The Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River and its tributary, the Chindwin are the premier cruise locations in Myanmar. A variety of cruise companies operate variations of the main routes, with vessels ranging from classic colonial river steamer designs to sleek modern styles, all offering superb facilities and truly luxurious options.  

While cruises of Myanmar are possible all year round, navigation of the Chindwin and Upper Ayeyarwady can be challenging during the peak of the dry season, with only specialised vessels able to penetrate the shallower waters.  

The lowest water levels are typically found in February, whilst the rivers achieve their maximum flows during August.  

In the north of the country, various short cruise routes operate between Mandalay and historic Bagan in either direction from two to five days or longer duration seven day return cruises in both directions visiting sites such as Mingun and Pakokku. 

Other voyages from Mandalay to Bagan include the extended eleven day sojourn with an exploration of the Chinwin River en-route, with visits to Yesago, Monywa, Mokhtaw, Maukkdaw, Mawleik, Sitthaung, Homalin, Masein, Minkin, Kani and Pakokku.  

Another variant route leaving Mandalay cruises the upper Ayeyarwady, travelling through the scenic Ayeyarwady Gorges, visiting such sites as Kyan Hnyat, Katha, and Bhamo before returning downstream to Bagan. 

A shorter seven day version of the upper Ayeyarwady gorges cruise leaves from and returns to Mandalay, while a eight day route also explores the Chindwin departing from Monywa and finishing in Homalin.  

A twelve day cruise from Mandalay travels south along the Ayeyarwady to the country’s former capital, Yangon, taking in Mingun, Pakokku, Bagan, Magwe, Minhla, Thayet, Pyay, Htonbo, Akauk Taung, Zalon and Danuphyube. This trip can also reversed, travelling upriver from Yangon. 

From the South, departures from Yangon sailing north up the Ayeyarwady can extend as far as Homalin on the Chindwin and ending at Kalewa, a journey of nineteen days, also visiting Twante, Danupyu, Pyay, Thayetmo, Magwe, Bagan, Monywa, Mingkin, Mawlaik, and Sitthaung. A similar fourteen day route departs northwards to Kalewa from Pyay taking in the same destinations.   

Another interesting route is the twenty-one day sailing from Kalewa to Mandalay taking in the Chindwin as far north as Homalin, visiting Kindat, Sitthaung, Toungdoot, before turning south to Bagan, taking in Mawlaik, Mingkin and Monywa before exploring the Upper Irrawaddy as far as Shwegu, with visits to Yandabo, Ava, Mingun, Kyauk-Myoung, Tagaung, Katha, Inn-Ywa and Khanyat before finishing in Mandalay.

Away from the Ayeyarwady / Chindwin river system, an eight day cruise explores the Arakan River, departing from Sittwe, visiting Wabo, the ancient city of Mrauk U and Kyauktaw.

Country: Myanmar
Type of holiday: Cruising
Destinations: Yangon, Mandalay
Duration: 9
Guideline price: US$ 800     (per person for Superior accommodation)
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Sample travel plan only: for a ‘no obligation’ comprehensive itinerary within 24 hours, click here.

Step aboard the Amara River Cruise to trace the path of the Ayeyarwady River, exploring the remote reaches of Northern Myanmar. You will visit the incredible Mingun Paya just outside of Mandalay, and explore one of the country’s oldest capital cities at Tagaung. As you proceed up the Ayeyarwady, some of the riverside hills are still covered with teak forest. Stop by the town of Katha, straight from the pages of George Orwell’s “Burmese Days”, and disembark at Bhamaw, the northernmost point the cruise vessel can reach. Myanmar is an exceptional destination and there is no better way to experience it than a river cruise.


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