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Mandalay & Environs
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Mandalay

The second largest city of Myanmar, with a population of 700,000, here lies the cultural heart of Myanmar where the most refined arts, traditions of dance, music and drama live on. The royal capital of the last monarchy of Myanmar, Mandalay is also known for its fine gold and silver crafts, wood and marble carving, silk thread weaving and ancient tapestry. Besides handicrafts workshops, interest places are Zeycho Market, Shwenandaw Golden Palace Monastery, Kuthodaw Pagoda and Mandalay Hill. There are several ancient capitals around Mandalay such as Amarapura, Sagaing, Ava, Mingun where Kongboung dynasty kings established their capitals respectively.

Mandalay International Airport is also the gateway to Myanmar. Air Mandalay operates directly flight from Chiang Mai to Mandalay. It is only over an hour's flight from Yangon. By road, it takes about 14 hours by Express coaches; and about 14 hours by train from Yangon.

 

Amarapura

Situated about 11km south of Mandalay and on the left bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. Founded by King Bodawpaya in 1783 as his new capital. Amarapura means City of Immortality.
There are several places of interest in this ancient city which was also the site for the first British Embassy in Myanmar in 1795. 1.2 km long U Bein Teak Wooden Bridge built over the seasonal Taung Thaman lake in 1786 with over 1700 huge teak pillars. Mahagandayone Buddhist Monastery which is the biggest Buddhist University in Upper Myanmar, is the most interesting site in Amarapura. Day return visit to Mingun, Ava (Inwa) and Sagaing could be done around the Mandalay.

 

Mingun

Located across majestic Ayeyarwaddy River approximately 12 km north of Mandalay. Mingun today hosts the world second largest ringing Bell of 90 tons in weight and unfinished pagoda to go with it. Mingun Pagoda was dedicated to be the world largest monument however which today stood to be the world largest brick pile. It is reached by ferryboats across the river and takes 1 hour for up-river and 40 minutes for down-river. A boat trip to Mingun is pleasant with plenty of life on the river to see.

 

Ava (Inwa)

Located across Myitnage River about 20 km southwest of Mandalay is the capital of Burmese Kingdom for nearly 400 years. All the major buildings, which are not destroyed during the earthquake of 1838, had been transferred first to Amarapura and then to Mandalay however the 88 feet high watchtower known as the " leaning tower of Ava" and Bargaya teak monastery which is famous for its teak pillars amounting to 267 in total is still to be seen today. Visitors cross the river on a ferry and ride around the sites of Ava in a horse-drawn cart.

 

Sagaing

Sagaing lies 21 km south-west of Mandalay on the west bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. Today, Sagaing is the capital of Sagaing Division and known as a meditation centre. The Sagaing Hills offer famous religious retreats where monks and nuns go for study and meditation in over 400 monasteries. Nearby is Ywataung village known for its silver craftsmen.

 

Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)

Pyin Oo Lwin, 1070 meters above sea level, is 67 km east from Mandalay. It is best known as Maymyo, a former British colonial summer retreat. The famous Candacraig Hotel, the Kandawgyi garden and the Pyin U Lwin Market are popular sites. The visit of Pwe Kauk Falls, Peik Chin Myaung Cave and by a ride on a horse-drawn stagecoach through the town can be enjoyed. Pyin Oo Lwin is an easy day trip from Mandalay. Hiking trips to the nearby Anisakan and Dattawchaint Water Falls can be arranged. There are choices of tourist grade accommodations in Pyin Oo Lwin. The train through Gokhteik Viaduct will give you exotic journey.

 

MONYWA

Situated on the eastern bank of the Chindwin River and 136 km north-west of Mandalay , MONYWA is a city in central Myanmar and serves as a major trade center for India and Burma through KALAY road and Chindwin river.

The major tourist attraction in Monywa is Thanboddhay Pagoda, a Buddhist temple with a huge stupa resembling Indonesia's Borobudur, contains over 500,000 images of Buddha, Laykyun Sekkya standing Buddha statue, the tallest statue in the world, with 115.82 metres, Bodhi Tahtaung Pagoda, Aung Sakkya Pagoda, Shwe Gu Ni Pagoda and Kyaukka village known for the crafting of black lacquer ware called Kyaukka ware. Excursion to Hpo Win Taung and Shwe Ba Taung caves on the western bank of the Chindwin River are essential visit. 

During dry season, light adventure trip to Alaungdaw Kathapa, one of the most famous pagodas in the region, located in the center of the Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park, can be added. Hundreds and thousands of pilgrims pay homage to this Pagoda annually during the Pagoda season.

 

HSIPAW

This small town with relaxed place of life situated 200 km North East from Mandalay. Situated on the mighty Shan hills it is a perfect spot for trekking and exploring the ethical villages that are dotting the surrounding highlands. The surrounding nature hosts also several natural hot springs that are nice spots to take a bath local style. A few kilometers south of Hsipaw you can find a picturesque waterfall which is a great half day destination for cooling swim.

There are also plenty of Pagodas and old traditional houses to admire and one of the must see place is the old Shan prince palace (more like a mansion) at the northern end of town. The last Shan prince disappeared during military coup in 1962 and today his nephew and his wife are taking care of the mansion and gladly give insights of the History of Shan state. TV movie 2015 TWILIGHT OVER BURMA is about this family.

A half-day boat trip on the Dokhtawady River from Hsipaw is an exciting option. This scenic journey features monasteries, pineapple plantations, fields, forests and a 45-minute walk where you will have the chance to speak to local Shan farmers.

 

MOGOK

Known as ruby-land, this town is 205 km from Mandalay. Mogok attracts public attention for its precious gems-rubies, sapphires and balas rubies-as well as its significant natural panoramic view. Mogoke was once abundance in precious stones. It is said that gems could be discovered if someone merely pulls off a turf of grass. Today gems are extracted through traditional methods of digging by hand and mining by machinery equipment in respective gem tracts. In the gems industry of Mogok, HtaPwe or gem markets play vital role in selling and buying the stones.

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