In the vicinity of Mandalay lie some 'deserted cities', former capitals of ancient kingdoms: Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing. Since the fall of Bagan, these cities are constantly trading places as the capital of Myanmar. During this full days excursion you will visit some very interesting places.
First you'll go to the Mahamuni Paya in Mandalay, the second most important temple in the country for Burmese buddhists. Every Burmese hopes to have visited this sacred place at least once in his/her life. The four meter high Mahamuni Buddha is made of bronze, but because the countless pilgrims sacrifice gold leaf to the image, the Buddha now has a gold layer of up to 15 inches thick! The Mahamuni Paya is alive with the large number of believers that come here to pray and sacrifice. The temple itself is also beautiful to look at, with gold, purple and brown colouring.
You drive on to the monastery in Amarapura Maha Ganayon Kyaung. In the kitchen of the monastery, huge pots of rice are prepared. You see hundreds of monks sit down for lunch, their last meal of the day. Sometimes you can even take a look in the bedrooms where the monks sleep together on mats. You will also visit a nearby silk workshop.
In Sagaing Division, on the other side of the Ayeyarwady River, you have a beautiful view over the wide water and a British-built bridge. On the hills more than 700 monasteries are scattered. The dome of the Kaungmudaw pagoda is visible from afar. In Sagaing you can visit a silverware place .
You will cross again on the Ayeyarwady and continue to a parking lot on a tributary. From here little flat boats leave to Ava (now known under the name INWA). In five minutes you cross the river (you pay the nominal cost for the ferry on the spot). Ava was the capital of Burma for over 400 years. Again and again the city was besieged by hostile nations, but eventually a severe earthquake in 1838 led to the destruction of the city. Ava is an artificial island where time seems to have stopped. After the rainy season you can enjoy an optional tour by horse of the beautiful landscape and temples that sparkle in flooded fields. The driver stops during the trip several times. You stop in Bagaya Kyaung, a monastery from 1834 that is made entirely of teak. The Maha Aungmye Bon is also lovely, a monastery that is special because it is built with bricks and decorated with traditional plaster. This was unusual for the time in which it was built (1812). Nanmyin is a 27 meter high tower, which originally belonged to the palace of Bagyidaw. During the earthquake of 1838, the tower suffered severe damage. It is often called the "Leaning Tower of INWA'' and you can climb up for a nice view over the surroundings.
On the way back to Mandalay you stop again in Amarapura, now at the impressive U Bein's bridge. The 1200 meter long teak walkway connects the shores of Lake Taungthaman. This is an ideal place to watch the sun set together with a drink on one of the many terraces. You can also choose an optional boat trip on the lake.
Included: transport by air conditioned car / bus
Not included: truck to Sagaing Hill, ferry to INWA (Ava), trips by horse and cart, meals, drinks