Photo: Another iconic sunset behind U Bein Bridge.

U Bein Bridge

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Traditional style, teak U Bein Bridge, stretching over scenic Taungthaman Lake, is one of Burma’s most iconic sights. Mandalay and its surrounding ancient cities have an abundance of attractions and sunset views, but if you only have time for one in Mandalay, it would have to be this.





South of Mandalay’s modern city centre, U Bein Bridge leads the way to the former Burmese capital city of Amarapura. The ageing bridge stretches 1.2 kilometres to the other shore, making it the longest bridge of its kind in the world. Mayor U Bein is credited for the creation of the bridge in the 1850s, using scavenged teak pilings from the discarded palace of Amarapura when King Mindon moved the capital to Mandalay.

The iconic bridge in all its glory. Photo taken in or around U Bein Bridge, Mandalay, Burma_myanmar by Christopher Smith.

The iconic bridge in all its glory. Photo: Christopher Smith

The bridge is now on the shaky side; it will sway, perhaps uncomfortably, as other people walk along it. Many portions of the bridge have no handrails and some planks lie quite unattached to the structure, but strategic spots have been reinforced with cement to keep it safe and usable. An overall overhaul was underway when we visited in mid-2016 but thankfully new teak rather than concrete was being used to replace old rotten sections.

During the dry season from February to May, the water level drops dramatically, allowing you to meander under the bridge and through small crop fields planted by farmers taking advantage of the rich soil. During wet season, the water level can reach the top of the bridge, and in some years has even covered the walkway.

Seasonal waters are high. Photo taken in or around U Bein Bridge, Mandalay, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

Seasonal waters are high. Photo: Mark Ord

The sunset draws the most attention to U Bein, when the sun slips behind hills and trees with vast farmlands and spires in the foreground; a low angle view creates the spectacular lake reflection and silhouette against the western sky. This is one of the most photogenic locations in all of Burma. Fishermen and other boat owners offer boat rides around and through the bridge. In high season there’ll be a wide arc of camera-touting tourist boats and indeed during busy months you’ll need to get there early to find a free boatman. They seat up to four foreigners and the going rate is ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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How to get there
Lake Taungthaman and U Bein Bridge are around 10 kilometres south of Mandalay's city centre, to the east of the prolongation of 84th Street, which leads down to the Sagaing Bridge. Return taxi fare is around 18,000 kyat. There may be a ticket booth operational in which case you’ll need to show your Mandalay combo ticket.

Location map for U Bein Bridge

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