Flowing freely for almost 2,200 km across the whole country into the Indian Ocean, Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady River is a witness of the nation’s history. The kings of medieval Bagan would almost certainly recognize its riverbank life today with its ox carts and the countless tiered pagodas.
Explore the cultural and spiritual heart of ancient Burma along the central Ayeyarwady and its former royal capitals with this 5-day cruise getaway in the luxurious Anawrahta by Heritage Line.
*Inclusions subject to cabin booking
We welcome you to your cruise on the Ayeyarwady River from Bagan upstream to Mandalay. As the luxurious Heritage Line Anawrahta sets sail, take a last look back at enchanting Bagan. Enjoy a leisurely lunch as the ship sails towards Pakkoku, an old trading town on the eastern riverbank of the Ayeyarwady and known for its port (the country’s third largest after Yangon and Mandalay), bustling with local trading ships bringing goods to and from all corners of Myanmar. Just before we arrive at the town, we pass Pakokku Bridge, the longest of its kind in Myanmar.
On shore, you get to explore some of the small industries in this area such as a cheroot-rolling factory and the workshop of ‘Burmese slippers’ (flip-flops). Learn how local handicraft vendors make their living from this trade and take the chance to buy a few authentic souvenirs for your loved ones back home. Later, a visit to the booming market gives you insights into local goods and trading practices. You’ll see countless fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs as well as all kinds of other household goods and livestock being traded in this bustling center of Pakokku’s daily life. The city is also famous for its production of tobacco. If you would like to buy some Burmese cigars, this is the place.
After the busy market, we change the scene for an excursion to the serene Shwegu Temple. This temple features intricate carvings made from the rare Yamanei wood and also houses a unique image of Buddha seated on a lotus throne. Settle in for a moment of quiet contemplation and let today’s impressions sink in.
Back on board lunch is served and Anawrahta continues the cruise northwards on the Ayeyarwady. As the evening approaches and the Burmese sun immerses everything in a golden light, a special event takes place at the Kipling’s Bar. Dress up in style to send ‘a toast to the past’ during our famous British Club, a time where gents smoke cigars and ladies sip on tasty gin and tonics (bring your respective attire to make this night unforgettable). As you look around, the moment seems like a scene from an old photograph dating back to a bygone era. Sometimes we need just that – to stop the ticking of the clock.
For a low-key end to a beautiful day, feel free to join our open-air cinema under the stars on the sun deck. Our timeless classics go perfectly with the atmosphere on board.
For early morning risers, we offer a daily yoga session on the sun deck. Strengthen your muscles and ease your mind by merging your movements with the languid flow of the Ayeyarwady. Settle into your body and release tension to the stunning backdrops of Myanmar’s riverscape. We leave in the morning from Pakkoku for Yandabo. While indulging in a rich breakfast, enjoy the view when the ship passes the confluence of the Ayeyarwady and its greatest tributary, the Chindwin River.
After a short while cruising, we arrive at the quiet riverside village of Yandabo. It is here in this unique gem of a village that the King of Ava signed the Treaty of Yandabo in 1826 and brought about the end of the First Anglo-Burmese war. Today the town is known for manufacturing a kind of water pot which is reputed to keep water cooler than pots from anywhere else in the country. We explore the village on foot, so you get the chance to meet and engage with the friendly locals. They are known to be charming and open for chitchats, a fact which will make for many unforgettable memories and fun encounters. You have an opportunity to try your hand at making the famous Yandabo pot as an artisan guides you.
As we continue our journey further north, we have some time to relax. Now is the time to find a spot on the sun deck and gaze at the river banks of this eternal stream. In the afternoon we learn more about some of the long-lasting traditions of Myanmar from our local expert guide. Our staff demonstrates how to wear the traditional Longyi, a wrap-around skirt worn by Burmese men and women on a daily basis. You also get to apply Thanaka paste to your face and learn how it helps to keep your skin beautiful and blemish-free, even under Burma’s hot sun.
A fascinating presentation about the history and culture of Myanmar follows afterwards to give you an even deeper understanding of the country’s traditions and cultures and how they shape life here today. Before dinner is served, you may want to book a treatment at the Thazin Spa.
As Heritage Line Anawrahta makes its way north along the Ayeyarwady, delight in a rich breakfast and marvel at the luscious landscapes passing by. In Ava, we disembark for a wonderful discovery of the highlights of this former royal capital. A horse-drawn carriage takes you around this unique area, which is dotted with distinguished ancient monasteries, namely the Bagaya Kyaung, a jaw-dropping teak monastery built in 1834 which operates as a monastic school today. The Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery and the Nanmyint Watch Tower both also exhibit unique designs and architecture. It is Ava’s peace and tranquility which sets the tone during a laid-back teatime picnic at a secret spot in the middle of this sacred place.
Back on board, lunch is served and Anawrahta continues the cruise northwards, eventually arriving at the ultimate destination and famed city, Mandalay. Along the way, enjoy the amazing backdrop – the beautiful Sagaing Hill with its innumerable scattered pagodas.
Get ready for an exciting afternoon in the remarkable city of Mandalay. Our expert guide takes us on an exhilarating sightseeing tour to explore the highlights of this ancient town. Watch the incredible process of gold leaf beating, visit a silk-weaving workshop and finally, have a stroll through the narrow streets and peruse the marble carving workshops. The ultimate highpoint of the day is a sunset outing in a small rowing boat which takes us around the world’s oldest and longest teakwood bridge, the U-Bein Bridge - a true Kodak moment.
After some time to freshen up on board, you are invited to watch a traditional dance and music performance by students and teachers of the Mandalay Art School.
Wake up early in the morning to watch the Ayeyarwady come to life at the start of the day. Have your breakfast in the restaurant or served on the open deck to observe the bustling river in front of the city.
This morning we take you on a tour to discover the more exciting attractions of Mandalay. First, we visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda, which is known as the “the world’s largest book”. This pagoda comprises a gilded stupa, hundreds of shrines housing inscribed marble slabs and several pavilions. We continue to the Mahamuni Pagoda, which is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Burma and houses the country’s most highly revered image of Buddha. Last but not least, we visit the atmospheric Shwenandaw Monastery. It is one of the finest examples of traditional 19th-century wooden monastery architecture and formerly a part of King Mindon’s Mandalay Royal Palace. From this elevated point, we have a fantastic view over the entire city of Mandalay.
We return to the ship and have lunch while Anawrahta sets sail for Mingun, home to the monumental, unfinished stupa of King Bodawpaya. Construction was never finished, due to an astrologer’s prophecy stating that once the temple was completed, the king would die. If completed, the Mantalagyi Stupa would have been the largest in the world with a height of 150 metres/490 ft (it had only reached a third of that height when construction was abandoned). Large cracks in the structure can be seen today as a result of an earthquake in 1839. On a relaxed walking tour, we reach the world’s largest un-cracked bell, weighing 90 tons.
Upon returning to the ship, our cruise manager invites you for pre-dinner cocktail event accompanied with sweets and treats while Anawrahta sails gently back to Mandalay at dusk. Afterwards, the crew offers some farewell entertainment in the lounge before you retire for your last night on board.
After breakfast, your stay on your floating, luxury home comes to an end.