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Classic Irrawaddy River Cruise: Mandalay to Bagan

8 Days
Prices From:
US$ 2,095

FIRST-CLASS | CRUISE: Enjoy a cruise aboard a traditionally styled ship and visit sites around Mandalay before heading south to Bagan, home to more than 3000 Buddhist temples. This cruise gives a wonderful glimpse into both well known and lesser known places

  • See sidebar for general information on Pandaw Cruises

Start your one week cruise along the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay in the heartland of Myanmar. After joining your cruise ship, the Orient Pandaw, enjoy a tour of Mandalay visiting the Golden Palace Monastery, the opulent Mahamuni Pagoda. Mandalay Hill with its magnificent views of the city and some craft centres. The Orient Pandaw was built in 2008 and the design is very typically Vietnamese. It holds a maximum of 60 passengers.

The next morning, set sail for Mingun known for its ancient pagoda with the Mingun Bell, said to be the largest working bell in the world. Weighing 90 metric tons, the Mingun Bell was cast in bronze in 1808. A stop here also includes the Mingun Old People’s Home established in the 1930’s. Overnight in Mingun.

Sail on to the small village of Nyein, famous for its potteries. Later, the ship sails north all day and enters the Third Defile - a narrow pass or gorge between mountains or hills – stopping at Khan-nvat village with its many Buddhist monasteries and an orphanage.

The following day reach Sagaing, known as a centre for meditation. More than 5000 monks and nuns come from allover the country to live here. The pagodas and monasteries crowd the numerous hills along a ridge running parallel to the river. Next is a stop at Ava, an ancient Imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries. It was completely destroyed by a series of major earthquakes in 1839. Here visit the Bagaya Kyaung, a 200 year old royal monastery made of teak with elaborate wood carvings. Later, visit the ancient city of Ava bridge, the world's longest teak wood bridge, beautiful at sunset.

The next day brings you to Yandabo known for its terra cotta pottery. It also has a historical significance as it was the place where the Burmese and British kings signed their peace treaty after the first Anglo-Burmese war. Sail later to Pakokku for overnight.

After exploring the market here, travel by coach to Bagan, the ancient city which is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. It has to the largest and densest concentration of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas, and ruins in the world. Today, explore some of the 3000 temples. Then return to the ship which will stay overnight in Bagan.

The next day is a full day devoted to visiting some of the more popular temples before watching the sun set over drinks on the sun deck bar. One more overnight in Bagan before disembarking at the end of your river cruise.


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8 Days
Prices From:
US$ 2,095

Itinerary View Trip Map

Day 1


Transfer from the airport to the ship for lunch followed by excursion to Mandalay which is not only the country's second largest city but also the religious centre of Burmese culture.
The excursion starts with a visit to Mahamuni Buddha Image, one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Myanmar. The statue was brought here in 1785 by King Bodawapaya after the invasion of the Arakan Kingdom in 1784. To pay respect to the Buddha image, male devotees apply gold leaf to the image. As a result, the Mahamuni Buddha Image has been covered with a thick layer of gold leaf (about 15 cm). The walk continues along the street renouned for its marble carvers.
Continue to Shwe Kyaung (Golden Palace Monastery) which was built in 1857 and was originally part of the royal palace before it was moved to the present site in 1879.
Explore UNESCO listed Kuthodaw Pagoda, with the world's biggest book. It accommodates 729 marble slabs engraved with the Buddha's Parli Scriptures housed in shrines.
After the gold leaf hammering workshop, stop by the moat surrounding the Royal Palace for a great photo opportunity with a backdrop of Mandalay Hill.

Meal Plan Lunch and Dinner
Duration7 Nights

RV Pandaw II

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Location View map
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    RV Pandaw II

    Pandaw II was newly built in 2001 and remains the stately queen of the Pandaw fleet. She is something of a cult ship, her prototype being the old Pandaw. Cabins feature the original Pandaw cabin design with real ship's berths and the old door and …

    Pandaw II was newly built in 2001 and remains the stately queen of the Pandaw fleet. She is something of a cult ship, her prototype being the old Pandaw. Cabins feature the original Pandaw cabin design with real ship's berths and the old door and window arrangements. The ship has mountain bikes available for passengers' independent exploration.


    • Guest Services Desk
    • Library
    • Restaurant
    • Sundeck

    More Details

Day 2

Mingun - Sagaing - Amarapura

Set sail to Mingun for a morning walking tour around the unfinished stupa built by Amarapura's King Bodawpaya in 1790 which was intended to be the world's largest stupa but remained unfinished since 1808 and also visit the world's largest ringing bell.
In the afternoon, drive up to the top of Sagaing Hill and admire the bird's eye view over the Irrawaddy river curving around Sagaing city from SoonU Ponnya Shin hill top-pagoda. Later an introduction to the Buddhist nuns'way of life at a nunnery.
Drive to Amarapura, a former capital (initially from 1783 to 1819 and subsequently from 1839 to 1852). Visit a silk and cotton weaving workshop, Amarapura's major business.
At sunset take a local boat on Taungthaman lake at U Bein Bridge, the world's longest teak bridge.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 3


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.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4

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 Pagan. 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.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 5

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.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 6

Salay - Bagan

Morning cruise upstream from Salay to Pagan to explore its many temples.
The first temple visited is Ananda, known as the finest temple in Pagan in terms of ancient architecture, built in AD 1105 by King Kyansit Thar, the third king of Pagan dynasty. Explore the high standard of Pagan craftsmanship including niches with statues, glazed plaques, the standing Buddha statues and murals.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 7


Further exploration of Pagan and visit a lacquerware workshop.
Visit to Shwe San Daw stupa, one of only a few monuments allowing travellers to climb it, gaining a 360-degree view over the pagoda-studded plain. The next visit is to Shwe Zi Gone Pagoda, built in AD 1086 and believed to enshrine a hair relic of the Buddha.
Before returning to the ship for lunch, take a stroll around the Khay Min Ga pagoda complex to learn about the different architectural styles: Indian, Sri Lankan, Myanmar-Mon hybrid and Myanmar.
And 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.

Meal Plan Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 8

Depart Bagan

After breakfast, transfer to the Bagan Airport or a Bagan hotel for your onward arrangements.

Meal Plan Breakfast

Other Information


Due to political unrest in Myanmar this cruise is currently not operating.  Please speak to a Goway Destination Specialist about future departures as dates below are not confirmed.


2022: Jan 8, Jan 22, Feb 5, Feb 19, Mar 5, Mar 19, Apr 2


  • Shared arrival and departure airport transfers to/from ship
  • 7 nights first-class cruise accommodations in private cabin
  • Guided group touring with English-speaking local guides as per itinerary
  • Gratuities to crew
  • Applicable entrance fees
  • Locally-made soft drinks, local beer and local spirits
  • Jugged coffee and a selection of teas and tisanes
  • Mineral water
  • Breakfast daily (excluding day 1), 7 lunches, 7 dinners


  • Travel insurance
  • International and domestic airfare & airfare taxes
  • Visa fees if applicable
  • Meals and beverages not specifically indicated
  • Optional excursions
  • Items of a personal nature
  • All other gratuities
  • Port dues (if levied)
  • Fuel surcharges


SHIPS: Please note that a combination of ships are used on this route, depending on departure date (RV Orient Pandaw, RV Kalaw Pandaw, RV Kha Byoo).

This cruise can also be offered Upstream from Bagan to Mandalay (dates below). If interested, please inquire with your Goway destination specialist.

2021: Sep 25; Oct 9, Oct 23, Nov 6, Nov 20, Dec 18
2022: Jan 1, Jan 29, Feb 12, Feb 26, Mar 12, Mar 26, Apr 9


Prices are "from", per person, based on twin/double share accommodation and for travel in low season. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates will apply, Limited seats/spaces and all pricing is subject to change and availability. Rates for single or triple travellers are available on request -- please inquire.

2 Apr 2022
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