Bagan was the second city that I visited on my epic road trip across Myanmar. I had taken the bus from Mandalay in the morning at around 10 AM and reached Bagan at around 4 PM. After checking in to my hotel it was time for a boat ride on Irrawaddy River. My original plan was to catch the boat from Mandalay to Bagan but being offseason the boats don’t run all days from Mandalay to Bagan and with a tight schedule I would have to wait two more days to catch the boat so decided instead to take the bus.
Cost of Bagan Sunset Irrawaddy River Sunset Cruise
Luckily for me, the budget hotel where I was staying gave me the contact of a car who would pick me up from the hotel and drop me back after the river cruise. The price for the cruise on the river would be included in that. It was a very good deal and being offseason was much less than the usual. Also in Myanmar, the rates are almost fixed thus a little net search will always point you to the right price bracket.
If I remember correctly I paid something around 10,000 Kyat (October 2018) for a one and half hour cruise. This price included pick and drop from the hotel by car thus was very economical. During tourist season you can avail the boat cruise for a price of around 7000 Kyat and that would include a welcome drink on board. Keep in mind that during the tourist season the boat will be full of other tourists.
To make things even interesting the hotel owner also decided to join along with the driver for the boat cruise. Both the hotel owner and the driver could speak English and this helped a lot in planning the next two days trip around Bagan. They were very friendly and opened up on the political situation of the country after the army paved the way for a civilian government. The hotel owner was surprised to find Indian tourists on a road trip in Myanmar since they do not get many Indian tourists in the first place. Mostly Europeans looking for a cheap Asian gateway along with cheap Myanmar beer.
Reaching Old Bagan Pier
The car picked me up from my hotel and after around fifteen minutes of drive reached the banks of the Of Irrawaddy River where all the boats were parked. The driver had already phoned in his contact so the boat was ready. Now don’t mistake it for a small boat which can accommodate five to six-person instead these were huge motorboats which can hold up to a hundred passengers. Since this was off-season thus there were no other passengers except us.
The peak season for tourism in Myanmar is around December and January thus when I was there in October which is generally still monsoon is avoided by international tourists. It was a gamble since there were some spells of rain but that did not hamper my road trip. The only time that it has rained heavily was the very next day in the morning that too till around mid-day post which it was a bright sunny sky.
What To See At Sunset Cruise on Irrawaddy River
The boat started its motor and we set off for the sunset boat cruise over Irrawaddy River. Bagan is a land of Pagodas and ever around the banks, you can see several of these. All around the river banks, you would see white flower which we in Bengal call it Kash Ful (Saccharum spontaneum) and is prominent during October and always associated with Durga Puja which takes place during the autumn season.
All along the river banks, you would also see houseboats which are like floating resorts that spring into action during tourist season. Irrawaddy is also famous for its Dolphins but those are rare to spot and I wasn’t that lucky either.
What I wanted as the sunset over Bagan in the backdrop of Irrawaddy River was a can of soda and some cookies and I was right in stocking them in my backpack at the hotel. Alternately if you like all things natural then you surely would want to try the fresh green coconut which you can buy at the various food shacks at the river bank.
The cruise on the river lasted around one and a half hours and with a cloudy sky and a setting sun was perfect for a good start for my tour across Bagan. As the sunset on a cloudy Bagan sky, the color changed between the grey of the monsoon clouds and orange of the setting sun. There was just silence since there were no other boats nearby and now the boat sailed back to its original starting point along with the tide so with no sound of the motor I could only hear the sound of the breeze hitting my face.