Arrive Yangon, Myanmar
Arrive in Yangon, where you are met and transferred to your hotel.
Yangon | Queen of the East
Today, enjoy your first taste of Myanmar, a profoundly Buddhist country, where many ancient traditions still flourish. Discover the Reclining Buddha at Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda, a 213-foot-long statue with an expressive enamel face. Meet a traditional Burmese astrologer, who specializes in advising individuals on important life decisions - such as when to marry or buy property - in order to correctly choose days for these events that will bring good fortune. Later this afternoon, savor afternoon tea with a local writer and former colleague of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. This evening, gather with your fellow guests for a special welcome dinner.
Bagan | Temples & Pagodas
Fly to ancient Bagan, a city with more than 2,000 Buddhist pagodas and temples, the first of which was built by King Anawrahta in 1044. It’s estimated that more than 10,000 such sacred structures once adorned the dusty plain here. Upon arrival, visit a rural village, where you have a chance to interact with the locals en route to your hotel. After a short rest, continue your journey to see the Shwezigon Pagoda, Bagan’s greatest reliquary, built to house the Buddha’s collarbone, frontal bone and tooth. At sunset, Ride Like a Local as you weave your way through the ancient temple ruins on the back of a horse cart.
Bagan | Ballooning Above the Temples
Rise early for an exhilarating hot air balloon ride (weather permitting) over Bagan, as the dawning sun illuminates the gold- and sand-colored stupas. After breakfast, visit Ananda Temple. Built in 1090, it is the best preserved temple in the region. Next, travel to the little village of Wetkyi-In to see the wonderful Kubyaukgyi Temple, renowned for its ancient murals. Board luxurious all-balcony ‘Sanctuary Ananda,’ your home for a three-night cruise on the timeless Irrawaddy River. After lunch on board, visit a local lacquerware workshop before proceeding to the Gunee Temple complex to enjoy the sunset. Return to the ship for dinner.
The Irrawaddy River | A Timeless Journey
After breakfast on board ‘Sanctuary Ananda,’ explore Nyaung Oo Market and observe the locals selling and bartering for goods. Return to the ship for lunch and continue sailing. Listen to a special onboard talk about Myanmar’s history and vision for the future, followed by demonstrations of the longgi (traditional Burmese cloth worn by men and women) and thanakha (a white cosmetic paste made from ground bark that is used on the face and arms by women and girls).
Sagaing/Amarapura | U Bein Bridge
This morning, learn the secrets of Burmese cuisine during a cooking class at a delightful Chef’s Table experience. After lunch, disembark to visit Sagaing, a former royal city renowned for the many monasteries, pagodas and stupas that dot its green hillsides. Proceed to Amarapura, where you embark on a local boat to view the picturesque U Bein Bridge — the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world — for a spectacular Scenic Sundowner. Watch as locals riding bikes, carrying crops and commuting from work cross this tall, iconic wooden landmark, offering an insight into everyday life here and a sunset photo opportunity not to be missed.
Mandalay | Icons & Evening Prayers
Visit Sinjun village in the early morning hours, to experience village life before the heat of the day weighs on its inhabitants. After breakfast on board, explore a gold-leaf workshop, where the metal is hammered paper-thin and prepared for use in some of Myanmar’s holiest sites. This afternoon, visit the Shwenandaw Monastery and view the more than 700 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist religious texts at Kuthodaw Pagoda, referred to as the biggest book in the world. Later, witness evening prayers at Shwe Kyin Monastery.
Inle Lake | Floating Gardens
Fly to Heho and drive to Nyaung Shwe to explore the 19th century Shwe Yan Pyay Monastery, a structure still in use built entirely out of teakwood. Next, stop at a Shan paper workshop. The paper, made from the fibers of the mulberry bush, is best known for its use in Burmese parasols. Enjoy a firsthand look at the artisans who produce this distinctive paper and craft a wide range of items from it. After lunch, board a boat and explore the ingenious floating gardens of Inle Lake. To create these gardens, used for growing fruit and vegetables, fishermen gather together lake plants such as water hyacinths and seagrass and anchor them with bamboo poles embedded in the lake bottom. Layers of mud, ash and more vegetation are then applied to form a farmable surface strong enough to stand upon. Also, visit Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery, which stands on stilts beside the lake, to view the Buddha statues on display in intricately decorated shrines. Transfer to your lakeside boutique hotel for the evening.
Inle Lake | Fifth-Day Market & Private Boat Race
After breakfast, visit the Fifth-Day Market, where hill tribe people in traditional dress barter for goods and produce. Stop at a blacksmith’s workshop and a weaving factory, and try your hand at making a cheroot (Burmese cigar). Stop for lunch at the Intha Heritage House, savoring dishes made from recipes handed down for generations. Then, witness a private Intha boat race with afternoon tea. Marvel at the coordinated effort required by the 20 participants per boat, each using the traditional single-leg rowing technique that local fishermen still employ.
Yangon | Shwedagon Pagoda & Farewell Dinner
Fly to Yangon and transfer to your hotel. After time at leisure, transfer to Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist site in Myanmar, for a sunset oil lamp lighting ceremony. Tonight, toast your time in Myanmar at a special farewell dinner.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport and depart.
*Includes upgrades at all hotels except Aureum Palace Resort & Spa, Inle Lake where guests will enjoy private villas.