05 December 2016
A wonderful way to explore Myanmar, this five-day cruise takes you to stunning temples and pagodas, colourful markets and unspoiled rural villages. You'll sail on the luxurious Sanctuary Ananda, where you can relax in your comfortable cabin, take in the views from the sundeck and pool and enjoy some pampering in the onboard spa.
Your trip begins as you board the Sanctuary Ananda at 12.30pm today, but if your flight arrives early enough this morning you may like to take an optional tour of Mandalay, including visits to Mahamuni Pagoda, the beautiful teak Shwenandaw Monastery and Kuthodaw Pagoda (Maha Lawka Marazein), known as "the biggest book in the world" for its 729 marble slabs inscribed with the Buddhist canonical texts. Once you've boarded the Sanctuary Ananda, you'll enjoy lunch as you cruise towards Sagaing, an important religious centre that's home to 554 monasteries and 6,000 monks and nuns. You will visit several of the monasteries and pagodas on your way uphill to admire the amazing views from the terraces of the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda. Next you'll visit a silversmith workshop in the village of Ywataung, then continue to Amarapura, where you'll visit a textile workshop and the U Bein Bridge, a spectacular place to enjoy the sunset. You'll then take a boat up the Ayeyarwady River to rejoin the Sanctuary Ananda. Tonight, you'll enjoy a welcome dinner on a sandbank overlooking Mingun, home to the ruins of King Bodawpaya's folly, a huge pagoda.
This morning, early risers can enjoy an optional visit to the village of Sin Kyun, which is sponsored by Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy. Here you can learn more about the way of life in this unspoilt location, which is seldom visited by outsiders. Your next stop will be in the picturesque village of Mingun, where you'll travel by ox cart to the unfinished Mingun pagoda, the massive Mingun Bell and the unusual white pagoda known as Myatheindan (Hsinbyume). You'll then return to the ship and sail south, enjoying the scenery from the Kansi panorama lounge. After lunch, you can enjoy a variety of onboard activities, including a longyi (sarong) and thanaka (cosmetic) demonstration, a cooking class, cheroot and betel-nut tasting and a talk on Myanmar's history and prospects for the future. Finally, you'll enjoy a delicious dinner on board.
You may like to rise early this morning to join a meditation and yoga session. After breakfast, you'll take a trishaw to the local market in Pakokku to browse the stalls of mouth-watering fruit and vegetables, then continue to the cheroot factory to watch the women roll the cheroots at high speed. You'll then return to the Sanctuary Ananda and continue to Bagan, arriving in the early afternoon. Your first stop here will at the 13th-century Htilominlo Temple. You'll then continue to the village of Myinkaba, a centre for the ancient craft of lacquerware, and then on to the stunning Pyathatgyi Temple, where you'll watch the sun set behind the hills on the far side of the Ayeyarwady River.
You can begin today by watching the sunrise from a temple terrace in the company of a meditation expert, or take an optional balloon tour over the Bagan plain. Afterwards, Sanctuary Ananda will set sail, passing the oil fields of Chauk, to Sale, where you will visit Yoke Sone Kyaung monastery, then continue to Tha-ta-na Kyaung, a small temple, to see its Buddha image made of bamboo. Back on board, you will return to Bagan to visit the Ananda Temple, regarded as one of the most beautiful temples in Myanmar. Next you'll drive to the village of Wetkyi-in and the cave temple Kubyaukgyi, before returning to the ship in a horse-drawn cart for a traditional Shan dinner with the Captain.
Your cruise comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If there's time before your flight home, you may like to join an optional tour of Bagan, visiting Minanthu village before continuing to a brick factory, then on to the village of Myinkaba, a centre for the ancient craft of lacquerware, and finally to a jaggery workshop.
Suite, Bagan Deck fr £1121pp
Deluxe Suite, Bagan Deck fr £1487pp
Deluxe Suite, Middle Deck fr £1952pp
Luxury Suite fr £2822pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated