5 amazing boating experiences in Burma

It’s not difficult to find incredible destinations in Myanmar; the hard part, in a country where the public transport network is still in its infancy, is getting to them. But there is a way to get to those untouched places that aren’t yet accessible by road or rail, and it just so happens that it’s one of the most romantic and evocative ways to travel: boat. Here are five of our favourite waterborne experiences across Burma:

1. Cruise overnight from Mandalay to Bagan

Linking two of the country’s most famous and impressive destinations, the route from Mandalay to Bagan is a classic Burmese cruise. Start off in Myanmar’s last royal capital, whose name evokes the romance of days gone by, then journey along the Irrawaddy to conclude at one of the world’s great historical sites: the pagodas of Bagan.

the-plains-of-bagan

This route plies the mighty Irrawaddy and can be completed in a day – though you might like to extend your trip and make excursions to the other noteworthy sites along the way.

2. Head north on the Irrawaddy

The Irrawaddy River may be called ‘The Road to Mandalay’, but it doesn’t stop there. If you’re feeling more adventurous, continue cruising northwards through sheer-sided gorges, teak forests and jungle to Bhamo – a town in Kachin State near the border with China. Along the way, you’ll have ample opportunities to stop at towns and villages along the river, discovering communities that seem to have changed little in the past 100 years.

cruise-in-comfort-on-the-sanctuary-ananda

This cruise, which takes you from Mandalay to Bhamo and back to Bagan, takes around 13 days – and is best undertaken in the luxurious Sanctuary Ananda, one of Myanmar’s finest liners.

3. Float through the countryside on the Chindwin River

Mandalay is, once again, the starting point for this cruising adventure – which takes you northwest into Burma’s wild countryside. Over the course of eight days, you’ll discover caves, villages, temples and forests along the banks of the Chindwin River, which snakes through Sagaing State toward the Indian border – concluding at Homalin, the furthest navigable point on the river. On arrival here, we suggest flying south to Yangon, where you can conclude your adventure beneath the winking golden spire of Shwedagon Pagoda.

cruising-on-the-irrawaddy

4. Escape the crowds on Inle Lake

Inle Lake is one of Myanmar’s most popular destinations – and for good reason. But if you want to escape the tourist throng, head south by boat to Sagar, one of the loveliest and least-visited areas on the banks of Inle. The main attraction here are the 108 ‘sunken’ stupas, which spend several months a year half-submerged in the lake and tangled in vines.

floating-villages-on-inle-lake

5. Sail between desert islands on the Andaman Sea

Exchange lakes and rivers for the lure of the open sea as you head south to the Myeik Archipelago, a chain of untouched islands that trails for hundreds of miles along the southern coast of Burma. The best (and only) way to explore these jungle-clad islands is on a luxurious sailing yacht, which will introduce you to the ancient mangrove forests, coral reefs, bright white beaches and thick jungles of Burma’s tropical south.

burma-boatings-meta-iv-yacht-on-the-andaman-sea

Alastair Donnelly is Director at InsideAsia Tours.

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Comments (1)

  1. Hugh says:

    This post has whetted my travelling buds for sure. But can you tell me if you need a guide to travel in Myanmar, as it sounds very remote.

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