Our Bay of Bengal expedition is perfect for history buffs, nature enthusiasts, birders, snorkelers, and photographers alike. After touring the bustling city of Chennai, set sail for the Andaman Islands for two days of exploration above and below the warm waters. In Myanmar, visit ancient Bagan, home to over 2,000 pagodas and temples, and Yangon, to see the Shwedagon Pagoda. Snorkel in the Mergui Archipelago and discover idyllic islands off the coast of Thailand. In Malaysia, visit Langkawi, a UNESCO designated Geopark, and two World Heritage Sites, Georgetown in Palau Panang and Malacca.
Bay of Bengal and Andaman Islands Expedition Highlights:
- Snorkel in the warm, crystal-clear waters of the Andaman Islands and search for the Andaman serpent eagle.
- Tours of the 2,000-year-old Sule Pagoda and massive Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.
- Participation in the Food Donation Ceremony in Pagan, where the Buddhist monks eat twice daily and depend on the generosity of the community.
- Explore islands draped in lush vegetation in the Mergui Archipelago and experience the legendary natural beauty of Thailand’s coastal islands.
- Search for wildlife in Langkawi, Malaysia and discover the rich cultural heritage of Georgetown.
What to expect:
As with any Bay of Bengal adventure travel, a moderate level of exertion is required. You will be asked to climb in and out of Zodiacs and tenders for snorkeling and nature walk activities, and must be able to walk moderate distances along beaches and, at times, over rough terrain. Expect high humidity throughout this itinerary with temperatures ranging from the low 70s to the high 80s°F. As expected with most India and Bay of Bengal tours, women should be prepared to wear long sleeves and long pants or skirts; you will also be expected to remove shoes when visiting certain sites. Flexibility is a must when traveling in this region of the world, so bring along a spirit of adventure.
Independent departure from USA to Singapore.
Crossing the International Date Line
Day lost due to crossing the International Date Line.
Arrive in the cosmopolitan city of Singapore and transfer to our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure. Gather this evening for a welcome dinner and briefing. Overnight at our hotel.
Singapore / Embark Clipper Odyssey
After the morning at leisure and lunch, we set out for an afternoon tour of both old and new Singapore and discover the incredible cultural diversity that defines this metropolis. We visit the National Orchid Garden; tour the colonial heart of the city, and see the fabled Merlion—the half-lion, half-fish symbol of Singapore. The Sultan Mosque on Arab Street makes for stunning photographs, and in Chinatown, we visit the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple, decorated with a multitude of gods and goddesses. Our coach then takes us to the harbor where we board the Clipper Odyssey and set sail for Malaysia.
After breakfast we go ashore at Malacca, a World Heritage Site, for a half-day exploration of this 14th-century port city ruled by Malaysian princes, the Portuguese, Dutch, British, and Japanese—a tumultuous history brilliantly illustrated at the Ethnographical Museum. Visit the former official residence of the Dutch Governor, the impressive Christ Church, and the Portuguese fortress, known as A’Famosa, built in the 16th century. The Baba Nyonya Museum showcases the traditions and lifestyle of the Chinese social elite, who once entertained the colonial leaders. Enjoy lunch on board and spend a relaxing afternoon at sea.
This morning we arrive at Pulau Penang, the site of the East India Trading Company and the first British trading post in the Far East. Here we enjoy an in-depth exploration of Georgetown, also a World Heritage Site. A tour along “the road of harmony” highlights many houses of worship. We also visit the indigo-blue Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion Hotel—its impeccable restoration made it a winner of UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Heritage Award. Tour the majestic Khoo Clan Ancestral House, featuring ornate wood and granite carvings and the brightly-painted Wat Chayamangkalaram to marvel at the 108-foot long Buddha, reputed to be the fourth largest in the world.
Several afternoon options include a drive along the coast, past terraced fruit orchards and spice estates, to observe the traditional art of Malaysian batik printing. Then visit the renowned Temple of the Azure Cloud, better known as the Snake Temple, earning its name from the pit vipers that adorn the altars. Or, choose to immerse yourself in the lush greenery of a tropical spice garden to learn about various spices and their functional and medicinal uses. Here attend a cooking demonstration where we learn traditional techniques for grinding dried spices and secrets on how to draw out the flavor and aroma. We also sample piping hot dishes straight from the pan. A third tour option visits a lovely 120-year-old botanical garden set amidst the foothills and showcasing a wide variety of tropical trees and plants.
Just north of Penang, in the Andaman Sea, lies the bejeweled Malay archipelago of Langkawi. The largest mountainous island (also called Langkawi) is a wildlife sanctuary teeming with indigenous bird species. In 2007, UNESCO declared the island a Geopark. We explore the network of mangroves, walk through rain forest to dazzling waterfalls, and stroll along white sand beaches. Birders seek such species as Oriental pied hornbills, black drongos, and Asian fairy bluebirds.
Similan Islands, Thailand
We sail into Thai waters today to visit Similan Islands National Park, an enchanting cluster of nine uninhabited islands. Ultramarine waters lap brilliant white, sandy beaches and surrounding coral reefs create kaleidoscopic underwater gardens. With crystal-clear visibility and a wealth of healthy corals, the Similans are hailed as one of the world’s top snorkeling spots. Birding is also exceptional in the islands; on Koh Mieng Island, beach, scrub, and primary forest are all home to an amazing avian variety, including the Nicobar pigeon.
Cruising the Andaman Sea
Enjoy a relaxing day at sea and our ongoing lecture series.
The Clipper Odyssey arrives at Burma’s capital city, Rangoon, where we disembark for an afternoon tour. We visit the 2,000-year-old Sule Pagoda whose gold dome houses a single hair of Buddha; the impressive Chauk Htat Gyi, a colossal reclining Buddha; and we wander through the amazing Bogyoke Aung San Market with its vast selection of Burmese crafts. As twilight softly descends upon the city we explore the magical, massive Shwedagon Pagoda whose glittering stupa soars above the capital.
After an early breakfast we fly to the ancient capital of Pagan, its 2,000 pagodas, temples, and monasteries making this one of the world’s most enchanting places. We begin our exploration with a stunning view over the city from one of the temples then visit the lively Nyaung Oo daily produce market. The Shwezigon Pagoda, Pagan’s largest and most venerated reliquary shrine, is distinguished by its huge, gold bell-shaped stupa. At one of Pagan’s monasteries we are honored to participate in a Food Donation Ceremony—Buddhist monks eat twice daily, early morning and mid-morning, and rely solely on the generosity of the community. A tour of the monastery gives us the chance to witness the rituals of daily monk life.
After lunch we visit a workshop for a lacquer ware demonstration. Our temple exploration continues at the Ananda Temple, a whitewashed masterpiece of Mon architecture. We also visit Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple covered with superb frescoes, before flying back to Rangoon to reboard our ship.
Rangoon / At Sea
Time and tides permitting, we continue our exploration of Rangoon this morning before setting sail for the Andaman Sea. Lecturers recap our adventures thus far.
We sail westward today as our lecturers enlighten us on India’s Andaman Islands.
Andaman Islands, India
Flung across a velvet blue-green sea, the 572 Andaman- and Nicobar-Island Archipelago is a mountainous wonderland of dense forest and exotic flora wrapped in ribbons of white sand. During our two days here we have the opportunity to truly savor the landscape, the marine environment, and the historical perspective. In Port Blair we visit the Samudrika Museum, where exhibits spotlight local history and archaeology, and the regional marine life. The Cellular Jail, its 698 jail cells built by the British in the early 1900s, is a reminder of the dark days of forced labor endured by India’s freedom fighters against colonial rule. And the Aberdeen Bazaar gives us a glimpse into daily island life.
Beach walkers enjoy the unspoiled beaches, while snorkelers investigate the surrounding lagoons and colorful coral reefs of the National Marine Park, home to more than 300 species of fish. Mt. Harriet National Park offers birders the chance to watch for the endemic species found in the evergreen forests, including the Andaman scops owl and Andaman serpent eagle.
We cross the Bay of Bengal, sailing towards Sri Lanka and southern India, and our lecturers lend insight into this fascinating corner of the world.
Trincomalee, Sri Lanka / Habarna
Disembark this morning for an overnight excursion. We first visit Polonnaruwa, a one-thousand-year-old city and World Heritage Site, and after lunch we travel to the Minneriya-Giritale National Park, home to sloth bears, crocodiles, and the elusive leopard. As evening falls, we embark on a tour to search for its most famed residents, the wild elephant. We then drive to nearby Habarna for an overnight at our hotel.
Habarna / Kandy / Colombo
This morning we set out to visit the amazing World Heritage Site, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, whose centerpiece is a glistening white horizontal edifice built right beneath and into a huge cliff overhang. More than 80 caves cover the area, and five contain statues and paintings relating to Buddha. From here we drive to Kandy in the highlands where we explore the stunning Temple of the Tooth which houses the tooth of Buddha. This World Heritage Site was originally part of the Royal Palace complex of the Kandyan Kingdom and is one of the holiest places of worship and pilgrimage for Buddhists around the world. We drive to Colombo to reboard the Clipper Odyssey.
Tuticorin, India / Disembark / Madurai / Chennai
We arrive at the southernmost tip of India this morning and disembark the Clipper Odyssey after breakfast. A drive inland brings us to Madurai, the cultural capital of the Tamil people and home to one of the world’s most famed temple complexes. The 16th-century Sri Meenakshi Temple is an incredible collage of 121 towers, some over 150 feet in height, and covered in multicolored carvings. A thousand-pillared hall showcases the Temple Art Museum, with its friezes and exhibits devoted to Hindu deities. Nearby is the bustling marketplace, overflowing with brilliant flowers that are presented as offerings at the nearby temples. At the end of our visit we transfer to the airport and fly to Chennai (Madras) for a final overnight at our hotel.
Chennai / USA
Depart India on your independent flight homeward.
One of the finest adventure ships afloat, the Clipper Odyssey is a 110-passenger luxury expedition vessel, ideally suited for cruising in off-the-beaten-path locales. On all Clipper Odyssey expeditions, guests have access to a fleet of Zodiacs, which allows remote landings anywhere nature or curiosity dictates. All cabins on a Clipper Odyssey cruise have an ocean view, safe, minibar, individually controlled heat/air conditioner, in-room music system, and sitting area with sofa. Beds can be configured for twin or queen-size sleeping arrangements, and all cabins have an en suite bathroom complete with shower and small bathtub. In the comfort of their cabin, passengers can track the progress of their expedition on the Global Positioning System broadcast—a highlight of a Clipper Odyssey voyage for adventure-minded guests. Additional facilities include a gourmet kitchen featuring American and international cuisine, dining room, lounge, small library and gym, outdoor pool, and gift shop. An elevator services all passenger cabin decks. Ship registry: Bahamas.
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.