3 Irrawaddy Cruises for Different Travelers

Embark a journey of a lifetime on the Irrawaddy Cruise

Cruising on the Irrawaddy River brings the mental images of Myanmar in your mind into life: humble villages, springing pagodas, rolling mountains, and verdant trees. Among all cruise companies boasting for luxury services, we scoop out these three for you.


Irrawaddy Cruises, What to Expect …

  • Most cruise ships are operated under international cruise companies, world-class services and state-of-art facilities can be expected.
  • There are two types of major cruise routes in Myanmar: Irrawaddy River and Chindown River and some companies offer coastal cruises and journeys in the Mergui Archipelago Zone.
  • Cruises offer all-inclusive services including rooms, dining, land excursions, on-board entertainment, and transfer. Extended services cover airfares and on-land accommodations.
  • Built in teak-wood and metal, cruise ships on the Irrawaddy River are modernly-equipped: A/C rooms with hot shower bathroom, restaurants on-board, sundeck lounge, and possibly spa.

Gatsby's Selection of the Best Irrawaddy River Cruises

Unlike the Mekong River that flows through Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia or Halong Bay in Vietnam, cruising on the Irrawaddy River requires better constructed and equipped fleets and operation. Thus most cruises are under foreign management. Our article on Irrawaddy Cruise: How to Plan and Choose is a layman's guidebook to start and we are going into details for these three best ships.


1. All-Time Favorite: RV Orient Pandaw

RV Orient Pandaw is one of the finest fleets of Pandaw Company, belonging to the superior P-Class ships. P-Class ships are delicately designed to honor the 1930's style and their broad beam and shallow draft are well-adapted to the water flow on the Bhamo - Mandalay routing.
Pandaw Cruises offer Irrawaddy Cruises ranging from 2-night to 10-night, Coastal Cruises in xxxx. RV Orient Pandaw is an ideal choice for 4-night journeys on the Irrawaddy River at a great price. Offering affordable luxury and upscale services, it's absolutely the go-to option for travelers in general.

Quick Facts about RV Orient Pandaw:

  • Staterooms: 20 upper deck, 10 main deck staterooms; all in teak wood and brass construct; A/C and private bathroom; premium mattresses and imported quality linens with duvet and two kind of pillows; spa-branded amenities and unlimited mineral water; multi-configuration plugs and storage; daily nightly turndown service and complimentary evening canapés; unlike most cruises, staterooms' windows can be open and closed to suite guests' comfort.
  • Dining: Semi-buffet breakfast and lunch, served by an experienced international culinary team, as well as themed dinner and lean & light menu options; series of cultural performances, educational talks, cooking classes, and ship tour; welcome cocktail and farewell dinner; complimentary local mineral water, jugged coffee, teas & tisanes; onboard bakery with daily freshly baked breads and rolls; extensive wine list with premium wines.
  • Special Features: No single-room supplement on selected dates
  • Recommended Routes: 4-Night Mandalay - Bagan Cruise starting from USD1,500 / person


2. Luxury: Belmond Road to Mandalay

Starting on the Rhine river in Germany, Belmond was proudly the first company that introduced luxury cruising to Myanmar with its first launch of Road to Mandalay in 1996. The boats are renovated to provide a steady ride along the Irrawaddy River while all cabins are designed to reflect German techniques and local Burmese philosophy of art and living. Their restaurant and spa center forge an unforgettable relaxing experience while scenery along the riverbanks are gracefully being unfolded.
Mainly focusing on the route between Mandalay and Bagan, Belmond's 43 staterooms, which are decorated with Burmese antiques and art pieces, offer a lavish cruising journey, along with its swimming pool and restaurant under the stars. Overall, Belmond Road to Mandalay is, without a doubt, excellent for upmarket travelers who appreciate more personal services and finer experiences.

Quick Facts about Belmond Road to Mandalay:

  • Staterooms: 43 staterooms including 4 single cabins, 4 superior cabins, 16 deluxe cabins, 18 state cabins and 1 special Governor’s suite; TV and telephone; private bathroom with finest shower amenties; flower arrangement and fresh fruit basket; unlimited bottle water; windows with views of the river; daily coffee directly served to your room; complimentary shoe cleaning after excursions; and some rooms have satellite-connected wifi, free laundry service and spa treatment.
  • Dining: Extensive buffet breakfast and lunch, seated themed dinner in the on-deck restaurant; cuisines include Thai, Asia, European, and local Burmese, cooked with local-produced organic ingredients; complimentary soft drinks, mineral water, local beer and house wine are served with lunch and dinner; welcome cocktail and gala Dinner on last night with specially designed menu; complimentary pre-dinner aperitif served in the Bar each day.
  • Special Features: On-deck swimming pool and state-of-the-art spa rooms and fitness center; topical lectures by local and international experts and free cooking classes; longyi-tying demonstrations, sunrise yoga sessions, meditation classes and cookery demonstrations.
  • Recommended Routes: 2-Night Mandalay - Bagan Cruise starting from USD2,100 / person


3. Couples: Sanctuary Ananada

First sailing in 2016, the luxury hopistality group of Sanctuary Retreats preens itself for ths only all-suite cruise operating on the Mandalay - Bagan routing, Chindwin and Upper Irrawaddy River. Named after the most famous pagoda in Bagan, Ananda Temple, literally meaning "Extreme Happiness" that is the highest state of being in Buddhism, all elements of comfort can be expected.
Local Burmese art works and materials are used to adorn the 21 suites located on the three decks named as Bagan, Mandalay, and Bhamo. The most distinctive features of the cruise must be the private balcony with sweeping and ever-changing views of the river, a plunge pool, a high-quality spa center, a panorama sundeck, and a culinary team that has served for international organizations, which promises a romantic journey in fine living for couples.

Quick Facts about Sanctuary Ananda:

  • Staterooms: 21 suite cabins with open balconies; exquisite decorations of Burmese antiques, silk works, polished teak and beautiful lacquerware; premium matress with Malaika Egyptian-cotton sheets; L’Occitane-stocked ensuite bathrooms; iPad-connected TV and free WiFi; table and chairs on the balcony; all suites are bigger than other cruises with more additional perks, such as early morning tea or coffee served in the room, free laundry, private tour guide, bulter services and exclusive dining (for Owner's Suite).
  • Dining: Award-winning experienced chef leading a culinary team; wide range of European and Asian gourmet; 3 dining venues; fresh ingredients that are picked from local market during land excursions; creative and specially-crafted menus; Italian options, seafood, steaks and burgers are also made to order; selected local beers, soft drinks, and wines are served on the house; continental breakfast buffet; house-baked pastries and various desserts served during lunchtime.
  • Special Features: The only ship that moors in downtown Mandalay with a private docking point; egular lectures on an array of interesting topics about Myanmar's history and cultures; signature treatments include the Traditional Burmese massage and Immortelle Secret of Youth.
  • Recommended Routes: 3-Night Bagan - Mandalay Cruise starting from USD1,400 / person

Found your favorite ship yet? Once you decide on the brand, the next move will be matching up the cruising schedule with your itinerary. Feel free to drop us an email anytime for more information.

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