The Irrawaddy River

Flowing for more than 1,300 miles through central Myanmar, the Irrawaddy River is the historical, cultural, and economic heart of the country. From its source in the awe-inspiring Himalayas, it meanders peacefully through jungle-shrouded land and sun-drenched plains to its mangrove-dotted delta at the Andaman Sea. More than 90% of the Burmese population are practising Buddhists, so it’s not surprising that the pagoda is an iconic yet natural part of the landscape as you sail serenely past. Myanmar is rich in plant and wildlife, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the rare Irrawaddy dolphin. However, it’s the people who will capture your heart as you get a glimpse into the lives of locals. Visit a farmer in his home and spend time with children at a village school. See how people make a living from creating the famous 50-gallon Martaban pots, or make candy out of toddy palm tree sap. Taking an Avalon Irrawaddy river cruise affords a short-lived opportunity to experience the country before Western influence alters its culture, land and people.

Highlights of our Irrawaddy river cruises

  • Bagan
    • See some of the most important pagodas in the country, including the golden Shwezigon. Of the 13,000 temples, monasteries, and pagodas that were built between the 9th and 13th centuries, 2,300 still stand today.
  • Yangon
    • Formerly known as Rangoon, the city is home to Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s most sacred Buddhist pagoda.

Cruises on the Irrawaddy River

Golden Myanmar & the Irrawaddy - Southbound

from £6,127 per person

  • 16 days
  • Price based on 27 Nov 18
  • 2 dates available

Explore the best of Myanmar, known as “The Golden Land,” on this captivating river cruise along the Irrawaddy River. In Yangon, formerly Rangoon, you’ll see the magnificent, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda—considered the oldest pagoda in the world. Your river cruise will get underway in dramatic fashion as you sail along the untouched upper Irrawaddy. Visit remote villages for fascinating interactions including visits with schoolchildren, nuns, monks, and pottery makers. You’ll also pass through the second defile with its magnificent cliffs. In the exciting city of Mandalay, be inspired by a visit to the revered shrine of Mahamuni Pagoda with its impressive gold-leaf Buddha and enjoy a traditional dance by local performers. Continue your river cruise to Sagaing and see the stunning Kaunghmudaw Pagoda with its egg-shaped dome and watch a local silversmith at work. You’ll be immersed in the unique energy of the people on a walking tour through the village of Shwe Pyi Thar as you interact with locals and see the daily work done at a farmer’s home. Bagan, a medieval capital of Myanmar, with thousands of historical structures still standing, is one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites. Visit one of the many spiritual temples at sunrise and a local market selling the unique handicrafts of the region.This river cruise along the Irrawaddy offers everything from peaceful sailing and alluring scenery to grand, majestic temples and shrines and plenty of interaction with locals to learn and feel a part of the ancient culture. More than just a river cruise—an unforgettable adventure!