A major embarkation and disembarkation port for river cruises in the Upper Irrawaddy, the town of Bhamo in northern Myanmar is largely defined by its neighbor — China. Among the riverfront market stalls and teak wood houses, there are signs of a bustling trading post, from the foreign-made products to the flavorful fusion food.
What We Love
Second Defile: Cruising to Bhamo means going through this passage along the Irrawaddy. You'll go through a wooded, precipitous cliff south of Bhamo, which is amongst the most dramatic stretches of the river. Keep your eyes peeled and camera ready.
Best Known For
Street Food: Tangy, spicy, crunchy — the flavors and textures of the Kachin State’s dishes have punch and complexity, thanks to a crossroads of cuisines from India and China and the region’s numerous ethnic tribes. Highlights include bamboo salad with fish and peanuts, and the savory and slurp-worthy pork curry.
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Who It's Best For
Off-the-Beaten-Track Travelers: You won’t find the crowds or the harassing vendors in this neck of the woods — only the sights and sounds of everyday happenings: motorbikes chugging along dusty roads and fishermen paddling in their sampan boats.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Few Visitors: Not much tourism makes its way to the northern reaches of Myanmar, and your presence in this pastoral hideaway is a novelty and source of wonderment to the locals. Don’t be surprised to catch residents snapping pictures of you.
It’s a Quick Stop: As of now, Avalon Waterways is the only river cruise operator servicing Bhamo. Your visit here will likely be a rapid run-through and not a thorough, in-depth excursion.
Lisa Cheng is a New York-based writer for ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel + Leisure.