Mingun Bell

Irrawaddy River separates Sagaing and Mandalay. To stay away from the hustle and bustle of Mandalay, many tourists would have a day trip to Sagaing. Travelling along the river from Sagaing, you will arrive in the city of Mingun where the famous Mingun Bell is located in.

Sagaing was the capital city from 1760 to 1764. Until now, it is still an important religious centre in Myanmar. Among the forest green, there are white and gold of Buddhist buildings.This has become a signature scene of Sagaing. After climbing the stairs of the mountain, you can view from top the complementary scenery of Sagaing with the Irrawaddy River. In Mingun, the major attractions include Mingun Pahtodawgyi, Lions of Stone and Mingun Bell. Built in 1808, the construction of Mingun Bell came to completion after two years and weighs 90,000 kg. According to the locals, the Mingun Bell is currently the largest functioning bell in the world.

Ngwe Saung Beach

Ngwe Saung is located in Ayeyarwady Region and takes a five-hour drive from Yangon. Since Ngwe Saung is equipped with comprehensive public facilities and unpolluted beaches, it has become the resort paradise in Myanmar. 

On the beach of Ngwe Saung, people rely on horses, bullock carts, bicycles and motorbikes as a means of transportation, creating a unique scene. There are many vendors, usually women or children, on the beach. They do not shout nor importune customers in order to sell their products. They travel around the beach and only stop at visitors’ requests. The roasted fish, prawns and seafood are fresh, tasty and inexpensive. The quality is comparable to the seafood restaurants in downtown. Ngwe Saung only has one major commercial street with grocery stores, restaurants, fruit stores and souvenir shops. Many tourists, when they visit Ngwe Saung, would visit a nearby elephant training camp to have a close interaction with elephants.

Bagaya Monastery

The ancient city of Inwa is in the south of Mandalay. That is where the famous tourist attraction, the Bagaya Monastery, is located. During the warring states period in the mid-14th century, the Kingdom of Ava occupied the territories of Myinsaing and Pinya Kingdoms, and Sagaing Kingdom and established the capital city in Inwa where palaces and temples were built. With the development of Inwa city, the construction of the Bagaya Monastery was completed in 1593. The monastery is renowned for its detailed architectural structure, exquisite teak wood carvings and wall carvings of animals and birds. However, the Bagaya Monastery was damaged in the fire in 1821. In 1992, the government started reconstructing the monastery with reference to the original structure and form. In addition to teak, bricks were used as the building materials during the reconstruction. 

Bagan Plains

The area of the Bagan Plains is about 42 square kilometre. It is said that there were more than 10,000 Buddhist pagodas in its best days. After the invasion of Kublai Khan of Mongolia and recent earthquakes, the plains still have over 2,000 pagodas erecting there.

The Pagan Kingdom was the first kingdom to constitute the history of Myanmar. Bagan, during the 400-year dynasty, served as the capital city. Now, the area is a popular tourist spot. Among all pagodas, Shwesandaw Pagoda, one of the tallest pagodas on the plains allowing tourists to reach the top of the stupa, is the most popular spot for viewing the sunset.

Another popular activity there is to ride a hot air balloon for the magnificent view of the “Land of Thousand Pagodas”. Although this is a pure tourist activity, the hot air balloons are designed in brick red, similar to the colour of the pagodas and monks’ robes. Therefore, the hot air balloons blend into the scenery of the plains and historic pagodas perfectly. 

Inle Lake

In Inle Lake located in Shan State, you will feel like you are visiting the watery world of Shangri-La. Not owning a boat for travelling is like not having feet to walk when you are at Inle Lake. Ethnic minorities like the Pa’O and Intha people raft, fish and build artificial floating islands for agricultural use. They build houses on the water with bamboos and thatch – their lives are based on water.

Taking a boat to travel to the lake from the river, you can see an iconic scene of Inle Lake – fishermen in white shirts, orange trousers, straw hats are rafting with a paddle skillfully. Occasionally they would throw out fishnets and then slowly get the catch. Land reclamation is not needed for the lake residents, because they are so intelligent that they have developed the “agricultural activities on the lake”. They insert bamboo poles into the bottom of the lake as the “foundation”, then stack plants and lay silt on top. Voila! An artificial floating island is made for growing plants like tomatoes, melons and chrysanthemums.

“Buddhist temples on the lake” are not something surprising to find in the Inle Lake. Nga Phe Kyaung Monastery in the west is the largest and most historical. Apart from worshipping Buddha statues in the styles of Shan State, Bagan and Tibet, the temple is also famed for having a large group of trained cats which know how to jump through a hoop.