Join us as we spend a week cruising up Myanmar's Irrawaddy River! We have done our best to create a journey that is the perfect mix of luxury and adventure.
On this week long trip, you'll spend your days diving into the local culture, sweating on long beautiful bike rides, admiring stunning pagodas, meeting shy monks, and each night we'll return to the luxury of the Irrawaddy Explorer to enjoy a delicious dinner and a good night's sleep before waking up and doing it all over again the next day.
That's pretty much the trip in a nutshell. Be sure to check out the daily itinerary at the bottom of this page for more details!
If you want to get a really good feel for what it's like to cruise up the Irrawaddy, check out the videos from our time in Myanmar at the link below.
Last summer we hosted our first tour. It was a Vespa Tour through the Italian country side, and it was one of the most rewarding things we did the entire year! There's something really special about getting to share our passion for travel with other people in person. Plus, we came away from the tours with tons of new friends we would have never met otherwise.
We spent the second half of last year banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out where to host a tour in 2019. At one point, we almost gave up because we couldn't think of anything that ticked all of the boxes for the perfect trip. Thankfully we didn't, and I think we've finally come up with an awesome plan!
Last March we took a 10 day cruise up the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. Although we had an incredible time, there were still some things we would have changed. I think all river cruises cater to an older demographic, and that means the off ship excursions usually aren't as adventurous/active as we would like them to be. So, we reached out to the company and asked them if we could charter the boat and customize the itinerary.
I thought it was a long shot, but to our surprise, they said YES!
So we set out to design our perfect river cruise. We kept the best parts of the itinerary that the cruise company provides, and we replaced all the boring stuff with active adventures!
Since we'll be in control of the itinerary, we'll be using alternative forms of transportation, we'll be replacing several of the tour bus excursions with bike trips to allow us to slow down and soak in the local life (the best part of Myanmar). Plus, we have built in time for you to explore on your own and get lost because that's one of the best parts of travel.
Here's what it boils down to: We love cruising, but almost all river cruises cater to an older audience. Our goal is to create a river cruise that appeals to the active and adventurous! We believe that's what we've done with this itinerary, but we'll let you be the judge :)
I like to call this the reverse sales page. This is exactly how we sold our Vespa Tour last year. I like to start with all of the reasons people shouldn't come, that way only people who will truly enjoy the trip end up signing up for the trip. We ended up with an awesome group of people last year, so I'm trying it again.
This trip is going to be incredible, but it won’t be for everyone. We want to be really transparent up front, so that no one signs up for the trip expecting it to be something it’s not. This section might sound mean, but if you've watched our videos, you should know that this is coming from a good place.
This is a group trip after all, and we know from personal experience that the dynamics of the group play a huge role in the enjoyment of the trip! So in this section I’m going to try to eliminate anyone who we don’t think will have an awesome time and add to the enjoyment of the group!
If you fall into one of the categories below, please don’t take offense. It just means this trip isn’t right for you.
If minor discomforts put you in a sour mood
We will be riding bikes 3 of the 7 days. It will be dusty, your butt will get sore, and you will sweat. If, a little discomfort puts you in a bad mood, this probably isn't the right trip for you.
Also, we can’t control the weather. We’re going to hope it doesn’t rain, but it might and there's a chance we'll be on our bikes in the middle of nowhere. If that happens, we'll embrace our misfortunes and make the most of it! Sometimes, it's the uncomfortable parts of the trip that make for the best memories and stories. If you disagree, this trip probably isn't for you.
If a change of plans will ruin your day
Based on the weather, river conditions, and other factors, we may have to change plans at the last second. If you don’t deal well with change, this definitely isn’t the trip for you.
The first time Kara and I were on a river cruise, there was change a change in the itinerary due to circumstances that were out of the crew's control. A group of 10 people got really angry because we had miss a short walking tour. They made a big fuss about it, and it made everyone else on the boat feel really awkward. If you would have done the same, that’s fine. I understand some people want to ensure they get exactly what they paid for, but please don’t sign up for this trip.
If you’re a picky eater that isn’t willing to try new things
This trip is going to take place on a boat, on a river, in the middle of Myanmar. There will be no McDonald’s available, and the chef on the boat doesn't keep frozen chicken nuggets in the freezer.
When we cruised on the Irrawaddy Explorer last year we ate extremely well, and the food was delicious. However, you need to be open minded about trying new things, and you need to willing to eat the local food to enjoy the culinary experience onboard the boat.
If you see the glass half empty
Optimists only on this trip please 🙂 It's true that it only takes a few bad apples to ruin a... (Googles what do you call a group of apples) We don’t want one bad apple bringing everyone else down. Come ready to make the best of every situation, or don’t come at all.
If you expect everything to go perfectly
I want to be as transparent as possible about the fact that we’re doing something that's never been done before. This will be the first trip of it's kind which means that there will probably be hiccup (or two) along the way. With that said, we are going to do everything we can to make this the best trip of your entire life
If you’re uncomfortable riding a bike
3 of our 7 days will include bike rides. You don't need to be Lance Armstrong, but you do need to know how to ride a bike.
If you’re a history buff or a connoisseur of art…
I think you’ll be disappointed by this trip. We are arranging this trip in our own travel style, which means the main focus of this trip will be food, adventure, and culture with a bit of history mixed in.
If you’ve watched any of our videos, you’ll know we’re not super into museums and art, so there will be very little of those two things included in the trip. If you want to go on a history tour of Myanmar, there are probably other tours that will serve you better.
If you’re coming for the nightlife
This isn't a mega cruise ship that has live music, dancing, and disco every night. Nights on board will be pretty chill. We may host a trivia night and there may be karaoke, but that will be the extent of the "night life". So if that doesn't sound good to you, this trip probably isn't for you.
I think that about covers it! I hope this doesn’t come across as mean, but we don’t want your money if you’re not going to enjoy the trip!
If you were looking forward to this trip but fall into one of the categories above, it’s better that you are disappointed and mad at me now rather than after you’ve arrived in Myanmar!
If this trip sounds awesome to you, and you don’t fall into any of the categories above… You should probably join us on the adventure of a lifetime, and we can’t wait to hang out with you!
Let's start with the safety. There are definitely places in Myanmar that aren't safe. There are even places that are designated as "off-limits" by the government. We won't be visiting any of these areas. Obviously, we can't guarantee your safety on this trip, but I also can't guarantee your safety in your home town. Last year, we visited the exact same areas in Myanmar where we'll be going on the cruise in and we never once felt unsafe.
You can read more about safety from official government sources at the links below.
Now let's talk about ethics. When we first threw out this idea of hosting a river cruise in Myanmar, we did get some push back from a few people about why we would encourage people to visit a country during a time when the government is doing terrible things to the Rohingya population?
Not sure what I'm talk about? Read: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41566561
By visiting Myanmar we are not trying to deny that there are horrible things happening in parts of the country, and we are definitely not condoning the government's decisions. Instead our hope is that by organizing this trip, we'll allow people to see the beautiful side of Myanmar that you don't see in the news. There is so much more to this incredible country.
Also, we are going to use this trip as an opportunity to help the Rohingya population. We will be donating 10% of the profits from this tour to an organization that is helping the Rohingya refugees.
If you're still on the fence about joining us in Myanmar, I'll leave some reading material for you below. Before we announced this tour, I did a lot of reading to ensure that I felt at peace about encouraging people to travel to Myanmar with us.
There are tons of other articles written about the ethics of traveling to Myanmar. If you need more reading material, just Google, should I travel to Myanmar. You'll be able to read opinions on both sides of the argument, and you can decide what's right for you.
Our home for the week will be the Irrawaddy Explorer. It is a luxury river cruise boat with 28 suites that can hold a maximum of 56 guests. You can view over 100 images of the boat at the link below.
In addition to the suites, there is also a dining room, a lounge (with a bar) a small spa, a tiny gym, and a sundeck.
All meals onboard the Irrawaddy Explorer are served in the Customs Dining Room. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, offering a variety of Asian and Western dishes with fresh local ingredients. Casually elegant, multi-course dinners offer a selection of delicious traditional dishes, as well as Western favorites.
Vegetarian options are always available. Please notify us upon booking if you have any special dietary concerns or considerations that need to be taken into account while traveling with us. We will do our best to ensure that your request is accommodated, but cannot guarantee all diet needs and preferences can be met. Please note that while it is possible to accommodate requests for gluten free diets with sufficient notice, breads and flour that are gluten free are not always available, and the only substitute that we may be able to offer is rice crackers. Sugar-free substitutes are available, but the selection and supply are limited. It is not possible to prepare kosher or halal meals onboard the ship.
Complimentary, coffee, tea, water, soft drinks, and local beer are available throughout the day. House red and white wines are also complimentary during dinner. Spirits, imported beer, premium wines, and house wines (outside of dinner) are available for purchase throughout the day.
The Irrawaddy Explorer has 28 suites that are broken up into 4 different categories:
You can view the full deck plan of the boat HERE
Maugham Suite - Green
Orwell Suite - Grey
Kipling Suite - Orange
Mandalay Suite - Blue
To see more images of each suite category, please click on the Flickr album link below.
The 50% down payment is non-refundable.
The down payment is non-refundable because we need to charter the entire boat immediately. However, if for one reason or another you pay the downpayment and you are not able to come, we will offer your spot to the people on the waiting list (if there is one). If we can fill your spot, we will refund the down payment.
In order to make this trip happen, we need at least 40 people to sign-up. Please do not book your flights until we have notified you that the trip is official. If we don't have at least 40 people sign-up for the trip, your money will be refunded in full.
Also, the itinerary is subject to change. We're still ironing out the final details, and if we think of a way we can make the trip even better between now and November we might change things us a little.
I'll be the first to admit that we could have picked an easier location for our second tour. Myanmar is a relatively isolated country, which makes it a more challenging and expensive destination to visit. However, that's also what we feel makes it so special.
To help cut down on the travel costs, I am going to give everyone who signs up for the trip free access to my travel hacking course!
Disclaimer: Everyone who signs up will get free access to the course. However, the strategies taught in the course will only work for U.S. residents who qualify for travel credit cards.
Is the price per person?
Yes, all of the prices are listed per person.
Where will we meet?
The tour will start in Bagan, Myanmar. You will be in charge of getting yourself to the hotel in Bagan where the tour begins.
What is the target age for the group?
There is not a specific target age for the group. Our Vespa tour attendees last year ranged from ages 18 to 60, and we had an awesome group dynamic! If you're active and adventurous, we'd love to have you join the trip!
Is there a minimum age to attend the trip?
You must be 18 or older to attend the trip on your own. If you are younger than 18 you'll need to travel with a guardian.
How many people will be on the trip?
The maximum group size is 56 (including us)
Do I need a visa to travel to Myanmar?
For most citizens of most countries, the answer is yes, you will need a visa to visit Myanmar. Please make sure to research the visa requirements in advance for your country. For our American guests, you can learn more about the visa requirements HERE.
Will I be required to buy travel insurance for this trip?
Yes, in order to attend the trip you will be required to buy travel insurance. After hosting our first tour last year, we learned you can never predict what will go wrong. For this reason, we want to make sure everyone is covered, and we're requiring that everyone buy travel insurance for this year's trip.
These suites are located on the main deck and include a panoramic window. Please only choose the double occupancy rate if you're traveling with a companion who is also signing up for the trip at the same time.
Click here to view the full deck plan. These rooms are highlighted in green.
These suites are located on the main deck and include a panoramic window. Please choose this rate if you are traveling alone and you'd like an entire suite to yourself.
Click here to view the full deck plan. These rooms are highlighted in green.
These suites are located on the upper deck and include a small balcony. Please only choose the double occupancy rate if you're traveling with a companion who is also signing up for the trip at the same time.
Click here to view the full deck plan. These rooms are highlighted in grey.
These suites are located on the upper deck and include a small balcony. Please choose this rate if you are traveling alone and you'd like an entire suite to yourself.
Click here to view the full deck plan. These rooms are highlighted in grey.
There are only 2 of these suites and they are located on the upper deck in the front of the boat. Please only choose the double occupancy rate if you're traveling with a companion who is also signing up for the trip at the same time.
Click here to view the full deck plan. These rooms are highlighted in orange.
There are only 2 of these suites on the boat. They are the largest on the entire boat. They are located on the upper deck, and they include a balcony. Please only choose the double occupancy rate if you're traveling with a companion who is also signing up for the trip at the same time.
Click here to view the full deck plan. These rooms are highlighted in blue.
On day 0 of the trip you will be in charge of getting yourself to our hotel in Bagan. You can arrive to the hotel at any point during the day, you just need to be ready for a VERY early start the next morning.