Summary : Charismatic, exotic and gloriously beautiful, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore offer so much to their visitors. The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is rich with spirituality while the turquoise waters of the Mergui Archipelago are a snorkeler’s paradise. A viist to the Gunung Leuser National Park in search of the Sumatran orangutan, provides a fascinating insight into the conservation of the delicate ecosystem of the region.
Activities : Birding, Culture, Hiking, Snorkeling, Triple/Quad Cabins
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$6,100 to $11,200
Embark the ship and meet your Expedition Team. Enjoy time to familiarize yourself with your new home away from home, and meet fellow travelers. In the evening, enjoy the first of many fine dining experiences in The Restaurant and relax in the Explorer Lounge listening to the music played by the pianist.
During the day you will see one of the largest reclining Buddhas in the world at the Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda and visit the world-famous 2,500-year-old Shwedagon Pagoda. The top of the stupa is said to be adorned with 5,488 diamonds and 2,317 rubies. Venerated as a symbol of architectural perfection the glittering golden stupa is considered the appearance of Gautama Buddha in the present world—certainly a highlight. If you wish you can visit the National Museum with its excellent exhibits of some of the more than 135 different ethnic groups present in Myanmar.
Today your Expedition Team will present lectures about the history and natural history of the Mergui Archipelago preparing you for the next three days of exploration within this group of more than 800 islands. This is a prime location for water activities, and the Marine Biologist will likely want to talk about Mergui’s underwater residents. Its temperatures are quite agreeable for swimming and snorkeling.
During your first day in the archipelago, you'll visit Kyun Tan Shey (Lampi Island) located in the Lampi Group. Lampi was established in 1995 as Myanmar’s first marine national park. It is rich in biodiversity, mangroves and coral reefs. The officially uninhabited island, apart from having occasional fishing nomads stop over, is large enough to hold wild animals. With rainforest and a fringing coral reef, Lampi’s outstanding beauty is enhanced by spotting monkeys, hornbills and sea eagles. From the Zodiacs you can witness some of the area’s exotic flora and fauna.
The surrounding islands offer beaches regardless of tides. More than 50 white sand beaches and fringing reefs wait to be used for snorkeling, bird-watching or just relaxing.
At this spectacular island, you can Zodiac cruise and enjoy water based activities from one of the beaches.
Located south of Lampi Island, Bo Cho Island is a sacred home for the Moken (Sea Gypsy) people who refer to the island with their own name of Pu Nala. A small Moken resettlement zone has been established so now there is a year-round Moken village. The people were so connected to the ocean that their first houses were all built on stilts near the shore where they could keep a watchful eye on their boats and the sea. Close to 1,000 Moken people have made Bo Cho their home and a basic infrastructure supports them. There will be the chance to meet them and to see their unique boat designs.
Around noon, Silver Discoverer is scheduled to sail south passing Buda Island. In the afternoon, visit Frost Island, one of the smaller islands in the Mid-Group. Here and at the neighboring island there are perfect beaches for relaxation, while in the water hard and soft corals teem with colorful tropical fishes.
During the early morning, Silver Discoverer should arrive at Myauk Phyu Island. Your last morning in the archipelago will be used to explore the beaches and water around the uninhabited Myauk Phyu, right next to Hastings Island and the other adjacent uninhabited islands. Long white-sand beaches, clear water, and birdsong ashore will captivate nature lovers. Snorkelers will take the opportunity to see corals and vibrant fishes, while others might simply relax on a nearby beach, or indulge in a refreshing swim.
During lunch, Silver Discoverer relocates to Kawthaung to clear out of Myanmar. Interestingly enough the town has a strong Muslim and Indian influence and a Buddhist monastery atop the hill to the north. As this is a technical stop only, it is unlikely that you will go ashore. Instead, members of the Expedition Team will likely take the opportunity to offer various talks preparing you for your next destination and country.
Found in the Andaman Sea, the Similan Islands are off the coast of Thailand’s Phan Nga Province. Originally only nine islands made up the group, but two remote islands have been added to the Mu Koh Similan National Park. The Similan Islands are surrounded by crystal clear shallow waters that harbor interesting rock formations and coral reefs.
The marine life around the islands is the best in Thailand. Surrounded by sea depths averaging 60 feet, the Similan Islands are also some of Thailand’s best dive sites and offer top snorkeling opportunities. The reefs are estimated to be 5,000 year old and the underwater visibility is generally great. Marine life includes manta rays, moray eels, jacks, and sea snakes, grouper, tuna, barracuda, and diverse reef fish, as well as lobster, whitetip reef sharks, and turtles. If you are lucky, you might even spot whale sharks that are known to congregate in the Similan Islands in January and February.
As Koh Miang is famous for its white powdered beaches and lush forests, the intent is also to do a little exploration ashore.
Today venture into the Ko Tarutao Marine Park. The park was established in 1974 and the roughly 50 under-developed and jungle-covered islands are well off the beaten track and rarely visited by expedition ships. The fleet of Zodiacs will make the journey to the island of Koh Ra Wi, where local guides will be waiting to brief you and introduce the island.
The goal this morning is a viewpoint called “Pha Chado”, an observation point for pirates in the past. This stunning overlook requires about 40 minutes of walking to reach the top. Well worth the effort, the view from the Chado cliff overlooks lines of trees and the white sandy capes of nearby islands. Gratified by the view, return to the beach where a selection of seasonal fruits awaits you. If time allows following the hike, the marine park offers excellent snorkeling and swimming.
By lunchtime, bid farewell to Thailand and board Silver Discoverer. During the afternoon, cross the Malacca Strait in a southerly direction, heading for Indonesia. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon and take in a lecture presentation to prepare you for your time in Sumatra.
Quite early, Silver Discoverer will go alongside in Belawan, Sumatra’s busiest port. Built originally to export tobacco, rubber and later palm oil, Belawan today is an important port for containers, and exports now include coffee and tea.
Belawan is the gate to Gunung Leuser National Park which is located in the interior of Sumatra, running along the Barisan mountain-ridge. Apart from being one of Indonesia’s oldest and possibly least visited parks, it is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage site “Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra”.
The park is quite mountainous and home to more than 120 species of mammals, 190 species of reptiles and amphibians, as well as more than 350 species of birds. More than 4,000 plant species, including such interesting plants as the corpse flower and titan arum can be found in the park.
And a big reason to come here is to look for the Sumatran orangutan.
Before visiting the Bukit Lawang Visitor Center to learn about the flora and fauna of the park, have breakfast at the Rindu Alam Restaurant. Be briefed by a ranger about your visit and hike for approximately two hours in the park. The former Bohorok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center had released more than 200 of the Sumatran orangutans back into the wild before it had to close. Apart from Sumatran orangutan there are eight other primate species present in the park. The hope is to see several during your forest walk.
On approach to Singapore, Silver Discoverer will sail through the Malacca Strait with Malaysia on the northern side and Indonesia’s Sumatra on starboard, the southern side.
Today will be an opportunity to edit all the photos taken, or to attend final presentations and lectures about Myanmar, Thailand and/or Sumatra.
The Chef and Sommelier might want to present culinary highlights and the wines to accompany them, while the Spa and Gym are ready for you.
During the afternoon, the onboard Videographer/Photographer will present the Voyage-DVD.
After breakfast, disembark the ship.
This itinerary is subject to change. ExpeditionTrips is not responsible for itinerary changes.
Suite accommodations; onboard meals and entertainment; snorkeling gear; butler service; gratuities aboard ship (except spa); complimentary beverages aboard ship (including select wines, champagnes, spirits, soda, water and coffee); 1 hour of internet access per guest/per day for passengers booked in Explorer and View Suites; unlimited internet access for passengers booked in Vista, Veranda, and Medallion Suites. Subject to change without notice.
Airfare; transfers and luggage handling; optional shore excursions; government fees and taxes; passport and visa expenses; some champagne, premium wine and spirit selections, caviar, cigarettes and cigars; laundry or valet services; items of a personal nature such as boutique purchases, medical care, and spa services; fuel surcharge may apply.
Photo Credit: © Creative Services at Silversea Cruises, © Bruno Cazarini, © James Godfrey