The youngest among the ancient capital cities
Published/Last edited or updated: 25th September, 2016
The once-bustling city of Amarapura is the youngest among the ancient capital cities surrounding Mandalay and is home to iconic sights such as the tombs of King Bodawpaya, Shwezaga Pagoda and the world's longest teak bridge: U Bein.
Built by King Bodawpaya in 1783, the royal family resided at Amarapura for a mere 70 years before King Mindon dismantled the teak palace in 1859 and transferred it to its final resting place in Mandalay. Despite a short life, the city is home to numerous sights such as Pahtodawgyi Pagoda and Maha Gandhayon Kyaung monastery as well as the world's longest teak bridge, the iconic U Bein. The rickety one-kilometre footbridge built from discarded teak columns of the dismantled palace, is still used as the local commuter super-walkway. The bridge connects two southern points of Taungthaman Lake, with the various other sights scattered around the lake’s edges.
Maha Gandhayon Kyaung monastery is famous for the "feeding of the monks", where hundreds of monks come to receive food and offerings at 10:00 each day. Unfortunately the packs of tourists with cameras are too often disrespectful, creating a zoo-esque feeling—we don't recommend this. During its off-hours though, the packs disperse and leave a spacious monastery that makes for a beautiful walk. For a more spiritual-feeding feeling, Pahtodawgyi pagoda, Kyautawgyi pagoda and the ancient palace ruins of Amarapura are itinerary worthy stops because of their rich history and colorful decor. The palace ruins contain the tombs of King Bodawpaya and King Bagyidaw, the ruling kings during Amarapura's glory days, making it a must-see sight for history buffs. The palace and Pahtodawgyi are located to the north of the lake while Kyautawgyi is at the eastern end of the bridge.
The vast majority of visitors go to Amarapura for the sunset at U Bein but the quiet back lanes and winding lakeside lanse are great for strolls. If you’ve got time on your hands, and fancy taking in the other sights, then head down an hour or two early, or even visit the bridge for dawn, and leave yourself a while to wander, perhaps heading over to Sagaing or Inwa.
The city is also part of Mandalay's 10,000 kyat combo ticket and one of the few places where it might actually be checked (after crossing the bridge). Trishaws and taxis are available for hire on the Amarapura side, and these are essential if you're planning on visiting all of the widely scattered sights.
Amarapura is 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 18,000 or so kyat. Combo ticket may be required.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Mandalay