Cruising on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar

Cruising along the Irrawaddy River between Bagan to Mandalay is a fantastic way to explore the cultural center of Myanmar.

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Prior to my most recent trip to Myanmar, I had never been on a cruise; nor did I have a desire to ever cruise.  Reluctantly, I agreed to travel to Myanmar on a tour that includes a 3-day cruise along the Irrawaddy River between Bagan to Mandalay.  Although I had no intention to ever cruise, I’m sure glad I did. It was one of the highlights of my trip to Myanmar and something I highly recommend travelers to Myanmar incorporate into their itinerary.

The Ship:

Ananda

Ananda

The Sanctuary Ananda is a luxurious, five-star all-suite ship that was custom built by local craftsmen featuring traditional materials boasting Burmese design with contemporary chic. 21 suites span three decks which made this ship feel very intimate and private.  I was extremely impressed with the well-appointed and exceptionally maintained common areas and cabins.

The Cabin Suite:

Ananda_Suite

Ananda_Suite

The suite is very comfortable and features everything I imagine a 5-star luxury ship should: a spacious cabin decorated nicely with a large private bathroom.  Each suite boasts a private balcony with outdoor chairs and table to fully enjoy the scenery as we sail along the Irrawaddy River (or to enjoy the city scene when docked in Bagan or Mandalay). I took full advantage of this and spent a lot of our cruising time on my balcony.  The Irrawaddy river is an important waterway and has a lot of local traffic near the cities and extreme solitude when we sailed away from the populated areas.

Dining:

Ananda_Dining

Ananda_Dining

Mindoon Al Fresco Dining: This open-air space is where we enjoyed a fantastic breakfast buffet each day.  The wide array of dishes range from local cuisine to international.  I gravitate to local eats whenever I travel and dined on delicious noodle soups and the most intense and flavorful coffee to start my day.

Talifoo Restaurant: This indoor dining room opens for dinner.  During the evening, guests can be seated with their party or choose to dine with other travelers.  I am a bit of a social butterfly and liked to spend dinner with newly made friends.  Although an international cuisine is offered, I always chose local delicacies.  One of my favorite discoveries is tea leaf salad. Whenever you travel to Myanmar, be sure to try it!

Kansi Panorama Lounge:  At the end of the day, is there any better way to relax and unwind than enjoying a cocktail with friends?  During non-dining times, drinks are not included.  However, the price is very reasonable.  My tip: if you enjoy a specific spirit to sip on, purchase a bottle to savor over the 3-night cruise. It’s much less expensive than ordering individual servings.  You can also share your bottle with newly made friends over the course of the cruise.

Ananda_Bar

Ananda_Bar

Activities:

You may know from previous posts how much I enjoy cooking and experimenting with ingredients.  Be sure to attend a cooking demonstration put on by the ship’s Executive Chef.  I learned more about Burmese cuisine and found the session to be fun and informative. Also, during the day and evening, different entertaining shows and lectures are featured.  Just look at the ship’s daily schedule to keep aware of what is happening.  Surprisingly, one of my favorites was a puppet show. Now, this is an adult puppet show with elaborate traditional Burmese puppets.

Spa: 

I HIGHLY recommend indulging in a spa treatment while onboard the Sanctuary Ananda.  The treatment rooms are new and modern yet reflect authentic Burmese furnishings.  The spa uses the French upscale L’Occitane products. I chose a traditional Burmese massage that is along the lines of a deep tissue massage.  I must say that this was one of the highlights of the cruise and I wish I would have treated myself to more massages during the 3-night cruise.

Summary:

The Sanctuary Ananda is an upscale river cruise that enabled me to submerge myself into Burmese culture while staying in luxurious accommodations.  The itinerary of Bagan to Mandalay is the perfect introduction to Myanmar life and tradition.  My travels to Myanmar were incredible and I am amazed by the beauty of the people and the landscape.  This cruise will surely also open your eyes to this fantastic, newly open to tourist, country. If pagodas are of your interest, visit our recent post here.

Ready for a river cruise or an adventure? Contact us for additional details.

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