South of Mandalay there are many historical sites of interest - from the Royal Island city of Inwa, to the hill top town of Sagaing, festooned with golden stupa and the famous teak bridge of U Bein.
U Bein Bridge
The U Bein bridge with crosses the Taungthaman Lake is the world's oldest and longest teak bridge.
On the Bridge
U Bein Bridge
The teak bridge was built in 1850 and stretches for about 1.2 km across Lake Taungthaman.
During dry season (winter) the lake shrinks and fertile land rises above water level. This land is farmed, maize and other crops are grown.
Across the teak U Bein bridge there are numerous cafés and restaurants but the pagoda is the main highlight
The bridge takes its name from the U Bein the mayor of the area when King Bodawpaya moved to Amarpura.
U Bein Bridge
Royal City Tour Booking a tour with tour operator costs about 48$ all day, for shared car three people Booked with local taxi cost 35$ ... 10$ For extra people .
The driver stopped when asked for photo taking and brought us to all the best places. The trip involves taking short boat trip across river 1$ and a horse and cart ride through Inwa city for about 2 hours.
Horse and cart costs 6000 kyat for two people.
Across the teak U Bein bridge there are numerous cafés and restaurants but the pagoda is the main highlight.
The temple houses a very large Buddha made from marble, around the temple there are 88 smaller statues.
This temple was built in the mid 19th century. The murals inside depict typical life at the time.
In the Village
Wander about the village on the east side of lake Taungthaman and across the U Bein bridge.
Weddings in Myanmar can be very ornate and elaborate affair. Here in the village the wedding party are heading in a procession to the temple.
Vist the Royal Island city of Inwa, leave the modern world behind and travel through the island in horse and cart.
The Bagaya Kyaung Monastery is the most famous in Inwa. Being built in the late 16th century, from teak it has survived the passage of time. The wooden walls, doors, wiindows and columns are decoratively carved with reliefs of flowers, birds and animals.
The monastery is supported by over 250 wooden pillars and is seven stories high.
The largest of the wooden pillars is 3 metres in circumference and 20 in height.
Near the monastery
The Royal City of Inwa or Awa is bordered by the Irawaddy River on the north and it's tributary the River Myintinge on the east.
The west side stretches out between the banks of the two rivers.
This river called the little river when compared to the Irawaddy never the less rises as far north as China.
The river flows from China down through the Shan Provence where it joins with the Irawaddy at Inwa.
Horse and Cart
Once you cross the river you will be greeted by teams of horsemen offering you a trip around the city.
The trip takes about an 1.5 to 2 hours depending on how many stops you make. Of course you don't have to travel by horse and cart but can walk though the distances are quite long.
Horse and cart costs 6000 kyat for two people and is cheaper per person if you have four of double up with others while crossing the river in the boat.
Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery
This monastery is the best preserved within Iwa city. It is also called Me Nu Oak Kyaung meaning Brick Monastery.
The buildings date back to the early 19th century and as it is made of brick has survived much better than many other buildings. The Buddha figure inside sits on a podium decorated with glass mosaics. Close to the monastery is a 7 tier prayer hall. Both were badly damaged in the 1838 earthquake.
There are many pagodas around the site, many in a good state of repair.
The archaeological entrance ticket (10$) is required for entry to this building so its better to buy in Mandalay and visit some of the other non free buildings as well.
Nanmyin Watch Tower
Apart from the gates to the Royal City nothing remains except this watch tower, which was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1838.
Known as the leaning tower as it tilts towards the ground. There are some metal structures around the tower to help stabilise it.
The tower if vertical would reach about 27 metre.
Yananda Hamaee Pagaoda
This is a cluster of small pagodas and stupa and a number of decaying statues of Buddha.
Sagaing about 20 km from Mandalay is an important religious centre. The hillside town is dotted with golden stupas and pagodas.
Across the Irawaddy River
The best time to see Sagaing is in the early morning as the low sun reflects off the hundreds of golden Stupa and a mist rises from the river.
A good view of the town is from across the river on the Mandalay side before you cross the metal bridge.
Sun U Ponya Shin Pagoda
There are so many Pagoda and Temple in Sangain it is hard to know which to visit.
But this one is interesting inside and has an enormous statue of Buddha.
From the outside terrace there are good views of both Sangain and the Irawaddy.
Outside the Pagoda
The views from the terrace overlooking Sagaing and the river are not t be missed.
Crossing Sagaing Bridge
Two metal bridges span the Irawaddy just west of Sagaing.
The more westerly is the smaller of the bridges and was built by the British in 1934. The bridge carries a rail line.
The larger of the two was completed in 2005.
A drive through Sagaing
Sagaing is a holy city and place of pilgrimage. Throughout the city there are numerous monasteries, well over 500.
Over 4500 monks live within these monasteries and the number often increases as pilgrim monks come to visit.
Visitors come to the temples to meditate and pray so at any time there is a mix of sight seeing tourists and pilgrims.
Drive Mandalay to Sagaing
Sagaing is about 20 km from Mandalay and the trip takes one out past the lake at Amarapura and farming land along the banks of the Irawaddy River.