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Myanmar river cruising: 4 of the best luxury options

Destination Reviews

Right now everyone is talking about the magical land of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, which has been virtually closed to tourism for many years. Emerging from years of political turmoil, Myanmar is welcoming the tourist dollar, and beginning to invest in its infrastructure.

So if you love the Orient, and would like to visit a land where global brands are not established, meeting welcoming and gracious people, and enjoying extraordinary scenery and a rich cultural history, rush to Myanmar now before it becomes completely westernised. Because the infrastructure is limited, a river cruise is the perfect way to visit. Taking you in relaxed comfort from place to place, you have the time to soak up the beauty and explore in depth. There are several options we recommend.

Pandaw River Expeditions

Pandaw pioneered river cruising in Asia on the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company. It operates five vessels on various rivers and itineraries, ranging from the 60 passenger Orient Pandaw to the intimate 10 passenger Kalay Pandaw, small enough to take you way off the beaten track to Nagaland. The options are extensive and you can choose from the leisurely journey from Bagan to Mandalay, the Upper Irrawaddy, Chindwin and Nagaland, and the journey southwards to the delta and Rangoon.


AmaWaterways has established an excellent reputation in Europe, and now operates the luxurious 56 passenger AmaPura on the Ayeyarwady featuring leisurely ten day itineraries from Pyay to Mandalay (or 14 nights all the way to Yangon) combined with a stay in Yangon and optional extension to Inle Lake. Minimum cabin size of 285 square feet with French Balcony, and a small plunge pool on deck ensure a very comfortable experience.


Belmond, formerly known as Orient Express, has extensive experience in the region, operating the 82 guest Road to Mandalay over a number of years, sailing between Bagan and Mandalay and as far North as Bhamo. The second vessel, Orcaella, with 50 guests, features accommodations with balcony and a plunge pool, and is small enough to explore further afield, including the Chindwin in its programme. Belmond also operate the Governors Residence in Yangon, and offer a beach stay at Ngapali.

Sanctuary Retreats

Sanctuary Retreats has expanded its portfolio of exotic river cruises in remote locations with the luxury 21 suite vessel Sanctuary Ananda. Five star contemporary luxury on this all suite ship with plunge pool (minimum suite size 291 square feet) is a stylish way to visit Bagan and Mandalay, with other itineraries on the Chindwin, and sailing southwards to Yangon.

Creating your perfect Burma itinerary, with a river cruise at its heart, takes some careful planning and will depend on whether you are a first time visitor or returning for more Burmese magic. Entry to the country via Thailand adds complications to your travels, so you will enjoy the guidance and support our team can give as you choose the best option.

If you just want a taste of the country, seeing Yangon and maybe flying to Bagan or Mandalay, an ocean cruise featuring a two or three night stay in Yangon could be the best option for you. Silversea have an excellent selection, with some exciting itineraries in the winter months on their expedition vessel Discoverer.

Find out more about Myanmar...

Our expedition cruising guide to Myanmar and the Ayeyarwady River will tell you everything you need to know, including when to visit, what to see and why some people still refer to the country as Burma.

Edwina Lonsdale
Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and, together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Adventures.

More about Edwina

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