Monywa, Myanmar, a beautiful city that lies 140km northwest of Mandalay is definitely a must-visit place. It is an interesting spot to break your journey if you are travelling between Mandalay and Bagan. Even though the city has lots to offer, many tourists skip this place. So, here is why you should visit this place and things to know before visiting.
If you are travelling from Mandalay towards Bagan, Monywa is an ideal place to stay. You can either take a bus or a cab from Mandalay to Monywa. If you choose the bus, you will be making a 3hour trip, and the ticket’s cost will be around 2USD for a standard one, and about 8USD for AC bus.
Buses from Mandalay heads off to Monywa every hour from 6:30 am to 4 pm. You can get fixed-price tickets in most of the hotels in Mandalay.
Despite begin the home of the second tallest Buddha statue in the world and a monastery with more than 500,000 depictions of Buddha, Monywa is not renowned for its attractions and doesn’t see that many tourists. The city also has many temples that are distinct than a typical Burmese temple, and are found located inside beautiful sandstone caves. Most travellers don’t visit Myanmar just to go to Monywa, but if you are on Myanmar, and travelling from Mandalay to Bagan, it will be worth to stop at Monywa. The monuments alone make your visit worth. The place offers you the chance to enjoy a less crowded and touristy experience away from the crowds.
The peak season to visit Monywa is between November and February, as is with all Myanmar. During this time, the weather will be at its finest as it falls directly after the monsoon season. The weather is not too hot and is usually dry.
After February, the temperature rises, and it can be stifling if you are not accustomed to the high-temperature environment. June to October is the wet season, so in rural areas, it will be slippery, and flooding is also very common. Regarding tourist, you don’t have to worry about any season being crowdie, as the area doesn’t see much crowd throughout the year.
As Monywa is not on the tourist trail, the accommodation is somewhat limited. Some tours that run overnight trips from Mandalay usually use the mid to top range hotels in Monywa, the cost ranging from $50-100.
You can easily get a mid-range hotel for USD 40 per night where you can choose to either get a room or a bungalow. If you are on a budget, there isn’t much of choice; you can expect the odd guesthouse for around USD20 per night.
Despite seeing very less number of visitors, this town has a good range of eateries. Some of the best include the traditional Burmese teashops where you can enjoy coffee, tea, and freshly made juices, mostly served with an array of local snacks. For a bit upscale, you can find ample restaurants in town where you can enjoy some mouthwatering Burmese food, including traditional curries and tea leaf salads. You can also find western food in a few restaurants around Monywa. If you like street food, the best place would be to visit the local night market and snack on delicious bites like spring rolls and Indian style pancakes.
Monywa is a small town, so walking will be the best way to explore the town. You can walk around many major highlights and also down to the pier, which is an entertaining way to see explore at a leisurely pace.
The major attractions in Monywa lie about 30mins outside of town, and the most convenient way to visit them is to hire a tuk-tuk or a motorbike taxi. Many guesthouses also offer bicycle for rent, that you can use for exploring the attractions. Remember that some attractions lie in the steep hills, so if you can’t ride through challenging roads, get a motorized transport.
At present, there are no travel restrictions in Monywa; however, make sure to check for updates before travelling. Violent crime is very rare in this part of Myanmar. There is a high chance of Malaria and Dengue fever in a rural area like Monywa. So, before visiting check a healthcare professional, and take anti-malarial prophylaxis. Healthcare is also limited in the region, so make sure to carry all your medications.
Source: Osuga Myanmar Travels
Thanboddhay Paya, one of the most beautiful temples in Monywa, is renowned for a massive number of Buddha images. Small stupas, adorned with shining gold leaf make up the roof. Here, you will also get to see intricate obelisks, etched with Buddha images and rise to a height of some 30 feet.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Like many Burmese towns, Monywa lies on the river, so exploring the town on a boat is one of the major attraction here. Charter a boat or hop on a local boat, and take a trip along this pretty waterway. On your trip, you will get to see the locals living on the bank of the river, going with their daily life.
Source: Travel Notes
If you want to learn a bit of local culture, head to this magnificent complex. This complex has almost 500 Buddha chambers, carved into the surrounding hillside, made of soft limestone. The Buddha chambers date as far as back to the 14th century. Even though the caves are shallow, it can make for a great explore. Some of the larger Buddha images in the caves, painted flamboyantly tells local Buddhist legends.
Source: Myanmar Digital News
This serene village lies around 12 miles from Monywa. If you want to make a day trip from Monywa, this village can be perfect. The village is renowned for its lacquer products, so it is a prime spot to pick up some souvenirs. The lacquer here is famous for being thicker than in other parts of the country and is mostly painted with black and gold designs.
Source: Myanmar Tours
If you have time to spend in Monywa, you can visit the nearby village of A Myint. This village has more than 300 picturesque stupas, said to be as old as from 11th century. Here, you will find stupas scattered all over the village and in the centre of the town, you will find a beautiful pagoda, made of shiny teak.