If you are looking for a unique adventure, a different kind of scenery and a luxurious and educational travel experience you must consider a cruise down the Ayeyarwady River through Myanmar (formerly called Burma). The intimate Road to Mandalay is a four deck river cruiser that accommodates approximately 80 guests in luxurious surroundings for cruises of up to 11 nights in this fascinating nation that for too long has not been a tourist destination. A brief overview of what to expect both onboard and on excursions will have almost any adventurous traveler looking to book passage.
Onboard the Road to Mandalay
This small ship is well-equipped for the adult traveler. The four decks house a variety of well-appointed cabins with private baths, luxurious linens, Burmese accents for décor, and even flat screen televisions. A small gym, a spa and a pool help keep the body fine-tuned. Meals are served in the dining room as well as on the upper outdoor observation deck. There is a lounge area with a piano bar, A doctor is available in a small but well-stocked infirmary should the need arise.
Meals are impressive and include both Western style and Asian fare. The latter is a mix of Cuisines from different areas of the continent and is often served at lunch and dinner and may feature food from differing nations on separate evenings. The dinner menu never repeats for your whole cruise. Breakfast is hearty. Lunch is always buffet style. Afternoon tea is served on days when there are no excursions scheduled for that time.
Evening entertainment reflects the culture of Myanmar. There is a piano player in the piano bar afternoons and most evenings. Lectures on the areas culture and history and insight on upcoming excursions are given on most days. Relaxing is always encouraged. A small selection of books is available for your pleasure as well.
Venturing off the Orient Express and into Myanmar
Excursions are planned daily and you will be assigned to a smaller group of up to 8 people with your own guide. You will visit small river villages and larger cities. Religious sites and beautiful temples are everywhere. Shoes have to be removed when entering these sites, many of which are ancient, keep this in mind when packing and dressing for the day. Some cruises take in a pottery village, others visit markets and shops.
Many times the citizens of the area will greet you at the port waving and smiling and welcoming you to their home areas. You will experience the charming local peoples when you lunch in a restaurant on land. Visit a logging camp in the teak forest and see elephants hard at work. From the Observation Deck of the river boat you will be able to take in stunning views of small villages, lush forests, majestic mountains and even stunning cityscapes as the ship glides in toward Mandalay.
Our Impressions from Orient Express Road to Mandalay
Where does one even begin to describe all of the wonderful experiences this adventure offers? The intimate and luxurious ship offers impeccable service in lovely staterooms that are well-appointed with such luxuries as Bulgari bath products. Meals are incredibly delicious and plentiful with beer and wine included at both lunch and dinner Educational programming and cultural entertainment simply make Myanmar even more interesting and really add to the experience, while relaxing at the piano bar or in a chair on the observation deck allows for some blissful unwinding time.
And then there is the beautiful Myanmar that has for far too long not been considered when someone plans a vacation. The people are as charming as the scenery is beautiful. Small quaint villages along the river are the home to artisans who practice various crafts that are as ancient as they are beautiful. Ancient pagodas, centuries–old Buddhist temples with monks in their traditional garb that astound you with their beauty and deep sense of peace, villages with open air markets that sell everything from fresh fish to lovely handcrafted folk art, and Mandalay the graceful city where modern and ancient seem so intertwined all await your exploration.
You will come home with the sense that you have truly visited another world, a place where the culture is rooted deep in the ancient past, where people still practice the profession and crafts of their relatives now passed on for centuries. You will have made new friends on the intimate ship. You will have met locals you will never forget. You camera will be full of photos that you will forever cherish because they hold snapshots of the unique and often breathtakingly beautiful sites you have visited.
You will forever remember visiting a local school and dropping off some supplies, bargaining in the market for the little piece of pottery you now treasure, and that wonderful lunch in Mandalay. More than one traveler has fallen in love with Myanmar and the Road to Mandalay and has simply felt compelled to return and explore this beautiful country aboard this stunning river boat again and again.