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The Road to Mandalay - Trip of a Lifetime

Travel News Asia Latest Travel News Podcasts Videos Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Orient-Express is offering travellers the chance to experience an 11-night explorative voyage discovering hidden gems of Burmas far north and rarely visited gorges in unrivalled comfort and style.

The unique adventure on the Ayerwaddy River from Yangon to Mandalay, Bagan and ultimately Bhamo, barely 50 miles from the Chinese border in the foothills of Yunnan, is only scheduled twice this year embarking on 11 and 25 August, and four times in 2011, 3 and 17 August, and 7 and 21 September.

Priced from US$3,030, it celebrates the complete refurbishment and re-launch of the Road To Mandalay river cruiser, renowned worldwide for offering an inimitable glimpse into Burmese life with fascinating guided off-board excursions to ancient pagodas and rural villages steeped in history.

The Road to Mandalay features luxury en-suite cabin accommodation, gourmet regional cuisine, relaxation deck with a pool, and range of beauty and massage treatments to enjoy between excursions.

The Road to Mandalay - Itinerary

Embarking from Yangon, the cruiser sets sail on its voyage to northern Myanmar to first stop at Mingun, visiting the world's largest brick- built pagoda and uncracked bell, followed by an evening cocktail party to get to know fellow travellers.

An early start the next day enters the first of the famous Three Gorges and anchors off New Nyein to see traditional clay pot sculpting, later sailing past the picturesque island pagoda of Thihadaw.

On a stroll around the delightful village of Kyan Hnyat on the third day, travellers are greeted by school children at a morning market bustling with activity. Sailing north, vast stretches of the river spread out with interesting rural villages dotted on its shores. As the sun sets, the cruiser anchors off the old market town of Katha, famous as the site where the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company scuttled its fleet in 1942.

Day four visits Katha by trishaw in the early morning to a market made famous by George Orwell in "Burmese Days", before continuing north through expansive scenery and anchoring off the splendid island pagoda of Shwe Paw, just north of the town of Shwegu.

The next morning passes through the splendid second gorge past logging camps and the old colonial village of Zinbon to drop anchor off unspoilt Bhamo.

A tour the following morning takes local transport into the countryside, past paddy fields and towards the mountains of Yunnan in China.

Returning downstream, a days train excursion to the forest station of Naba and its teak forests ends exploring the beautiful river port of Tigyaing.

Another excursion the next day winds towards Mogok past a forestry reserve where many precious botanical specimens are grown for their essential oils.

Burma's second city, Mandalay, is toured the subsequent morning, followed by tribal dancing in the evening in the quaint village of Shwe Kyet.

A dramatic sunset on day ten is witnessed over the marvellous Bagan plain of pagodas, with traditional Bagan artists performing in the evening.

The final day visits ancient sites in and around Bagan with an experienced guide, or exploring alone by horse-drawn cart or bicycle, with an optional afternoon tour to Mount Popa, legendary sacred home of the Nats, with its impressive summit monastery.

The adventure ends with a short flight from Bagan to Yangon, returning home with memories lasting a lifetime.

Prices from US$3,030 per person rise to US$4,000 for a Deluxe Cabin, US$5,410 in a State Cabin and US$7,570 in the Governors Suite.

Prices include all table d'hte meals and accommodation on board based on two people sharing, plus economy class flights, transfers and sightseeing.

The offer also includes two complimentary nights at the luxurious Governor's Residence Hotel in Yangon, before or after the voyage.

Set within lotus gardens, The Governors Residence is a two-storey teak mansion dating back to the 1920s when it was built as the official home of one of the governors from the Southern states of the country. Guest rooms and suites are luxuriously decorated with teak furniture, tropical cottons and silks while the hotels elegant restaurants and bars offer a nostalgic glimpse what life was like in 19th century Burma.

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