River tours are becoming ever more popular with tourists in Southeast Asia, with both high-end luxury cruises and many more general options including day trips. The major river in Myanmar is the Ayeyarwady (also/formerly spelled Irrawaddy).
We recently posed some introductory questions to Sven Zika, Sales and Marketing Manager at Pandaw / The Irrawaddy Flotilla Company, the first company to offer international tourists river expeditions in Myanmar, from 1995, with a company history going back over 100 years before that (see the history of the company here).
1. Has there been a growth of interest from travellers recently?
Sven: Yes, there has been a huge surge of interest in river cruising, especially as Myanmar has become more widely appreciated as a holiday destination. From two ships in 2013, our fleet has grown to 7 ships in 2014 with one more on the way in 2015.
2. What ages and nationalities of passengers most often come on your cruises?
Sven: At the moment the majority of passengers are 50+ and come mostly from the UK, USA, and Australia, as well as all over Western Europe
3. Why are river tours a good way of seeing Myanmar?
Bagan is one of the world’s greatest Buddhist sites, comparable in size only with Angkor Wat.
Even though Myanmar already nominated Bagan for listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, it still remains only on the “tentative list”.
After years of unrest, the government is slowly but steadily working towards UNESCO’s suggested plans for conservation and preservation of Bagan’s more than 3000 temples, stupas and monasteries.
The Bagan Archaelogical Zone stretches across an area of 42 km2.
When discussing the historical kingdom, Bagan is commonly spelled “Pagan”: the city was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan from the 9th to the 13th century and covered a large part of present-day Burma. Often considered as the glory days, much of the Burmese culture and known traditions were established during that time. Continue reading Visiting Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)→
Marco Polo described Bagan as, “one of the finest sights in the world,” and with over 4000 temples, visiting this beautiful city needs to be planned. Here’s how to get the best out of Bagan.
A Short History
Bagan’s temple building era was at its height from the 11th to 13th century when most of the pagodas were constructed. During the later period many of the buildings have Indian features and are more intricate.
King Anawrahta was a devoted Buddhist and most of the prominent temples were built during his reign. In 1289 Bagan was overrun by Mongol invaders. This led to the decline of the city, however many of the Bamar inhabitants are thought to have departed before the invasion.
In 1975 a large earthquake destroyed many temples at Bagan but rebuilding began with the help of UNESCO. Today, Bagan is one of the major attractions in Myanmar and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.