Yangon & Surroundings
Yangon is formally known as “Rangoon” and was built in 1885; covers over 350 sq km, and has a population of over 5 million. Yangon is surrounded on three sides by water. The heart of Yangon is the Sule Pagoda built in the 3rd Century; subsequently the British used this landmark when they rebuilt Rangoon on a Victorian grid pattern where 4 major streets’ begin their starting point at this pagoda.
The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is a remarkable architectural achievement and dominates the Yangon skyline. The gold that covers this massive pagoda is from the application of millions of gold leaf. Every year scaffolding is placed around this massive temple so that it can be repaired if needed, and hundreds of thousands of new gold leaf can be applied.
A stroll through the city center allows you to view such rich architectural structures-some of which retain colonial era architecture like City Hall, and the Supreme Court.
Having a cup of tea or coffee at the historical Strand Hotel, that was built in 1901, provides a relaxed atmosphere to rest during your sightseeing endeavors.
Thanlyin is 45 minute drive from Yangon- located on the bank of the Bago River on the other side of Yangon. During the 17th Century, Thanlyin was an important trading centre in the 17th Century under the Portuguese colonial administration.
The Thanlyin market provides a look into a traditional Burmese market, where an array of fresh fruits and vegetables line the food stalls, and the colors, sounds, and smell will tantalize your senses.
Kyauk Tan is a 25 minute drive from Thanlyin, and is home to the famed Yele Pagoda that rests in the middle of the Hlaing River. Accessible only by boat, the Yele Pagoda is a peaceful refuge, where many visitors purchase popcorn prior to their 3 minute boat ride from shore to the Pagoda, to feed the fish that surround this place of worship.
Bago was a capital of the Mon Kingdom founded in 15th century,
formerly Burma’s greatest seaport.
Bago is 80 kilometers from Yangon, and a leisurely excursion from Yangon can be completed in a day trip.
The massive Shwemawdaw Pagoda built by Mon King, and at 375 feet, is the tallest pagoda in Myanmar. Bago is also home to the famous reclining Buddha- which was discovered by a local man, who worked railway construction for the British in 1890.
Legend says that Bago used to be a tiny island off the coast in the Gulf of Martaban.
It was such a small place, that there was only room enough on the island for one Hamsa, (hintha- mythical bird). The male bird had to perch his mate upon his back to accommodate both Hamsas.
When you visit Bago, you will see the bird figures as a signature of Bago City.
Today dating friends believe that if they visit Bago together, the girlfriend will be pampered by her boyfriend – making a trip to Bago is a popular romantic destination for young people.
Kyaik Hti Yo (Golden Rock)
Kyaik Hti Yo is famous for its pagoda that stands on a gold–plated boulder atop a cliff, and it gives the viewer the sensation that it is about to fall down into the valley anytime.
But the Burmese believes that the pagoda will never topple as it is enshrined with the relics of Buddha’s hairs, thus fully protected by Buddha’s endless wisdom for having balance.
Golden Rock is an one or two day trip from Yangon and takes 5 hours to reach by vehicle. Once near Golden Rock all visitors board another vehicle that will begin its windy journey towards this religious Pagoda. At the disembarkation point you can choose to walk up to Golden Rock; hire a porter team to carry you on a bamboo supported chair, or hire a vehicle!
Bagan & Surroundings
Bagan is the most famous destination in Myanmar. There were 11 Kings who ruled Bagan from its founder King Anawrahta (1044-1077) to King Narathihapate (1254-1287).
There are over 4446 temples and pagodas in Bagan, built on 16 sq miles during the 11th to 13th Century; carrying one generation to another of religious, architectural and cultural value – one of the most remarkable archeological sites in Asia.
Mount Popa is an extinct volcano that was last active in BC 442. It is at 4981 Ft. (1518 meter). Directly adjacent Popa is the famed Taung Kalat-a small mountain that is home to a temple that is known as the “abode of Nats” (the home for the most powerful guardian spirits in Burma).
Mount Popa is 50 kilometers (31 miles) south east of Bagan, and an hour drive by car. Popa is the Sanskrit work for “flower”. Volcanic ash on the mountain created fertile soil enabling many types of colorful flora to flourish. The top of Popa rewards her visitors with the most beautiful panorama that can be seen in central Burma.
Mandalay & Surroundings
Mandalay is the second capital of Burma, and the last royal capital of Burmese Kings. It was founded in AD 1859, and colonized by the British in 1885. The literary name of Mandalay is “the charming plain”.
To the Burmese people, Mandalay is regarded as the center of Burmese culture and Buddhist learning.
The famous British writer Rudyard Kipling introduced us to Mandalay with his poem titled “Road to Mandalay” composed in 1887:
“For the wind is in the palm-trees, an’ the temple-bells they say:
come you back , you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay”.
Amarapura is 12 km from Mandalay. It was built in 1782 by King Bodawpaya. Amarapura is home to the world’s longest teak pedestrian bridge called the U Bein Bridge. Amarapura is also home to some of the finest silversmiths, and silk and cotton weavers in Burma. In Amarapura you will see the lifestyle of a typical monastery and the daily lives of the monks as they line up during their lunch.
Saggaing is on the bank of Ayarwaddy River, Accessible by boat, or by passing thru the Saggaing Bridge (Ava Bridge) which was built in 1934 by the British, and subsequently destroyed during
WW II because of its strategic importance. Saggaing Bridge was reopened in 1954 by the maintenance of Burmese Government.
Today, Saggaing is regarded as an important religious place with numerous temples, monasteries and nunneries. The top of Saggaing Hill offers visitors a peaceful & tranquil panorama view.
Mingun village is 11 km (7 miles) upriver from Mandalay; and it is located on the Ayarwaddy River, and is usually reached by river. Just an hour boat trip from Mandalay, Mingun is a favorite half day excursion from Mandalay.
When you enter the Mingun village, you will be warmly treated with local hospitality. Mingun is the birthplace of the venerable monk U Wisaitta who committed to memory all 8026 pages of the Buddhist literature Books during his youth in Mingun village. Mr. Wisaitta has been regarded as the genius of the greatest memory on “the Wonders of the World”.
Mingun is also home to the world’s largest ringing bell, and home of Pu Hto Daw Gyi – the unfinished temple that would have been the largest in Asia-had construction not been halted due to an earthquake. Visitors still can get a feel for its size because many years of construction had been completed before the quake. The panoramic views from atop the Pu Hto Daw Gyi are absolutely breathtaking.
Pyin Oo Lwin
Pyin Oo Lwin lies on the road from Mandalay-Lashio and at 3500 feet elevation, offers a reprieve from the heat. It takes 2 hours by car to reach Pyin Oo Lwin from Mandalay. The city was called Maymyo named after Colonel May, a British officer who was stationed at this hill in 1887.
It is also called the city of flowers and is home to a 432 acre botanical garden that is famous throughout Myanmar. And for the golfer, there is also a beautiful 18 hole golf course in Pyin Oo Lwin.
When you travel to Southern Shan State by air, you will land to Heho airport and to proceed by car to other major tourist destinations.
The main attraction of tour sites in the southern Shan State is Inle Lake. Excursion to floating island, vegetation, their fishing method, living style and traditional Shan Food draws the visitor’s interest.
The Phaung Daw Oo Festival celebration is not only for the procession of Buddha images to be paid homage from local, but also for the famous leg-rowing competitions.
Taunggyi is the capital of southern Shan State.
It was founded in 1894 by Sir James George Scott, one of the colonial officers in the history of British Burma, who is the author of the book -The Burma, His Life and Notions – pen name by “Shwe Yoe”.
Tauggyi Museum is recommended to visitors who interested in regional ethnology: indigenous costumes of the Shan Hill Tribes more than 30 groups.
A pagoda on the hill (Wish Granting Pagoda) 3 km south of the Taunggyi gives a wonderful view available of the Shan countryside and Inle Lake.
Kalaw is located about 70 kilometers (44mile) west of Taunggyi, a peaceful town surrounded by pine woods. Visitors like Kalaw with the remark of the city looks like their native region. It has a cool & pleasant weather all year round, beautiful mountainous landscape, affordable for hiking, observing the plantation of vegetable & live style of Palaung hill tribe.
You will get a wonderful holiday there and will like to make a trip again to get back that moment of pleasant emotion. This trip is highly recommended to family, friends & honey moon holiday makers.
Sittwe is the capital of Rakkhaing state, founded in 1826 by the English general Morrisson during the first Anglo-Burmese War. Sittwe is a gate way by air to Mrauk -U.
It is an hour flight from Yangon.
It is a five to six hour by boat from Sittwe, an old capital of Rakkhaing Kings ruled many dynasties in 16th & 17 Century. Royal Palace, Shitthaung Temple, Andaw Temple, Htukkan-thein (an ordination hall) are good to visit providing their rich architectural concepts of the ancient Arakanese (Rakkhaing people).
An hour flight from Yangon, a gateway by air to Ngapali Beach.
Sight seeing at Thandwe market is interesting to have a look of local product, Cotton weaving with Rakkhaing design of unique pattern.
Ngapali Beach is a 30 minute drive away from Thandwe airport. It is a un-spoil beach located along the south Rakkhaing coast, known as one of the most beautiful beaches in south-east Asia.
It is open to tourist except June to September when monsoon season.
Visitors who have carried equipment to effort snorkeling finding the water ideal.
It is said that Italian mercenaries during first Anglo-Burmese War, the stretch of sand at Ngapali Beach brought them back a warm thought of their home country.