If you prefer to avoid the usual main monasteries normally visited by tourists in Mandalay, there are also few of them less well known but beautiful monasteries to remain in good condition of conservation; it is a very enjoyable discovery to visit at those monasteries with almost no visitors, most of them built at the middle of the XIX century in a mix of Myanmar and contemporary architecture; among them is Yaw Min Gyi Oak Kyaung, a brick monastery where the architecture reminds the European influence with beautiful stucco. The monastery was built in 1866 by Yaw Min Gyi a high ranking officer under King Mindom;
The wooden Monasteries of Kyay Mying and Ye Mae Thing Kyaung worth also a stop; one of them is still in use where monks stay and where you can see some old style furniture from the XIX century, both were built by one of King Mindom’s queens. Thar Ka Win is also a beautiful monastery with a more massive wooden structure to remain European architecture from the XIX century period.
Another wooden monastery to pay a visit is Kin Win Min Kyi, several times dismantled and rebuilt at different locations; it is interesting to observe the technique of construction of the monastery with huge and high wooden pillars.
You will then make a stop at Shwe Inn Gyin monastery well preserved with beautiful wood carving; the wooden building is made with 164 massive pillars and was built in 1895; the monastery still remain in very good conditions.
Just before the sunset time, you can then reach Shwe Kyin monastery and enjoy the evening prays of young monks that will leave you in a peaceful atmosphere of serenity.
WALKING AROUND MANDALAY
GENTLE WALIKING TOUR IN MANDALAY
The hilly area of Sagaing, 25 kilometers far from Mandalay is considered as the hearth of the Buddhist faith in Mandalay where plenty of monasteries are located among the mountain chain facing at the Irrawaddy River. Sagaing is also one of the ancient capital city with a rich historical past not too miss when visiting Mandalay.
To enjoy a gentle walk in Sagaing will give you another approach of this site, authentic and typical where the majority of tourists usually do not go.
Sagaing is located at 45 minutes drive from Mandalay; you will cross the Irrawaddy river on the main bridge, a massive metallic structure bridge opened in 2008 and next to this bridge, you will see a second one built during the British time and still in use nowadays.
The drive will bring you to the highest part of the Sagaing Hills, named Padamya Hill where your walk will start at Padamya Zedi. From the monastery, you can enjoy beautiful sceneries over the Irrawaddy and the countryside.
Then, your walk will bring you along clear but sometime steep paths from a monastery to another one in a peaceful environment and dense vegetation. You will have a first stop at Asshae Pakarama Monastery, an old wooden monastery surrounded by well maintain gardens, a peaceful location for a break where you will visit in the compound a cave carved out of the rock for the monks to meditate in a cool and peaceful place; from a terrace located at the second cave level, you can observe the trees and particularly, frangipanis, flamboyant and huge tamarind trees ; after this pleasant stop, your walk will bring you to U Min Thonzae and Swan Oo Pyone Shin temples where you can also enjoy scenic views along the Irrawaddy and Sagain Hills; after some steep parts during the first part of the walk, you will then walk down hill along a tiny mountain road looking at monastery complexes along the way until you reach an intersection with the road to Mingun where your car is waiting for you; The entire walk with the visit at few monasteries is around 5 kilometers and takes 3 hours; it is preferable to make the walk early in the morning or in the afternoon around 4pm to enjoy the sunset. This walk will bring you out of the beaten paths where usually tourists are very few and you will enjoy the serenity and the sightseeing on the way in a quiet environment.
BIKING RIDE AROUND MANDALAY
To extend your stay with one more day in Mandalay can allow you to discover the outskirts of the city from another angle. A two or three hours cycling ride in the surroundings of Mandalay will bring you to beautiful countryside where you can observe the rural life from the local villages surrounded by paddies fields.
The distance of the cycling tour is 35 kilometers on flat and easy roads which are mostly shaded by lined trees; the ride is very pleasant and you will observe along the way the irrigation system which enable the farmers to grow crops along the all year. You will pass by the village of Ye Kyi where most of the villagers produce bamboo fans mostly use during funeral ceremonies and you will continue the ride passing by the Yankin Hill with mountains chain in the scenery background before to take dirt paths among the green and quiet countryside.
The bike ride will bring you back to Mandalay where you will face the heavy traffic till reaching the Royal Palace for a short break with snacks and refreshments. This first part of the tour is almost 23 kilometers taking two hours; If you feel to extend the ride for another one hour, you will then continue the bike till the village of Shanlay, biking in Mandalay city and then along the Irrawaddy river for another one hour, and almost 12 kilometers.
The healthy village of Shanlay is located close to The Irrawaddy, flooded during the Monsoon between June and September making the soil very rich and allowing the farmers to get good income from agriculture activities; villagers have also other activities like wood and jade carving and bronze casting that you can observe while visiting the village which host almost 300 hundred houses and 1000 inhabitants.
The car will be waiting for you at the entrance of the village to bring you back to Mandalay along the Kandawgyi lake.