The colors, character and pulsating beats of Myanmar can be found inland. Mandalay and Bagan, two historical cities with romantic names, are sure to impress you. You got temples and ruins historical structures to compliment the overall grand ambiance of the two places and the always humble and smiling Burmese folks. The highlights are the villages, towns and artifacts you will encounter in between the two cities.
Set off to Mandalay, 716 kilometers north of Yangon, the country’s second largest city and the economic hub of Upper Myanmar. Sure, the name of the city sounds romantic, charming and maybe even historic, but the city was only founded in 1857. In fact, the city is named after the hill, where tons of temples and pagodas reside. You orientation of Mandalay starts with a peaceful bicycle ride around the outskirts. Pedal through the backstreets, stopping at colorful markets, small villages and meeting friendly locals in this amiable former capital. Then, it’s hill climbing time. The view and temples are just rewards.
Head towards the bank of the Chindwin River, passing prime Burmese countryside to your next destination, the less-visited town of Monywa. What’s here? Oh, just 500,000 Buddha images inside the 700 year old Thanboddhay Pagoda. Explore more countryside Burma as you cross the river by ferry to Po Win Taung, an archaeological site considered by many to hold the richest collection of mural paintings and Buddhist statues in Southeast Asia. The complex contains 947 small and large richly decorated caves, containing numerous Buddha images and murals carved into the caves themselves. The relics here have been dated to between the 14th and 18th centuries.
Following the eastern river bank from Monywa to Bagan guests can observe farmers extracting juice from palm trees to produce palm sugar. Stop at Ah Nyeint, Ah Myint and Ma U Ah Le villages for opportunities to learn more about the lifestyle and culture of the countryside residents. Board a private boat after lunch to ferry you on to the shores of Bagan.
This is it, the grand city of Bagan. Where over 2000 temples majestically paint the horizon. Just think that hundreds of years ago, there were about 13,000! Marvel at the grandness of it all as you pedal up close to these marvelous structures and relax as you view them all via a horse cart ride. You’ll also absorb the town’s local flavor with visits to the morning market and workshops showing the process of lacquering and carpentry.
You have just traversed the heartland of Myanmar. By setting off from Mandalay, visiting villages and towns on your way to Bagan, you have also discovered the true characteristics of the Burmese people, something many who haven’t left the city of Yangon experienced. For more in-depth travels of the country, see our Myanmar tours page.
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