Mandalay - Bagan by RV Pandaw

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Itinerary Overview

We are pleased to offer a convenient four-night cruise on the irresistible Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to Pagan discovering the ancient Royal capitals, riverside villages, lively local markets and stunning scenery and sunsets!

Travel Map

Pandaw Cruise Myanmar

Detailed Itinerary

  • 1. Upstream
  • 2. Downstream

Day 1: Bagan - Embarkation

Transfer - Transfer from Pagan hotel or Pagan airport to ship on the day of embarkation will be provided. Embark your ship in Pagan before lunch.
In the afternoon, visit a Lacquerware workshop to explore the process of making lacquer handicrafts which is the specialty craft of Pagan.
Continue to the unique Payathonezu, three inter-connected temples with a narrow passage built in the late 13th century.
End the day with a visit to Dhamayangyi from AD 1170, the widest and largest temple in Pagan.
Watch the sunset from the top of Taung Guni temple before returning to the ship.

  • Meals: Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 2: Salay - Ayardaw - Tant Chi Taung

Set sail early morning to Salay, a small town which was once a bustling trading port, now a sleepy village filled with colonial architectural treasures and timeless teak monasteries.
Walk to Yoke-Sone Kyaung, the best-known teak carved monastery in Burma, stopping at Salay House on return.
Sail upriver to the Ayardaw charity clinic supported by Pandaw then drive up the winding road of the Tant-Chi-Taung mountain to visit the hill-top stupa.
Late afternoon, watch the traditional paper-mache elephant dance performed by the villagers from Tant-Chi.
Moor overnight near Nyaung U.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 3: Pakokku

Explore Pakokku, experiencing the local market and town centre by Tuk Tuk.
Pakkoku is a city of about 100,000 inhabitants located 30 km from Bagan. Main produce are tobacco, cotton, peanuts, Thanatkha (traditional make-up and sun lotion) and textiles. Visit Pakokku’s main market by Tuk Tuk.
Stop at a cheroot workshop and discover how traditional cheroot cigars are made.
Moor overnight at Aung Pan Chaung near the Chindwin confluence.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 4: Yandabo

Explore Yandabo village, famous for its production of terracotta pottery from the river bank clay.
This village is well-known as the place where the first Anglo-Burmese war ended by the peace treaty signed in 1826. Morning walking tour and a visit to a pottery workshop to see first-hand the production process. This is a hands-on experience which you are welcome to try.
Visit the Pandaw supported Yandabo School (if no school holidays).
Afternoon sailing and moor overnight at Pauk-taw Pauk-myaing village near Ava.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 5: Sagaing - Disembarkation - Mandalay

Disembark after breakfast 09.00 at Sagaing Lay Kyun Man Aung Jetty. Transfer is provided to either hotel or Mandalay airport on disembarkation.

  • Meals: Breakfast
  • Accommodation: n/a

Download Itinerary

Day 1: Mandalay - Embarkation

Embark your ship at Sagaing at 16.00 followed by dinner.

  • Meals: Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 2: Yandabo

Explore Yandabo village, famous for its production of terracotta pottery from the river bank clay.
This village is well-known as the place where the first Anglo-Burmese war ended by the peace treaty signed in 1826. Morning walking tour and a visit to a pottery workshop to see first-hand the production process. This is a hands-on experience which you are welcome to try.
Visit the Pandaw supported Yandabo School (if no school holidays).
Moor overnight at Shwe Tan Tit village.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 3: Pakokku - Ayardaw

Explore Pakokku, experiencing the local market and town centre by Tuk Tuk. Sail to the Ayardaw charity clinic supported by Pandaw. Afternoon walk around the village.
Pakkoku is a city of about 100,000 inhabitants located 30 km from Bagan. Main produce are tobacco, cotton, peanuts, Thanatkha (traditional make-up and sun lotion) and textiles. Visit Pakokku’s main market by Tuk Tuk.
Stop at a cheroot workshop and discover how traditional cheroot cigars are made.
Moor overnight at Tant Chi village.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 4: Tant Chi Taung - Salay

Drive up the winding road of the Tant-Chi-Taung mountain to visit the hill top stupa. On the way back, watch a traditional paper-mache elephant dance performed by the villagers from Tant-Chi.
Sail to Salay, a small town which was once a bustling trading port, now a sleepy village filled with colonial architectural treasures and timeless teak monasteries.
Walk from the ship to Yoke-Sone Kyaung, the best-known teak carved monastery in Burma, stopping at Salay House on return.
Moor overnight at Sala.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accommodation: Pandaw Cruise

DAY 5: Salay - Bagan - Disembarkation

Morning cruise upstream from Salay to Pagan.
Disembark after lunch. Transfer to the hotel or airport.

  • Meals: Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accommodation: n/a

Download Itinerary

Important Notes:

  • Please note that water levels drop dramatically as of December and we might not be able to reach Homalin. You will be well rewarded with alternative excursions. We will be cruising up to Mawlaik and return to Kalewa where you will be flown out to Yangon or Mandalay.
  • The itinerary for this expedition is indicative only. As we travel to remote areas, changes to the itinerary will inevitably occur. A flexible approach is required if you book this cruise.

Departures

2021

2022

Upstream

Sept: 26 | Oct: 10, 24 | Nov: 7, 21 | Dec: 19

Jan: 2, 16, 30 | Feb: 13, 27 | Mar: 13, 27 | April: 10

Downstream

Oct: 3, 17, 31 | Nov: 14, 28 | Dec: 26

Jan: 9, 23 | Feb: 6, 20 | Mar: 6, 20 | April: 3

Important information

What's included ?

Transportation

River Cruise, Car

Accommodation

Accommodation on Luxury Pandaw Cruise (4 nights)

Meals

4 Breakfasts/ 4 Lunches/ 4 Dinners

Price Includes

Price Excludes

  • Crew and guide gratuities
  • Visa fees
  • Personal expenses
  • Other beverages than those stated under inclusion
  • Medical services
  • Spa treatments
  • Port and anchorage fees
  • All other services or items not listed under inclusions

Cancellation Policy

  • From time of booking until 61 day prior to departure non-refundable deposit
  • From 60 days and less till departure, no show, late arrival or early return 100% cancellation fee

Customer Reviews

6 customer reviews

4.8
6 reviews
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TRAVELER TYPE *
10 Irrawaddy River Cruise - upriver from Mandalay to Katha, downriver to Pagan
Your review
The cruise boat is small with only 5 cabins as the navigation of that part of the river does not permit a bigger boat. The cabin stretches across the boat and there is a river view on either side, so sunrise and sunset photos were amazingly easy.

The Pandaw cruise package includes daily visits to places of interest, whether historical, religious or simple village life giving a wide view of the culture of the country. Every evening at evening cocktails, a brief is given of the next days journey.

All 5 cabins were occupied, with only 8 of us, 3 couples and 2 singles - there was no single supplement on my particular trip. The entire staff comprising the Captain, Engineer other crew member and Purser, Assistant Purser and Housekeeper (10 in all) plus the guide were amazing. Nothing was too much for them. Every hand helped when the boat docked for any of our trips, to get us off and on to the boat, Captain included.

The food was excellent, each day the salads were varied as well as the main and dessert courses. My trip was from 23 Dec to 2 Jan and it covered both Christmas and New Year. The buffet was over flowing in each case the Chef clearly trying to outdo himself on each occasion.

The boat was generally parked in a quiet location at night, so that the passengers could have a quiet sleep in a place of safety chosen by the Captain, hidden from any eyes.

New Year's Eve was celebrated on a sandbank, chosen again with safety of the passengers in mind, fully kitted out with paper lanterns, music etc, and the crew too were able to join the passengers for the night out. Paper lanterns, of different animals, bigger than 5' in height were set off into the sky in celebration by the passengers. We danced the night away till after the dawn of the New Year - what a wonderful memory.

The Captain was shy and unassuming, however hugely competent, always keeping in mind the comfort and safety of the passengers. One afternoon, in trying to avoid another boat stuck on a sandbank, there were many which shifted regularly, the current carried the boat into a sandbank. With great competence, despite the current against him, the Captain freed the boat after a 2 hour non-stop effort, to which there were loud cheers.

Very regularly there would be a member of the crew with a long marked pole, at the front to guide the Captain through the shifting sandbanks. I found it fascinating.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Group of Friends
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Lower Ganges Cruise
Your review
The boat cruise from Kolkata upstream returning after seven days. The service and food were very good. The cabins clean and comfortable but a bit cramped. The daily excursions were fascinating, meeting the locals and witnessing real cottage industries. This experience could not, I believe, be replicated on a land tour. On top of that you get to meet and interact with your fellow passengers. As there are few cabins there is almost a party atmosphere.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Group of Friends
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Upper Irrawaddy river cruise with Pandaw
Your review
This was a ten day cruise from Mandalay up the river to past the 2nd Defile (to near Bhamo) and back to Bagan.

The people who work for and run Pandaw have a fantastic approach to everything they do and to every detail. They went out of their way to ensure that we enjoyed our cruise and felt safe and secure.

Pandaw is the only company that sails up to the upper reaches of the Irrawaddy and for six days of the ten day cruise we saw no other tourists. This type of adventure comes with some risk, in this case the risk of the boat getting stuck on a sandbank or two. Watching the crew getting us off a sandbank was an experience in itself.

Not everything goes to plan or schedule, so if necessary the crew improvise to find new excursions and/or alternative modes of travel (Burmese version of a speed boat). Most impressive was their ability to maintain a sense of perspective and humour even when things went wrong. This was typified by our last night when the captain moored the boat on a sandbank and the crew set up a “sandbank” farewell party. All the crew joined the party, dancing and singing with the passengers.

We travelled on the Kindat Pandaw, a reproduction of the original vessel built in 1886, it has a very shallow draft to allow it to sail up river. With 18 cabins it is relatively small and compact. However, as there were only 18 passengers on board it felt spacious and relaxed.

The teak cabins and bathrooms are small but perfectly designed with lots of storage space. We did not note any real difference between the upper and lower cabins.

There are a number of areas for passengers to sit and relax while on board, including an indoor air-conditioned lounge. The only negative was a couple of smokers on board, both of whom sometimes ignored the request to smoke at the end of the boat. Pandaw should seriously consider banning smoking.

The food was fabulous especially the Burmese salads at lunch time. Mohinga (a traditional Burmese breakfast dish) for breakfast every day would have been welcome. While we appreciate that the kitchen needs to cater for all tastes but these days I think they could get away with a bit more spicy food …

The excursions were generally very interesting but could be a bit slow due to the mix of passenger’s ages and fitness. However, we were able to mix things up by going on bicycle rides or independent walks. The crew managed to cater for most people’s needs providing additional guides and chaperones as needed. For one elderly passenger they provided a personal aid to help them on excursions, the aid even carried a chair so the passenger could rest as needed.

As I said at the start it is the crew who make this a great adventure. In particular, the Purser (Jimmy) and the Guide (Brian) provided great leadership.

We travelled as a group of five and everyone thought this was a great trip and highly recommend it.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Mature Couples
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Pandaw Cruise down the Irrawaddy - perfect
Your review
A 10 night cruise on Pandaw Boats on the Irrawaddy - excellent staff, lovely cabins, good food, and interesting visits could not recommend more highly. And beautiful country and people.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Young Couples
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Pandaw River Cruise - Would recommend without hesitation
Your review
I spent 7 nights on the Bagan to Mandalay Packet with Pandaw Cruises (RV Kindat) and had a fabulous time. They happily answered my queries and they have quite a selection of cruises which offer ‘no single supplement’.

Myanmar tourism has been severely affected by the press coverage in relation to the Rohyingya crisis and I had second thoughts about whether I should be travelling there. However, I am so pleased I did. All the people I came into contact with had no connection with the political situation but their livelihood is being seriously affected by it. They were, without exception, lovely, caring people. As a result of the downturn in tourism Pandaw chose to use a smaller boat for the cruise. They fortunately have a number of boats of different sizes. I know that some of the much bigger international cruise lines are simply cancelling their tours altogether as they do not have the facility to use a smaller boat. The RV Kindat can take 28 passengers but we were only 12 passengers to 17 crew - so you can imagine the level of service we received.

The boat itself is lovely, built along the lines of the old boats that used to ply the Irrawaddy in the early 19 centuries. It certainly brought back images of the British sipping their gin and tonics, or perhaps a cocktail, on the deck in times gone past – which is exactly what we did each afternoon. The teak everywhere was lovely with French double glass doors and then French double shuttered doors to every cabin. Looking at some of the other larger cruise boats that passed us, whilst no doubt extremely comfortable, just didn’t seem to have the same ambience with their aluminium sliding doors to the cabins. The cabins were a good size and your view was excellent whether you were on the lower or upper deck. The bathroom, whilst not big, was a decent size and the shower itself was a very good size with excellent water pressure and hot. My bathroom at my hotel in Singapore at the stopover on the way home was smaller than mine on the boat. The rooms were serviced 3 times a day,

The food on board was wonderful (we actually had 2 head chefs on board) and encompassed both Burmese and other international cuisines. The salads at lunchtime were a highlight – I never knew salads could be so tasty. At breakfast there was the typical buffet available but about another dozen hot dishes cooked to order. Dinner was four courses each night.

There were excursions every morning and afternoon (apart from two afternoons where we had talks or displays on board) and our guide was very good. He knew how much information to impart without completely overloading you. We visited pagodas, temples, markets, monasteries, weaving, jade, gold leaf and pottery workshops. At no time did we feel pressured to buy anything if we were visiting a workshop – we could just watch the demonstration of how things were made. Several evenings there was entertainment provided – local dancing, marionette puppets etc.

Crew from the boat always accompanied us on the organised excursions, waiting to help older passengers on uneven paths or with taking shoes on and off at all the temples if needed, towels to clean your feet afterwards or just those wonderful frozen towelettes to cool yourself down when it got too hot.

When the ship was docked you could happily wander ashore to have a look around if you wished and one of my favourite memories was watching some of our crew play a game of cane ball (rather like volleyball ) against another crew.
TRAVELER TYPE *
Solo Travellers
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Tripadvisor Reviews 9.8 out of 10 based on 785 votes.