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Highlights

  • Receive an authentic blessing for prosperity and spiritual security from a monk at the Shwekyin Kyaung Monastery in Mandalay
  • Examine the intricate carvings of Jataka tales at the Shwenandaw Monastery
  • Travel for eleven nights on board our privately charted ship, Sanctuary Ananda, and explore the seldom seen upper reaches of the Irrawaddy River
  • See the peculiar practice of pachyderms and people working together harmoniously at an elephant lodging camp in Moeda
  • Relish in a sunset from the terraces of the Pyathatgyi Temple in Bagan
  • Visit the Kalaywa Tawya Monastery, seldom seen by the regular traveller, and glimpse into the lives of novice monks and their daily tasks
Ananda Temple, Bagan

Where we visit

Full Itinerary

Depart Australia, Arrive Bangkok (Thailand)

Day 1: Monday 20 August

Anticipation is high, as it always is, when travelling to a remote location. We take an afternoon flight to Bangok and break our journey with an overnight stay at the Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Mandalay (Myanmar)

Day 2: Tuesday 21 August

On the wings of a short flight to central Myanmar, we find ourselves in Mandalay. Visit the Shwekyin Kyaung Monastery and observe the novice monks. Renowned for their remarkable discipline, the monks here attend to the finest details including the symmetrical stacking of sandals before prayer. This evening before dinner, the auspicious nature of this monastery is brought to light as we receive an authentic blessing for prosperity and spiritual security in the face of our journey.

We linger a while upon the evening. A special Welcome Dinner and puppet show at the Mya Nanda Restaurant awaits before we rest at the Rupar Mandalar Resort.

Mandalay, Sagaing

Day 3: Wednesday 22 August

Embark on an exploration of Sagaing. Emerald hills topped with silver and gold pagodas, Sagaing is home to Buddhist monasteries, nunneries and a monastic hospital. Observe the hallowed skyline from Soon Oo Ponya Shin Pagoda on Sagaing Hill.

The Shwenandaw Monastery is the last building remaining of what was once the Mandalay Palace. Upon returning to Mandalay, examine its intricately carved panels that depict Jataka tales – stories concerning the previous incarnations of Buddha. After visiting Kuthodaw Pagoda, we enjoy sunset from a prime vantage point. On board a local boat, become familiar with the frills of cruising as glasses are raised in celebration.

Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay

Embark Sanctuary Ananda

Day 4: Thursday 23 August

Board the Sanctuary Ananda this morning. While most river ships head south, our captain will point the bow in a northerly direction. We spend the day acquainting ourselves with life on the Irrawaddy. Later, there will be a reception of drinks and canapes followed by a lavish Welcome Dinner on board.

Nwe Nyein

Day 5: Friday 24 August

In the charming pottery village of Nwe Nyein, watch craftsmen create beautiful pots as they work potters’ wheels with their legs. Back on board, we learn about Burmese traditions such as sarong tying and make-up techniques. The remainder of the day is spent travelling through soul-stirring riverscapes to Kyar Nyat, where the Sanctuary Ananda will dock for the night.

Tagaung

Day 6: Saturday 25 August

Arriving in the ancient walled town of Tagaung, fascinating archaeological sites dating back to the Pyu Dynasty await our discovery. We continue our voyage upriver toward the town of Katha, aiming for an early morning arrival. An evening lecture, held on board, on Myanmar’s history is sure to be an enlightening affair.

Katha, Shwe Gu

Day 7: Sunday 26 August

The languid current guiding our path, a morning meditation session is held on the Sun Deck. At the same time, intricacies of Burmese cuisine are enlightened by our chef.

In Katha, tuk tuks ferry us to the colonial splendour of the former British Club, which was used as a literary retreat by George Orwell when writing Burmese Days.

Cruising the Irrawaddy River

Day 8: Monday 27 August

Easing into a day on board, we cruise to the most northern navigable point of the river for a ship of this size, setting our sights on Bhamo. We are deep in the tropics when we pass the famous Parrot’s Head statue. It is said that if the beak of this bird-shaped rocky outcrop is touching the water, the river is too high to navigate. Before delving into dinner, enjoy a traditional Kachin dance performance. 

Deluxe suite, Sanctuary Ananda

Bhamo, Moeda

Day 9: Tuesday 28 August

In the bustling market town of Bhamo, we explore the Shwe Kyi Na pagoda and historic Catholic churches. Turning the Sanctuary Ananda back, and cruising in a southerly direction now, we see the peculiar practice of pachyderms and people working together harmoniously at an elephant logging camp in the village of Moeda.

Kira Nyat

Day 10: Wednesday 29 August

Though standing on your private balcony is an ideal way to take in the ever-changing river scenes, perhaps you’d like to make the experience even more otherworldly with a morning meditation session on the Sun Deck.

We revisit the small village of Kyar Nyat, alighting in the afternoon. Teased by exotic scents that waft from nearby food stalls, village life continues to its own rhythm.

Sin Kyun

Day 11: Thursday 30 August

It’s an honour to pass time with the humble villagers of Sink Kyun, predominantly farmers and hatmakers. The village of around 1,000 people has received philanthropic help from the guests of Sanctuary Ananda, which includes a library and a house for an English teacher. Our arrival is welcomed, therefore, with much delight.

Sagaing

Day 12: Friday 31 August

We cruise by the monumental temple of Mingun, followed by an afternoon visit to Amarapura, or the City of Immortals, where we are serenaded by the clickety clack of weavers’ looms at a textile workshop. Over the darkening U Bein Bridge, the longest teak bridge in the world, we bear witness to a spectacular sunset.

A marionette show plays out on board tonight allowing us great insight into the Myanmar of the 18th century.

Yandabo

Day 13: Saturday 1 September

As we close in on Bagan, riverside monuments become increasingly grander. We see Mahamuni Pagoda and Shwenandaw Monastery, where hundreds of age-old marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist texts comprise what some historians consider the biggest book in the world. 

Novice monk praying, Bagan

Bagan

Day 14: Sunday 2 September

Arriving in Bagan, we visit the Nyaung U market and the great golden Shwezigon Pagoda. At the 1091-built Ananda Temple, we find ourselves astounded by legend that tells the story of a king, so enthralled by the original structure, that he executed the architects after its inception.

The day’s finale is a quiet moment on the terraces of the Pyathatgyi Temple, awash in a sunset glow. 

Disembark Sanctuary Ananda

Day 15: Monday 3 September

Bidding farewell to the cheerful crew of the Sanctuary Ananda in Bagan, we board a morning flight to Yangon, where the Governor’s Residence Hotel awaits. Spend the afternoon on your own personal schedule, delving into the city’s striking cultural scene. 

Yangon

Day 16: Tuesday 4 September

Today is set aside for an epic immersion into discovery. Seldom visited by travellers, the Kalaywa Tawya Monastery offers us a glimpse into the daily details of novice monks, our visit coinciding as it does with the monks’ meal time.

Within the Reclining Buddha Pagoda, we cast our eyes over an enclosure devoted to the study of Buddhist manuscripts as well as a collection of effigies. The glittering domes of the Shwedagon Pagoda round off our sightseeing, before we prepare for a four-course Farewell Dinner at Le Planteur restaurant.

Building exterior, Yangon

Depart Yangon

Day 17: Wednesday 5 September

Thanks to our evening flight, we are graced with more time in Yangon. Spend the day at the National Museum and investigate the Musmeah Yeshua, the city’s last remaining synagogue. Of course, you may otherwise prefer to wander at leisure. Afterwards, we visit Bogyoke Aung San Market which houses standard household goods as well as antique heirlooms and produce that, while exotic to us, is common fare for locals.

Later this afternoon, transfer to the airport where we board our onward flight.

Arrive Australia

Day 18: Thursday 6 September

Arrive home today. We realise how far removed, not just in distance, but in cultural tradition and practices, Australia is from the land we have just traversed.

Man with bamboo bundle, Sanctuary Ananda background

Everything has been Considered & Included

Sometimes travelling can be a chore, distracting you from the fascinating places you are in. That’s why everything mundane has been moved behind the scenes. You will never have to carry a map, luggage, small change for tips or bargain for a taxi fare.

There are no hidden costs. Everything is included – flights and other travel arrangements, luxurious accommodation, travel insurance, all dining and drinks, and even sightseeing trips. Even the Your World experiences within your itinerary and internet access when available.

Dining

RESIDENCES OF THE HIGHEST STANDARD

Welcome to your homes away from home. Each one has a certain something that sets it apart from every other residence at its location. Whether for its history, cultural significance or natural setting, we’ve selected only the very best.

The Rupar Mandalar Resort
Mandalay

The Rupar Mandalar

Arrested by teak wood and natural landscapes, the ambience of the Rupar Mandalar Resort is a truly authentic way to experience Myanmar’s distinct environment. Over 4.4 acres of natural vegetation, the resort was crafted by a team of award-winning designers and showcases exotic flora and a skyline marked by emerald growth. From the private balcony of your Premier Suite, you’re in prime position to survey the surrounds.

Exterior of Sanctuary Ananda on river

Sanctuary Ananda

Few travellers dare dream of chartering a course along the Upper Irrawaddy River, we do just that. Of course, even though we’re discovering the country’s quietest waters, there’s no compromise in services and amenities. On board, a spa offers a variety of authentic treatments, cuisine features ingredients sourced daily from local villages, and early morning meditation allows us to reflect upon the wondrous regions we cross.

Governor's Residence Hotel, Yangon
Yangon

Governor’s ResidencE

A magical close to our journey, we stay among the lotus pools and carefully manicured lawns of this boutique hotel set within Yangon’s embassy quarter. With an extremely high staff-to-guest ratio, your every need will be attended to in the most lively manner. After days spent learning about the city’s fascinating culture and history, prepare to retire to the carved teak panels and silk bedding of your private suite.

Burma & the Gorges of the Bhamo

North of the Known
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Fares are based on a Suite aboard the Sanctuary Ananda. Per Person, Twin Share. 

Fares are in Australian dollars and include Thai Airways flights from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane. Prices from other cities available on request.

Land Only Guests join the tour in Mandalay on Day 2 and depart Yangon on Day 17 after touring.

Cruise Upgrades, add per person, twin share
Deluxe Suite (Bagan Deck) $1,300
Deluxe Suite (Mandalay Deck) $2,200
Luxury Suite $3,800
Owners Suit $6,100

Solo Supplement listed is for a Suite on board Sanctuary Ananda. Prices for other suites available on request. 

Trip notes: This journey is reserved for a group of just 36 guests.

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