicycle and discover more magical temples. After lunch continue sailing to the village of Tan Kyi. Travel to the mountaintop to one of four stupas that originally marked the edges of Bagan city and enjoy views over the plains dotted with spires as far as the eye can see.

Hot Air Balloons over Bagan. Disover more (additional cost). Experience a spectacular and awe inspiring flight over the ancient temples of Bagan and see the unrivalled majesty of the temple landscape drifting below you in style, comfort and safety. Hot Air Balloon flights depart at dawn and last approximately 45 minutes. Must be booked on tour. (B,L,D)

Day 12 | Salay. Magwe. Cruise to Salay, a small village founded in the 13th century. Visit Youqson Kyaung, the beautiful teak monasteries designed as a copy of the Crown Prince House of Mandalay and with exterior sides carved with details of court life and stories of the Buddha’s past life. Later see Man Pagoda with the largest lacquer Buddha image in Myanmar and explore Paya Thonzu, a small trio of brick shrines. Head past an area of colonial buildings before returning to the ship for lunch and continue cruising to Magwe. (B,L,D)

Day 13 | Magwe. Start with an early morning visit to a pagoda built in 1929 and set on a hilltop with views of the river. Return to the ship for an afternoon of scenic cruising. (B,L,D)

Day 14 | Prome. Visit the town of Thayetmyo, which once guarded the border between Royal Burma and British Burma. Visit the oldest golf course in Myanmar, stroll through the greens or even practice some putting! Continue towards Prome and your last day of cruising. In the afternoon visit the impressive Shwesandaw Pagoda located on a hillock and one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Myanmar. The pagoda contains a series of five terraces, topped with a cylindrical stupa which has a bejewelled umbrella and enshrined within are four strands of sacred hair as well as eight other relies of Buddha. Enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding mountains before exploring Sri Ksetra, one of the ancient Pyu Kingdoms that flourished for over 1,000 years between 200 B.C and 900 A.D. and inscribed onto the World Heritage list in June 2014, Myanmar’s first. Return to the ship for your farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 15 | Rangoon (Yangon). Disembark. Enjoy breakfast on board before disembarkation and transfer to Yangon. Enjoy some time at leisure or perhaps stroll through Bogyoke Aung San Market. Formerly Scott’s Market, the bazaar is filled with antiques, Burmese jade and handicrafts. Tonight gather for your farewell dinner at one of Yangon’s finest restaurants, where the cuisine and atmosphere will create a lasting memory and provide a fitting end to a wonderful journey and cruise through mystical Myanmar. (B,L,D)

Day 16 | Yangon. Enjoy some time at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your onward or homebound flight (flight not included). (B)

NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the itinerary schedule you receive with your final documents. *Please Note: The Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers are subject to extreme variations in water levels throughout the year. Every effort is made to provide the routing and inclusions stated however depending on water levels prevalent at the time of sailing, this itinerary may be amended or modified. This may include having to tour via coach with hotel stays if the water level dictates.

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