Flowing from the Northern tip of Myanmar into the southern delta, Burma’s longest river, The Ayeyarwady (also known as the Irrawaddy River), is the country’s economic lifeblood and inseparable from Burmese spiritual life.
Cruises along the Ayeyarwady provide a unique way to explore the river towns dotted along the banks of this famous waterway and enjoy the picturesque scenery of traditional riverside towns and temple strewn plains. Flowing from its source high in the Himalayas and navigable for about 1,400km, a range of cruising options allow for a more personalised venture along this historic river. The most popular options are full day cruises on simple, local boats between Mandalay and Bagan, and 1 to 3 night cruises along the same route on-board a more luxurious riverboat, cruising in comfort and style with a few sightseeing highlights en-route. Longer journeys can take you from Yangon upstream to Mandalay or Bagan via Pyay or on a breath-taking journey north on the Upper Ayeyarwady to Bhamo on the Chinese border.
For the more adventurous (and for those with a good budget!), explore the Ayeyerwady’s largest tributary – the Chindwin River, on limited sailings with some of the best boats on the river (Sanctuary Ananda, Road to Mandalay…). Cruises up the Chindwin take you past lush jungles, tiger reserves, mountains and steeply sided gorges with traditional villages dotted along the banks. Chindwin river cruises generally depart in July, August and September only.
Receding drastically during the dry season until its banks are exposed to the baking sun, the Ayeyarwady returns each year with the monsoon, making the best time to cruise between September and March, although droughts and extreme weather can sometimes mean cancellations or changes to cruises departing in February, or even January.