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Irrawaddy River Cruises 2023/2024

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Irrawaddy Travel Guide

Officially known as the Ayeyarwady River, the Irrawaddy River flows north to south in Myanmar, and is the country's largest river. It spans 1,350 miles through Myanmar. Its name comes from a Sanskrit word meaning "elephant river." Therefore, one of the great ways to see the country of Myanmar and travel through the rainforest by boat is to embark on one of the Irrawaddy River cruises featured online. Many journeys last 10 days and allow you to immerse yourself in all things Myanmar. This river cruise typically begins in Mandalay and leads to the city of Bagan. View the sublime river scenery as your thoughts drift back to another era and time. Experience memorable sunrises and sunsets, as the sun ascends or sets behind the rooftops of pagodas. With river cruise volume buys plus our low everyday prices you can save up to 50% versus the brochure price! Book your Irrawaddy river cruise today with AffordableTours.com, your discounted river cruise headquarters.

Irrawaddy Travel Guide

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Irrawaddy Travel Guide

Irrawaddy River Cruises Highlights

  • Relax in a sumptuously appointed cabin or suite, which is highlighted with teakwood floors and floor-to-ceiling windows.
  • En-suite bathrooms provide little luxuries, such as slippers, robes, soaps, and fine toiletries.
  • Receive Wi-Fi 24/7.
  • Round-the-clock butler services enable you to enjoy a more restful journey.
  • View the passing landscapes from your cabin's balcony.
  • Work out in a state-of-the-art fitness facility.
  • Quench your thirst with unlimited beverages, including coffee, tea, bottled war, beer, and wine.
  • Dine in or dine alfresco on the ship's upper deck.
  • Savor an international menu and Asian specialties.

Irrawaddy River Cruises Travel Tips

  • If you go to Myanmar, you will need to get a Visa. You can receive an e-Visa if you plan to enter the country via Yangon.
  • You can use the U.S. dollar widely in Myanmar. ATMs also dispense the country's currency in luxury hotels and in tourist areas.
  • Try to find a river cruise package that includes an international flight to Mandalay or Yangon, or includes pre- or post-river cruise hotel stays. It is easier to book travel this way than to plan a flight separately.
  • Find out if you can participate in extended travel during your trip. For example, you might consider a stay at Ngapali Beach, where you can fish, snorkel, receive spa treatments, or dine on local seafood.
  • When visiting Myanmar temples, remember to cover the shoulders and knees. Therefore, you should refrain from packing shorts, but, instead, wear lightweight slacks or pants. Men are allowed to wear long shorts.
  • Sandals are best to wear when entering a temple, as you have to remove footwear, including your socks.
  • If you travel between October and February, take a lightweight jacket or sweater, as the evenings can get cool.
  • Ask, before you leave, if malaria-prevention medications are required on Irrawaddy River cruises.

Irrawaddy River Cruises Things To Do

  • Mandalay

    The city of Mandalay sits next to the Irrawaddy River. The city lies over two tectonic plates, which meet beneath the city. The tectonic fault below Mandalay is called the Sagaing Fault. The fault is the meeting place for the Sunda and India tectonic plates. Because tectonic plates can trigger earthquakes, the city is at risk for a seismic event. A magnitude 7 earthquake took place in Mandalay in 1956. The quake damaged a large part of the city of Sagaing and therefore is known as the Great Sagaing Quake. 

    Best Time To Visit

    Mandalay experiences two seasons – a wet season and a dry season. The best time to see the city is from November to April, or the dry season. Rain is frequent from May through October. Beware of April. It is the hottest month. Temperatures can average in the high 80s on the Fahrenheit scale. 


    You Should Know

    The Yadanabon Zoological Garden is a small zoo in the city. It lies between the Mandalay Palace and Mandalay Hill. The Shwenandaw Monastery (Golden Palace Monastery) was built by King Thibaw Min in 1880, it is made of teak wood and displays carvings of Buddhist myths. Most of Mandalay Palace was destroyed in the Second World War. However, the Royal Mint and the palace's watchtower did not burn.
  • Mingun

    Located next to the Irrawaddy River northwest of Mandalay, Mingun is a small town in the center of Myanmar. It is known as the home for a number of interesting landmarks, such as the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, also known as the unfinished pagoda.


    You Should Know

    The Mingun Bell or the Giant Bell is cast in bronze as well as other metals, including silver and gold. Although the Unfinished Pagoda was not finished, it still is regarded as the highest pile of bricks in the world. Myatheintan Pagoda was built by King Bagyidaw in honor of his consort Queen Hsinbyume, who died during childbirth in 1812. An earthquake destroyed the pagoda in 1832, but the structure was restored by King Mindon in 1874. Around 100,000 emeralds were used during the original building of the pagoda.
  • Ava

    Inwa or Ava, located in Myanmar, is known for its religious ruins and structures – buildings that existed during the 1300s to 1800s, during several reigns as the Burmese capital. One of the primary structures is the Bagaya Kyaung, a teak monastery built during the 19th century.

    Best Time To Visit

    Schedule a visit to Ava during the dry season in Myanmar, which runs from November through April. Temperatures are cooler during the start of the season.


    You Should Know

    Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery dates back to the 19th century. Bats seem to like the monastery's crypt area. Ava has been ravaged by both natural disasters and war. and therefore has been rebuilt several times. Ava was a dominant kingdom in upper Burma (now Myanmar) from 1364, when it was founded, until 1555.
  • Bagan

    Bagan is one of the most popular attractions in Myanmar. Known as a temple town, Bagan's archaeological zone occupies a 26 square-mile area. The Irrawaddy River drifts along the town's north and west sides. The overgrown village does not feature a thriving nightlife. Instead, it is a place to explore ancient temples and architecture.

    Best Time To Visit

    Visit the site during the early part of the dry season when the temperatures are not as warm. Plan a trip for November or December


    You Should Know

    The Shwezigon Pagoda is famous for its gold-leaf décor. The city is known by the name, "Sea of Temples." At least 2,200 temples and pagodas stand in Bagan, but it is believed around 10,000 temples and pagodas once existed – all honoring Buddha. Because of its stable climate, the sun shines more in Bagan than any other Myanmar city.
  • Nyaung Shwe
    Nyaung Shwe

    Serving as the gateway to Inle Lake, Nyaung Shwe has a backpacker and hiker type of feel. Its main street, Yone Gyi Road. features an array of budget restaurants, Internet cafes, shops, and stupas. If you are looking for a peaceful escape, you will find what you are seeking when you enter Nyaung Shwe.

    Best Time To Visit

    Set your sights to visit Nyaung Shwe during the cooler part of the dry season, or from November to December. 


    You Should Know

    The largest pagoda in Nyaung Shwe is Yadana Manaung Pagoda, which is located on Paung Daw Seiq Road, which lies parallel to the main thoroughfare of Yone Gyi Road. Visit the Mingalar Market for local foods and produce from the nearby lake. The market also features handicrafts.
  • Kalaw

    Kalaw allows you to see Myanmar village life up-close and permits you to immerse yourself in Myanmar culture. Some of Kalaw's well-visited sites include the Myoma Market and the Thein Taung Monastery. Another must-see site is the Hnee Pagoda with its large gold Buddha.

    Best Time To Visit

    Mark your calendar for November or December at the beginning of the country's dry season.


    You Should Know

    The Kalaw Myoma Market is a good spot to enjoy shan noodles. You can also find gingers or tea leaves at the site. The best time to go to the Hnee Pagoda is when it opens at 8:00 am. You will beat the crowds, and it will be quieter.
  • Inle Lake
    Inle Lake

    Inle Lake is one destination that allows you to take in both the culture and natural scenery of Myanmar. The watery spot is the ideal venue for cycling and exploring. Intha fisherman row their canoes with one leg and gardens float over the quiet waves. Wooden stilt houses, at the lake, perch above the water, somewhat like a crane or similar water bird.

    Best Time To Visit

    Plan to see Inle Lake during the dry and cooler time of the year, preferably November. 


    You Should Know

    You can take a dip in the Khaung Daing hot springs, where water is directed into various swimming pools. A dip in one of the private pools costs US$10.The village of Khaung Daing is known for its shan tofu, made with split yellow-colored pea flower. Thin wafers of tofu are set out in the sun to dry. Tofu thoke (or tofu salad) can be eaten in the village if you are hungry.
  • Yangon

    Besides Bagan, Yangon is another popular tourist attraction in Myanmar. Originally, a fishing village named Dagon, Yangon was the capital of Myanmar from 1948 to 2005. After 2005, Naypyidaw became the capital. Nevertheless, Yangon is considered the largest city in the country. People refer to Yangon as the "city of Golden Pagodas," with the biggest pagoda being the Shwedagon Pagoda.

    Best Time To Visit

    Keep your calendar open for November, or the dry season, if you plan to visit Yangon.


    You Should Know

    High-rise buildings in the city do not feature elevators. Instead, people who live in the buildings, hang out baskets tied to ropes so they can pull up items, such as food, to where they live. Men and women both wear a sheet of long fabric called a lonyi. While it looks like an ankle-length skirt, a longyi is a piece of material that ties around the waist.

Irrawaddy River Cruise Packages

Quick Facts

The rain seasons lasts from May to October. Therefore, the Irrawaddy river cruises between Mandalay and Bagan often operate between September and April. This schedule prevents cruise operators from having to deal with flooding or finding another way to transport passengers.

  • Dry Season - November to March

    Your best time to travel to Myanmar is during the cool and dry season that spans from November through February. During this time, the temperatures are cooler and drop to a comfortable level at night. Don't worry about rains or flooding. You can drift over the Irrawaddy River and go at a slower pace.

  • Rain Season - May to October

    When the wet seasons begins in March, temperatures climb dramatically along with the humidity. However, if you can take the heat, you will also find that you can find some river cruise packages that will allow you to spend more money on souvenirs or extended tours. You can also get some good values on airfare.

Irrawaddy River Cruises Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Are Irrawaddy River Cruises?

    Irrawaddy River cruises normally feature transport between Mandalay and Bagan. Some reach Yangon as well. It just depends on the length of travel. The Irrawaddy River makes it possible for you to stop at towns and villages and view pagodas and temples in various venues.

  • What’s Included on Irrawaddy River Cruises?

    On an Irrawaddy River cruise, you will get all your meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for free and can enjoy complimentary beverages on your trip. All-inclusive packages include Wi-Fi, deluxe cabins or staterooms, and balconies outside of cabins. Enjoy offshore guided excursions or relax on the ship's upper deck.

  • What’s the Best River Cruise of Irrawaddy River Cruises?

    The best Irrawaddy River cruise is one that meets your expectations with respect to luxury, convenience, and price. Concierges and local guides make it possible for you to truly experience an interesting and informative trip.

  • How Much Do Irrawaddy River Cruises Cost?

    A river cruise trip of 10 days runs around $3,200 per person. That price covers butler services, onboard Wi-Fi, free meals and beverages, and airport transfers.

Learn More About Irrawaddy Cruises

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    Review: Spirit Of Myanmar And The Untouched Upper Irrawaddy With Avalon Waterways

    By Libby Brame, CTA, Cruise Groups Coordinator, Cruise Training Manager & Clendon DuRapau, Senior Travel Consultant, CTA Traveling to Myanmar, known as “The Golden Land,” we knew we were in for a treat. We were looking for something different because both of us are pretty well-traveled and love off the beaten path destinations. We wanted to…

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