National Geographic Expedition — Irrawaddy River Cruise with Mandalay & Yangon


National Geographic and Scenic Luxury River Cruises have teamed up to launch a new line of National Geographic River Cruises. These itineraries combine Scenic’s all-inclusive luxury river cruise experience with National Geographic's legacy of science, conservation and exploration to create unforgettable experiences along the waterways of Europe and South East Asia.

Aboard each Scenic river cruise expedition a National Geographic Expert will join guests to share their knowledge and insights, and enrich the experience through fascinating presentations and informal discussions. A National Geographic photographer, who will offer photography tips on technique and artistry, will also join European river cruising itineraries.

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Yangon > Mandalay

Enjoy the perfect Irrawaddy River experience as you cruise in all-inclusive luxury on board Scenic Aura. Sit back and relax as a parade of incredible treasures slips by the window of your private Scenic Sun Lounge. Myanmar is a country few have had the opportunity to visit. Take your time discovering all the earthly (and unearthly) delights that can be found sprinkled across this mystical land. Spend time in the ancient capitals of Inwa (Ava) and Sagaing mixing with local nuns and novices; explore sandstone grottoes near Monywa, decorated with the most delicate of paintings and hundreds of Buddha statues, and stand agape at the sheer majesty of the Old Bagan temple complexes. Or simply stay on board and make the most of your beautiful cabin, fantastic dining and host of facilities. You’ll disembark in the bustling town of Pyay fighting the urge to turn around and do it all over again.

14 Day Itinerary

  • Day 1 - Yangon
    Highlights:
    Welcome reception
     
     

    Welcome to Myanmar and settle into hotel for a two night stay. Meet your Scenic Tour Director and fellow guests at your welcome dinner. Please book flights to arrive by 4.30pm.

    Meals included: Dinner

     

  • Day 2 - Yangon
    Highlights:
    Enrich - Oil lamp lighting
     
     
    Freechoice

    Embark for a ride on the local train around Yangon’s suburbs. Alternatively, be guided on a tour of Yangon’s thriving art scene, or ride a ferry across the Yangon River to Dhala village.

    Visit Chaukhtatgyi Paya, Yangon’s reclining Buddha.

    Enrich

    As the sun begins to set, wander through Shwedagon Pagoda and learn about the ritual of ‘oil lamp lighting’ before partaking in this local tradition.

    This evening enjoy the included facilities of your executive club access.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

     

  • Day 3 - Yangon > Pyay (Prome) > Irrawaddy Cruise
    Highlights:
    Htaukkyant Allied War Cemetery
     
     

    On your drive to Pyay, pay your respects at Htaukkyant Allied War Cemetery. On arrival, you'll board the luxurious Scenic Aura and relax at the welcome cocktail reception. (Please note drive from Yangon to Pyay is approximately 7 hours).

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 4 - Pyay (Prome) > Sri Ksetra
    Highlights:
    Discover Sri Ksetra
     
     

    Admire the view over Pyay with a visit to the Shwesandaw Pagoda before heading to Sri Ksetra, the ancient Pyu Kingdom’s capital and also Myanmar’s first World Heritage-listed Site. Return to the ship to commence your cruise north into the heart of Myanmar.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 5 - Thayetmyo
    Highlights:
    Colonial architecture
     
     

    A morning of exploration awaits in Thayetmyo. Try your hand at putting on the oldest golf course in Myanmar, admire the region’s old colonial buildings and explore the gems at the local market before returning to the ship to continue to Magwe.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 6 - Magwe
    Highlights:
    Trishaw ride
     
     

    In Magwe, explore the town by traditional trishaw, similar to a sidecar. Visit Mya Tha Lun Pagoda, a mesmerising architectural vision set on Naguttama Hill with superb views over the river. Enjoy the remainder of the day cruising to Salay.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 7 - Salay > Bagan
    Highlights:
    Enrich - Colonial experience
     
     

    On your morning walking tour of Salay admire the beautiful teak monastery and look inside the largest lacquer Buddha in Myanmar.

    Enrich

    Soak up the ambience of the river and the colonial feel of the town whilst enjoying traditional local Burmese tea and snacks in a restored colonial villa dating from 1906.

    Relax on the sundeck with a cocktail in hand viewing the many temples and pagodas that line the river as you approach Bagan.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 8 - Bagan
    Highlights:
    Freechoice, Enrich – Traditional activity
     
     

    Optional Hot Air Balloon Flight - Between 01 October and 31 March, take a chance to ride in a hot air balloon flight over the majestic temples of Bagan. Must be purchased prior to your cruise.

    Freechoice

    Venture to Mount Popa, home to Myanmar’s nats or nature spirits. Alternatively, explore the markets at Nyaung U before discovering the Temple Circuit, or enjoying a visit to Old Bagan.

    Afterwards, visit the most iconic sight of this hypnotic region, the Ananda Temple.

    Enrich

    This evening, be treated to a special occasion arranged especially for Scenic guests where you will be able to partake in a magical tradition of the Burmese people.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 9 - Bagan > Pakkoku
    Highlights:
    Enrich - Morning alms
     
     
    Enrich

    Rise early to attend morning alms for the local monks. Back on board try mohinga, a traditional breakfast of the local people.

    Travel by horse and cart through a local village then through the surrounding plain and it’s temple ruins before learning all about the production of Burmese lacquerware. Depart Bagan and stop off at the Pakkoku to visit a cheroot cigar workshop and longyi and blanket factory before continuing to Yandabo.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 10 - Yandabo
    Highlights:
    Village
     
     

    Sail to Yandabo where in 1826, the peace treaty ending the First Anglo-Burmese war was signed. Now famous for its pottery, stroll through the village and witness the artisans honing their craft.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 11 - Sagaing > Inwa (Ava)
    Highlights:
    Enrich - Monastic school and nunnery
     
     

    In the ancient capitals of Sagaing and Inwa, spiritual enlightenment awaits.

    Enrich

    In the ancient capital of Sagaing interact with novice monks, nuns and orphans during a special visit to a monastic supported school before continuing to a quiet nunnery where you will partake in the ritual and our donation to the resident nuns before their midday meal.

    Across the river, explore by horse and cart the sites within the ruins of Inwa’s palace, for more than 400 years the capital of the Ava Kingdom.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 12 - Mingun > Mandalay > Amarapura
    Highlights:
    Sundowners at U-Bein Bridge
     
     

    Cruise to Mingun to discover the stories behind a massive unfinished brick pagoda. Nearby, admire the famous un-cracked Mingun Bell and the all-white Hsinbyume Pagoda. Sail to Mandalay to visit Amarapura.

    Sundowners

    In Amarapura, relax with evening drinks in boats under U-Bein Bridge, the world’s longest teak bridge, to capture that memorable photo of the bridge’s silhouette at sunset.

    Back on board enjoy Scenic Aura’s crew special farewell.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 13 - Irrawaddy Cruise > Mandalay
    Highlights:
    Enrich - Gold leaf
     
     

    After disembarkation, admire the intricate artistry of Shwenandaw, a beautiful wooden monastery covered internally in gold leaf. Equally impressive are the sights at Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to the ‘World’s Largest Book’. Later walk through the rebuilt Mandalay Palace, destroyed during World War II.

    Enrich

    Learn how to produce gold leaf at a local workshop. At Mahamuni Pagoda, male guests will be able to place the gold leaf on the iconic Buddha statue.

    Later as the sun sets, head to the top of Mandalay Hill to enjoy magnificent views of the surrounding countryside before your farewell dinner and a night at Mandalay.

    Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

     

  • Day 14 - Mandalay
    Highlights:
    Farewell
     
     

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your journey home.

    Meals included: Breakfast

     

Departures and Pricing

31 January 2019 — From $12,335 per person

Fly Free 
Book your National Geographic Expedition by 31 December 2018 to enjoy Free Flights in economy, including taxes*.

Save $2,000 per couple
Book by 31 December 2018 to secure a discount of $2,000 per couple*. Not combinable with flight offer.

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Meet the Experts

Expert — Paula Swart (28 December 2019)

Paula Swart is an expert on Asian culture and history with a special interest in Buddhism, and has been a museum curator for more than 20 years. A popular expert on more than 30 expeditions for National Geographic, her travels have taken her to Southeast Asia numerous times. She recently organized the Visions of Enlightenment exhibition on Buddhist art, which featured pieces from Myanmar (Burma). Paula holds degrees in archaeology, Asian art history, and Chinese history. She speaks five languages, including Mandarin, and has published several books and numerous articles on the art and architecture of Asian cultures. Paula also studied and lectures on artifacts from the wreck of a Dutch East India company ship that was found off the island of St. Helena and documented in the October 1978 issue of National Geographic magazine. 

 

Expert — Ken Hammond (10 February 2019)

Historian Ken Hammond first traveled to China in 1982 to study the language and stayed for five years. A professor at New Mexico State University, he directs a Chinese-American university exchange program. He has produced a documentary on the revival of Confucian ritual and recorded the lecture series From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History for The Great Courses. Ken served as president of the Society for Ming Studies and as a visiting scholar at the History Institute of the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences.

 

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