2 Night Cruise sailing from Mandalay to Bagan onboard Road to Mandalay.
Experience the enchanting sights, scents and sounds of the Ayeyarwady River aboard the Belmond Road to Mandalay.
Cruise gently to the heart of a little-known land, where pagodas and ancient palaces line a mighty river untouched by the passage of time. This realm of Buddhist spirituality embraces a wealth of beguiling – and truly unique – sights, scents and sounds.
Highlights of this cruise:
Built along side the Ayeyarwady River, Mandalay combines Myanmar’s royal history and the preservation of spiritual traditions. The royal heritage can be found at the Golden Palace Monastery with its exquisite wood carvings. The spiritual heart is enshrined at Mahamuni pagoda, housing the most venerated Buddha statue in Mandalay.
The large seated image is so greatly revered that layer upon layer of gold leaf, placed as a mark of homage by a ceaseless flow of worshippers, have distorted the true shape of the statue. Only the highly polished face, gazing serenely is untouched.
With its wood-carving, stone sculpting, gold-leaf-making and cheroot rolling, Mandalay comes across as a kind of huge oriental bazaar. The shopping hub of upper Myanmar, this is where the colourful hill tribes come together and mingle with the townspeople.
The nearby Sagaing Hill provides stunning panoramic views. The pagoda-studded hill at Sagaing ranks as one of the most imposing sights in the whole of Myanmar, with the view also taking in the Ayeyarwady River itself – a reminder of how the river serves as the very lifeline connecting all the major sights Myanmar has to offer.
The city is a popular tourist day trip from Mandalay.
The city of Ava was established in 1364 at the confluence of the Irrawaddy and the Myitnge rivers, a site of considerable economic importance because it was the gateway to the vast irrigated rice fields of Kyaukse that lay south of the Irrawaddy and were drained by the Myitnge. Kyaukse had been first settled and developed by the Burmese prior to the Pagan Period. Since it was the economic base for upper Burma as well as the Burmese homeland, control of this area was of particular concern to the Burmese kings. Consequently, many of the post Pagan capitols in Upper Burma were located in this area on either side of the major westward bend of the Irrawaddy. Importantly, the Sagaign hills, just northwest of the bend, became an important location for monastic communities, a great center of Buddhist learning that also offered the possibility of sanctuary to townsmen in case of attack.
Ava did not officially become a capitol of the Burmese kingdom until1636 and it was not until the period between 1597 and 1626 that it controlled the major part of Burma. None the less, the capitol was repeatedly established there and until modern times Burma was often referred to by the outside world as Ava. Its official name was Ratanapura, the City of Gems, and several foreign visitors have written of its wealth and splendor. Ava was almost completely destroyed by earthquake in 1838, and was finally abandoned in 1841 when King Shwebo Min moved the capitol a short distance east to Amarapura.
Some 5,000 monuments, a testament to Bagan as a former centre of Buddhist spirituality and learning, are scattered over the 42 square kilometres of the Ayeyarwady River.
The kings of Burma from 1044 to 1287 devoted their energy and considerable resources to building pagodas and temples. While their great palaces which were built of wood have since burnt down or crumbled away, hundreds of temples and pagodas remain on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River.
As a World Heritage Site, Bagan stands alongside the other great centres of South East Asia, comparable only to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.