We had decided it was time to take a River Cruise ,but wanted somewhere less crowded and more exotic than Europe
So we chose Myanmar and The Avalon Myanmar River Cruise looked the most interesting
The Itinerary also looked intriguing ,traveling further north than any other riverboat into remote areas.We decided to take the Southbound route starting in the north and gradually returning to "civilization" .
Our Journey started with two nights in Yangon at The Sule Shangri La Hotel, an enormous luxury property beautifully decorated with lovely rooms and great views .
A tip if you need an extra night, book direct with the Hotel it is easy and more economical than using Avalon.
We met up with our Cruise Director Myo and our local guide Andrew at our first day in Yangon for a briefing, both are Burmese, also their English was very good.This was a huge plus for us as you get so much more from someone who is native to the country.
After a day in Yangon, seeing the main sights we were ready to get out of the big city and board our riverboat.
We flew from Yangon to Bhamo on a charter flight and on arrival it felt we were somewhere really remote,they closed the airport gate when we left on our Tuk Tuks through Bhamo for, our embarkation .
This ship is gorgeous, only two years old decorated throughout in Burmese Teak with lovely indoor and outdoor lounges . a perfect size , the staff are the best, all Burmese, most speaking at least a little English wonderful smiley and helpful, forever cleaning and polishing with cries of Mingalabar at every turn (the Burmese greeting ). The ship had a nice gym ,small but adequate ,a spa , a selection of books to borrow and a very nice bar open for early risers coffee or tea and drinks throughout the day.
All the food was delicious , a great selection for all tastes with a nice mixture of Burmese Dishes and Western staples, wonderfully prepared, Breakfast and Lunch selections were from the buffet with hot and cold options . The Dinner Menu had a large selection of choices served at your table. The dining room was set up in tables of 4 or 6 with open seating.
Our cruise comprised of 28 travelers, with an age range from 40 to mid 70,s mostly well traveled North Americans , Australians, Austrians and British.
We sailed mostly in the afternoons and had tours and excursions in the mornings.The crew stood along the river bank assisting everyone up the slopes, mostly we moored by tying up to trees and no formal jetty. On our return to the ship we were given a refreshing fruit drink while we took our shoes off and wore slippers provided .The crew then cleaned our shoes every day.
When we sailed Myo or Andrew , alerted us to sights to watch out for including the famed Irrawady Dolphins, a rare sighting.
For Entertainment after Dinner there were several Movies shown also a puppet show and Burmese Dancing. Plus some interesting lectures and demonstrations during the day.
We would recommend Avalon Myanmar to anyone with a sense of Adventure ,without giving up the niceties in life . Hot water, comfy beds great food and wine etc!
Beautifully appointed with Burmese Teak . Great views from huge floor to ceiling opening windows very comfortable bed .Nice sitting area and table The bathroom was a regular sized with walk in shower We had hot water all the time , towels were changed twice a day. We had plenty of bottled water. Quite Lovely.