Myanmar meets all the conditions to be a journey of a lifetime. And it will be even better, if it is on board a river cruise.
Myanmar is rich in culture and history, it is exotic, it is romantic and, above all, it is full of authenticity. Precisely because of this, it is better to go today than tomorrow. Better before the possibility disappears of contemplating a practically private sunset on high in one of the temples of Bagan and before the magic of Mandalay is diluted in places of souvenirs (or, in the worse of cases, before we run out of love, from so much use).
Ways to go there are many, but very few more pleasant than a river cruise, and even more if you travel on board of Sanctuary Ananda. This cruise completes the 190 kilometers that separate Mandalay and Bagan, crossing the Ayeyarwady River, passing through hills, fields of rice fields and golden pagodas, in a cruise full of authencity and much, much luxury. It is not a luxury that sparkles and shines, but the one that gives goosebumps and that will make you immerse yourselves in THAT moment. These are some things that you will live, in which, probably, it will be the journey of your life, if you decide to embark.
For centuries, Mandalay served as capital and, in fact, was the last city to have a royal family. Today lives of those memories, but also of a flourishing trade thanks to its strategic situation, very next to the highway that communicates with China, and to borders of the Irawadi River, one of the longest navigable rivers of Asia (2170 km), that connects the north and the south of the country.
Witnessing the sunset from this romantic bridge (U Being Bridge) is one of the moments that nobody wants to miss on their trip to Myanmar. Built entirely in teak in 1849, over 1,800 pillars and more than a kilometer long, it stands on Lake Taungtaman. Every evening with the backdrop of hills and golden pagodas, in addition to travelers gather there, monks, fishermen and students from the nearby university that always choose it for their first appointments. From a privileged perspective, inside a small boat in the lake itself, and toasting with a glass of champagne that appear from nowhere as if by magic you will do it.
On the ship every day there are talks about the different aspects of the country’s culture and history, yoga or meditation classes, or the classic puppet shows … You also learn what they are and how they use a longyi and the Thanaka, two of the hallmarks of the burmese and that attract the attention of visitors.
The longyi is the “skirt” of Indian origin worn by Burmese men. It is a piece of cloth of a single piece of about two meters long and 80 centimeters wide that here makes the times of rolled trousers at the waist and usually reaches the ground (by the way, very stylish). For everyday use cotton, to go to work is mixed with some silk, and on special occasions (wedding included) is used only silk. Although in the cities the habit is being lost, it is still obligatory to wear it in some places and in some circumstances.
As in everything, you can apply imagination to your style: depending on the way you wear it, you can make pockets for money, bags to carry fruits or rice and even baby carriers.
The thanaka is the product with which women and children paint their faces yellow. They use it to protect the skin from the sun and as makeup, and it is obtained from a root that only believes in the center of Myanmar. It is purchased in the form of small trunks and applied diluted with water. Neither creams, nor exfoliants, nor masks. As soon as you try it, you will aim at the thanaka.
The cabins of the ship, as well as being similar to a luxury hotel, with its teak wood, its antiques and its L’Occitane amenities and spa.
As part of their ongoing commitment to collaborating with local communities, Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy has partnered with a rural village in Myanmar, Sin Kyun.
Working with the village Chief, Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy have built much-needed community facilities including a house for teachers, a Middle School, and provided emergency assistance during severe flooding. The Sanctuary Ananda guides have also run a Summer English Camp for the students of the local primary school.
Behind the monumentality of Burmese temples there is much more: the people. It will bring you closer to the daily life of the inhabitants of New Bagan, the village where they relocated the people who lived in Old Bagan (where most of the temples, the museum and the walls now are), when they declared the archaeological zone of Bagan, in the 90s. There you will discover the market of Nyaung, -U, a factory of paipas, important not only to alleviate heat, but also as a symbolic element in each of the important ceremonies of the life of a burmes: novice , wedding and funeral; and the process of making ponyegyi (fermented soybean paste).
The highlight of the trip: The archaeological zone of Bagan is one of the most important archaeological sites in Asia and, to this day, the least exploited. Everything looks like a watercolor with that beautiful golden light at first hour, the contrasts between the red brick, the blue sky and the intense green nature at midday and the tones of the forest at dusk. The city went from being a small town to the capital of the first Burmese empire when it was unified by King Anawratha and converted to the religion of Buddhism: for this he brought here scholars and artisans who built about 20 temples a year for more than 230 years , between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries; of those that currently stand around 2,000 in an area of 40 km2 (of the almost double with those that existed). Many of them were affected by the earthquake and have been repaired (not always to the taste of UNESCO and scholars).
The one of Ananda is the most representative of all, with its long golden needle and its great dome, which would be something like the San Pietro in Montorio Roman, of perfect dimensions and example of good practices. Inside it preserves the four Buddhas, looking at the different cardinal points.
Why choose Sanctuary Ananda
- 5-Star contemporary luxury combined with authentic Burmese style
- Award-winning, celebrity executive chef- Was previously a chef at Taj Hotels in India and Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Bangkok.
- The only ship mooring in downtown Mandalay with a private docking point
- Wi-Fi on board
- All-suite ship with some of the largest entry level, main category and top level suites in Myanmar, Carmen recommends to book the 4th floor suites
- All-suites have floor-to-ceiling windows plus full balconies with outdoor furniture
- Fascinating itineraries with full choice of excursions included and unique cultural experiences
- Delicious dining options with variety of exquisite settings, offering Asian and international dishes
- Professional staff offering friendly, gracious service
- Custom built with shallow draft to navigate the Upper & Lower Irrawaddy and Chindwin Rivers
Highlight of this boat: The Owners Suite
The largest suite on the river boasts a luxurious king-size bed, separate dressing and living areas, plus a big veranda with sun loungers as well as table and chairs. The spacious bathroom will spoil you with a freestanding tub as well as a monsoon shower and his-and-hers sinks. Other benefits will include a private guide, butler service, early morning tea and coffee, complimentary laundry and exclusive dining experiences.