LGBT Asian Travel, Purple Dragon Custom Burma Tours

The Grand Burma Tour 

We offer "modular" all-inclusive packages in Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. If you want to see even more of Myanmar or want some hints about how to put the pieces together to create your own customized itinerary, see our new Grand Burma tour.

Cruise the Irrawadi River Between Bagan and Mandalay 

Travel by river boat between Bagan and Mandalay or vice versa will give you a unique opportunity for an intimate look at rural life in Myanmar. The river itself is a major thoroughfare for transportation and commerce. Along the river you will will be fascinated by daily village life and plenty of memorable scenery. The trip can be made in a single day aboard a modern,  comfortable ferry or as a one- or two-night cruise aboard a luxury river cruise ship with comfortable cabins, fine service, and outstanding.

fast boatRiver ferries provide daily service both upstream and downstream. Departures from either Bagan or Mandalay are at 07:00. Downstream service arrives in Bagan at 17:00. Upstream service arrives Mandalay at 19:00, depending on weather and river conditions. Boats accommodate ninety passengers and there is a restaurant on board.

There is also a fast boat that travels upstream and downstream on alternating days of the week. The upstream voyage takes six hours and the downstream trip takes 4 tgo 5 hours. There are both indoor and outdoor deck chairs and air conditioned room. There is no restaurant, although beverage service is available.

Fares for foreigners on all boats are about $35 one way.

The Luxury Irrawadi Cruise 

Luxury Irrawadi CruisePeople who have a bit more time and who appreciate travel as it was in bygone days will enjoy a cruise aboard one of the luxurious boutique cruise ships that make the journey between Bagan and Mandaly.

Once aboard, you can expect comfortable air-conditioned cabins with private facilities, as well as the kind of food and service that you would expect in a fine hotel. Your experience will not unlike traveling on a 1920's yacht. The ships are spacious and offer plenty of outdoor seating on multiple decks for those who want to relax with a cool beverage and watch the scenery slip by.

Irradawi Cruise Upper DeckAll cruises include one or two daily shore excursions lead by expert guides. You will have a chance to visit places of historic or cultural significance that are difficult or impossible to reach by road. Because the ships are built for shallow water they are able to travel where many other large vessels are unable to go.

Occasionally, longer cruises are available through other parts of Myanmar. We will be happy to give you more information about these when we know the the dates you plan to travel.

Irrawadi Cruise StateroomPrices range from under $300 to over $600 per person, depending on how many people are traveling together, the length of the cruise, and your choice of cabin.

These ships are operated by foreign companies that adhere to international standards of service, hygiene and safety.

Sailings follow a fixed but somewhat irregular schedule. Generally, downstream trips are overnight and upstream trips take two nights. Once we know your travel dates we will be happy to recommend one or more alternatives along with options and prices.

Day Trips to Bagan or Mandalay 

Bagan and Mandalay. If time is short you can make one-day trips from Yangon to either Bagan or Mandalay. Depart from Yangon early in the morning and return in the evening. If you can spend one night away from Yangon you can travel from Yangon to Bagan in the morning spend the day, and in the evening continue to Mandalay, where you stay the night. Spend the following day touring Mandalay, then return to Yangon in the evening. Costs depend on the number of people traveling together, the time of year, and your hotel choice in Mandalay.

Optional in Bagan 

Mount Popa. Drive from Bagan into the mountains 50km away. There, atop a towering cone of rock is Popa Taungkalat, one of the most unusual and spectacular spiritual places in Myanmar. For more information and costs click here.

Optional in Mandalay 

Maymyo. This former British Hill Station was a leisurely refuge from the heat during colonial times. This is probably the most English of all towns in Myanmar and living museum of life in Burma a century ago. You will see Purcell Tower, which was a gift from Queen Victoria, a beautiful botanical garden, a colorful vegetable market, and the Anglican Church of the Immaculate Conception. If you like, take one of the charming horse-drawn carriages to see a panoramic view of the town and a lovely waterfall. Return to Mandalay in the afternoon.

Monywa. This overnight trip takes you about 150 north of Mandalay to Monyawa, a major center of trade and agriculture on the Chindwin River. Visit the colorful Thanbuddhay Pagoda along the way. Overnight in Monywa. The following morning you cross the river to visit the Po Win Daung Caves, Shwe Ba Daung, and the village of Kyaukka-a, where some of Myanmar's best lacquerware is made. Return to Mandalay in the afternoon.

Mingun and Sagaing and Amarapura & Inwa are quite close to Mandalay. You will find these options described on our Royal Mandalay program page.

Optional in Inle Lake 

If you have already seen our Inle Lake program page you know that the sightseeing included does not begin until the second day. The reason for this is simple. Flights arrive in Heho, some distance away, and many of our guests want to relax in the afternoon and enjoy the lovely scenery. While we offer the option of either doing nothing or spending a bit more time around the lake with your local guide, you can also add a side trip to Pindaya from Heho. Pindaya is home to a spectacular cave where more than 8,000 Buddha images have been placed as spirual offerings over the centuries. You can either overnight there or continue on to Inle Lake at the end of the day. But our newest favorite day trip is Kakku, a lush valley long-closed to visitors. People here speak a different language than Burmese and have a distinctly different culture. A local person will be your guide as you visit charming villages and see a temple with literally thougands of stupas.

Myanmar Beach Holidays 

Ngwe Saung BeachMyanmar is not known primarily for its beach resorts. However, the country has some of the nicest, least developed beaches in Southeast Asia. The two major beach areas are Ngapali Beach and Ngwe Saung Beach, located west of Yangon. Both can be reached by 45 minute flights from Bagan.  For best weather visit from October through March.  Some hotels close or operate on a limited basis during rainy season.

Ngapali is the most popular of the two. There is a picturesque fishing village nearby and islands off shore are a favorite place for picnics during the dry season.

Ngapali BeachNgwe Saung Beach can also be reached by road (five hours) or an overnight ferry which offers basic accommodations. This is the closes place with hotel accommodation to the Burma Banks, which is the best place in the area for diving.

We can offer hotels in virtually every price range. Because of the inconvenient distance from Yangon to these places we do not recommend visiting here for less than four or five nights. These resorts are very popular with European travelers who commonly stay between one and two weeks.

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