Myanmar’s Ancient Capitals Cruise

- A Secret Retreats journey -
5 Days / 4 Nights
from 1,380 USD /person



This journey has been personally designed by John Tue Nguyen (Founder of Heritage Lines)
“For us, every river has a story waiting to be told.”

All our itineraries have generally been constructed on the basis of the rooms that have the most charm or best view, and not necessarily the first prices, nor the most expensive suites.
We can of course adjust according to your request.

Highlights of the Journey:

  • Cruising the magnificent Irrawaddy River aboard your luxury riverboat.
  • Experiencing traditional villages along the way, seeing lifestyles unchanged in centuries.
  • Visiting the ancient capitals of Sagaing and Ava.
  • Exploring Bagan with its plains of 1,000s of pagodas, Myanmar’s most enigmatic sight.
  • A pre-post stay at the delightful Yandabo Home makes the perfect bookend to this cruise.

There is an extraordinary timeless quality to Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River, also known as the Ayeyarwady. Rising among Himalayan glaciers and flowing freely for almost 2,200 km across the whole country before pouring into the Indian Ocean. This river is a witness to 1,000s of years of history yet the kings of medieval Bagan would almost certainly recognise its riverbank life today with its bullock cart or the tiered pagodas atop rambling teak monasteries.


Contact the concierge on

Your Journey Day by Day

from 1,380 USD /person for 5 Days / 4 Nights

based on 2 people sharing the same cabin,
options available for 2 or 3-night cruises


Day 1 : Mandalay – Sagaing and Ava (- / L / D)
Welcome aboard the Anawrahta, your luxurious riverboat for this cruise. Berthed at the quay of Mandalay’s riverside, you will board before noon. Once underway towards Sagaing, one of the ancient capitals of Myanmar, lunch will be served in the restaurant on-board, “Hinta Hall”.
Arrival at Sagaing, the royal capital during the Ava period, we will disembark for a wonderful discovery of the two ancient cities of Ava and Sagaing. Crossing the famed 16 span cantilever “Ava bridge”, built in 1934 by the British, which connects the two ancient capitals, Ava (also known as Innwa) was the imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms between the 14th to 19th century. Taking a horse-drawn carriage is the perfect way to explore this area and its many ancient monasteries and pagodas including visits to Bagaya Kyaung a teak monastery built in 1834 and still a monastic school today, and Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery and the Nan Myint Watch Tower. Back on board you will learn more about Myanmar’s traditions, history and culture with presentations and demonstrations.
Before your first dinner onboard the cruise manager will invite you for a cocktail at Kipling’s Bar.
Day 2 : Ava – Yandabo
The day will start for the early birds with a guided yoga session on the sun deck.
After breakfast, a lecture about Bagan’s history is offered at the Mandalay Lounge as you cruise to Yandabo. The ship will arrive at the quiet, riverside village of Yandabo just after lunch. A unique and fascinating village where in 1826 the King of Ava signed the Treaty of Yandabo, signaling the end of the First Anglo-Burmese war. Nowadays the villagers produce terracotta pots reputed to keep water cooler than pots from anywhere else in the country. Explore the village by foot, visit the villagers’ workshops and houses and try your hand at throwing a pot!
You will return to the ship for high tea as we depart Yandabo and cruise on to the next overnight spot Pakokku, passing the confluence of the Irrawaddy and its greatest tributary, Chindwin River along the way.
As evening approaches and the Burmese sun bathes everything in a golden light a special event will take place at the Kipling’s Bar. Dress up in style as we offer “a toast to the past” in an echo of the British clubs where gents puffed on cigars and ladies sipped on genteel cocktails, we will share tales of the ‘Burmese Days’.
Dinner will be served at the Hintha Hall. And after dinner perhaps enjoy a classic movie under the stars in our open air cinema.
Day 3 : Pakokku – Bagan
Breakfast is served just before arrival in Pakkoku - an old trading town on the western riverbank of the Irrawaddy, known to host the longest bridge of Myanmar, the Pakokku Bridge.
Our first visit of the day will be to see local industry and artisans at work, including a cheroot-rolling factory and a producer of ‘Burmese slippers’ (“flip-flops”) followed by a visit to the thriving local market. Pakokku is well known for the production of tobacco, if you would like to buy some Burmese cigars, then this is the place. From the market we will head to the Shwegu Temple, which is famed for its incredible, intricate carvings made from rare Yamanei wood and a unique Buddha image seated on a lotus throne. Returning to your ship for lunch, we continue the journey southwards and will dock at Bagan in the early afternoon.
An incredible sight, more than 2,000 temples, stupas and pagodas spread across Bagan’s plains before you, an area of just 30 square kilometers. You will explore the most remarkable ones, like the Ananda Temple or the pretty Sulamani Pagoda. And at dusk enjoy a breathtaking vista from a pagoda “summit” to marvel at the temple strewn plains as the sun sets on this golden land.
Day 4 : Bagan
The plains of Bagan are a truly wonderful sight from the air and for an additional charge a once-in-a lifetime experience to fly over Bagan at sunrise in a hot air balloon flight can be arranged (advance booking required, subject to season).
The morning tour starts with a visit of the bustling Nyaung-U market – a truly Burmese market where the ancient and modern worlds meet. After wandering the market we will head to the revered Shwezigon Pagoda, a prototype of Burmese stupas consisting of a circular gold leaf-gilded stupa surrounded by many smaller temples and shrines. We will visit a lacquerware workshop and complete the tour with a look at the fine frescoes inside the Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi Pagoda before returning to the ship for lunch.

There will be a choice of activities for the afternoon:
- a visit to the sacred Mount Popa monastery which sits picturesquely on an extinct volcano (some mobility and fitness is required to reach the top). The place is believed by the Burmese to be home to their animist spirits - the Nats. The trip stops en-route at a palm sugar plantation where we can look over the shoulders of a typical local candies manufacturer.
- or an exploration of Myinkaba Village and visit the Manuha Pagoda, dating from 1059 where King Anawrahta imprisoned the Mon King, Manuha. Nearby is the beautiful architecture of the Gubyaukyi temple. Take some time to wander and explore the village of Minnanthu at your own pace afterwards.

Returning to the ship for our last dinner together, the crew will invite you to enjoy some farewell entertainment in the lounge.
Day 5 : Bagan
The journey ends after breakfast.
Ask the Secret Retreats Concierges for recommendations to continue your journey in Myanmar or further afield in South East Asia.

Your Accommodation on this Asia Travel Itinerary

Myanmar’s Ancient Capitals Cruise

5 Days / 4 Nights
from 1,380 USD /person

based on 2 people sharing the same cabin,
options available for 2 or 3-night cruises


The total price includes:
Port taxes.
Daily (group) shore-excursions as mentioned in the program.
Entrance fees and Tour guide services (English speaking).
Transportation, Transfers to/from the meeting point/ship as mentioned in the program.
Taxes, fuel, river pilots, local anchorage fees.
Daily yoga class, onboard entertainment, sauna.
Welcome drink, breakfast – lunch - dinner (as indicated in program).
Free flow of beverages - mineral water, soft drinks, juices, tea, coffee - at all times, free flow of local beer and house wine by glass during lunch and dinner, drinking water in cabin and during excursions.
Insurance (passenger liability).
Internet access in public areas (subject to cellular network signal).

The total price does not include:
Crew and guide gratuities.
Visa fees.
Private transfers and any other transfer not stated in the program.
Personal expenses and purchases.
All further beverages, premium spirits and other services not mentioned under inclusions or in the program.
Fuel surcharges if any (please refer to general terms and conditions.
Medical services.
Spa treatments.

This Secret Journey was designed in cooperation with John Tue Nguyen and Heritage Line Company.


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