Untouched by tourism, amazingly friendly people, cruise the irrawaddy river

In the South/West, Burma enjoys the same beaches and Andaman Sea which have made its neighbour Thailand such a tourist hotspot – but it has a fraction of the visitors. It boasts the majestic Irrawaddy River which starts in the Himalayas, cuts through richly wooded hills and down into a wide fertile valley which possesses some of the most extraordinary and extensive temples and pagodas in the world. As it spills via a delta into the Andaman Sea, it is extraordinary that the journey of a river of its size and celebrity has taken place in one country.

The main cultural draws of Burma are the Buddhist temples and pagodas around Bagan and Mandalay and the extraordinary gold Shwedagon Paya in Rangoon and they do not disappoint but the further off the beaten track, the more the country surprises: hill tribes and cultures spill over as they have for centuries from neighbouring India, China, Laos and Thailand.

The years of isolation and the concentration of wealth in a ruling elite have meant that the economy and infrastructure has been only partially developed despite the rich natural resources of teak, oil, gold and many other minerals. But the people you meet are amazingly open, friendly, proud and unbowed and tourism is still in its infancy.



As every one of the holidays we create is truly tailor-made, all of our clients come back with different and interesting stories. We love to hear from our clients on their return to find out about their most memorable moments. Our Destination Experts are also always travelling to our extraordinary destinations and every trip allows us to refine and add value to our clients' future experiences.

Luxury holiday to Burma

An Extraordinary Holiday to Burma

On arrival in Rangoon we were met by our guide, the charming Aung Kyaw Myint, with whom we spent two weeks learning about history, geography, culinary arts, and cultural fluency – indeed it became our challenge to find any subject where he was not a complete expert. The only success we had was to introduced…

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Luxury holiday to Burma

The Irrawaddy River – A Poem

Mark Tennant, Asia+The Middle East client, travelled to Burma and was completely awe-struck by the beauty of the Irrawaddy River.

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Burma’s Watery Villages and Floating Markets

Octavia Bolitho travelled to Burma on a family holiday, with a private guide they experienced a culture like never before.

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Tailor-made holiday to Burma

A Mother and Daughter Voyage

Lucinda and Anne, joined our Inspired Journey to Burma on-board the luxury Belmond Orcaella. After feeling initially apprehensive about travelling together for two weeks, they returned with unforgettable memories - "What a privilege to be able to experience such an amazing trip with my mother at this time in both our lives".

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Law Courts building, Yangon, Myanmar

Shopping at Nyaung U Market in Burma

Emily Briars spent a fascinating morning exploring the local market of Nyaung U Bagan with local guide Tin Mi. Having grown up in Bagan, Tin Mi showed Emily an entirely insiders view of local Burmese life proving once again that an excellent guide can make a trip extraordinary.

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Places to Stay

At cazenove+loyd, we have no vested interest in the hotels, lodges, boats, trains and tented camps which we select. We only choose what is right for a particular client. We visit each destination in our three regions on a regular basis and have detailed conversations with our clients on their return so our choices are continually refined. Here are just four c+l reviews. This is by no means a prescriptive list, but hints at what we look for and value in places to stay.


Sandoway, Ngapali Beach

We wouldn’t say that Sandoway was the most stylish or luxurious beach pad in South East Asia, but it certainly has a relaxed charm and sense of peace that makes it one of our favourite hotels along this stretch of beach. And after a busy schedule of sightseeing in Burma, we think it makes a great place for a few nights before heading home.

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Luxury hotels in Burma

Belmond Governor’s Residence, Yangon

Belmond Governor’s Residence is a beautiful old colonial building which has been excellently preserved, and done-up in traditional Burmese materials and colours. It is our favourite hotel in Yangon not only due to its unique style and incredibly lush, tropical gardens but also because it is ideally located for visiting all of the city’s sights. The service is also the best out of the Yangon hotels. The only downside is that it gets booked up almost a year in advance so guests need to book early.

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Inle Princess


With all the incredible cultural sightseeing in Burma, it can be a rather intense holiday. We like to recommend taking a few days at the end of a trip to go to Lake Inle where visitors can relax and watch the world go by. A chalet at Princess Inle is the perfect place to do just that - with a big deck overlooking the lake and views of the mountains in the background there is no better place to sit back and relax. The staff are extremely friendly and helpful and making a stay here something very special.

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Luxury trip to Burma

Belmond Road to Mandalay, Irrawaddy River

Staying on the Road to Mandalay is a wonderful way to experience the sights, sounds and smells along the Irrawaddy River. As the boat cruises, you will get the rare opportunity to see hidden-away temples, incredible landscapes and authentic Burmese rural village scenes. The cabins are spacious and comfortable, the food is great, and there is plenty of room for all passengers to have some privacy. The excellent guiding here, is what sets it apart from other vessels in the region.

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For over 20 years we have been creating the best luxury tailor-made holidays, we know our countries inside and out and really know how to get under the skin of each one and the best way to experience them.


Kalaw, Mountain Village In Shan State

An hours' drive from Inle Lake lies a quaint mountain village called Kalaw offering wonderful walks and trekking through dense forests and beautiful scenery. Kalaw is also a unique place to visit for its rather bizarre imitations of English country cottages which are a reflection of the villagers' proud English heritage.

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Ngapali Beach

A short flight northwest of Yangon takes you to the airport of Thandwe, located at one end of Ngapali Beach. As the only beach in Myanmar to have any decent infrastructure for tourism (and even here mains electricity was only installed in December 2014) it is really the only place we recommend for beach in this country, and is more of a relaxing end to a busy trip rather than a destination in itself.

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As you would expect from such a fertile country, there is abundant local produce and we have a number of cooks/restaurants dotted around the country who will demonstrate and even teach Burmese specialities and regional varieties. Meal time is important and the preparation can take many hours.

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Because of its unique market gardens- floating islands of tomatoes and vegetables- and its abundant fish, market day in any of the villages around the lake is a big event. Market day attracts Burmese from far and wide, which will give you an insight into all of the distinct customs, clothing and different physical attributes.

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There are few rivers of such size which begin and end in the same country, the Irrawaddy is seen as the lifeblood of the country. In the dry season there are riverboats of all shapes and sizes which ply this trade artery. The busiest stretch is between Mandalay and Bagan as it provides access to the extraordinary temples

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Rivalling Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, the river valley of 26 square miles round Bagan boasts no less than 4000 temples and pagodas. Particularly at dawn and dusk it is a spectacular sight. The most celebrated such as Shwezigone Pagoda, Hti-Lo-Min-Lo Temple, Gubyaukgyi and Ananda are best explored with a guide.

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As most visitors to Burma will be seeing any number of temples and pagodas during their stay, we feel that it is often a good idea to spend time in Yangon simply taking in more of the everyday - the colonial architecture of the downtown area and the Bogyoke Aung San Bazaar (formerly Scott’s Market); the Chinatown area and the Indian quarter, and the slightly patchy National Museum.

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We know Burma better than most. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing. On the map below, we have plotted some of our current favourite places to stay, some c+l highlights and a few pertinent client stories. And you can see if there is a team member travelling in that particular country and link through to them and what they are up to, so you can get them to call you on their return.

Best time to visit

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Best time to go

The best time to visit Burma is after the rainy season in the driest months which run from November through to March. The country is startlingly beautiful during the green season, especially for photographers and for those who want to navigate the Upper Ayeyarwaddy and Chindwin Rivers but for those who want dry days in the plains around Bagan, then it is most advisable to travel in the dry season which is also when the hot air balloons operate over the temple complex- and early morning highlight.

Almost all of our Clients travelling to Burma access the country via Thailand, Malaysia or Hong Kong, so the beach resorts of the first two are natural combinations particularly as Burma’s coastal hotels lack service and sophistication. Combining Burma with Cambodia is also increasingly popular, so taking in the two great cultural sights of South East Asia- Bagan and Angkor- into the same trip.

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Asia + The Middle East

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Our well travelled Destination Experts have extensive first hand knowledge of their destinations and can open doors that others simply can’t.