The Chindwin River snakes along the foothills of the Himalayas through the most dramatic scenery, until it hits the Ayeyarwady River near Mandalay.
The upper, narrower section of the Chindwin is sparsely populated and cuts through mountains and sheer cliff faces. As the river gets closer to the Ayeyarwady, it leaves the mountains behind and its banks become more heavily populated.
A journey along this river is an unforgettable cultural experience. Carts are still pulled by oxen, houses are still built from bamboo, villages still grow medicinal plants, and fruit and vegetables for cooking. Life along the river is simple yet fascinating.
The villagers are quite rightly proud of their valley and welcome visitors with open arms and broad smiles.
Unlike any other pagoda in Myanmar, Thanboddhay has an imposing central stupa surrounded by an army of smaller stupas cascading downwards on multi-level terraces. Dating from 1303, every niche and hallway is filled with images of Buddha, totaling an impressive 582,000.
With 1,000 Bodhi trees, each with a large Buddha beneath it, this site makes for a jaw-dropping excursion. Here you’ll also find the famous 424ft Standing Buddha.
Unique to Myanmar, this ceremony marks the moment when boys between the age of eight and 20 enter the Buddhist order as a novice for a week or more.
Many rituals are involved, including the boys dressing up as princes before having their heads shaved; the hair is then buried in a sacred place. As novices, the boys meditate, fast in the afternoon and evening and study Buddha’s teachings.
This city offers a different view on Myanmar life, as 40% of the people are practicing Christians.
This busy trade port, whose inhabitants are mainly from the Naga tribes, is particularly special at New Year (15 January). They come together with tribes people from all around the region to celebrate and pray for a good harvest in the year to come.
Mahar Min Kyaung Monastery
This monastery is unlike any other you will see in Myanmar. Built in 1912, it is European in design, with striking Italian windows. It houses the 1,000-year-old Shew Sagar Buddha, one of 10 carved from a single trunk of wood.
Hpo Win Taung and Shwe Ba Taung (The Magician's Caves)
According to local folklore, these caves were once home to magicians known as Zawgyi. These forest dwelling beings were once men but developed supernatural powers through meditation.
That sense of magic is still present as you explore nearly 1,000 caves, containing 492 Buddha images and thrones carved out of rock, all dating back 300 years.
||On this 11-night cruise you’ll travel along the Chindwin River to uncover a Myanmar that few have truly experienced. More »