Sagaing, Inwa and Amarapura are known as the Three Ancient Cities and the most popular Mandalay tour route in Myanmar. They are located close to Mandalay, which makes them really easy to explore.
Depending on how extensive you would like to see these cities, you can decide how much time you would like to spend on each one. As we did not have much time, we picked out the most important places of them and managed to see them in one day.
U Min Thonze Pagoda
One of the main attractions, which are located on the Sagaing Hill is the U Min Thonze Pagoda also known as U Min Thonze Caves. The pagoda is build around the 14th century and it was reconstructured in the mid of the 19th century. It has 30 semicircular gallery entrances, which resemble cave openings.
Once you enter, you can see 45 images of Buddha sitting in one row and the walls have a light mint color.
Where: The U Min Thonze Pagoda is located here.
Entrance fee: The entry is included in the daily ticket for Sagaing and Mingun.
Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda
Soon Oo Pon Nya Shin Pagoda is in close proximity to the U Min Thonze Caves, located on the Nga-pha Hill in Sagaing. It was built in 14th century.
Inside the hall you can find a large golden image of Buddha and outside, there is a spaticious patio, decorated with many colorful tiles. There are also a few golden stupas and you can enjoy a breathtaking view from the top.
If you want to know more details, make sure to read this article on Sagaing.
U-Bein Bridge is probably one of the most famous tourist highlights in Myanmar. It lies on the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura in Myanmar. The bridge is 1,2km long, built from teakwood in 1850. It was once the longest wooden bridge in the world. Therefore, many people are attracted to it and come here to see and cross the bridge.
However, you have to be careful when crossing it. It can be very crowded, especially in the afternoon, when most of the people come here to watch the sunset. If it had been raining, it might be also slippery and you have to watch where you step.
What to see along the way?
Before going on to the bridge and walking the 1,2km distance to the other end, you can check out the Taung Mingyi Pagoda, which is just before the beginning of the bridge. Once you have passed the bridge, you can also visit the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda.
When to come?
When we came here, we were really surprised to see that the waters are rather poluted and the surroundings are not that clean as well. The weather that day was also not that great, so we were not able to see the sunset. Tipp: Check the weather prognoses before coming to the U-Bein bridge.
I am attaching you a link here, so that you can see how the sunset is supposed to look like. I would also recommed to visit this site, in the early morning between 7am and 9am. There will be no big tourist crowds and the colors of the sunrise could be as breathtaking as the ones by sunset.
Where: You can find the location of the U-Bein Bridge here.
The Mahagandayon Monastery is in close proximity to the U-Bein Bridge. It is one of the biggest monasteries in Myanmar and a home of many monks. People who visit the monastery get a snapshot of how the monks live. Please be respectful, while being there.
At the Mahagandayon monastery, the tradition of monks waiting patiently in line for their lunch, has turned unfortunately to a tourist spectacle. At 10:30am, the toursits are lining up in the streets, to watch this ritual. However some of them forget how to behave. We saw people literally shoving their cameras and selfie sticks in the faces of the monks, in order to get a nice photo. Can you imagine this?
Earlier it was even allowed for the tourists to go in the dining hall as well and watch the monks eat their lunch. As this got out of control, the monastery forbid outside people going inside.
Where: You can find the location of the Mahagandyon monastery here.
Thein Nyo – Silk Weaving Factory
We also stopped at the Thein Nyo – a silk weaving factory. It was really great seeing how silk is being produced. There is a shop right next to the production side, if you want to buy some fabric or a product.
Where: You can find the location of the Thein Nyo here.
Opening hours: Between 8am to 7pm
Other sites in Amarapura
Inwa or also known as AVA, was the capital of Burma many years ago and the center of the Burmese Kingdom. However, due to several eathquakes throughout the years, Inwa was destroyed and then abandoned. Today, you can find only a handfull of sites, which remain from the Kingdom.
In order to get to Inwa, you have to take the ferry, which will take you over the Myittha Canal. Just one kilometer after the AVA-bridge, you can find a small way, which leads to the ferry rides. It takes only a few minutes, costs not more than 2000 Kyat (round trip) and will bring you directly to the horse carriage stand. Horse Carriage?
Yes. A horse carriage is the best to travel around Inwa and it is one of the main attractions for tourists. It is big enough to fit 2 people and the person “driving” it. So, if you are more than 2 people, you will need more carriages. It costs 10.000 Kyat for a 2-hour ride around the island.
Along the way, you can see different sites – from small temples, rice fields or big banana plantations.
The first stop we made was at the Bagaya Monastery. This monastery was build originally in 1593 from a really dark teak wood. Unfortunately, it suffered a great damage, due to a fire, which broke out in 1821. King Bagyidaw re-built it during his reign.
The wood architecture of the monastery is really one of a kind. You have to be careful, when walking around, since you have to be barefoot, when entering it. You can roam around for some time outside and then go inside. There are a few Buddha sculptures across the room and you might see monks reading close to the windows.
Where: You can find the exact location of the monastery here.
Entrance fee: There is no entrance fee to the monastery.
Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery
The carriage brought us last to the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery. This monastery is “guarded” by 2 large Chinthes (the Burmese mythological lions), which are placed at the entrance as at many other tempels.
The monastery is well preserved and it is a fine example of the spectacular architecture of Burma. It was build in 1818 by Queen Me Nu, the wife of King Bagyidaw. The Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery was build in the same architectural style as the wooden monasteries. However, there is one important difference – it was build from bricks.
Where: You can find the Monastery’s location here.
Entrance fee: It is included in the Mandalay Archeological Zone Ticket.
There are a few white stupas on the grounds of the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery. The biggest one there is Maha Sutaungpyae Htihlaingshin Pagoda. You do not need another ticket for entering it, as it is just a few meters away from the monastery.
Where: You can find the exact location here.
Other sites in Inwa
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