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8 Scenic Yangon (Rangoon) Cruise Reviews

Myanmar on the Scenic Aura 21st Mar 19 -8th Apr 19 We have been on 3 previous river cruises with Scenic. The trip to Cambodia and Vietnam (see my previous review) was so good that we thought it could not be beaten. But the 18 day to ... Read More
Myanmar on the Scenic Aura 21st Mar 19 -8th Apr 19 We have been on 3 previous river cruises with Scenic. The trip to Cambodia and Vietnam (see my previous review) was so good that we thought it could not be beaten. But the 18 day to Myanmar (including land addition) equalled, if not surpassed, that trip. It really was difficult to find any ‘niggles’ so I’ll concentrate on the ‘exceptionals’. 1 – Myanmar is a truly fascinating country. It is about the poorest in South East Asia. Most people may live without electricity, running water or mains sewerage, but we didn’t see one person or child who looked malnourished or badly cared for. Indeed quite the opposite. Everyone was extremely friendly welcoming you with broad smiles. Many wanted their photo taken with my wife who has blue eyes – uncommon in Myanmar. Apparently many people have been put off visiting due to the bad publicity. This trip doesn’t go anywhere near the areas affected We felt very safe walking around on our own. My advice would be COME TO MYANMAR whilst it is still relatively undiscovered by Western tourists. 2 – The Scenic Aura is a pretty new addition to the fleet. Very modern and functional. Only has 22 suites – so maximum 44 pax. There were only 39 on our trip which included a few ‘singles’. Many Australians – but 6 other Brits + Canadians. Even the WiFi worked reasonably well. We had a Grande Deluxe Suite which was very spacious. Even had an area for my laptop that my wife referred to as The Office. The Hotel Director – JOYCE – was particularly good. Food was to a high standard. ‘Egg man’ always there for fresh fried eggs at breakfast. 3 – The standard of the pre and post cruise hotels was exceptional, in particular the Sanctum on Inle Lake and the Melia in Yangon. Truly ‘Top of the Range’ hotels. 4 – Difficult to pick out which excursions we enjoyed the most. But special mention to: - Pindaya Caves and Cookery course at Inle Lake - Longtail boats around Inle Lake visiting the local markets and houses on stilts. - Visiting some of the 4000+ temples of Bagan by horse and cart - Visiting the monastic school in Sagaing where the children all sang to us before we had to sing ‘Old MacDonald’ to them! - BBQ dinner with kite flying and live music on a sandbank in the Irrawaddy. - Visiting the pure white Hsinbyume Pagoda in Mingun - Myanmar’s Taj Mahal - Visiting the U-Bein wooden bridge at sunset in a sampan. Scenic had champagne for us to enjoy as we watched the sunset. 5 – Our guide Sai San was exceptional – both knowledgeable and personable. Everything went like clockwork. We were particularly impressed with the baggage handling on the two internal flights. Put your bags outside your room and subsquently saw them inside your next hotel room. 6 – I see some other reviews complain about the 7 hour coach trip from Yangon to join Scenic Aura at Pyay. The journey itself was quite interesting – in particular the stop at the Allied War Cemetery. The hours seemed to pass quickly and the coach used was very comfortable and spacious. Be aware As I remarked above, Myanmar is one of the poorest countries in Asia. So in many areas visited you won’t get ‘Western’ restrooms, the roads will be dusty and uneven, the markets are busy and smelly. You will witness many scenes of extreme poverty - like women washing clothes and their babies in the dirty river. Men unloading heavy bags of rice for 8 hours non stop in temperatures of 100F+ for a few dollars a day. There are lots of stray dogs in the streets. You will often have to clamber up a steep and dusty river bank to and from Scenic Aura. For us this just added to the experience. But clearly if you are going to get upset about this don’t go! Conclusion All-in-all an excellent holiday which I would thoroughly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
Watched a travel programme hosted by Ray Martin(Australia) and it just switched on a light in our heads. It appealed to us and we just had to see Myanmar(Burma). We arrived in Yangon and immediately was greeted by our Tour Rep ( Sai San) ... Read More
Watched a travel programme hosted by Ray Martin(Australia) and it just switched on a light in our heads. It appealed to us and we just had to see Myanmar(Burma). We arrived in Yangon and immediately was greeted by our Tour Rep ( Sai San) who was very warm and friendly and very knowledgeable about the history of the city and country. The "boat" and our cabin was absolutely fantastic. The food was nothing short of EXCELLENT and was only surpassed by the excellent attentive guests & ships crew, ( Most notably the Captain) who participated in all/many of the antics we got up too! Alas the boats entertainment was lacking with very little input/motivation from those designated to arrange, The service over the entire "Boat was again exemplary but several individuals stand out, most notably "Tintun" (restaurant manager) Sai San (Sam) ,"Saw" & "Tu Tu" kept our cabin in tip top condition. The Irrawaddy river/ shore trips/ports were very interesting, however the relentless tours of the "Pagodas started to wear a bit thin after a while! In closing the trip was as stated absolutely FANTASTIC. We were most impressed by the pictures of our hotel ( Mandalay Hill Resort) but in reality although the reception area was very impressive the rooms looked "tired" and need to be re-furbished. The main dining room was full of biting Mosquito's and were unable to provide some wines & Tea as they were "Out of Stock" Although we appreciated that we were in a foreign country the staff didn't understand basic English and we found reception staff unhelpful! The pool bar was not stocked or rarely manned with the waiter having to go into the main building for drinks etc This is not a cruise for the "Faint Hearted" the people are poor and there is a great deal of rubbish, But that's what this type of holiday is all about! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Our 11 day Irrawaddy River Cruise from Prome to Mandalay was exciting, adventerous & magical. We never felt unsafe despite the questionable media reports about this Country. The Staff and Crew on the Scenic Aura always gave 100% and ... Read More
Our 11 day Irrawaddy River Cruise from Prome to Mandalay was exciting, adventerous & magical. We never felt unsafe despite the questionable media reports about this Country. The Staff and Crew on the Scenic Aura always gave 100% and always with a smile, remembering what we liked to drink (tea or coffee, white or red wine, not to mention the cocktails!) and eat. They remembered our names from the first day and addressed us by our names every single time. They could certainly teach the European crews a thing or two about service. Food was exceptional and having cruised with Scenic's European Ships on 3 previous occasions, the food on this Ship surpassed our high expectations. Our Cabin was modern, very spacious and comfortable including the bathroom with a full size shower and separate toilet. If only all of Scenic's Ships carried only 40 odd guests at a time, so much more personal. The tour options were fantastic and our tour guide, Yi Mon was such a good sport, despite many of us wanting to brave the inclement weather for another onshore excursion through the mud. Too many wonderful experiences on this cruise to mention here. Seeing in the New Year with the Scenic Aura Staff and Crew was an absolute highlight. There is a lot of sailing on this trip so lots of time to relax which may not be active enough for some. For me it was a perfect balance. Have I mentioned how wonderful the Staff were? They really make you feel that you are the only guests on the Ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We have used Scenic before in Europe and tried them in Myanmar. Our decision turned out to be an excellent one. The ship was very good, although has some odd quirks - which did not detract from the cruise. The crew were all amazing, ... Read More
We have used Scenic before in Europe and tried them in Myanmar. Our decision turned out to be an excellent one. The ship was very good, although has some odd quirks - which did not detract from the cruise. The crew were all amazing, just what you expect from a luxury all inclusive cruise. They could not have been more helpful. The food was better than excellent, huge choices and amazing quality, especially the soups and salads. We stayed in a Royal Panorama Suite which was definitely worth the extra money. All excursions were excellent, but be aware that a reasonable level of fitness is required - just to get on and off the ship - i think this would apply to all cruises on the Irrawaddy though. Highly recommend Scenic and would even consider doing teh cruise again in five years time to see how the country has changed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Having travelled with Scenic in the past we decided to book our Myanmar trip with them and see the country before it gets too crowded. Firstly the Ship - the Aura. On initial inspection a lovely yacht type ship, nice entrance and ... Read More
Having travelled with Scenic in the past we decided to book our Myanmar trip with them and see the country before it gets too crowded. Firstly the Ship - the Aura. On initial inspection a lovely yacht type ship, nice entrance and ambiance but it does have some issues. The general feel is of spaciousness with only a max of 44 passengers, the bedoms are very nice with electric beds, lounge area, small walk in wardrobe, compact but very accessible bathroom with reasonably large shower and 2 opening (electronic slide down) windows. However the first issue with the ship is the balcony in the room. This is a complete waste of space and badly designed. It should either have been a dedicated balcony with sliding doors or part of the lounge. It is awkward at present because it has folding doors and we left them open and it became a dumping ground for bags. The dinning room is lovely with central serving area and a small dedicated specialist area, which everyone is invited to during the cruise. There is plenty of space for all the passengers and the food was excellent. There is a small compact pool area at the back with bar and seating and this was used for entertainment at night. The library did not seem to be in much use only for getting on and off the ship when docked. The main issue with the ship's design is the lounge. This is a strange design with a central section separating it into 4 quadrants, so not easy to accommodate everyone altogether for the port talks, in fact they need 2 screens to do their presentation. This is a very poor design feature and interestingly not many people used it. This is the worst feature on the ship. There is a great top sundeck however with walking area and plenty of seating; a great place to cool-off when sailing. Also as the ship was built in Myanmar it does have a slightly 'cheap' feel to it and to say that it is only 18months old is showing signs of wear already. However despite the faults it was a pleasure to sail on the Aura. Next the crew - they were fantastic and always ready with a smile. Many thanks to Chantel, the Cruise Director , who was always around to solve any hitches or have a chat with and the Captain who was always there with a helping hand when embarking or dissembarking. A word of warning here, this trip is not for people with mobility issues as there are no proper docking facilities, at many of the places the ship stops climbing up sand banks or rough ground was the norm. So in conclusion the Aura is a nice ship with plenty of space for the passengers, it has good bedrooms, fantastic dining area and one of the nicest crews we have come across. Also the food was as good as any river or sea cruise ship and not overtaking. The variety of the Wines were reasonable and premium drinks were included throughout the day. Scenic always have great tours and this cruise (Yangon to Mandalay) was no exception. Some wonderful cultural visits, insight into the people and their ives all brought to life with a great Tour Diector - PA PA Min. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We were inspired by the movie "The Lady" to visit Myanmar to see and support this country that so recently had emerged from absolute Military control. We had traveled with Scenic before and were impressed by their care and ... Read More
We were inspired by the movie "The Lady" to visit Myanmar to see and support this country that so recently had emerged from absolute Military control. We had traveled with Scenic before and were impressed by their care and service. We were again very happy with the cruise and associated hotels. We traveled from Yangon to Mandalay and did the Inle Lake extension. Our guide PuPu was a wonderfully caring, knowledgeable and organised person who we had complete trust in so we could relax and enjoy the trip. PuPu's expertise added immeasurably to our enjoyment. The hotel in Yangon is excellent and well located and the food terrific. We did the market free choice and could have easily done it on our own with a map. This excursion could readily be a more extensive walk around the city area to see other sites. The coach trip to Prome is 8 hours and although breaks and box lunch are organised it is a long way, be prepared! The Scenic Aura is beautiful with magnificent cabins and suites and with everything included all that is left is to enjoy yourself. Staff are caring, friendly and go out of their way to make your cruise very special. Meals are delicious and varied and promptly served with a smile. The excursions are varied and much thought has gone into exposing Scenic travellers to different modes of transport and seeing as much variety in villages as possible. As shoes and socks need to be removed to enter religious sites on just about all excursions, sealed wet towels are supplied to wash feet before putting shoes back on and shoes are cleaned when you return to the ship as it is dusty. Both very thoughtful touches. Shoulders and knees need to be covered for admission to religious sites but trousers and Capri pants are fine, skirts are not necessary. The hotel in Mandalay is very nice and meals were, again, delicious. The add-on to Inle Lake was wonderful. The trip there, the magnificent hotel, the amazing day trip around the lake's sights, the meals and the exceptional sundowner party on our last night there exceeded all expectations. We chose to spend the final day at the resort rather than do either of the Scenic Free choices as they both involved 5 hour bus journeys for a 3 hour stop and most of us decided that was too much travel. We had a lovely restful day at the beautiful resort. There were a couple of issues! 1)The layout of the Scenic Aura means there is nowhere under cover where all 44 guests can gather to hear and see speakers or events. The only space is around the pool which can be plagued with insects being outside. 2) A free choice at Inle Lake that doesn't involve 5 hours travel could be offered, a trek was mentioned in the brochure but not offered possibly because we were a smaller group. 3) Be careful with flights to Yangon. Scenic booked our flights and we arrived at the hotel halfway through the briefing and after travelling for over 17 hours we were too tired to catch a bus to the restaurant for the welcome dinner. I would strongly advise arriving the day before and spending the night at the hotel at your own expense so you can enjoy the beginning of the package. One other tip could be to take a couple of balls or something to play with the children at the monastic school, I'm sure they would enjoy it more than just talking. We loved the trip and wholeheartedly recommend it but in February, March and April the river is getting low and problems with sandbanks could occur and the countryside is very dusty. September and October the river is very high which could impact some excursions. We were told November and December were the best months but whenever you go it's a wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Mystical Myanmar- January 15th 2017. Accommodation All very good particularly Aureum Palace on Inle Lake. Beautiful surroundings and good service. Some rooms quite a way from reception and restaurant. Yangon - accommodation on ... Read More
Mystical Myanmar- January 15th 2017. Accommodation All very good particularly Aureum Palace on Inle Lake. Beautiful surroundings and good service. Some rooms quite a way from reception and restaurant. Yangon - accommodation on the club floors with a lovely view. Mandalay- nice room and it had a good restaurant where we celebrated Chinese New Year. We were on the upriver cruise and it was a long trip from Yangon to Pyap but buses were comfortable and we had several breaks. Embarkation went smoothly, in fact I was welcomed by name before I was in badge reading distance! I looked surprised and was told they had read a comment I had written on their Facebook page and recognised me. Scenic Aura suite 201 Large suite with very good bathroom with a multifunction shower. Comfortable bed and I did use the electronic head raising function. Good storage in walk in robe and under the bed. "Balcony nice - I can't imagine the glass folding doors being shut often, if at all. We did sit with the window / balcony open sometimes while moving along the river. Once moored it was shut due to any insects around. Staff kept the suite beautifully. Public Rooms. As said before, the lounge was badly designed but we spent early evenings on the pool deck so it didn't affect us too much. In the afternoons it was a cool quiet place to read my book with a cup of tea or a cocktail. The pool deck was the social hub before dinner with attentive service from the bar staff. Group size We were divided into 2 groups from the start - those going to Inle Lake and those just doing the cruise. There should be a mixture of people going to Inle Lake and ones not going. It would even the numbers out a little. We did have free seating and got to know the other group but our group was larger. One lady going to the lake was in the other group and found it difficult fitting in as we had all been together for 12 days and knew each other's foibles. We did the up river cruise and it was quite a relaxed start with excursions in the morning and time to read etc. in the afternoon. It would be an ideal time to have a band so that people could "bond" in a party atmosphere. We did have a band at the end of the cruise but it had been a busy day and we rushed from excursion to shower, to be entertainment to dinner. They were very good and we didn't do them justice. It was unfortunate that Papa our guide needed to go home early on as she was exceptional, but Sia did an admirable job taking over from her although less experienced and never having such a large group. I believe that the group going to Inle Lake should have had 2 tour leaders, or at least someone to help with the administration particularly arranging transport to the different flights from the airport. Arranging for 25 people was time consuming for Sia and it meant time on the phone rather than full focus on the group. Excursions Enjoyed most of them as we were travelling for cultural experiences. The people are a lovely gentle welcoming people although the hawkers were very persistent! Because of the low water level there was usually a steep river bank to negotiate. On mooring I often felt daunted about getting up, but with my hiking stick ( supplied in each cabin) and help from the crew I made it!! The crew were wonderful. We travelled by horse and cart, trishaws, and buses, saw village life up close, visited MANY pergolas and stupas, visited monasteries and a nunnery and many different craft workshops. We didn't do the Balloon flights but everyone I spoke to that did really enjoyed it. Some also did a balloon flight at Inle Lake and were awestruck. Said the experience was indescribable. Inle Lake was wonderful and although I was nervous about getting in and of the boats with a bad knee, I wouldn't have missed it. Arriving and departing the hotel by boat was a highlight, although the day on the lake in the boat was as good. With such a large group it was a slow process with a fair amount of waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. Food. Very, very good. Asian or Western at all meals. Buffet at breakfast and lunch, but table service at dinner. We could always find a wine we liked and they were very generous. Cocktails before dinner were varied and fun. Staff From the people meeting the plane on arrival, the hotel staff, the tour guides, the exceptional ship's staff, and getting us to the airport on time, everyone did a fantastic job. I would like to add my thanks to Sia. He did a great job once he settled in. A hard job to follow such an experienced guide with little notice. It was a large group of mainly very well travelled opinionated Australians. Once he worked out Aussie humour he relaxed a little (when he had time). By the end of the trip we couldn't have asked for better. As I commented before, a hard job for any guide to have 25 in a group. To sum up. A wonderful trip, everything we wished for. Our blog of the trip. http://thefletchers.com.au/The_Fletchers/Myanmar_2017/Myanmar_2017.html Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our first trip with Scenic and we were very impressed with their service, staff, food and overall smooth running of their ship in a country where there are many challenges. We joined the holiday in Yangon, staying there for two ... Read More
This was our first trip with Scenic and we were very impressed with their service, staff, food and overall smooth running of their ship in a country where there are many challenges. We joined the holiday in Yangon, staying there for two nights with tours, and then a drive by coach to Pyay to board the ship. The coach trip is around 8 hours long, through villages, farmland and small towns, quite basic roads. There were three stops for refreshments and we had a packed lunch on the coach. Although it was a long day, we felt it was worth it to see the real countryside of Myanmar and not just the touristy places. The Scenic Aura is a new ship but has a few teething problems with the fitting out of the interiors, such as flooring and doors, but no doubt these will be rectified before long. The cabins were very large, we had a cabin on Jewel deck with a large bedroom area and separate lounge with settee and chairs. The shower rooms were the biggest we have seen on a ship. Walk in wardrobe, but hanging space badly designed so could have done with more drawers. Huge safe in top drawer. Storage space in under bed drawers. The food was all excellent. Buffet breakfast with choices of cereal, bread, fruit, yogurt etc and also about 5 cooked options plus eggs. Lunch again was a buffet with soups, salads, 4 or 5 cooked options and a choice of various desserts or fruit or fresh ice cream with a different flavour each day. Dinner was served by the laughing friendly waiters who were all very efficient. There were choices for starters, mains and dessert, or there was always steak, fish or chicken if nothing on the menu suited. All washed down with delicious wines. There was a gym on the lower deck ( which we just looked at through the glass ). also a self service launderette with two washing machines and dryers and an iron for those who did not want to use the ship's laundry service. The top deck is carpeted in artificial grass which is nice and soft under your feet, a jogging track runs round the perimeter. There are rattan style settles and armchairs to sit on but only a small area has any shade. It was very hot when we were there, so it was not possible to sit there for long, we understand however that this will be rectified. The swimming pool is small and very shallow, you cannot swim in it, but it is a nice spot to stand and cool off, maybe with a cool drink from the poolside bar. The lounge area is split in two and doesn't really work as a social area. When a group came on there was only a tiny area for dancing - maybe a dozen people at once, and that meant blocking the access to the bar. A couple of shows were put on round the pool, again with very limited vision, and not a good place to be after dark with all the insects. Just a bad design. Every day there were excursions. We joined everything travelling by mule and cart, trishaw, lorry, coach, boat, ferry and horse and cart. All amazing experiences which brought us closer to the local people. We ate in local restaurants and even cooked our own dinner on two occasions. We would recommend this tour to anyone who wants to see the country as it really is, the river flows through rural and town life and is a breath of fresh air in the 21st century. Although quite expensive, we felt it was extremely good value for the money. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
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