Bago, the former royal capital of the Môn is located 80 km from
Yangon. It takes 2 hours by road from Yangon passing through the
landscape of the verdant rice fields.The first settlement on the
site of present Bago are Mon people who founded their principality
named "Ossa Bago" in 9th Century. In 11 century, it fell under the
first Burmese empire of Bagan. It became again the capital of Mon
kingdom in 14th century, and was known as "Hanthawaddy Bago". At
that time, it was an active harbor for marine trade. In 16th
century, the Burmese annexed it again and the king chose it as the
royal capital of second Burmese empire. In 16th century, the Arakans
destroyed and abandoned the capital. The Mon re-established their
capital in Bago but the Burmese kings "Along-phaya" destroyed it
completely in 1757. From that time onward, it was no longer as an
important harbor with the receding of the sea, and remained a simple
city until now. But it is worthy to visit for a day excursion from
Yangon. A new international airport is being constructed at present.
Entrance fee = 10$ per pax for archaeological zone fee.
Overlooking the plain with its spire 114 m, the "Shwe-maw-daw" pagoda is one of
the most venerated pagodas in Burma. According to the legend, this pagoda was
constructed by two merchants Mon brothers, "Tha-phu-sa" and "Bha-li-ka" to
enshrine two hair-relics of Buddha which they brought from India last 2000 years
ago. It has been enlarged and has been rebuilt several times through the
centuries due to the damages of earthquakes. Those of 1912, 1917, and 1930
destroyed the pagoda completely and the present pagoda was rebuilt in the years
of 1950. During the renovations, some holy relics were added (copies of the
Buddha's tooth) to which the pagoda owes its reverence. While walking around the
pagoda, one can notice the upper part of which felt down in 1917 at the place of
the fall. There is a small museum that contains different vestiges and
statuaries recovered after the earthquakes. The pagoda is accessible by four
stair-ways full of souvenirs shops.
Maha-zedi means "Great pagoda" and it was constructed by the Burmese king "Ba-yin-naung"
in 1560. The original pagoda sealed up the Buddha's relic (supposedly the
Buddha's real famous tooth coming from Candy of Srilanka). In 17 century, the
relic was conveyed to upper Burma by a Burmese king, and enshrined in "Kaung-hmu-taw"
pagoda in Sagine near Mandalay together with another relic (the emerald alms
bowl). After the fall of "Hantha-waddy" in 18 century, the "Maha-Zedi" pagoda
was abandoned and destroyed by violent earthquakes. The present pagoda has
recently restored in 1982. The men only can go up on the superior terraces by a
staircase that offers a panoramic view on the vicinities. In the precinct of
pagoda, there is a small temple made of lateritie, and a particular site called
"Ba-yin-naung-aung-myway" where the king "Ba-yint-naung"; the Napoleon of
Myanmar made a vow for the conquest before he involved in the battle-field. Most
Myanmar pilgrims also believe in that particular spot, and made a wish.
The gigantic colossal Buddha Image "Shwe-tha-hlaung" more than 1000 years old is
one of the biggest statuaries of lying Buddha and considered to be more alive
and elegant. It measures 55 - m long and 16 m of height. Its ear only measures
4.5 - m long. In front of the statue, there is a panel that describes in details
all measurements. The position of this statue whose feet point in different
directions represents the Buddha's relaxes. On the sole, the 108 distinctive
symbols are engraved. The Buddha's head position on a pillow well decorated with
glass mosaic and square block that illustrate the life of the Buddha and his
eight victory scenes.
According to the legend described on the back of the statue, it has been
constructed by a Mon king "Min-ga-di-pa" after his conversion to the Buddhism in
9th century. It is always maintained by the Buddhist devotees. But after the
destruction of Bago by the Burmese in 18th century, the statue has been
abandoned in the nature and covered by the jungle. It has been rediscovered by
chance in 1881 at the time of a construction of the railroad. It has been
restored thus and stake under a shelter made of iron.
Bago is one of the richest archaeological sites in Myanmar. The archaeological
department made some excavations on the site of the palace of the former royal
capital "Han-tha-waddy" founded by king "Ba-yin-naung" in 16th century.
"Ba-yin-naung" (the Napoleon of Myanmar), the founder of second Burmese empire,
was a great well-known king in the Burmese history. His military campaign to
unify the country, his political and social achievement, and his religious
actions are remarkable along his life. He was born from a royal lineage. When he
was young, "Ba-yin-naung" was called "Shin-ye-htut". He became one of the
generals and at the same time the brother-in-law of the king "Tabin-shwe-hti" in
that period. After the great historic battle in "Naung-yoe" in 1538, he won the
title of "Ba-yin-naung" that means "the Brother of King". After the death of
king "Tabin-shwe-hti", he became king and could unify the whole Burma. He chose
"Han-tha-waddy" as the Burmese royal capital and made a construction of palace
The widely-known king "Ba-yin-naung" (the Napoleon of Myanmar) and his palace
were described well in detail in Burmese chronicle records as well as by the
narrations of the foreigners. The site spreads on about hundred hectares. The
royal city was surrounded with ramparts with 20 doors. The royal palace was at
the center and the original surrounding wall was in teak. The audience hall was
surmounted by a roof 7 tiers that is covered with bronze sheets gilt with gold.
There was a Thai style pavilion for his favorite Thai princess. After his death,
under the reign of his successor, the capital and its palace were destroyed and
abandoned. The site of the former palace has been discovered recently, and some
pavilions have been rebuilt on the very original site. The recent palace also
includes a museum that displays the objects unearthed on the old site
(Potteries, original pillars of teak, various Buddha statues, etc...).
Thanlyin ( Syriam)
Nearly 3 km from Bago, on the road of Yangon-Bago, is the "Kyaik-pun" pagoda. It
consists of four huge seated Buddha Images made of brick lean to a central
pillar. These statues of 30 m high represent the four Buddha appeared in this
era (Kauk-ka-san-dha, Kaw-na-ga-ma-na, Ka-tha-pha, and Gor-ta-ma). The pagoda
was constructed by the order of king "Dha-ma-zeti" in 1476. One among them has
been damaged by the earthquake of 1930. It has been renovated already.
Only three quarters of an hour of crossing the Yangon or Bago or Hlaing River,
or one half-hour of road or by train passing over "Thanhlyin" bridge leads a
small town "Thanhlyin". This bridge of one-km long constructed with the help of
the Chinese is one of the longest bridges in Burma.
"Thanhlyin" is a small town with a very rural agglomeration. But it was a very
active port from 16th century to the middle of to 18th century. In 16th century,
an English traveler described this port where the trading ships embarked before
going up to "Bago". It was a passage obliged for the all marine trade. In the
beginning of 17th century, a Portuguese adventurer, Felipe-de-Brito came to
establish a trade-counter with the agreement of an "Arakan" king who dominated
the inshore region of the southwest of Burma. He could make a big fortune and he
founded his own kingdom with the help of the viceroy of Gôa. But, in 1613, a
Burmese king conquered it and he has been condemned to death. "Thanhlyin"
remained a very important active port until its destruction by the Burmese in
1756. It remains some vestiges of the Portuguese presence there (ruin of Church,
stone grave, etc...). During the British time, the English brought the Indians
there for the rice-cultivation. Today quite a lot of Indian origin inhabitants
live there. Besides the very colorful local market, the town doesn't offer the
Four km from "Thanhlyin" is a big golden pagoda, "Kyaik-khauk", situated on
small hill. As the pagoda of Shwedagon, it is built in Burmese classic style and
enshrined the hair of Buddha and some relics offered by king "Ashoka" of India.
The pagoda was originally constructed by a monk named "Ashin-Khaw-laka"
according to the legend. Therefore, the pagoda name after its builder,
"Kyaik-khaw-la-ka". After the passage of years, the name distorted and became
"Kyaik-khauk". The view from the pagoda platform passing over Yangon River is
More 14 km from "Kyaik-khauk" is "Kyauk-tan", a small town surrounded with small
villages of fishermen. "Kyauk-tan" is known for its "Yélè-phaya" pagoda situated
on a small island close to the confluent of two rivers of Yangon and Bago. This
small sacred island is only accessible by boat and is occupied by the religious
buildings. According to the legend, the pagoda would date back more than 2000
years, and the original pagoda reached 3 m of height. In 1940, the former pagoda
was embedded in the present pagoda that nearly makes 16 m of height. A pavilion
shelters Buddha statue made of marble which can be disassemble into five pieces.
There are two distinct characters of the pagoda; this island is never flooded by
the water, and the big cat-fishes are always there to receive the food offered
by the pilgrims. Being located on the interesting island and good surrounding
area "Ye-le" pagoda is one of the most pleasant sites for all pilgrims and
A crossing of Yangon River by a ferry, then an hour and half by road on an old
jeep leads to one small town on the Ayeyawaddy delta, "Twantay", 24 km from
Yangon. The road to "Twantay" through the rice fields and the small villages
furrows a cannel of the same name that rallies the delta area and Yangon. The
journey allows discovering the country's daily life along the cannel.
This small typical town of the delta is known for its potteries. Nearly the
whole quarter of "Oh-bo" is occupied by the cottage industries roofed with straw
where the potters manufacture traditional containers made of clay and earth. As
for other local handicrafts, the manufactures of incense sticks, the bamboo
mats, the traditional hand weavings and the synthetic-diamond cutting and
polishing are very interesting to be studied. The big local market and the small
market nearby cannel are very colorful. "Shwe-san-taw" pagoda, with its 76 m of
height is the most remarkable site of the town. According to the legend, the
pagoda also sealed-up two hairs of the Buddha. The tour by rickshaw or by horse
card is unforgettable experience for all visitors.
"Let-khok-kone" is a simple beach to the nearest of the capital of Burma. It is
only 50 km in the south of Yangon and it takes one hour by car. To visit the
beach either by bus or by private car, it is necessary crosses the Yangon river
by a ferry from the pier of "Sin-Oh-Tan". It is possible to organize one day
visit by car. To spend some days, there is also a hotel with bungalows
sufficient for 108 people. This hotel organizes the transportation to and fro
with the reasonable price. The beach edged of the coconut trees is pleasant for
a walk and for the fresh air. One can admire the sunset as well as the sunrise.
In the west of the coconut trees, there is a golf course of 8 hectares.
Places of other interest in Yangon Areas
Kyaik-ka-san Pagoda, Ko-htat-kyi pagoda, Ngar-htat-kyi pagoda, Shwe Phone Pwint
Pagoda, Mo Kaung Pagoda, Maha Bandoola Park, Mingalardon Garden, Kyaikkalo
Pagoda, Kayikkalae Pagoda, and Bogyoke Aung San Museum are also interesting
places to visit if you have more free time.