Myanmar – a great cruise destination for 2013
Of all the must see cruise destinations for 2013, Myanmar has got to be right up at the top. The country is slowly opening up to western tourists after decades of brutal military rule. It is, quite simply, a rare, largely unpolished gem to explore. You’ll find Myanmar cruises are featuring more frequently on south-east Asia itineraries with luxury river cruise lines such as Pandaw River Cruises unique voyages along Burma’s winding waterways.
Yangon is the modern name for the old capital of Rangoon, a venerable colonial city that slouches sixty miles inland, along the banks of the Irrawaddy. The skyline is punctuated by the pagodas of stunning Buddhist shrines like the incredible, 2,600 year old Shweydagon complex.
Shweydagon is like some amazing religious theme park. Huge spires clad in acres of gold leaf loom against the evening skyline. Row upon row of stunning golden stupas stand in the shade of vast, vaulting blue and gold temples, with huge, smiling Buddha figures that spring up everywhere. Incense hangs in the air here like fine perfume.
Further afield, you could take a day trip out to Bago, and see the daily life of young monks in one of the many monasteries that line the routes. Also here is the eighth century Great Gold pagoda, with it’s elegant, tapering spire being the tallest in the country.
More than anything, Myanmar is a country in a state of transition. While air conditioned tourist coaches are normal, the locals make do with amazing, open sided lorries as commuter buses. It is stunning to watch crowds of savvy locals clinging precariously from their perches on the sides and roof as the ‘buses’ barrel along on the highways in and out of Rangoon.
You could even fly down to exotic, fabled Mandalay for the day. The ancient royal capital is famed for such sights as the Golden Palace, an eclectic former monastery that boasts an incredible set of nineteenth century wood carvings, based on the teachings of the Buddha.
Back in Yangon, a wander around Scott’s market will yield up fantastic bargains in the peerless local silks, while lunch and a drink at the elegant waterfront Strand hotel will take you straight back to the era of Empire. It’s a kind of Burmese version of Raffles, but with food and drink at a fraction of the price.
Wherever you go in Myanmar, you’ll encounter incredible courtesy and curiosity from the locals. Think of Myanmar as being like a patient slowly emerging from a coma. No credit cards or cash machines anywhere. Go now, before ‘civilisation’ spoils the raw, ravishing beauty of this mesmerising melting pot.
Written by Anthony Nicholas for The Cruise Line. Copyright 2013.
If you’d like to follow Anthony’s lead and enjoy a Myanmar cruise then check out Pandaw River Cruises’ Road to Mandalay voyage. For more details and our latest prices, please click here or call 0800 008 6677.