Sit back, relax and watch life unfold on the riverbank; cruising the Irrawaddy is a truly magical way to experience Myanmar.
The Irrawaddy flows through the heart of Myanmar, with some of the country’s most iconic sights lining its banks. Here, we share our top 6 reasons why experiencing Myanmar by boat is so special, with insider tips and insight from our teams who have enjoyed this remarkable journey for themselves:
1. A window onto real life
Wherever you go in Burma, the warmth of the local people will astound you. However, when you visit remote communities along the Irrawaddy, who perhaps see only a handful of Western visitors a month, their excitement and keenness to meet and interact with travellers is all the more special. When you visit remote riverside communities, you can be sure what you see and experience is how the local people really live – nothing is put on for visitors. Paul, from the Insider Journeys UK office, explains this phenomenon:
“Cruising shows you a different side of a country. Seen from the river, where people have far less exposure to tourists, the interaction with the local people (especially the children) is a much more genuine and memorable experience” – Paul, Insider Journeys UK
As you cruise the Irrawaddy, visit remote communities where you can be sure what you see and experience is how local people really live.
2. Get off the beaten track
There are many remote locations in Myanmar totally cut off from the outside world, and only accessible from the water. Cruising the Irrawaddy allows access to the real Myanmar, and to visit communities and sights unreachable to the majority of tourists. Places like Hpowindaung, a unique Buddhist cave complex, and Yandabo, a picturesque community famed for its incredible pottery, are unlikely to make it onto the itineraries of land-based travellers, but can be reached from the river with ease.
River cruising allows you to experience the real Myanmar, with the chance to interact with communities largely cut off from the outside world.
3. See the sights from a different persepctive
Myanmar is home to countless incredible sights, from the temple-strewn plans of Bagan, to the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, but few get to see these incredible places from the water. River cruising enables you to gain a new perspective on iconic sights, as Liz from Insider Journeys USA found when she visited last year:
“The highlight in Myanmar for me was spending a day around the temples of Bagan and then getting to see them all dotted along the river banks as we sailed onwards, to see them from that perspective was really something. Plus you can view it all from the comfort of your cabin or from the top deck or even when in the pool!” – Liz, Insider Journeys USA
4. Spend time sightseeing, not packing
If you want to see and experience everything Myanmar has to offer, moving from place to place daily, but equally you dread the thought of packing and unpacking every day, then river cruising is for you! Why waste valuable time checking into and out of hotels, when you could be out exploring the country? On an Irrawaddy cruise, these quandaries disappear; you unpack once, and spend the rest of your time getting under the skin of your destination.
Unpack once, then settle into your sumptuous cabin for the remainder of you journey through Myanmar.
5. Relax, everything is taken care of
On a Myanmar river cruise, you can relax and enjoy your holiday, safe in the knowledge that everything from touring and excursions, to meals and entertainment, is taken care of. Drinking and dining on board our cruises is included – no dashing back to your cabin to grab your wallet, no deliberating over which restaurant to choose – you can simply sit back and watch the world go by from the riverbank.
6. Get to know your hosts
Instead of moving from hotel to hotel, on a river cruise you will get to know the on-board staff and crew personally by the end of your stay. Not only will you quickly be on first-name terms, but they will be able to deliver impeccable service without even asking, from knowing your favourite aperitif, to being able to recommend a dish from the menu that they think you might enjoy!
Have you been inspired to cruise the Irrawaddy? Places remain on our two exclusive charter cruises - contact us today to secure your place.