Mandalay is the last capital of Myanmar monarchic dynasty (19 century). The ancient Pagodas, Monasteries and Palace Wall still exist in good shape. Being the centre of Myanmar culture, the city preserves its traditions, culture and the purity of Myanmar language standard despite the influence of modernity in the city nowadays. The City can been seen as the last establishment of Myanmar traditional society in 19th century before the advance of western colonization. This is the place where the best Myanmar food and delicacy can be found.
Mandalay, today, is the capital of Mandalay Division and the second biggest city in Myanmar. Located at the centre of the country and easy to access by every way of transportation favors the city as the biggest business point of Myanmar.
Mandalay is surrounded by the other ancient cities such as Amarapura, Ava and Sagaing.
Amarapura was one of the ancient capitals of Myanmar Monarchy, which is located 11 km south of Mandalay. Although it was an ancient capital, the town has only some traces of its golden days. Taung Thman Lake and 200-year-old U Bein bridge remain as the tourist attractions now a days. The biggest monastic school of Mahagandayon Monastery sets in town, and Amarapura is also well known for its traditional silk weaving fabric.
Ava (Inwa) is an ancient imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries. Throughout history, it was sacked and rebuilt numerous times. After the British conquered Lower Myanmar, after the Second Anglo-Burmese War (1852), Upper Myanmar was commonly known as the Kingdom of Innwa. During the centuries, the capital was moved from Inwa to nearby Amarapura and moved the court back to Inwa. The capital city was finally abandoned for Amarapura after it was completely destroyed by a series of major earthquakes in March 1839. The ancient capital remains include city wall, old watch tower, monasteries, temples and pagodas.
A visit to Inwa today is a fascinating trip back in time, as exploring the remains of an ancient city on foot or by horse-cart will make you feel a world away from the 21st century.
Located in the western bank of Ayeyarwaddy River, Sagaing is also one of the ancient capitals of Upper Myanmar. It is 21 km south west of Mandalay and famous Sagaing Hill is a spiritual recluse for Buddhist studies and meditation. Plenty of stupas, over 600 monasteries and nunneries are dotted along the hill. About 10 km north from Sagaing stands KAUNGMUDAW, an enormous dome-shaped pagoda built in 17 century.
The villages nearby are famous for their handcrafts of silver, jade, cane and paper toys.
Mingun is 11 km up stream of River Ayeyarwaddy from Mandalay. Short boat trip to Mingun allow you to glimpse river life and beautiful scenery. Interesting places to visit in Mingun are the world's biggest ringing bell weighing 90 tons, unfinished Pagoda "Pa Hto Gyi" and a very particular shape of Mya Thein Dan Phaya.
Monywa is the biggest city in Sagaing Region situated on the eastern side on Chindwin River. As it shares the border with India, it has been a trade center of the northern part of the region for the agricultural products of the Chindwin valley and imported merchandise from India.
Thanboddhay Pagoda is famous for its unique style of architecture. The pagoda enshrines 582363 statutes and statuettes inside and outside of the pagoda.
Bodhi Tahtaung Monastery is an ascetic place for Buddhists to take meditation with a thousand of Bodhi trees spreading around in the compound of the monastery with a statute of Buddha underneath.
The most interesting place to visit in Monywa region is Pho Win Hill, which is situated on the western bank of Chindwin River and 25 kilometers away from Monywa. The hill is famous for 900 sandstone caves and the statutes reliefs curved out of the boudoirs and inside the caves. Mural paintings dated 14th and 18th century are still can be seen inside the caves. Packs of monkeys and factions inhabit in the groves around the hill and come out when they see the pilgrims to ask for food.
Pakokku is a big trading town at the west bank of Ayeyarwaddy River. It is the tobacco trading town of the area in addition to its famous checked blankets made from cotton, and thanakha (the outer bark of the Linoria acidissima tree used as a combination skin conditioner, sunscreen and cosmetic for Myanmar women). The town itself does not have highlight for visiting places, however, the ancient Provence of PAKHANGYI, which is considered as the contemporary city of ancient Bagan lies about 20 kms from Pakokku, which is a 19th century town with old city walls, an archaeological museum and one of the oldest surviving wooden monasteries in upper Myanmar.