The Irrawaddy River – also known as Ayeyarwaddy – stretches across the Asian nation of Myanmar, flowing north to south through numerous captivating towns and cities, each brimming with Far Eastern character and cultural intrigue. Myanmar, formerly Burma, offers a wealth of cultural experiences and sightseeing opportunities, from quaint charming villages to ancient archaeological sites where historic temples and impressive monuments stand as a testament to the region’s long and fascinating heritage.
An Irrawaddy river cruise offers an amazing way to appreciate the natural beauty and local charm of a plethora of destinations across Myanmar, providing guests with plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves in the Burmese way of life, including insights into both the region’s historic and modern-day culture. Travelling either north or south across this beautiful country, river cruisers can savour every port on their Irrawaddy river cruise itinerary and create memories that will truly last a lifetime.
Suggested Read: Off the Beaten Track River Cruising in Myanmar
As the largest city and former capital of Myanmar, Yangon is the nation’s economic hub and although it is not actually situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy, river cruise itineraries will often include the city either at the end or beginning of a voyage along this majestic waterway.
One of Yangon’s most famous and important landmarks is the stunning Shwedagon Pagoda. This towering golden structure is incredibly sacred to the people of Myanmar and dates back as early as the 6th century AD. Tours of this incredible pagoda are available to all visitors, offering an insight into the landmark’s fascinating history and origins. Numerous other magnificent religious sites can also be found across Yangon, including Sule Pagoda, Botatuang Pagoda and Mailamu Pagoda.
Away from the region’s religious heritage, visitors can also savour the chance to appreciate Yangon’s natural beauty at the city’s serene parks and gardens, or get a taste for Burmese cuisine and culture at a local market.
Mandalay is Myamar’s second largest city after Yangon and as another former capital, offers plenty for visitors to discover. Despite its many ornate religious sites and landmarks, Mandalay is actually a relatively new city, having been established less than 200 years ago in 1857.
Many impressive pagodas, monasteries and temples can be found across the city, including Shwe Kyi Myin Paya, Shwenandaw Monastery, Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda and Maha Myat Muni Paya – Myanmar’s second most sacred pilgrimage site – but Mandalay’s most important landmark is the beautiful Royal Palace around which the city was built.
A trip to a traditional performance is the perfect way to gain an insight into the region’s local culture, or to appreciate its stunning landscape, be sure to take an excursion to Mandalay Hill or the stunning Dee Doke Waterfall.
Bagan is the perfect destination for those with an interest in Myanmar’s spiritual heritage , boasting the densest collection of temples and religious sites anywhere in the world with more than 10,000 stunning landmarks to see. Many of Bagan’s temples and pagodas located across the amazing Bagan Archaeological Zone date back to the 11th and 12th century and each one offers a fascinating cultural insight into the region’s religious history.
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