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The Irrawaddy is springing back to life in 2020 with river cruise lines re-entering Myanmar for the first time in years. One of the lines lifting the veil again is APT, with a range of exciting new itineraries that celebrate the best this destination has to offer.

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is described as the land of rivers, with over 1000 miles navigable on the Irrawaddy and 600 miles on Chindwin, which makes up the main tributary.

The beauty of a river cruise through Myanmar though is that for decades, this country has been kept inaccessible to western tourism for political reasons – but with the doors finally opening again, and the chance to glimpse the land that is still so raw and real.

The region has finally reached a point where western tourism is welcome again and first to seize the opportunity is APT. Scenic and Pandaw are two other luxury river lines offering cruises in this unique territory.

Here’s what these four river lines have to offer on the Irrawaddy in 2020:


While APT have continued to support their staff in Myanmar, even while the cruise line has had to pause operations, they are delighted to announce their return on the rivers and a revival for their staff and local operators.

Modern vessel RV Samatha, takes her guests on a cruise in luxury along the Irrawaddy River visiting  the impressive sites and temples of Bagan.

APT also holds a welcome dinner, as a highlight of every itinerary as well as a share style Vietnamese dinner in the private Luke Nguyen restaurant – a signature feature of the APT experience, created exclusively by the celebrity chef.

APT returns to The Irrawaddy

APT’s Chief Commercial Officer Debra Fox says Myanmar is going to be a hot destination returning in 2020. “It’s a new era for a country once closed off to the outside world and we are excited to be going back to Myanmar next year. It is such a special place where traditional ways of life still remain.

“We are honoured to work with our Ambassador, Luke Nguyen – chef, author, television personality and now a Doctor! The gourmet focus is an important part of our cruises with culinary cruising being in high demand. The exemplary dining choices which have been designed by Luke are a real treat,” said Ms Fox, exclusively for Cruise Passenger.

On Offer:

Book a selected Myanmar tour of 13 days or less and Fly Free*, including air taxes of up to $200 per person. Offer valid until 29 February 2020 or until sold out. From $6,395 per person.


The Pandaw experience is unique and prides itself on accessing hard to reach destinations, with luxury small ships, each specially-designed.

Each ship contains brass and teak, and is handcrafted with detail. A cruise with Pandaw is far from other cruise adventures. Pandaw is relaxed, refined and friendly, in her small-scale.

The River Vessel Kalaw, from Pandaw

Pandaw’s itineraries take their guests through ‘Middle Myanmar’ – accessing an ever-changing scenery of river banks, small village towns, golden sunsets, age-old bridges and fishing traditions.

Teak plantations grow alongside the arid landscape of Pagan. It’s ever changing and fascinating for guests who care to glimpse a land lost in time. Pandaw highlights also include visits to a number of traditional monasteries and temples.

On Offer:

A 10 day Classic Irrawaddy “Golden Land” cruise from Mandalay to Yangon from $5,656 per person


The relatively new river cruiser Scenic Aura, boasts the best of Scenic’s all-inclusive river luxury.
Scenic is particularly proud of their on board inclusions – and The Irrawaddy itinerary doesn’t disappoint, especially when it comes to the locally sourced cuisine and access to local culture.
Trip highlights include exploring Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, then travel to Bagan to board the Scenic Aura. Temples of Bagan, Burmese tea in Salay, hanging out with Sagaing nuns and watching the sunsets with complimentary cocktails, are also some of the itinerary highlights on offer.

Scenic’s luxury river ships on the Irrawaddy

On Offer:

A 14 day “Mystical Irrawaddy” Yangon to Mandalay cruise starts at $9395 per person.


TravelMarvel identifies as the ‘more relaxed’ river cruise of Myanmar. The elegant and award-winning RV Princess Panhwar takes her time cruising down the Irrawaddy River, and claims to offer more choice with access to World Heritage-listed Bagan Temples, a total collection of over 2,000 temples that are a sight to behold.

TravelMarvel’s RV Panhwar

The Princess Panhwar has 36 staterooms and suites, each with either a French Balcony or an Outside Balcony. The ship offers a variety of suites offering deluxe amenities, contemporary public areas, attentive on-board service, a sun deck and on-board entertainment.

On Offer:

10 days “Majestic Myanmar” Yangon Return, Fly Free* from $4,895 per person.