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?
For the uninitiated, a visit to a temple in Southeast and East Asia could be a daunting undertaking. The unfamiliar breeds trepidation and you find yourself unsure of what to do. What are the rules for these mysterious places?
Well, you will find that there are surprisingly few.
Each region has their own set of customs, but they are easy to remember and even easier to adhere to. You should always bear in mind that the temple staff want you to be there. If they can, they will help you in any way, from explaining the etiquette, to assisting you make an offering of your own.
Probably the easiest thing to make a mistake with is your feet. The first thing to think about when entering a temple is your shoes. In Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, you will need to remove your shoes and leave them outside each hall of the temple, reclaiming them when you exit. This is a cultural norm for entering a house as well. Continue reading Visiting Temples: Tips on Behaviour and Etiquette→
The Remote Lands tour company provides exclusive extra information on one of their most popular Indonesia tours: “A Journey into the Heart of Java”…
What are the highlights of this tour, and who is it for?
The main theme of this tour is to help travellers learn about history of Buddhism and Hinduism with their rich history of ceremonies, monuments, temples and arts. This is a favourite tour for those who love historical travel and want to find out about the centuries of Indonesian history before Muslim and Christian religions arrived.
Aside from history and architecture, action highlights include white water rafting and hiking to Merapi Volcano sites.
The tour starts from Yogyakarta: is this the base for day visits?
Not for everything. In order to avoid spending long hours driving, we do 2 nights in Yogyakarta and 3 nights in Borobudur and we visit sites on the drive from Jogja to Borobudur or vice versa.
Wat That Thong is a Thai Buddhist temple located in the heart of Bangkok that is not on most travellers itinerary, instead opting to see the more famous temples in Bangkok such as Wat Arun or Wat Pho (temple of the reclining Buddha).
Wat That Thong was built in 1937, and sits where two previous Buddhist temples were once standing. The biggest attraction of Wat That Thong is the beautifully crafted statue of the golden Buddha, sitting in the lotus position.
Of the thousands of pagodas and temples in Myanmar, Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda (also spelled Chauk Htet Gyi) stands out because of its famous huge reclining Buddha. The pagoda is located on Shwe Gone Dine Road, Bahan Township, in the North of Yangon.
There are many famous Buddhist Heritage sites in Southeast Asia that are recognized and protected by UNESCO. Here is a list of the most famous World Heritage Sites in the region.
One of the most prominent and famous sites in Asia, Angkor stretches over 40,000 hectares. This was the last remaining stronghold of the Khmer Empire and today the ruins are visited by thousands each year. The most prominent sites are the Bayon Temple with its detailed sculptures, and Angkor Thon together with Angkor Wat.
One of the busiest cities in Asia, Bangkok has some beautiful places to see. Some of the most incredible sights in Bangkok are the temples and gardens. Here are some of those highlights…
One of the major temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha is a prominent Buddhist site. This gigantic Buddha measures 46 metres in length and is close to the Grand Palace in Bangkok. Buddha’s feet are 5 metres in length and covered in mother of pearl depictions from Buddhist taksanas or characteristics. This is a must see sight for visitors to the capital.
Once an important trading centre, Ayutthaya is now an archaeological ruin in Thailand. Its vast complex of prangs and giant temples are one of Thailand’s must see sights. Here’s how to get the best out of your first visit to this ancient city. Continue reading A Beginner’s Guide to Ayutthaya→
Tourism to Buddhist sites aims to promote interest for Cultural Tourism and Pilgrimage or Faith Travel, as well Archaeological Tourism.
But where is the line between the promotion as important tourist site and religious heritage?
The desire to embark on a journey for religious purposes has inspired people for centuries and considered the oldest form of tourism in history. But visiting ancient Buddhist sites is no longer a domestic and only faith related event.
In times of globalization it has been developed into a major commercial oriented industry. Travel agencies now offer special handcrafted tours to sacred sites, often including multiple temples in various cities or countries.