Day cruise trip from Mandalay to Bagan with stop to visit local straw hat production village on the Ayeyarwaddy River Bank.
After one very relaxing day in Mandalay (read pervious half day city tour in Mandalay), we departed for Bagan. We booked our cruise ship ticket with the hotel reception which is slightly cheaper than what you would pay on the internet. The good thing about reserving tickets online is that you are guaranteed a seat. Click here for a link to a site where you can reserve tickets.
There are several cruise companies that operate the route from Mandalay to Bagan. We decided to go with RV Panorama, the ticket includes breakfast, lunch and a stop visiting a local straw hat production village on the Ayeyarwaddy River Bank.
What to expect when you are on the cruise ship with RV Panorama company?
Be aware of a chilled morning …
The boat departs at 6am before sunrise, it was really cool to see the moon setting while the sun was rising in about one hour.
In the early hours of the morning the temperature is much cooler and it’s good to bring a jumper or cardigan as you will have breakfast on the upper deck in an open space.
A nice cup of filtered coffee for breakfast …
Once you select your table, the cruise ship crew will come and ask you how you like your eggs cooked. Not many choices – scrambled or fried.
Tea or coffee, a usual choice. However among most hostels or hotels in Myanmar, you often get instant coffee. I was really surprised to see the filter coffee machine on the boat and the taste wasn’t bad at all. I give score 8 on a scale of 10 for filter coffee.
About the local straw hat production village on the Ayeyarwaddy River Bank …
At around 11am, the boat approached the bank. There were children gathered on the river bank and they welcomed all the passengers getting off the boat. We followed the crew into the village.
The village offers a simple lifestyle. Everyone in the village seemed to be very busy working for whatever purpose they have. We then arrived at the family run straw hat manufacture. The price of the hat was ridiculously cheap, costing between US$1-2.
Many passengers bought dozens to take back for gifting. I suppose it’s good for the economy of this village.
We spent 40 mins in this village and then we were back on board again.
Lunch on board …
You will get lunch at around 1pm-ish. The crew will again approach you to take your order. A choice of Chicken, fish or vegetarian dish.
Drinks are a separate cost which you will have to cover.
The entertainment on board …
Just one hour before we disembarked the boat. The crews gathered together near the front.
The first culture lecture was a show on how to make Thanakha (also spelt Thanaka). Thanaka is a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark. It’s a distinctive feature of the culture of Myanmar. Seen commonly applied to the face and sometimes the arms of women and girls. Occasionally you will see Thanaka on men or boys’ faces.
The second culture lecture was about Longyi (also spelt Lungi) and how to wear a longyi? A longyi is a sheet or a skirt, approximately 2 meters long and 80 centimetres wide. Longyi is sewn into a cylindrical shape with colourful fabric patterns. Men and women wear longyi differently, men tie the longyi with double knots in front and women wrap longyi around the waist without any knots.
What to expect when arriving at Bagan Jetty?
You can definitely walk from the jetty to Old Bagan, however it’s about 2km in distance between the jetty and the Old Bagan center, some parts of the roads are unpaved so travelling with a large heavy suitcase can be a little challenging. Most drivers at the jetty ask tourists to pay MMK 10,000 to get to any hotel location despite the actual distance.
You can walk a little bit further away from the jetty and get a horse cart if you stay in Old Bagan. We paid MMK 4,000 to the main roundabout junction in Nyaung-U.