Ava and Amarahpura Old Capitals: Explore these ancient capitals visiting the teak Bagaya Kyaung, Me Nu Oog-kyaung. Cross the famous U Payne Bridge to see the paintings in a temple and come back in sampan.
Bagan: Bagan Archaeological tour at the World Heritage Site. Visit Lacquer ware manufacturers.
Bhamo: Cruise through the 2nd Defile, the most dramatic of the three gorges with cliffs towering over the narrow channel. Reach Bhamo in the afternoon. Evening walking tour of this important trading town set close to the Chinese border.
Katha: The enchanting former colonial town of Katha, the setting for George Orwell's Myanma Days, was the final resting place of the old flotilla and here over a hundred ships were scuppered in 1942 in an Act of Denial before the advancing Japanese. Of interests are the fire station’s collections of IFC ship's bells taken from sunken ships in the WW-II. Visit to an elephant logging camp in the hardwood forests of the hills that surround the town (if permitted) and a visit to the Indaw-lay Lake with its rich bird life (if time allows).
Kyaung Myoung: Visit the spectacular potteries near Kyauk-Myoung where the famous 50 gallon water pots are handmade. See all stages of manufacture from the throwing of the pots to the weeklong firing in huge kilns. We enter the Third Defile and sail upstream all day stopping at Khan Nyat village with its many Buddhist monasteries and an orphanage the company support. If available, the village orchestra and dancers will perform for the guests on the sun deck after dinner.
Magwe Gold Bricks: Trishaw ride to the magnificent Myat Thalon Pagoda, constructed with solid gold bricks. Of interest are the many Nat (spirit) shrines and hermitages within the temple precincts.
Mawlaik: Mawlaik, one of the administrative capital, was mainly settled with the company houses of the by the Scottish owned and run Bombay Myanmar Trading Corporation in the 1920s and 1930s. There are many splendid 'Dak Bungalows' set around a verdant golf course. Mawlaik and the other towns of the Upper Chindwin can only be reached by boat so cars are few. There is a dreamy otherworldly quality to such places and truly one feels that one has travelled there in the Pandaw time machine!
Mingkin: Mingkin was rediscovered by Paul Strachan in 1987 and described in some detail in his book "Mandalay: Travels from the Golden City". It remains for Paul the most art historically interesting site in Myanmar (more so than the now spoilt Bagan) with its Konbaung court style teak monasteries sumptuously decorated. Mingkin may be described as the Luang Prabang of the Chindwin.
Minhla Forts: Minhla and Gwechaung - the two Italian built forts constructed to keep the British at bay from Royal Myanmar. These fell into British's hand during the 3rd Anglo Myanmar War, in which the fight for Minhla redoubt was the only serious action. However the death of a young subaltern inspired Kipling to write a poem (such as Road to Mandalay).
Monywa: Explore the busy port town of Monywa and a quick trip to the Thanbodi (if time allows) - the temple with its million Buddha images, a sort of Buddhist Disneyland! From Monywa, Pandaw sails into the Upper Chindwin, where the river narrows and the frosted hills fall away to farmland, passing a number of attractive villages like Kin or Kanee where you can stretch your legs.
Paungbyin to Sitthaung: Pantha was an important oil refinery belonging to the Indo-Myanmar Petroleum Co (Steel Brothers). We pass the mouth of the Yu River which drains the Kubu valley that provided the route for a Lieutenant Grant to march to the relief of the Manipur garrison when the chief commissioner of Assam was massacred in a local rebellion. Sitthaung was the final resting place of a number of IFC steamers scuppered there in 1942 in an 'act of denial' from the advancing Japanese who were a matter of hours behind. We hope to find remains of these ships as we have in the past at Katha on the Irrawaddy. It was from here that the survivors of the Japanese invasion marched out to Tamu on the India border.
Prome: Explore the spectacular stone carving on the cliff at the famous A Kauk Taung. Coach tour to 5th-8th century archaeological site of Thiri-ya-kittiya, former centre of the Pyu civilization with a fascinating museum of early Buddhist artefacts and sculpture.
Sagaing Hills and Mandalay: Sagaing Hill with has 1.000 hermitages and sanctuaries, rich in woodcarving and religious art. Afternoon visit to central Mandalay, the Maha Muni Pagoda and Shwe-im-bin teak carved monastery and see tapestry making and other traditional crafts.
Sa Le Monasteries: Visit a number of monasteries including the Yout-saun-kyaung monastery with its spectacular wood carvings, explore an area of splendid colonial-style houses. Moor at the Tan-chi-taung mountain and ascend by WWII jeep for the spectacular sunset over Bagan.
Shwegu: It is another centre of pot making. Also visit Kyun Daw a midstream island of monasteries and countless small pagodas. Stop overnight at a tribal village.
Singu: Proceed upstream in a chartered country boat from Bhamo (Bamaw) to Singu village below the dramatic 1st Defile. Evening exploration of Bhamo's bustling markets and Chinese temples.
Sitthaung to Toungdoot: Toungdoot or Hsawng-hsup in Tai, is an ancient Shan enclave which in British times still had a ruling SaoPha complete with palace and court. It will be interesting to see what has become of the royal family and their home and to see these Shan people so far from their Tai-Shan homelands.
Tagaung Ancient City: Explore (walk) the ancient city of Tagaung viewing the fortifications, a famous Nat (spirit) shrine and the archaeological area. In the evening, climb (up the stairs) the Pagoda Hill at Tigyang with its stunning views of the Irrawaddy.
Theingone Monastery: Theingone village to visit the construction of new school and the monastery.
Thayetmyo Frontier Post: The border of former Royal Myanmar and British Myanmar during post Anglo Myanmar War (1855). See old colonial houses, visit covered markets dated from that period, former British botanical garden and the oldest golf course in Myanmar (1885) on the horse cart. Outside the town is an extensive war cemetery where Turkish prisoners of war were laid to rest. Captured in Iraq, the Turks were transported to labour camps in Myanmar where they died in their hundreds of malaria. In the town itself we visit the market, see the colonial houses and ride out by horse cart to see the countryside and golf links.
Toungdoot to Homalin: See the gold washers on the Uyu River on the way to Homalin, the head quarter of a township with very little trade. This is the furthest navigable point by Pandaw Vessels on the Chindwin. Alister McCrae wrote of his visit there 1935 "I loved the atmosphere of quiet and peaceful living there. At night I could hear greylag geese as they came in to the flooded land around us from far away north". Bird in 1897 says little other than that. Till you get there and explore the place, there is not much to say for now.
Yandabo: This small yet picturesque rural village specialises in pot making with small family run potteries. Visit the Pandaw School and the new dispensary both built with past donations from Pandaw passengers.