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Introducing Myanmar

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar

Myanmar, formerly Burma, lies in mainland South East Asia, flanked by two great civilizations of the world, China and India. It has borders with Thailand, Laos, China and India. In the south is the Andaman Sea.

With a total land area of 676577 sq km and a population of about 53 million, Myanmar is twice the size of Vietnam and about the size of the United Kingdom and France combined. The Ayeyarwady River flows from north to south, dividing the land area, with the Shan Plateau and the Chin Hills on either side of it. The valley of the Ayeyarwady is very fertile. It plays a very important role in the historical, cultural and economic development of the country. Mt. Khakaborazi, 5889 metres high, is near the border of India. Myanmar's coastline is 2832 km long, and Ngapali Beach is a world-class beach resort, famous for sun, sea and sand. Myanmar is endowed with natural resources of timber, gems, oil, natural gas and mineral deposits. The metropolis Yangon is the gateway to Myanmar.

Myanmar is blessed by nature with vast, green forests, un-spoilt and pristine beaches and a variety of natural resources. Dotted with scenic landscapes and glittering pagodas, Myanmar is a real paradise for tourists. Myanmar is dubbed as the Golden Land not only because of the wealth of natural resources and golden pagodas, but also of the hospitality, generosity, cordiality, warmth and smiles of Myanmar people.

History of Myanmar, formerly Burma

Burma’s history, even to the present day, has been a struggle for supremacy between warring peoples. Almost all of the country’s citizens can trace their roots back to tribes that invaded their resource-rich land.

The indigenous races of Burma, which are of Mongoloid stock, fall into three main groups:

the Tibeto-Burman, the Mon Khmer and the Thai-Chinese. The first group is represented by the Burmese proper (concentrated especially in the Irrawaddy valley), the Arakanese(along the western coastal strip), Tavoyans and Merguese (in the valleys of Tenasserim), the Nagas, the Chins and the Kachins and many other tribes in the mountainous regions of the north. The representatives of the second group are the Mon (in the Irrawaddy delta and the Thaton and Amherst districts), the Wa (between the Shan States and Yunnan), and the Palaung (in Northern Shan States); whilst the third group includes the Shans, the Karens (in Tennasserim and the Irrawaddy delta) and the Taungthu (chiefly in the Shan States). There are several thousand domiciled Indians and Chinese scattered all over Burma.

600 BC- 500 BC
Orrisa, Indian Buddhist colonists arrived in Lower Burma. They settled there and built pagodas. According to legend, two merchant brothers named Taphutta and Baliga were given 8 strands of the Buddha’s hair. They then gave the strands of hair to King Okkalapa. The king built the Shwedagon Pagoda during the Buddha’s lifetime, April 26, 624 BC- May 23, 544 BC.

6th century BC
Some scholars believed that towns and villages had been built in Tagaung . Tagaung was also known as Thindwe.

3rd century BC
Mons cultivated close ties with India through the port of Thaton.

180 BC
Hindu colonists of Andhra Dynasty, from the middle of India established Mon towns of Hanthawady (Bago) and Syriam (Thanlying). Mon Talaings is one of the ethnic groups of Burma. They migrated from Madras, the coast of Southern India and mixed with the new migrants of Mongol from China. They drove out the above colonists and founded the Thaton Kingdom. They brought with them the culture, arts, literature, religion and the skills of civilization of Burma.

1st to 4th or 5th centuries AD
The Pyu settled in Upper Burma. Beikthano, the Pyu’s city-state was established in the 1st century AD or earlier in the 2nd or 1st century BC. It had flourished during the 1st century to 4th or 5th centuries AD.

3rd - 9th centuries AD
Sri Ksetra of the Pyu’s city-state was built in the 1st century AD and it had flourished since the 4th century AD.

3rd century AD
Hanlin (Wet Let), the Pyu’s city-state was built and it has its glory and splendor from 4th century AD to 9th centuries AD.

4th century AD
Wathali was founded in the 4th century by King Mahataing Chandra. It is about 10km north of Mrauk U. Wethali was a Hindu kingdom of Bengal. The inscription show traces of two ancient dynasties holding sway in the north. The first dynasty, seems to have been founded in the 4th century AD. The second one was founded in the 8th century by Sri Dharmavijaya.

825 AD
Two Mon brothers, Thamala and Wimala from Thaton built Bago in 825 AD and named it Hanthawady.

832 AD
The Tais invaded Upper Burma, attacking the capital Hanlin in 832 AD and enslaving the population.

9th century AD
Nan Cho (Nan Zhao) Chinese Shan invaded Han Lin village. Myanmar people also known as the Bamars moved down the Ayeyawady River from the China-Tibet border and established themselves as the major power in the rice cultivating region of the north. They fortified Bagan from which they could control the Ayeyawady river and trade routes between China and India.

1044AD
King Anawrahta ascended the throne in 1044 AD. He conquered Thaton, the Mon’s capital in 1057 AD. He established the First Myanmar Empire. It was known as the Bagan Dynasty, which lasted until 1287.

1058-1286AD
The Mon language replaced Pali and Sanskrit as dominant language. Theravada Buddhism became the main religion and the golden age of architecture with magnificent temples were built in Bagan.

1279AD
Taungoo town was built by Tha-wun-gyi.

1287AD
The Mongol Army of King Kublai Khan conquered Bagan. The battle lasted about 30 years. 1301 AD Burma splintered into small warring states with frequent conflicts between the Mons and Shans.

1313AD
Pinya was built by Thihathu, the youngest prince of the three Shan-Myanmar princes.

1322AD
Sagaing was built by prince Saw Yum (Ah thin khaya Saw Yum).

1364AD
Inwa was built by King Thado Minbya.

1430-1784AD
Mrauk U Dynasty was founded by King Minzawmun. It was a successor to two earlier kingdoms (Dhanyawady 1st to 6th centuries AD, and Weithali 3rd to 10th centuries AD).

1486AD
King Bayint Naung established the Hanthawady Dynasty, which was the Second Myanmar Empire.

1498 to 1613 AD
Portuguese discovered sea route from Europe to India establishing trading posts in the region and settled in the area for over 100 years. The Portuguese Philip de Brito Nicote, proclaimed himself King of Lower Burma, while displaying contempt from Buddhism destroying and plundering Buddhist monuments and relics wherever he went. He was eventually captured in 1613 by the forces of Myanmar king Anaukhpetlun, impaled on a stake to death.

1752 AD
King Alaunghpaya established the Konbaung Dynasty, which was the Third Myanmar Empire

1752 to 1853 AD
The British, French and the Dutch had built a trading presence. In 1752, financed by the French, the Mons took Innwa (Ava) as their capital but was later defeated by the Bamars who also attacked foreign trading posts. Conflicts started to occur along the Burmese border with British-India.

1824-1852AD
The First Anglo-Burmese War ended with ceding the Rakhine State to Britain.

1852AD
The Second Anglo-Burmese War saw Lower Burma conquered by the British and made the Tanintharyi Division a province of British-India.

1853 to 1878 AD
King Mindon came to power in 1853, introducing enlightened ideas. He reformed government, allowed people to be educated in Europe, and took the first steps towards industrialization. He built the wall city of Mandalay in 1859 and transferred his court there.

In 1861, he commemorated the 2400th anniversary of the preaching of the Buddha’s first sermon.

1886 AD
King Mindon had been succeeded by his son King Thibaw who alienated the British. A dispute between the Burmese government and the British Timber Company led to an invasion by British troops. After the Third Anglo-Burmese war, Burma was no longer an independent kingdom with the whole country being annexed as a province of British-India.

1886-1942AD
British ruled in Myanmar.

1935
Although the country prospered under British rule, the Burmese nationalist movement gathered strength. In 1935 the Government of Burma Act formally separated Burma from the Indian Colony.

1940-1945
During the Second World War, Burmese generals including Aung San, fought and defeated the British with Japanese assistance. When Japan renegade on promises to grant Burmese independence. The Japanese ruled in Burma during 1942 and 1945, Aung San established contact with the Allies and transferred the support of his 10,000 men strong army.

1945-1948
The British ruled in Myanmar again.

1947
Following a conference in London, Burma was granted independence. National elections in April 1947 returned Aung San with an overwhelming majority. Tragically, while the new constitution was being drawn up, Aung San aged just 32 and six of his ministers were assassinated by a political rival.

1948
Burma became an independent on 4th January 1948.

1948-1958
U Nu took over following Aung San’s assassination. The first years of independence were marked by economic disaster and fierce factional fighting.

1959-1974
General Ne Win took control of the government in 1958 and following elections in 1960 which returned U Nu, just two years later General Ne Win returned after a bloodless coup in 1962.

1974
The Revolutionary Council which General Ne Win had established in 1960 was disbanded in 1974 to be replaced by the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma.

1996-2000
A semi-enforced boycott had prevented loans being given by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, some investments by China, France, America and SE Asian nations had helped the economy to grow.

2005
July 7, the government moved to the new capital in Nay Pyi Daw, Pyinmana.

May 3, 2008
Nargis Cyclone. Mass destruction took place in the Delta region, leaving thousands of people homeless. Yangon was hard-hit as well with numerous damages through out the city and surrounding areas.

Map of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar

 

 

The People

Myanmar (Burma) has about 135 ethnic groups, the major ones being the Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar (Burmese), Mon, Rakhine and Shan.

Most of the people live in the central region, comprising the Mandalay Division, the Magway Division, and the lower Sagaing Division, and the rest live in the lower Ayeyarwady Delta and the Sittaung Valley. The Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan mainly live in the States named after them. In these hilly regions, it is cool in the mornings and evenings the whole year.

More than 89% of the people are Buddhists, who comprise mainly the Myanmar, Mon, Shan, Kayin and Rakhine. Christianity, Hinduism and Islam are also followed. The Chin and Kachin have been converted to Christianity. Mainly Indians embrace Islam and Hinduism.

The Culture

Myanmar culture had come into existence many centuries before Bagan, which was established in the 11th Century. Hence, the culture of Bagan and Myanmar culture are synonymous. The study of Bagan culture means that of Myanmar culture. Buddhism was initiated in Bagan through the endeavours of King Anawarahta. Therefore, Bagan is the ideal place for study of Myanmar archaeology, Buddhism and culture.

Myanmar culture is unique and is made of religion, literature, fine arts, painting, woodcarving, architecture, astrology and astronomy, of among other things, which are unique in the world. A tourist should not miss the golden chance of exploring Myanmar culture during their short visit here.

The Climate

Myanmar enjoys monsoon or tropical climate with three distinct seasons - the summer, from mid-February to mid-May, the rainy season, from mid-May to mid-October and winter, from mid-October to mid-February. Tropical fruit and fresh vegetables are available throughout the year. The peak tourist season is from October to end of April.
Religion
There is freedom of worship in Myanmar. The majority of people embrace Theravada Buddhism and the minority follows Islam, Hinduism and Christianity.

Mode of Dress

Myanmar is the land of 135 ethnic groups who dress according to their races. Even the Bama, who make up about 80% of the population, dressed traditionally in the times of Myanmar Kings. The males wore lop nodes and females wore beehive nodes for special occasions, which is one of the 60 styles of hair node. Today both males and females wear modern styles of dress, which includes long and short sleeved shirt and long and short trousers. Males and females also wear the traditional “longyi”, a skirt. Males wear short hair. For special occasions, they wear Gaungbong (headgear) and Taikpon (coat). Some conservative old tribal people wear their own traditional dress in their regions. As the ethnic groups are so many that it is impossible to describe each tribe's dress in this short note. Normally, all wear the same modern dress in towns, cities and Yangon.
Immodest attire is frowned upon Myanmar’s Buddhist environment, especially at pagoda environs. Every visitor to a pagoda must abide by pagoda etiquettes.
Lower Myanmar enjoy tropical season whereas upper Myanmar, especially the Chin, Kachin, Mon and Shan State, enjoy cold season all year. Therefore, visitors need to bring thick, warm clothes if they would like to visit upper Myanmar. If they would like to visit lower Myanmar, only light cotton or woolen dress is recommended all year round.

Economy

Myanmar is an agricultural country but striving to become an industrialized one. Myanmar produces mainly paddy, timber and mineral resources, including precious stones such as ruby, jade, emeralds, and sapphire, among others. Myanmar has been practicing Open Market Policy since 1990, and business companies have mushroomed. Tourism is an important industry with much potential.
Now-a-days, tourists visit Myanmar for a variety of reasons. Therefore, we are seeking new friends worldwide to do tourism business with us. We guarantee honesty, sincerity and service plus to our clients. We are a financially strong company, with a team of well-trained staff. We assure you of tourist satisfaction.

Currency

The legal currency in Myanmar is the Kyat (They are 1 kyat note, 5 kyat note, 10 kyat note, 20 kyat note, 50 kyat note, 100 kyat note, 200 kyat note, 500 kyat note, 1,000 kyat note, 5,000 kyat note and the newly issued 10,000 kyat note). But visitors may use FEC or US$. Traveler’s Checks (Traveller's cheques) or credit cards are difficult to use at the moment, so we recommend you to bring US Dollars in cash. Please note that the US dollar notes SHOULD be clean and new because people here do not accept the stained, torn, wrinkly, old version and CB series notes.

Electricity

230 volts AC.

Health Certificate

No vaccination certificate is required unless coming from an infected area.

Overland Entry Routes

Overland visitors can enter Myanmar from China via Muse in Shan State, from India via Tamu in Sagaing Division and from Thailand via Mae Sai-Tachilek, Three Pagoda Pass and Mae Sot-Myawaddy Pass. If you would like to visit Myanmar from these overland routes, you should inform us at least 45 days in advance, so that we could get the necessary permits for you.

Insurance

We strongly recommend that you buy medical insurance before you leave your home country at SOS International www.internationalsos.com which is widely used by Embassies, United Nation organizations and NGOs in Burma.

Special Travel Permit

In order to obtain the special travel permit, we do need the following data from you:
All your full names in the passport, passport number and its expiry, DOB, and nationality of the participants,
The exact point of entry and exit.
An approximate date of entry and exit,
A rough itinerary
You are also required to be accompanied by a licensed tour guide for this trip. But keep in mind that it should better be a Package Tour for the trip.



Gazetted Holidays of 2017
 

Wed, January 4

 Independence Day

Sun, February 12

 Union Day

Thur, March 2

 Peasants’ Day

Sun, March 12

 Full Moon Day of Tabaung

Mon, March 27

 Armed Forces Day

Wed, April 12 to Fri, April 21

 Thingyan Water Festival and Myanmar New Year Holidays

Mon, May 1

 May Day

Wed, May 10

 Full Moon Day of Kasone

Sat, July 8

Full Moon Day of Waso

Wed, July 19

 Martyrs’ Day 

Thur, October 5

 Full Moon Day of Thadingyute

Fri, November 3

 Full Moon Day of Tazaungmone (Tazaundaing Festival)

Mon, November 13

 National Day

Mon, December 18

Karen New Year

Mon, December 25

Christmas Day

 

Thayekhittaya/Hmawza, one of the ancient archaeological sites of Myanmar

Shwenattaung Paya, Shwedaung

Shwemyetman Paya, Shwedaung

Payagyi, Pyay

Payama, Hmawza

Baw Baw Gyi, Hmawza

Be Be Paya, Hmawza/Thayekhittaya

The ancient Thayekhittaya site lies 8km northeast of Pyay in Hmawza village. Firstly, you can visit the Payagyi, a kind of cylindrical stupa about 2km from the edge of the city. According to legend, Payagyi was built by mythical King Duttabaung in 443 BC but most likely dates back to Pyu Kingdom from 5th to 9th or 3rd to 10th centuries AD. Payagyi is believed to mark one of four corners that delineated Thayekhittaya. Two others are visible: Bawbawgyi and Payama. A few kilometers further will bring you to the junction where you turn off the Bagan road towards Paukkaung. The road runs alongside the extensive city walls of Thayekhittaya, and ahead on the left to the north of the road you can find the decaying Payama. About 6km from Payagyi to Hmawza, by the old palace site, stands a small museum and a map of the area. Inside the museum is a collection of artifacts collected from Thayekittaya excavations, including royal funerary urns; stone reliefs; a couple of bodhisattvas; statues of the Hindu deities Tara Devi, Visnu and Lakshmi; several 6th century Buddha images…and etc. South of the museum, outside the city walls, are the cylindrical Bawbawgyi Paya and cube-shaped Bebe Paya. Bawbawgyi is the oldest stupa in the area. Bebe looks like a prototype stupa for some of the temples in Bagan. It is believed to be built in the 9th century, but it actually may have evolved during the Bagan era. The East Zegu Paya, West Zegu Paya and Leimyethna Paya are worthseeing.

 Shwedaung, A small town about 14km south of Pyay, where you will find two famous paya. Shwemyethman Paya – Paya of the Golden Spectacles, a white-faced sitting Buddha inside the shrine. This Buddha wears a giant set of eye-glasses with gold-plated rims. Shwenattaung Paya, this Buddha Image reportedly dates back to the Thayekhittaya era, though the current 37m stupa features the post-Bagan style. Legend dates it back to 283 BC, from which point it was supposedly reconstructed by a long line of Bamar kings – hardly likely since there were no Bamar in the area before the 9th century AD – with the aid of local nat.

 

Main Tour Highlights in Myanmar

The Metropolis Yangon

Originally Yangon was a small settlement called Dagon, meaning the city on a spit of land. King Alaungpaya renamed it Yangon, meaning the City of the End of Strife or a Peaceful City.

The architects of modern Yangon were Lieutenant Fraser of the Bengal Engineers and an unofficial adviser Dr. William Montgomery, a surgeon.

Yangon, the commercial city, is the gateway to Myanmar, evergreen and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes. Yangon was anglicized to "Rangoon" after the British annexed the whole of Myanmar in 1885. Yangon covers about 570 sq km and has a population of over 5 million.

Interesting Places in Yangon Area
The Shwedagon Pagoda (Entrance Fee - 8000Ks.)

Shwedagon Pagoda


Shwedagon Pagoda

Shwedagon means the Pagoda of Golden Glory. It is the symbol and the cynosure of attractions in Myanmar. It is built on the Theinguttara Hill, which is the spur of the Bago Yoma (Ranges).

"The Shwedagon rose superb, glistening with its gold, like a sudden hope in the dark night of the Soul". (By Somerset Maughan)

"A beautiful winking wonder"! (Rudyard Kipling)

It is one of the most impressive monuments in the world. Its exact origins are hidden in folklore and legend. The Myanmar people believe that it was built about 2,600 years ago. It is in the heart of the city of Yangon. The magnificent stupa is plated with 8,000 solid gold slabs, and its tip is set with diamonds, rubies, sapphires and topaz.

The Shwedagon Pagoda has a golden dome, rising 98 metres above its base, and is sited atop Theinguttara Hill, overlooking the city. According to a legend, the pagoda was built by two merchant brothers, Tapussa and Bhallika (Taputha and Bhaliga), who were given eight strands of the Buddha's hair. With the assistance of celestial beings and the king of Myanmar, the brothers discovered the hill where there is a chamber, containing relics of the three previous Buddhas. These relics were dug up, consecrated and re-enshrined with the eight strands of hair. Over the ages, royalties and commoners have embellished the pagoda with countless precious stones.

There are some fortune-tellers and palm-readers near the pagoda, predicting the horoscopes of clients. It is also a not-to-miss tourist spot while in Yangon. The pagoda had suffered from earthquakes no less than eight times, in 1564, 1611, 1628, 1649, 1664, 1769, 1888, and 1914, and from a serious fire in 1931.
 

Nine Wonders of the Shwedagon Pagoda

Even most Myanmar people, let alone foreigners, know only about the history and the outward appearance of the Shwedagon Pagoda. There are nine wonders or never-to-miss places of the Pagoda which are as follows:
 



Padamya Myet ShinBuddha Image
 


Weiza-Zawgyi Buddha Image
 


Shin Saw Pu Buddha Image
 


Shin Ma Hti Buddha Image
 


Shin Iza Gau Na Buddha Image
 


San Daw Dwin Buddha Image
 


Boe Boe Aung Buddha Image
 


Let Palet Buddha Image
 


Pyadashin Buddha Image
 

1. Ta Wa Gu Su Taung Pyay Pagoda / Wish-Fulfilling Pagoda
It is situated on the Upper Terrace, in the east of the Shwedagon Pagoda. The Ta Wa Gu Pagoda is said to be Su Taung Pyay / Wish-Fulfilling, because it is very powerful. In past times, the kings and courtiers worshipped this pagoda. They prayed and made oaths, and their prayers were successful. They often fought one another in their endeavour to ascend the throne, resulting in great bloodshed and casualties. Hence, the kings issued orders that no courtiers must pray at the pagoda. It is said that the number of pilgrims to that pagoda is said to be less for this reason. Now males are allowed to climb the pagoda and pay homage on Saturday and Sunday but everyone should get a special permit in advance between Monday and Friday.

2. The Weiza Zawgyi Pagoda
It is located on the right of the Saturday Corner on the pagoda platform. Two Zawgyi (Supermen/accomplished alchemist) figures were built on a small stupa. This pagoda was built with the secular scheme.

3. The Su Taung Pyay / Wish-Fulfilling Pagoda
It is situated by the side of the Iron Tazaung (Vestibule) at the Rahu Corner of the Shedagon Pagoda platform. Some people call it the Bar Lay Bar Pagoda or the Queen Shin Saw Pu’s Pagoda (the Mon Queen of the Hanthawaddy from 1454 -1471). There are four trees of green champak and yellow champak near the pagoda.

4. The Shin Ma Hti Paya
It is situated in the Aryon Khan Tazaung / Devotional Hall in the north of the Naung Daw Gyi Pagoda at the Sunday Corner of the Shwedagon Pagoda platform. It is said that the pagoda was built by the Reverend Shin Ma Hti about 1000 years ago.

5. The Shin Izza Gawna Image
It is situated in the Devotional Hall in the south of the Naung Daw Gyi Pagoda at the Sunday Corner of the Shwedagon Pagoda platform. The monk Shin Izza Gawna / Ajagona is famous for having one eye of a goat and one eye of an ox. The ancient Myanmar literature says that he could use his super natural power to make it rain gold and silver in the Bagan Period. There is a saying which runs that the image has one narrow eye and one wide eye so that the builder might easily be recognized.

6. The San Daw Dwin Image
It is situated in the San Daw Dwin Tazaung / Hall, at the north end of the Shwedagon Pagoda platform. It is face to face with the Maha Bodi Pagoda, donated by Dagon Khin Khin Lay. It is noted that it was the place where the Hair Relics of the Buddha were washed when the Shwedagon Pagoda was built. Hence, San Daw Dwin / Hair Relics Well. It is said that there was a tunnel going down to the Hair Relics Well in the direction of back of the Image more than 70 years ago. It is also said that the water of the well is connected with the tidal water of the Irrawaddy River. The Hall was built to cover the brick tiered roof of the Hair Relics Well in the year of 1879.

7. The Boe Boe Aung Shrine
It is situated at the Boe Boe Aung Tazaung / Hall near the eastern arch of the Shwedagon Pagoda. It is said that the image at the Hall was built by Boe Boe Aung, an ascetic / inn-weiza / wizard, a person with super natural power, who mysteriously disappeared without dying due to super natural power. Back to back with the Boe Boe Aung Shrine is the Dammazedi Pagoda, built by King Dammazedi. In front of the Dammazedi Pagoda are a figure of lion and a figure of tiger.

8.  The Let Patlet Paya
It is situated in the Eastern Shrine Hall at the eastern arch of the Shwedagon Pagoda. It is the image of the Kakuthan Buddha. Unlike other images whose palms are faced downwards, the right palm of this Budda Image is faced upwards, which we Myanmar people call patlet. Hence, it is called the Let Patlet Pagoda.

9. The Pyadashin Paya
This bronze image in the southern arch is situated between the eastern arch and Tuesday Corner on the platform of the Shwedagon Pagoda. It is a very proportionate, beautiful and elegant one. It is said that a legendary ball of mercury compound (pyadashin) is placed on the heaped forehead of the image. Every pilgrim will admit that it is the most beautiful image of all images on the Shwedagon Pagoda platform.

Myanmar Buddhists believe profoundly that if they meditate or tell beads or pledge at any of the above mentioned places of Nine Wonders or Su Taung Pyi Shrines, their enterprises or prayers will fully succeed.


Nine Places of Vows
There is a saying which runs, "The relics of four previous Buddhas were vaulted at the Shwedagon Pagoda." The Buddhists usually count their beads (rosary) at a place of vow he or she likes on the platform of the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Some Buddhist people meditate, observe precepts, abstain from taking meat (Some mature meditators live on uncooked meals), and tell their beads nine rounds at nine places of vows which are as follows:

1. The Kakuthan Buddha Image in the vestibule at the eastern arch.

2. The Kawnagon Buddha Image in the vestibule at the southern arch.

3. The Kathapa Buddha Image in the vestibule at the western arch.

4. The Gautama Buddha Image in the vestibule at the northern arch.

5. Right at the corner of Sunday

6. Right at the corner of Tuesday

7. Right at the corner of Saturday

8. Right at the corner of Rahu (North-Western Corner.)

9. The Ta-Wa-Gu-Padamya-myet-shin Pagoda at the right east on the upper platform of the Shwedagon Pagoda.


Botahtaung Pagoda (Entrance Fee Ks 30000 )

"Bo" means "Vanguards" and "Tahtaung" means "one thousand", the "Botahtaung" Pagoda was named after the thousand "Vanguards" who guarded the relics of the "Buddha" brought from India, over 2,000 years ago. It is hollow inside where there are glass showcases containing many ancient relics and artifacts. Above this interesting dome, the golden pagoda spire rises to 40 metres (132 feet).
 
Unfortunately, the Pagoda was destroyed by Allied bombing during the Second World War, on November 8, 1943. However, during its postwar reconstruction a treasure vault was unearthed beneath the ruins. This led to more discoveries of images of the Lord Buddha in silver, bronze and alabaster, and other priceless treasures.

Buddha's Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda (Yangon)


"Gautama" Buddha's Sacred Tooth Relic was conveyed to the Union of Myanmar from the People's Republic of China for the Second time on 20th April 1994 under the programme of friendly cooperation between the two countries and kept for 45 days for Myanmar public homage. Buddha's Tooth Relic from China was kept together with the two Replica Tooth Relics of Myanmar.
Of the two, one Sacred Replica Tooth Relic was enshrined in the Buddha's Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda, Yangon on Dhammapala Hill in Mayangone Township. The Pagoda was built with cash donations contributed by the people of Myanmar and Buddhist donors of entire world under the supervision of the Myanmar government.
The Myanmar government authorities and donors built Buddha's Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda, Yangon, Shwe Htidaw (sacred golden umbrella), Hngetmyatnadaw (sacred bird perch vane) and Seinphudaw (sacred diamond bud) on the 24th of November 1996.

Chauk Htat Gyi Pagoda

A short distance from the Shwedagon Pagoda and located at Shwegondine Road, Chaukhtatgyi Pagoda houses the second largest image of the Reclining Buddha in Myanmar, measuring 216 ft long and 58ft high. Though originally built in 1907, it suffered from climatic damages over the years and was demolished in 1957, rebuilt in 1966 and finished in 1973. The original image faced to the southwest with a hand on the pillow and half of the body was erect. It was 101ft high and 235ft long.

Sule Pagoda (Entrance Fee Ks 20000 )

In the heart of Yangon amidst bustling traffic is the octagonal Sule Pagoda, which rises 49m (161ft) high. Old records say that it was built in B.C. 326 so it is over 2000 years. The pagoda is said to have enshrined a hair of the Buddha. Its Mon name is Kyaik Athok, meaning “the pagoda where a sacred relic hair is enshrined”.

 

 

Kaba Aye Pagoda

"Kaba Aye Paya" means "the World Peace Pagoda". This pagoda was built in 1952.It is significant for the Sixth World Buddhist Synod, which was held in 1954.The interior of the monument, however, is hollow and inside are some Buddhist sculptures including a lei-myet-hna (four-sided) Buddha image sculpture.

 
Mahapasana Cave

It is 139 metres long and 113 metres wide.The Mahapasana is a man-made cave and is very close to the Kaba Aye Pagoda. It was constructed as the venue for the Sixth Buddhist Synod, which was held in 1954 to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of Buddha's enlightenment.

National Museum (Entrance Fee - Ks 50000 )

Located on Pyay Road, the National Museum displays various antiques, royal regalia, ancient musical instruments, handicrafts, paintings, etc. On the ground floor the main attraction is the Lion Throne, built in 1816 during the reign of King Bodawpaya. On the first and second floors are opium-smoking utensils, costumes, woodcarvings, pre-historic tools, and the Buddha images from the Bagan Dynasty. The museum is open from 10:00 AM to 04:00 PM.

Myanmar Gems Museum and Gems Mart (Entrance Fee - Ks 50000 )

The four-storey building is situated at No.66, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangone Township and very close to the Kaba Aye Pagoda. The Museum is on the top floor of the Gems Mart building. The exhibits are presented in five main sections: Jade, Gems, Jewels, Pearl and Minerals.
The Myanmar Gems, Jade and Pearl Emporium has been held annually in late February or early March since 1964.The mid-year sales have been organized in October since 1992, to meet the demand of the jewellers abroad. At present, interim sales are also organized in July and December. Persons wishing to attend the Emporium have to obtain the invitation by requesting the Myanmar Gems Enterprise at the above-mentioned address or at the nearest Myanmar Embassy or consulate in their respective country. The Gems Mart is open from 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM daily except Mondays and public holidays.

Bogyoke Aung San Park

A scenic park with a lovely view of Kandawgyi Lake is located on Natmauk Road and close to the Shwedagon Pagoda and the Mahavijaya Pagoda. This Park is a popular recreation centre where city-dwellers relax and enjoy their leisure in peace and tranquility. The playground and picnic areas are favourite spots for children and teenagers.

 

 

Bogyoke Aung San Market

It was formerly known as Scott Market during the British occupation. It is the main shopping and souvenirs centre in Yangon. A visit to Yangon is incomplete without a visit to Scott Market, where you can shop till you drop. It is on Bogyoke Aung San Road, in the city centre.

 

 

Htaukkyant War Cemetery (1939 - 1945)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has established the Allied War Memorial Cemeteries all over the world. Htaukkyan War Cemetery is one among them. It is located about 20 miles northeast of Yangon on the road to Bago.When you drive to Bago, you will see Htaukkyan War Cemetery with beautiful landscape. This cemetery contains a memorial bearing 27,000 soldiers who died with no known grave. It also contains the graves of 6,374 soldiers who died in the Myanmar and Assam Campaigns during World War II. It is an interesting tourist spot in the Yangon environs.

Twante, Centre of Pottery

Twante town, on the left bank of the Twante Canal which is 21 miles long, can be reached either by car or by boat. It is famous for the Twante Shwe San Daw Pagoda and the abundance of fruit and vegetables. It is a prosperous small jetty town.It is also renowned for earthen pottery. Tourists enjoy a visit there for a pleasant cruise, enjoying views on either side of the waterway.Twante produces a variety of earthenware like large and small earthen pots, either glazed or unglazed jars, ash-trays, goblets, earthen utensils and flower pots which are a common sight in the Yangon market. Hence Twante can rightly be called the home of Myanmar pottery.
You can get there by a 45 minute drive on public jeep from Dalah (on the opposite bank of the Yangon River) or by ferry (about 1 hour) along the Yangon River and Twante Canal.
In Twante you can visit the 76 metres tall Shwesandaw Paya (Pagoda). There is a display of ancient Twante pottery and of religious and royal regalia from early Mon and Myanmar kingdoms.

BAGO ( Zone Fee Ks 10000)

Bago is about 80 km by road and 75 km by railway from Yangon. Moreover, it is the junction where road and railway from Yangon - one to Mandalay to the north and the other to Mawlamyine to the east.
Bago is an ancient Mon city although it is not known exactly when it was first founded. A legend has it that it was once covered by the sea except a tiny patch of land on which a pair of hintha birds (Pali-hamsa / brahminy duck) came to land.The patch of land was so tiny that the female hamsa bird had to stand on the back of the male one.Taking it as a good omen, the two Mon brothers, Thamala and Wimala from Thaton, built a city on the land in 825 AD and named it Hanthawady, the city of hamsa birds.Byinnya Oo, king of Martaban, removed his capital to Bago in 1369. Later it became the centre of the Mon kingdom.King Tabinshwehti and his successor Bayinnaung occupied Bago in 1539 and annexed it to Taungoo kingdom. Hanthawady came into prominence when King Bayinnaung, the founder of the Second Myanmar Empire, made Bago his royal capital. The Golden Age of Bago lasted until 1635 when King Thalun moved his capital from Bago to Inwa. When King Alaungpaya, the founder of the Third Myanmar Empire, occupied Bago in1757, the city was utterly destroyed. Although King Bodawpaya rebuilt it to some extent but it never reached its previous glory and splendor again.

The Shwemawdaw Pagoda

According to a lithic inscription, the pagoda was originally built in the form of a large chamber in which a tooth relic and the image of the Buddha were enshrined by the king of Thaton some 230 years after the Lord Buddha entered Nirvana. Rising 114m high from an octagonal base, the pagoda is 10km from the city. Each side of its octagonal bases measures 49m.The octagonal base stands on two terraces, each about 3m high. Four stairways lead up to the terraces.The Shwemamdaw Pagoda was shaken by earthquakes in 1912 and 1917, and was partially destroyed by a third earthquake in 1930.It was rebuilt between 1952 and 1954. In the 1917 earthquake, the banana bud (shaped) of the pagoda dropped onto the ground in a slightly slanted position. It can still be seen there.

 

Hinthagone Paya

The Hinthagon Paya is located in the east of the Shwemawdaw Pagoda. According to a legend, this was the tiny patch of land rising from the sea on which a pair of hamsa birds landed. It came to be known as Hinthagon later. On the Hinthagon Paya, you can also see the Thuwana Hantha Stupa and a pair of hamsa statues which were built by U Khanti, the hermit who was also the architect of Mandalay Hill.

Kanbawazathadi Royal Palace

This royal palace site lies south of the Shwemawdaw Pagoda. Of rectangular shape, the palace walls measure 0.4km east to west and over 2.4km north to south.Five portals have been made on each side of the perimeter, making 20 portals in all. Excavation of this historic site began in 1990 after 400 years of neglect. It was destroyed by fire in 1599 during the reign of Bayinnaung’s son and successor Nandabayin, who was defeated by the combined forces of the king of Rakhine and the governor of Taungoo. The reconstruction of the replica of King Bayinnaung’s Royal Palace was completed in 1994.

The Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Image

The huge Reclining Buddha Image is located in Shwethalyaung ward lying west of the city and the Bago River. Measuring 55m long and 16m high, the Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Image was built in 994AD by King Migadippa. When Bago was overrun by King Alaungpaya in 1757, the massive reclining image was neglected and left to decay. In 1881, engineers working on a railway discovered it amongst dense vegetation. It was restored between 1906 and 1948.

Mahazedi

Proceeding beyond the Shwethalyaung Reclining Buddha Image will bring you to the Mahazedi.It was built in 1560AD by King Bayinnaung of Hanthawady in the form of the Mahacheti of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The Pagoda enshrined a great number of images including those made of gold and of silver of the same weight as the king. According to friendly relations with Ceylon, it also enshrined a gift of King Dhammapala of Ceylon in the form of a duplicate of the tooth relic of the Buddha. The Pagoda was destroyed by King Alaungpaya in 1757.The attempt to rebuild it in 1860 was unsuccessful, and the earthquake of 1930 levelled the stupa. This current reconstruction was completed only in 1982. Besides these, there are also innumerable sacred relics and valuable gems enshrined in the stupa.

Maha Kalyani Thein (Ordination Hall)

This Kalyani Ordination Hall was initially constructed in 1476 by King Dhammazedi, one of the most enlightened and wise rulers and also son of Queen Shin Saw Pu.He sent a mission of 22 Mon monks to Ceylon where they received re-ordination. On their return to Hanthawady, the monks brought the sand from the Kalyani River in Ceylon and had a suitable site consecrated after spreading the sand over it. On that site, King Dhammazedi erected the Kalyani Thein, the first of its kind in Myanmar. It stands beside the road between the railway station and the Shwethalyaung. The Portuguese adventurer Phillip De Brito burnt it down in 1599 during the period of his plunder, and it was destroyed again during the 1757 sack of Bago.

Later on it suffered from fires or earthquakes on numerous occasions before being levelled by the 1930 earthquake. Like the Shwemawdaw, reconstruction was completed in 1954.Next to the hall are 10 huge stone pillars with inscriptions in Pali and Mon on both sides, except the 9th and 10th pillars which are inscribed on one side only. The value of the inscription rests on the detailed information it gives of the early history of Buddhism in Myanmar.

Kyaikpun Pagoda

About 10-minute drive from Bago along theYangon Road, when you turn right to some hundred metres of the road, you will see four images of 30m high Kyaikpun Pagoda sitting back to back to a huge square pillar. It was built in 1476 by King Dhammazedi. According to a legend, four Mon sisters were involved with the construction of the Buddha images. It was said that if any of them should marry, one of the Buddha images would collapse. It was also said that the youngest sister broke her promise. One of the four Buddha images collapsed in the 1930 earthquake. It left only a brick outline. It has fully been restored later.

 

 

Other Attractions in Bago

Seinthalyaung Reclining Buddha Image (sein=diamond); myathalyaung Reclining Buddha Image; The Snake Temple; Kya Khat Waing Monastery; cheroot - making workshops; wood - carving workshops and pottery.


Seinthalyaung Reclining Buddha Image

Myathalyaung Reclining Buddha Image

The Huge Python seen at the Snake Temple

Bagan (Zone Fee Ks 20000 )

Bagan is the cradle of Myanma history, religion and culture. It is also known as "The City of Four Million Pagodas", and is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia. The intrepid heroes of Bagan were excellent in jostling at battles. This enchanting city, situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River is about 193 km south of Mandalay. Bagan covers an area of 42 sq km. It was unified by King Anawrahta in 1044 AD. The majority of these well-preserved temples and pagodas offer a rich architectural heritage from the 11th to 13th centuries.
 
There are daily flights to and from Bagan. It takes about 80 minutes from Yangon to Bagan (Nyaung U) on Air Mandalay and Air Bagan.These Airlines usually fly in the morning at about 06:30 AM. Alternatively, one can also get there by Bagan Min Thar Express (Air-con Bus) daily at 03:00 PM from Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal, in North Okkalarpa Township. Tickets are available at Baron Travels and Tours, Ph: 95-1-384086.There are also trains to Bagan (Wed and Sun, departure 08:30 a.m./arrival 08:30 a.m. next morning, Mon and Fri, departure 09:15 p.m./arrival 09:15 p.m. next evening) and daily express trains to Mandalay. If you take the Mandalay express trains and get off at Thazi Station, you can reach Inle Lake via Kalaw and Heho. There is a regular bus service and boat service operating between Mandalay and Bagan.
 
Although most people used to say that Bagan was founded in the eleventh century by King Anawarahta, actually Anawarahta was the 34th king who successfully established greater Bagan. That means Bagan was founded many centuries before King Anawarahta. Hence, "Bagan was not built in a day!"
Whoever has not visited Bagan has not visited Myanmar yet. Your visit to Myanmar is incomplete unless you visit Bagan. Bagan is old Myanmar. Seeing is believing!

Places of Interest in Bagan Area
The Shwezigon Pagoda

The Shwezigon is one of the holiest pagodas in the country as it is believed to contain an incisor tooth and a collar-bone of the Buddha.King Anawrahta started building it and was completed by King Kyansittha. Its base and terraces are gilded with enameled plaques, depicting scenes from previous lives of the Buddha.It was the prototype for later Myanmar pagodas. The pagoda festival is annually held from late October to early November.

The Gubyaukgyi Temple (Wetkyi-Inn Temple)

It is a 13th-century temple which has an Indian-style spire like that of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bagan. It is famous for the fine frescoes of scenes from the jatakas. To distinguish it from the temple with the same name in Myinkaba, this monument is also called "Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi Temple".

The Htilominlo Temple

The Htilominlo Temple It is one of the largest temples in Bagan, built about 1211 AD by Nan-daung-mya Min. It is a double-storied structure, rising 46 metres above the ground. This temple is noted for its fine plaster carvings on the arch-pediments, frieze and pilaster.

The Ananda Temple

This fabulous pagoda was constructed by King Kyansittha in the year 1091 AD to symbolise the wisdom of the Lord Buddha. It is King Kyansittha's masterpiece and the crowning achievement of the early style of temple architecture. The base of the pagoda forms a square with each side, measuring about 53 metres. Terraces, each becoming smaller, rise from the base to a height of 51 metres above the ground. The last terrace is topped with a spire. More than 1,500 pieces of glazed tiles adorn the base and the terraces. Each tile depicts a scene from the Jataka. The Ananda Pagoda festival is annually held in January.

The Thatbyinnyu Temple

It means "omniscience", and is the highest temple in Bagan. It is over 60.3 metres high. It tops all other monuments, and offers visitors a magnificent panorama of Bagan plains. It was built in 1144 by King Alaungsithu. It consists of five storeys and its history is recorded on its walls.

The Gawdawpalin Temple

It was built by King Narapatisithu in the 12th century. It is about 60 metres high, and is one of the largest and most distinguished temples in Bagan. It was finished in the time of King Nandaungmya Min (1211-34). Unfortunately, it was very badly damaged by the 1975 earthquake. Reconstruction was completed in 1980s.Gawdawpalin means "Platform to which Homage is paid". One can enjoy the beauty of sunset from that temple.

The Damayangyi Temple

An example of the finest brickwork in Myanmar, this temple is similar to the Ananda Pagoda. King Narathu built this pagoda from (1160-70) but it was not completed.

Nyaung U Market

Your visit to Bagan is incomplete without visiting Nyaung U Market.Almost every tourist who arrives in Bagan cannot help visiting Nyaung U Market. It is noted for a variety of Myanma handicrafts, including conical bamboo hats, rattan commodities, boxes made of strips from the stalk of toddy palm fronds, typical lacquer-wares, and a host of others. You can also get a glimpse of the lifestyle of Myanmar people residing around Nyaung U/Bagan.

Bagan Environs
Mount Popa and Popa Table Mountain

Popa means flower. Mount Popa, an extinct volcano last active 250,000 years ago, is located about 50 km southeast of Bagan. This solitary peak of Mount Popa is home to Myanmar's most powerful "nats" or spirits.Most Buddhist Myanmar people still believe that "nats" can make life difficult if they are not accorded sufficient respect. The annual festival is held during the Myanmar month of Nayon (May / June).
Though Mt. Popa lies in arid central Myanmar or Dry zone, now it is lush and green with trees and plants of various species, planted by the Forest Department. One can trek to the peak of Mt. Popa. If you have enough time you need to spend 2 nights there. The micro-climate of Popa region is cool and is laden with the fragrance of Champac flowers. Popa is a not-to-miss spot in the Bagan environs.

Mandalay

Mandalay is situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwady River. It was the last capital of the ancient Myanmar Kingdom just before the British occupied. It is 716 km north of Yangon, and is the largest city after Yangon. It was founded by King Mindon in 1857.The city takes its name from Mandalay Hill, which is 236-metre-high, northeast of the Mandalay Fort and the royal palace.
Mandalay is famous for its handicraft industries such as silk weaving, bronze casting, stone carving, the making of gold leaves, and the weaving of gold and silver embroidery. It represents the largest repository of Myanma arts and crafts.

Tourist Spots in Mandalay
Mandalay Hill

Giving visitors a panoramic view of the Ayeyarwady River Valley, the Shan Plateau, and Sagaing and Mingun Hills, Mandalay Hill is reached either by road following an escalator or by any of four staircases each of which consists of about 1729 steps. Halfway up to the hill-top along the southwest staircase is the venerated Peshawar Relics Temple, a large temple containing three bones-relics of the Buddha. They were discovered in Peshawar on the border line between Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1908 and were donated to the Burmese Buddhist Society. At the foot of the Hill near the south-eastern stairway stands the Kuthodaw Pagoda, built by King Mindon and is dubbed the 'World's Largest Book". Other pagodas located near the foot of Mandalay Hill are the Sandamuni Pagoda and the Kyauk-tawgyi Pagoda.

Mandalay Royal Palace

Built of teak wood by King Mindon in 1857, the original Royal Palace measured two kilometres square and is surrounded by a moat. During the Japanese occupation, it was totally destroyed except the walls, the moat, and King Mindon's mausoleum. In recent years, a number of buildings have been reconstructed. They included the Nan-Myint Watch Tower, the Lay Thein Gate, and U Htake Gate, Mya-nan-san-kyaw Golden Palace, a replica of the old palace, Nan-myint-saung, and the Cultural Museum.

Shwenandaw Monastery

This monastery is of great interest for its fine workmanship of traditional woodcarving. This building was once part of the palace complex and was used as an apartment by King Mindon and his chief queen. It is said that King Thibaw used the building for meditation, and the couch on which he sat can still be seen.

Mahamuni Image

About three kilometres south of the city on the road to Amarapura is the famous Mahamuni Image, also known as the Rakhine Paya. It was brought from Mrauk U to Mandalay in 1784 by King Bodawpaya. It contains the country's largest bronze image of Buddha. Mahamuni is one of the holiest shrines in Mandalay. The people usually pay obeisance to the Mahamuni Buddha Image, especially when its face is ceremoniously washed by a specially designated monk early in the mornings.

The Kuthodaw Pagoda

The Kuthodaw Pagoda was built by King Mindon in the year 1857, the same year when the royal palace was built. The pagoda complex has been dubbed "the World's Biggest Book".The shrine is surrounded by 729 marble slabs on which are inscribed the entire Buddhist canon (Tripitaka). Each slab is housed in its own individual small stupa.

Mandalay Environs
Sagaing City

Sagaing City had been the capital of an independent Shan kingdom around 1315 AD. It lies on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River and is 21 km southwest of Mandalay. Sagaing Hills are known as a religious centre. There are over 400 monasteries for Buddhist studies and meditation.
About 10 km from Sagaing is the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda, an enormous dome-shaped pagoda, built by King Thalun in the year 1636, with a model of the Mahazedi Pagoda of Sri Lanka. Ywataung Village near Sagaing is famous for its silverware.

Amarapura City

Amarapura means “the city that never dies”. It is situated about 11 km south of Mandalay, and is an ancient capital of the Konbaung Dynasty. Tour highlights worth visiting in Amarapura are U Bein Bridge (1.2 km) built of teak wood, two centuries ago; Bagaya Monastery with a famous collection of Buddha Images; Maha Gandayon Monastery where more than a thousand monks have their last meal of the day in total silence at 10:30 AM, and silk-weaving industry.

Innwa (Ava) City

It is a historical capital which King Thado Minbya built in the year 1364. After that it was the capital of the Myanmar kingdom for nearly 400 years. Tour highlights in Innwa are Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery built by Mae-nu, the chief queen of King Bagyidaw, which is a fine example of Myanmar masonry art and architecture; Nan Myint Watch Tower and Bagaya Monastery, built of teak and supported by 267 teak posts.

Mingun

Mingun is situated upstream on the western bank of the Ayeyarwady River. It is 11 km from Mandalay. It is famous for the Mingun Bell, the largest ringing bell in the world. Some other tour highlights worth visiting at Mingun are the Settawya Pagoda, where a footprint of Buddha is enshrined; the five-metre high Pondaw Pagoda, a replica of the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda which was left uncompleted, and the Mya Thein Tan Stupa, with seven terraces around it.

Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)

Pyin Oo Lwin means “the city on the edge of the plateau”, at an elevation of 1070 metres. It is 67 km east of Mandalay. Even at the height of the hot season Pyin Oo Lwin is cool and pleasant.The tourist spots in Pyin Oo Lwin are the Botanical Garden (142 hectares), the Chinese-Buddhist Temple, Pwekauk Waterfalls and Peik-Chin Myaung Cave, and some colonial buildings. Pyin Oo Lwin is also known as the City of Flowers.Formerly it was called Maymyo, named after Col. May of the British regiment.

Taunggyi

Taunggyi is the capital city of Shan State.It is about 140 km southeast of Mandalay and is 1,400 metres above sea level.It is cool the whole year round and the area is colourful with lovely flowers, pine trees and green orchards.The population of 150,000 consists mainly of the Shans with their own unique culture. Taunggyi is an ideal spot for holiday-makers during summer.

Taunggyi Fire-Balloon Festival

The fire-balloon festival is held on the full-moon day of Tazaungmon (mid November).The venue was near the statue of Bogyoke Aung San in the Independence Field. Now it is held near the Sula Muni Loka Chan Tha Pagoda in Southern Taunggyi.
There are two kinds of fire-balloon competitions: the day festival and the night festival. Balloons in the shape of elephant, horse, ox, water-buffalo, bird, pig, fish, hintha, owl and parrot are launched in the day festival.The balloons with fireworks, multicoloured lights and so-called "diamond ear-rings" are launched at night time, along with small lanterns attached to the main balloon.The competition is attended not only by Taunggyi citizens, but also by people from southern Shan State and environs as well as tourists from all counties, in a vibrant festive atmosphere.

Taunggyi Environs
Inle Lake (Nyaung Shwe)

Inle Lake is located about 25 km south of Taunggyi.It is the most scenic spot in Shan State. This beautiful and picturesque lake is surrounded by bluish mountains.It is about 22 km long, 11 km wide and is 1,320 metres above sea level. The lake is famous for its unique one-leg rowers, floating villages and colourful markets.Inle silk is quite popular in Myanmar, and silk-weaving and hand-looms can be seen at Inpaw-Khon Village.
The celebrated Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is situated in this lake. The annual festival is held once a year in October.

Kalaw

Kalaw is situated at about 70 km west of Taunggyi and is about half way along the Thazi-Taunggyi Road. It is a peaceful and quiet hill-station, and is also cool and pleasant all the year round. It is a good place for hiking. There are Palaung Villages and Pa-O Villages nearby, and some hill tribe people in their traditional, colourful costumes can be seen at Kalaw Market, especially on five-day market days.

Aungban

Aungban is situated at 9 km northeast of Kalaw. It is an important transport junction for cargos and passengers. Its main function is to feed truck drivers and to fuel the trucks. It is also famous for its fruit, such as orange and pineapple.

Pindaya

It is situated at 40 km north of Aungban, at the foot of the Mae Ne-Taung mountain range. This small town is noted for its limestone caves. Inside the limestone caves are thousands of Buddha Images made of marble, teak, alabaster and lacquer. It is a centre of the Myanmar speaking Taung-yo people.
Local handicrafts are Shan paper making and parasol-making. The road from Kalaw to Pindaya (49 km) passes through a countryside of magnificent scenic beauty.

OTHER INTERESTING PLACES IN MYANMAR
The Kyaikhtiyo / Golden Rock Pagoda (Entrance Fee Ks 60000 )

The Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda is located about 153 km from Yangon.The famous Kyaikhtiyo Pagoda / Golden Rock Pagoda perches on a huge boulder that protrudes from a cliff. The 12-kilometre trek from the base of the hill up to the Pagoda takes about 5 hours. Porters and palanquins are available to carry luggage and pilgrims who are old or weak. (The cost of carriage at Kyaikhtiyo is usually paid by the visitors). It is also possible to reach Yethe Taung by a passenger pick-up from base camp and this trip takes about 45 minutes. It takes another 45 to 60 minutes to trek from Yethe Taung up to the pagoda platform. This pagoda is said to have been built during the life-time of the Buddha, with a hair-relic obtained by a hermit enshrined in the pagoda on a huge boulder which resembles his head.There is also a popular belief that a person gains wealth every time he worships at this pagoda, which attracts large crowds of pious pilgrims from all over the country. The ideal time to visit this pagoda is between October and April.

Chaung Tha Beach

Chaung Tha Beach is situated 230 km west of Yangon, and 40 km west of Pathein (Bassein) in Ayeyarwady Division. It takes about a 5 hour drive from Yangon to Chaung Tha. One can relax on the sand or lie underneath the coconut palms in front of the hotel at Chaung Tha. The hotels at Chaung Tha are usually full of tourists and locals especially between March and April.

Ngwe Saung Beach

Ngwe Saung Beach, situated on the western coast of the country, faces the Bay of Bengal.The whole beach is approximately 9 miles long and lined by tall, green palms, swaying gently in the breeze.
Accessibility is also excellent. An all-weather road from Yangon connects Ngwe Saung Beach via Pathein, the capital city of Ayeyawady Division. After a five hour drive along the Yangon-Pathein-Chaungtha Highway, you are transported to a totally different environment, away from the noise and commotion of the city to the peaceful and tranquil beach that is Ngwe Saung.

Ngapali Beach

It is situated in Thandwe (Sandoway) District, Rakhine State. It takes about 60 minutes by airplane from Yangon to Thandwe. Ngapali is a world famous beach in Myanmar.This beach stretches over 3 km and is an ideal place for those who love sea, sand and sun. There is a nine-hole golf course, only three miles from Ngapali Hotel. Nearby fishing villages are also interesting and worth visiting. It is nice to relax at Ngapali Beach between October and April. Few know exactly why it is called Ngapali. The most popular story says that a homesick Italian who stayed there for a while told everyone that the beach reminded him of beaches near Naples in Italy. Some say that Ngapali is named after a local fish, but both are conjectural.

Mrauk U (Mrohaung)

The Rakhine King Min-saw-mun founded Mrauk U in the year 1430 but it was extensively rebuilt by King Min-bar-gyi in 1535.It is an ancient city of the Rakhine Kingdom and is noted for its old temples with Indian influence wall paintings. It is reached by a 5 hour boat trip from Sittwe (Akyab) along Kalatan River, as well as by road. Driving saves time and is safe. Going by boat takes longer and can be dangerous in the rainy season. It used to be a port, trading with the Middle East, Asia, Holland, Portugal and Spain. A Dutchman who visited Mrauk U in the 16th century described it as one of the richest cities in Asia. In the late 18th century the Konbaung Dynasty stretched its power to Mrauk U which was then incorporated into the Myanmar Kingdom.

Tour highlights of Mrauk U are the Shitthaungpaya, a curiously remarkable temple with countless Buddha Images and relics; the fortress-like temple Htukkan-thein, noted for the interesting stone sculptures in the vaulted passages; an octagonal temple Andaw-thein, noted for its unique stone carvings and flora designs; Sakya Man Aung, a tall stupa and Archaeological Museum.

Weithali (Vesali) is 10 km north of Mrauk U. Weithali was founded in 327 AD by King Mahataing Chandra. Archaeologists believe that this kingdom lasted until the 8th century. The Great Image of Su Taung Prai (Pyae) sits in the base of a large pahto is worth seeing.

There is one more ancient capital called Dha-nya-wady, which is about 22 km to the north of Weithali. On going upstream by boat for 2 hours to a Chin hill-tribe village one can visit the nearby places where there are Chin women with tattoos on their faces.

Myitkyina

Myitkyina is the capital of the Kachin State. It is 336 miles from Mandalay by train. It can be reached by flight and landroute. There are three kinds of land routes from Mandalay to Myitkyina . (1) Mandalay - Sagaing - Shwebo - Khin Oo - Kawlin - Wuntho - Meza - Indaw - Naba - Mawlu - Mohnyin - Hopin - Mogaung - Namti - Myityina. (2) Mandalay - Madaya - Singu - Tagaung - Tigyaing - Shwegu - Bhamo - Myothi - Daw Phone Yang - Nan San Yang - Waingmaw - Myitkyina. (3) Mandalay - Maymyo - Kyaukme - Hsipaw - Lashio - Muse - Namkan - Bhamo - Myothi - Daw Phone Yang - Nan San Yang - Waingmaw - Myitkyina. We suggest our customers to take No.3 land route. One should contact a local travel agency for the special travel permit if he/she travels between Mandalay - Bhamo - Myitkyina by land route. Although a domestic airline operates between Myitkyina and Bhamo once a week but the flight schedule may be cancelled due to unknown circumstances. One can also take a boat trip from Mandalay –Bhamo - Myitkyina during the raining season.
 
The Kachin people are one of the 8 major ethnic groups in Myanmar. They speak their own language and most of them are Christians and some are animists. Kachin State is famous for its natural beauty and abundance of natural resources like imperial jade and teak wood. Myanmar’s mightiest river, the Ayeyarwady, has its source in the northern – most region of snow – capped mountain. Kachin State has border with China, separated by the majestic Himalayan Mountains. In the far north of Kachin State stands Myanmar’s highest mountain Hkakabo Razi, 5889 meters, which was first climbed in 1996 by a Japanese climbers. Myitkyina is very famous for its role in WWII. The Allied Forces entered Myanmar from Ledo, India building the Ledo Road which joins Ledo in India, Myitkyina, Bhamo, Kyukhok in Myanmar, Mangshi, Longling, Bao Shang, Dali, Yunnan Yi, Chu Xiong and ends at Kunming in China.

Mai Kha and Mali Kha

The famous meeting of the two rivers (confluence) is 50 km north of Myitkyina, near Tanphe Village. Local people usually call it myit-sone. The scenic beauty of the confluence (myit-sone) is really breath-taking. The twin-sister springs called the Mai Kha and Mali Kha unite and form the Ayeyarwady River. It is visited by both locals and tourists.You can also explore some gold mines at myit-sone (confluence). Your tour is incomplete without visiting Mai Kha and Mali Kha. Tour highlights are typical Myitkyina markets, Andawshin Paya, Kachin longyi and bag weaving workshops, the Kachin ethnic villages, WWII airfields and historical sites.

Bhamo

116 miles south of Myitkyina, and 56 miles west of Lweje, the border town of Myanmar (Bhamo – Momauk, 9 miles; Momauk – Myothit, 12 miles ). Bhamo is also located near the Ledo Road.The Inland Water transport’s ferries operate the Ayeyarwady River between Bhamo and Mandalay thrice a week. Bhamo and Mandalay is 275 nautical miles by ferry trip. The scenery near the second defile, north of Shwegu, is very beautiful. The boat will pass through the steep rock gorges. It is about 800 ft high. The regional people call it nat myet nar. It means nat spirit’s face. You can also see a rock, it’s shape looks like a parrot’s peak. When the water level comes up to the level of the parrot’s peak it will be too dangerous for the boats to pass through the gorges. The boat will pass through Sinkan, Naungbo village, Thinbaw, Shwegu, Moda, Katha, In-ywa, Tigyaing, Tagaung, Twinnge, Male village, Thebeikkyin, Kyaukmyaung, (famous for its pottery, and you can see the Ayeyarwady dolphins between Mingone and Kyaukmyaung during December and February), Singu, Thitseingyi and ends at Mandalay.

 

Putao

Putao is a town in the northern-most region of Myanmar. Although it is 218 miles from Myitkyina, the capital city of Kachin State, it can only be reached by air. Two airlines, Myanmar Airways and Air Bagan supply flights. Although it is reached by road but the road condition is not suitable for tourists. Putao is 725 miles from Yangon. Climate-wise, the winter and the rainy seasons are the longest, and the hot season is about only one month. It is almost always cool, the temperature being between 5 C and 25 C. The best time for tourists to visit there is between October and April. There are two groups of animals in the Putao region, those living in snowy mountains and those living in plain regions. Animals living in snowy mountains include takins, mountain goats and musk dears.
 
The government has now created Hkakaborazi National Park in Naung Mon Township in Putao District in Kachin Sate.It is 35 miles by road from Naung Mon.
 
One can climb snowy mountains and study the environmental beauty of the region where the Ayeyarwady River takes its source.The culture of regional tribes can be discovered and Hkakaborazi National Park, 35 miles from Naung Mon can be explored.
 
Construction of the first private hotel in Putao is under way and would be open in 2007. It consists of 12 bungalows able to house 24 guests.
 
All in all, when you reach Putao, you would feel like you were in Switzerland.

The Town of Mogaungg

Mogaung is situated 36 miles by train in the south-west of Myitkyina. It was built about 1791 or 1153 Myanmar Era, as per Myanmar saying "Ain Auk Mya Sein, Mogaung Kein", meaning “jade stones can be obtained from the ground under a house”. Mogaung has been a town of prosperous trade of imperial jade throughout the ages. However, after 1990 the jade trade faded in Mogaung and Phakant, 66 miles from Mogaung became the centre of the jade business.
 
Mogaung is not only a town of jade trade but also the main seat around and along Ledo-Road which was constructed during the WWII. It was in Mogaung that American General Joseph Stilwell's Allied Forces and General Wingate's Chindits drove out the Japanese Fascists with heavy casualties on both sides. Mogaung was liberated from the Japanese troops on June 25, 1944. The battle involved General Wingate's Chindits of No. 77 Brigade. Its Commander was Brigadier Calvert who was incomparably courageous and a resourceful engineer who could manage meticulously. Thus, Mogaung is a significant town due to the Ledo Road and its role in WWII. Its historical battle sites are U Man Taung, Wet thaut Chaung and its vicinity, Nat Gyi Gon, Naung Kite Taw, Kyun Daw Bridge, Ywa Thit and along the railway of Mogaung Station. Other places worth-visiting are Mogaung typical market, the Shwe-wet-toe Pagoda, the Shwe-tha-hlyaung Pagoda, Mogaung Myo Haung and Su Taung Pyi Pagoda (wish-full pagoda), etc.
 
In WWII the battles of Myitkyina and Mogaung in Kachin State involving General Sun Li Jen of Chinese forces of Allied Forces under the command of General Stilwell should not be ignored. General Sun Li Jen is a hero for the Chinese people. During the resistance against the Japanese fascists he repeatedly had victories over them. He also built Chinese schools at villages where Chinese people dominate along and around the Ledo-Road.

Phakant/Hpakant

The world's best jade comes from one place, Phakant in Kachin State, a jade mining town near Mogaung. It is in the north-west of Mogaung, about 66 miles by road.
 
There are many famous jade mines in Phakant area. They include the Phakantgyi Mine in Phakant, Tawmaw Mine in Lonkin, Tamakhan Mine and Huikha Mine. If sub-divided, Phakant has many other famous mines, e.g. Mawmauklyan Mine, Kalamaw Mine, Myaukphu Mine, Shalawkha Mine and Mana Mine. In Phakant area there are many kinds of races who came from different parts of Myanmar – the Kachins, Kayahs, Mons, Shans, Pa-Os, Bamars, Chinese and Indians, as well as a small number of permanent residents.
 
Nowadays people dig not only for jade but also for gold in Phakant area. Big companies use excavators to dig jade and gold, although locals dug with small tools like crowbars and mattocks in previous days. Gold can be panned in rivers and creeks.
The world’s largest jade dyke measuring 70 feet in length standing 20 feet high and with a girth of 16 feet was discovered 40 feet below the ground, covered by black serpentine at Natmaw, Phakant by Pa-O National Organization in 2000s. It weighs about 3,000 tons.
 
There is a legend about Phakant.Once upon a time some Chinese traders reached the vicinity of the U-ru River where as usual, they balanced their loads on the backs of the mules by using some stones near the river. After reaching their residences in China they threw the stones into the stables. After some time the stones wore until at last patches of green colour appeared on the surface of the stones and thus jade stones were discovered at Phakant area.

Indawgyi

Indawgyi is a destination in Kachin State which attracts a lot of tourists. It is situated beside Lonton village. Lonton is 27 miles north-west of Hopin which is about 70 miles from Myitkyina by train.
There are two famous lakes in Myanmar. One is Inle Lake in Shan State and the other is Indawgyi Lake in Kachin State. It is the biggest inland lake in south-east Asia, with an area of 299 square miles. Like Inle Lake, it was notified as a game sanctuary in 1999.
 
Indawgyi and its environs is the place where domestic and foreign water birds, migratory birds and other forest birds are conserved by the Forest Department. There are 120 species of water birds, including pelicans. A military camp called Black Pool had also been stationed at Hopin during the WWII. It was noted that Chindit forces and provisions were air-borne by water planes which landed on the expanse of Indawgyi Lake during the WWII.
Indawgyi Lake is the tourist destination for bird-watching, eco-tourism, recreation, as well as a memorial place for the families of veterans of Allied Forces of WWII. There is a local legend about Indawgyi, which you can decide whether to believe or not. It runs as follows:
 
According to legend Indawgyi was not a lake in previous days. It was just a small village. There lived in the village a widow. One night she dreamed of a dragon, telling her that that village would soon be flooded. So she told every villager to leave the village next morning. But nobody believed her. Finally, this old widow left that village alone. At last she reached the top of the hill and thrust the walking staff in the ground. The hill is named after the widow. The village was flooded and became a lake. The village has become Indawgyi Lake since then. As time passed by the widow’s walking staff was transformed into a small tree, and its leaves grown upside-down. All the tourists who visit there would like to take photos of this miraculous tree, but unfortunately people cut down the trees indiscriminately and that miraculous tree was also cut down. However, the spoor of a cow taken away by the widow can still be seen to this day.

Other interesting points about Myanmar and her people

1. The festivals in Myanmar

There are twelve festivals in Myanmar. Each month has its corresponding festival. Hence, Mr H. Fielding Hall described the Myanmar people as a happy-go-lucky-people in his “The Soul of a People”. Among the twelve festivals the most boisterous one is the Thingyan or Water Festival, which usually falls on April 13 and terminates on 15 or 16 every year. Myanmar people do such merits as washing the elderlies’ hair with Myanmar shampoo, clipping their nails, setting animals free, and giving away alms. Tourists should enjoy and experience this greatest festival.

2. Myanmar Ladies Wear Thanakha on Their Face.

Myanmar people are lucky to have Myanmar shampoo of their own. It has been handed down from their forefathers. Like Thanakha Myanmar people adore it much more than imported chemical shampoo which is relatively expensive. It also is the bark and climbers of plants called Tha-yaw and kin-pun. It is cut into small pieces and boiled for some time until at last it produces a soapy liquid ready for use. It is used mostly by females, often and with great relish.

3. Myanmar Shampoo

Myanmar people are lucky to have Myanmar shampoo of their own. It has been handed down from their forefathers. Like Thanakha Myanmar people adore it much more than imported chemical shampoo which is relatively expensive. It also is the bark and climbers of plants called Tha-yaw and kin-pun. It is cut into small pieces and boiled for some time until at last it produces a soapy liquid ready for use. It is used mostly by females, often and with great relish.

4. Chewing Betel Quits

The practice of chewing betel quits has been with Myanmar people since the times of Myanmar kings. While not everyone does it majority of the Myanmar people delight in chewing betel quits. They like it so much that they can't help chewing it. One can see betel stalls elsewhere here in Myanmar. The making of betel quit is simple. Just rub some lime paste on the back of a betel palm. Add two or three shredded betel-nuts and a piece of tobacco leaf, chew it, and spit the betel spittle out.

5. The Month of Tabodwe (Myanmar Lunar Month for February)

The month of Tabodwe can be called the month of Tamanae because it is the month of harvest of new crops, especially paddy which includes glutinous rice. To celebrate this festival, Myanmar people make Tamanae individually or in community boisterously. The method of making Tamanae is simple. First a mixture of glutinous rice and ordinary rice is cooked. Then some edible oil, shredded coconut, groundnuts, sesame seeds are put in a cauldron and they are stirred with rowing oars till the ingredients combine to form a concoction called Tamanae ready to eat. It needs great skill to stir it property. The donor gives away Tamanae in small bundles to his or her friends, relatives, and neighbours after offering it to the sangha (monks). This festival is great fun among Myanmar people who celebrate it annually without fail.