Day 1 Arrive Yangon, Myanmar.
Welcome to Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, the country’s largest city and former capital. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.
Day 2 Yangon.
This morning, take a WALKING TOUR of the city’s famous and historic landmarks, including the High Court, City Hall, Central Railway Station, and Sule Pagoda, built during the time of Buddha. Stop along the way at a LOCAL TEA SHOP for a cup of tea/coffee with the locals. After lunch, visit CHAUKHTATGYI to see the massive reclining Buddha measuring in at 213 feet. Afterward, continue to SHWEDAGON PAGODA, the most important religious site in the country and a national symbol. Here, a truly enchanting scene unfolds as the sun sets on the golden stupa and locals come to pay their respects. Tonight, your welcome dinner is in one of Yangon’s best restaurants. (B,L,D)
Day 3 Yangon–Bagan (Embarkation).
Late this morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Bagan. Upon arrival, transfer to the port and board the Avalon Myanmar to begin your CRUISE up the Irrawaddy. Get acquainted with the ship before your welcome reception this evening. After dinner, a TRADITIONAL PUPPET SHOW will be presented in one of the lounges. (B,D)
Day 4 Bagan
. Today, explore Bagan, capital of Myanmar from the 9th to the 13th centuries. It is estimated that during this time over 13,000 temples, monasteries, and pagodas were built in the plains surrounding the city—an area of about 40 square miles. Many of these structures have been lost over time, but around 2,300 still stand today, making this one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites. Early risers can visit one of the temples with a Local Guide to witness sunrise. After breakfast, your morning excursion starts with a visit to a LOCAL MARKET selling handicrafts, fabrics, and longyis—a versatile sheet of cloth worn around the waist by most local men and women. Then, stop at the ornate SHWEZIGON PAGODA, one of the country’s most important shrines. You will also visit a LACQUER WORKSHOP to learn more about this ancient craft. After lunch, your sightseeing centers on the BAGAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL ZONE. Highlights include ANANDA, considered by many to be the most beautiful temple, and DHAMMAYANGYI, the best preserved monument left standing. Also stop to see the exquisite and well preserved fresco paintings at SULAMANI. Your day ends with an OX CART RIDE to a temple, where you will ascend to the top as the sun sets. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Shwe Pyi Thar–Cruising.
This morning, take a WALKING TOUR through Shwe Pyi Thar, a typical village along the Irrawaddy. Here you will visit a FARMER’S HOME to learn more about daily life and see the locals making palm candy, a sweet and smoky candy, from the sap of the toddy palm. To harvest the sap a climber scales the toddy palm and hangs an earthen pot under a slit he cuts in the tree. The sap is then cooked in an iron pan over an open wood fire until it thickens and can be formed into small pieces by hand. This afternoon, enjoy time on board the ship as we sail north for Mandalay. (B,L,D)
Day 6 Sagaing–Amarapura.
Relax this morning and take in the sights from one of the ship’s lounges or your suite. In the afternoon, visit Sagaing, an important religious site with countless pagodas dotting the surrounding hillsides. Here, stop to see KAUNGHMUDAW PAGODA with its golden egg-shaped dome—unique among more traditional pagodas in Myanmar. Next, on to a SILVERSMITH WORKSHOP to learn how the local artisans turn silver into beautiful works of art. Lastly, explore SOON U PONYA SHIN PAGODA at the top of Sagaing Hill for stunning views of the Irrawaddy and across to Mandalay. Cross the Ava Bridge to Amarapura, former capital of Myanmar. Your visit focuses on the famous U BEIN BRIDGE, a three-quarter-mile-long bridge built in 1783 from reclaimed teakwood from the old royal palace in Inwa. The bridge is still a cornerstone of the community as locals and monks use it daily to cross Taungthaman Lake while fishermen and farmers go about their daily work below. Take a SAMPAN RIDE on the lake for memorable views of the sunset behind the iconic bridge. (B,L,D)
Day 7 Mandalay
. This morning, visit a TAPESTRY & WOODCARVING WORKSHOP to learn more about these cottage industries and see the skilled artisans at work. Then, stop at a GOLD LEAF WORKSHOP to see how it is made. Lastly, visit MAHAMUNI PAGODA, the most revered shrine in Mandalay, to see its impressive gold-leaf Buddha. Due to the continual application of gold leaves, officials estimate the gold is approximately six inches thick. This afternoon, visit KUTHODAW PAGODA and SHWENANDAW MONASTERY, the only remnant of former King Mindon’s “Golden City” to survive the bombing of World War II. Originally the king’s living quarters, the building was moved after his death to its current location and converted into a monastery. Today, the original gilding has faded, but the intricate wood carvings endure, giving you a sense of how extravagant the original teak palace complex was. This evening, enjoy a TRADITIONAL DANCE PERFORMANCE featuring local song and dance. (B,L,D)
Day 8 Kyauk Myaung.
Today, take a WALKING TOUR through the captivating pottery-making village of Kyauk Myaung. Here you will learn more about the pot-making process and see how they are formed, fired, and glazed. Most interesting is the eye-catching 50-gallon variety, often referred to as Martaban or Ali Baba jars in colonial times. These pots could transport large quantities of liquor, fish sauce, peanut oil, and more, and have played an important part of maritime trade throughout Asia for centuries. (B,L,D)
Day 9 Kya Hnyat.
This morning, visit the village of Kya Hnyat with its many Buddhist monasteries. Here you will INTERACT WITH THE MONKS at a local monastery. Each morning they don their distinctive saffron-colored robes and walk through the streets to collect alms, offerings of food, like cooked rice and curry. This is a truly memorable experience as you present alms to the monks and witness their lunch ritual. (B,L,D)
Day 10 Tigyang
. Visit the small village of Tigyang for a WALKING TOUR through its narrow lanes and to visit the pagoda and reclining Buddha on a hilltop with stunning views. (B,L,D)
Day 11 Katha
. Start your day with a visit to the LOCAL MARKET, where you will see the locals buying and selling fish, meat, produce, and more. Next, stop at the former British Club, featured in George Orwell’s novel Burmese Days. Here learn a bit more about how life was here during British rule. Lastly, journey a short distance to a local JINGPO VILLAGE. A subset of the Kachin, the Jingpo are one of over 100 ethnic minority groups in Myanmar. Here you will learn about their culture, traditional dress, and their unique method of making rice wine. As you sail north this afternoon, with some luck, you may catch a glimpse of the rare Irrawaddy dolphin, with its distinctive round forehead. (B,L,D)
Day 12 Kyun Daw–Second Defile–Bhamo.
This morning, visit the fascinating island village of Kyun Daw, where over 7,000 stupas surround the monastery. Take a WALKING TOUR for memorable encounters with the villagers. Visit a FISHERMAN'S HOME to learn more about daily life here and a SCHOOL to interact with the children. You will also visit a NUNNERY to present the nuns with food purchased the day before at the market in Katha. Unlike monks, they have to collect and cook their own food. This afternoon, sail through the DRAMATIC SECOND DEFILE with its magnificent cliffs reaching down the narrow channel. Continue to Bhamo, the northernmost point ships can navigate the Irrawaddy. (B,L,D)
Day 13 Bhamo (Disembarkation)–Yangon.
After breakfast, disembark the ship and EXPLORE BHAMO by local trishaw and by foot. Afterward, transfer to the airport for your flight to Yangon. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. (B)
Day 14 Yangon
. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)