Top Irrawaddy River Tours & Vacations 2024/2025 [reviews...

Irrawaddy River Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

6 Irrawaddy River trips. Compare tour itineraries from 8 tour companies. 13 reviews. 5/5 avg rating.

Small Group Irrawaddy River Tours

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Top Irrawaddy River Attractions & Experiences

Top Irrawaddy River Experiences

  • Gazing in wonderment at the thousands of colorful temples, pagodas, and monasteries in Bagan (Pagan) that make this a “Buddhist wonderland.”
  • Taking a hot air balloon ride over Bagan for a bird’s eye view of the temples. 
  • Viewing the world’s largest reclining Buddha in Bagan. 
  • Visiting legendary Mandalay, the last royal capital and center of Buddhist culture.
  • Spending time in Yangon (formerly Rangoon), where British colonial architecture mixes with ancient Buddhist temples.
  • Gliding past remote villages and spotting saffron-robed Buddhist monks walking briskly to a temple. 
  • Encountering a pagoda made of solid gold bricks in Minhla. 
  • Being unexpectedly invited into a villager’s modest bamboo house for tea.

Irrawaddy River Tours & Travel Guide

Irrawaddy River Attractions & Landmarks Guide

The Irrawaddy River, which flows for 1,300 miles through exotic Burma (Myanmar), has become one of the most popular river cruising destinations in Asia, with new cruise lines and vessels proliferating along the country’s longest waterway.

Itineraries typically run between Yangon (Rangoon) or Bagan and Mandalay, with unforgettable views of pagodas, Buddhist temples, villages, mountains, jungles, gorges, and rice paddies.

Long shunned by the international community for its human-rights violations, Burma has reformed and opened up to the world. A cruise on the Irrawaddy, Burma’s longest river – navigable for nearly 900 miles – is its economic lifeline and offers front-row seats for viewing what is now one of Southeast Asia’s most sought-after destinations. The river (also spelled Ayeyarwady) links Burma’s major cities and many rural villages as it flows south from the Himalayas into the Andaman Sea. 

Because Burma was a mostly closed society for so long, it hasn’t changed much – yet – and is still largely untouched by mass tourism. But some of its official nomenclature has changed: “Myanmar” replaced “Burma” some years ago, though it’s still better known by its former name. And you will most likely visit Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, on your river cruise. 

Burma is rooted in the Theravada Buddhist philosophy of metta: benevolence, friendship, goodwill, and kindness. Prepare to receive smiles and perhaps generous invitations from villagers who may greet you on the street. Buddhist monks and nuns in long, flowing robes are treated with great respect; take photos only with permission. Other Burmese women and men wear a traditional sarong, called a longhi.

Irrawaddy River Highlights

1. Rural Burma

The Irrawaddy riverfront offers an ever-changing kaleidoscope of gorges, mountains, lush jungles, verdant rice paddies. tiny villages of bamboo thatched-roof dwellings sometimes built on stilts, small fishing vessels, families on boats selling fruits and vegetables, riverside temples, monasteries, and  pagodas – many painted bright gold or white – as well as sarong-clad villagers, saffron-robed monks, and pink-robed nuns.

Stops may include archaeological sites rich in ancient Buddhist artifacts, as well as remnants of the British colonial period – including forts dating from the second Anglo-Myanmar War in the mid-19th century. If you stop in the village of Minhla, you’ll find a pagoda made of solid gold bricks.

2. Mandalay

Made famous in the West by Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Mandalay” (…An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells; On the road to Mandalay…”), this is Burma’s second largest city and served as the country’s last royal capital.

Still the spiritual center of Burma’s Buddhist culture, it’s home to thousands of Buddhist monks, an array of colorful pagodas and monasteries, and more than 2,500 Buddha images, many carved from alabaster. Cruises often embark or disembark in Mandalay, offering extra time for sightseeing there.


An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bagan is Burma’s most spectacular city, featuring thousands of temples, pagodas and Buddhas – including the world’s largest reclining Buddha.

In good weather conditions, hot air ballooning rides are available to take in the entire scene from above. Short Irrawaddy cruises (3-4 days) make the voyage from Bagan north to Mandalay, while some cruises embark in Bagan for the journey south to Yangon.

4. Yangon (Rangoon)

Yangon is Burma’s premier city and the usual southern embarkation point for Irrawaddy cruises, which typically include sightseeing here first. It’s a good place to see British colonial architecture side by side with Buddhist religious structures.

Some boats explore the Irrawaddy Delta. To the south of Yangon before embarking on the Irrawaddy itself. Other cruises leave from Mandalay or Bagan and travel south to disembark at Yangon.

Chindwin River Side Trip

The Chindwin is a tributary of the Irrawaddy that offers a scenic add-on possibility to your cruise, complete with temples, cave pagodas, mountains, gorges, jungles and villages. One temple contains some 600,000 Buddha images. Watch for orcaella, the beakless dolphins that inhabit the river.

Irrawaddy River Reviews & Ratings

5/5  Excellent
13  Reviews
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Rich M and Jan A

Jan 2017

Written on

Bottom line is that we had a wonderful time, guides and accommodations were excellent and we were impressed that your local tour operator, had our backs.

All of our interactions with Toni and Jen were totally professional. Your rapid responses were appreciated, since we were working on a relatively abbreviated time l...


Craig S

Dec 2016

Written on

It was truly an amazing experience.

We were thoroughly enamored by the people that we met on that very remote river cruise. Experiences that raw are very hard to come by in this world. We'd love to ha...


Esther S

Dec 2016

Written on

Loved the activities in our itinerary.

We loved the washing of the Buddha, visiting the villages and their schools, mee...



Jul 2018

Written on

An unforgettable trip

May was an excellent guide, very kind and always wanting to help, great attention to detail



Jul 2018

Written on

Thank you for everything!!

Thank you for everything you made Myanmar even more magical

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