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New details will be emailed to you. Simply reserve online and pay at the counter when you collect. Available in shop from just two hours, subject to availability. Your order is now being processed and we have sent a confirmation email to you at. This item can be requested from the shops shown below. If this item isn't available to be reserved nearby, add the item to your basket instead and select 'Deliver to my local shop' at the checkout, to be able to collect it from there at a later date. An active adventure awaits, as you paddle with lightweight, 2-person kayaks through rural Shan villages on the lake, areas that few Westerners visit.
Depending on the location of your hotel a transfer by motorboat across the lake, a half-hour journey, brings you to In Phaw Khone, the famous weaving center of the Intha people right in the middle of Inle Lake. A landscape of watery villages, beautiful landscapes and the mountains of Shan state as the backdrop is sublime as we continue on the two-hour paddle. We pass by floating gardens, and stop in in a traditional Intha village, visiting their homes on the lake, learning about their cultures and sampling locally produced foods.
We continue paddling until lunch when we arrive at an Intha house where we will be welcomed in for a home-cooked lunch. From here we leave the kayaks behind and continue by motorboat back to the hotel, or continue for more visits on the lake with a boat and guide. You will picnic at Minnanthu, a quiet area of the Minnanthu temple complex. The guide brings you by car to this forgotten part of Bagan, will spread out a blanket and serve a delicious picnic lunch in this historic spot.
Afterwards you will before visiting another 2 or 3 ancient temples ruins in this area. The rest of the day the car and guide are available for additional visits of the temples if wanted. See Bagan topbar for information on this region. Zfreeti Hotel Deluxe B, L. Day 9 — Bagan Sightseeing by Electric Bikes Sightseeing by electric bicycles with an experienced guide in one of the most incredible and scenic temple complexes in all of Asia.
We love Bagan even more then Angkor Wat, not just because of the beauty of each temple and not just because of the lack of hordes of tourists, but because of the stunning landscape of ancient temple ruins that seem to be spread around randomly in between toddy palms and bamboo huts. During this half day tour on a bike, your guide will show you some of the most spectacular sceneries of ancient temples and the best of all is that you can stop any time, any minute to make some beautiful pictures.
Book an Extra Day at Bagan! Afterwards we might have time to visit the local market, packed with locally woven baskets, colorful textiles, fruit and vegetables. Overnight simple hotel in Kanpetlet. Day 11 — Drive Matupi We continue driving deeper into Chin State, passing occasional villages, stopping at the local markets, and spending most of the day driving through forest on scenic roads. On arrival in Matupi we drive towards the famous seven steps waterfall the beginning of the Lay Myo River and walk towards the waterfall.
B, L, D. Yet for all that, the banteng are cattle. They just happen to be cattle of the tropical forests of Southeast Asia, sharing their dark verdured habitat with tigers, elephants, and rhinos. Although co-existing with such exotic animals, the banteng, in appearance, could almost be mistaken for domestic cattle; they are similar in both size and general impression, but a bit different in color and pattering: males sport a black coat with white stockings and rump, while females are tan to dark brown with similar stockings and rump.
We have a simple breakfast at the end of the road before heading out on the trek, and set off for about 5 kilometers of relatively flat hiking, arriving at Amswe village at about 10 am. While the guide is preparing lunch, have a walk around this fascinating village, notice the drying roots that will eventually be sold to China, the pink flowers blooming in the Silk or Red cotton trees called Letpan in Burmese trees and the daily village activities.
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After lunch, the scenery is very diverse, often walking along ridges with panoramic views across the valley below, passing by monsoon mud slides, hiking through dense jungle and even passing through rice plantations in the mountains. We pass plants that resemble cardamom, orange and lemon trees, sometimes for sale along the side of the trail, and chicken coops near the villages.
Thien Zar is an interesting village with a very remote feel, where few westerners have passed through. The religions in the Chin State are Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian and Lutheran in that order of popularity , and there is generally Sunday school on Saturday nights, Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings, and plenty of pastors and priests who are generally the heads of the villages.
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Before these Western religions were introduced by zealous missionaries to Burma, the Chin people practiced a form of animism. We stay in a large common room in a bamboo hut which one of the villagers loans to the group. Thin pads, blankets, a pillow and mosquito nets are provided but we recommend bringing an air mattress or yoga mat along as well!
Day 13 — Trek Hton Nar — Mardu — Welu m We start the day with an early morning breakfast, possibly local fare such as mohinga, followed by a short walk to the village of Hton Nar m where local men still wear Hornbill feathers in their head dresses. Another 2 kilometers to hike for an early lunch at Mardu m ; lunches tend to be long as the middle of the day is hot, so take the opportunity to explore the village, or have a siesta in our local bamboo house.
Mardu has three churches Presbyterian, Baptist and Catholic and a friendly pastor who speaks English and can explain some of the local culture. The village also has three small schools, and the cute school children will be out for lunch in their green and white uniforms, amazed to see Westerners in the village.
Enjoy the beautiful vistas over the Chin Hills as we hike another two hours, past bamboo plantations, rice fields, thick forest and open fields, to traditional Welu village. Some of the locals have never seen chewing gum, a sign of how remote these Chin vilages are! These Chin villagers are still primarily hunters, raising pigs and chickens, growing a few fruit trees and crops, but existing on a very simple but delicious diet.
The Chins often use ash from bamboo leaves to make their food sour, giving it a very unique flavor. The dried tubars that are sold to China are also used in their dishes. The older women in most of these Chin villages still have tatooed faces which look slightly green as they age, and cover most of their faces. Some of the older men sported Hornbill feather head dresses. Htin Khaung is a beautiful, timeless Chin village flanked with traditional Chin storage houses, a square, a few shops!
The local Chin people play flute pipes and other locally constructed instruments. The local Presybetarian pastor, who also speaks some English, will probably also wander over, a great chance to ask some questions.
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We stay the night in a beautiful, new bamboo house, very clean and owned by a couple with 8 children and many skulls, also of wild boar and barking deer, above the door and deck. Villagers who have never seen a Westerner will stop by to squat and watch the afternoon excitement. Have a wander to the village tap to rinse off after another hot day of hiking, and return to the deck for a beautiful sunset over the Chin hills.
The guide will prepare a simple but delicious local dinner. The thatched window covers will be put up in the evenings to keep out insects — and whatever else might be lurking outside. Day 15 — Trek Khapo Chay. Starting with a lovely 8 km hike down hill, we trek through groves of bamboo on a trail which might be slightly washed out, the last section steep red clay, to the banks of the Than Chaung River. The first few hours we pass some rapids, which makes the trip quite exciting. We continue our boat trip, stoping for lunch on the banks of the river at Ping Wa 74 km , a chance to chat with the locals and shop at the basic bamboo shops, which double as the tea shops.
Kids will be jumping into the river, taking their own small boats out for rides, real water children. En route we pass a plethora of wildlife and birds, including many varieties of kingfisher, heron, stilt, redstart, parakeet, owls, sandpiper, wagtails, water buffalos, barking deer and red monkeys, and cruise past more pink Letpan trees.
We might pass Army checkposts along the way, and your guide will probably tell you to put cameras away. We arrive at the end of a beautiful river day at a traditional Chin village Than Chaung Wah on the bank of the river, and our accomodation will be similar to in the Chin hills.
Our guide will prepare a local meal for us as we set up our bedding in the local house. After Ten Htung we enter the region of Mrauk U, the villages become a mix of Buddhist and Christian, and the river widens considerably, soon becoming a major waterway. The next stop is at the second check post, Let Pan Daw, where watermelon might be available at the riverside shack. The next significant villages we pass are Cho May and Sinkay, but tourists from Mrauk U have found these villages of tatoo-faced women so best to motor by and continue on to the jetty near Mrauk U.
Disembarking and saying goodbye to our boating companions, our private vehcicle is waiting to drive us half an hour to the historical temple city of Mrauk U. Day 17 — Mrauk U A wonderful day of organized sightseeing around Mrauk U, an incredibly interesting and beautiful complex of ancient temples, Buddhas and ruins. Enjoy the interactive tour by private vehicle, visiting the amazing temple complexes of Mrauk U as well as the local town with an expert guide on the archaeological site. See Mrauk U topbar for information on region.
Day 18 — Mrauk U A free day to continue with explorations of this incredible and ancient complex. The guide will have suggestions of where to visit, and there will be options to rent a bike, hire a vehicle or explore the shady side streets of our neighborhood on foot. There is an interesting mareket about 1 km from the hotel, worth several hours to explore.
There are several good restaurants near the hotel, all within walking distance, and all with unique Burmese dishes. Day 19 — Boat Sittwe. Fly Yangon — Trip Ends The perfect ending to our journey, we board an early morning boat for a scenic cruise along the Kaladan River with stunning views of the surrounding fields and mountains in the distance, certainly a highlight of the trip to Mrauk U.
The hour boat trip to Sittwe is an excellent opportunity to watch daily life passing by on the nearby banks. At Sittwe you will be transferred to the airport and board a flight back to Yangon. The afternoon is at your leisure, enjoy! Day 19 — Mrauk U Cruise to Sittwe. Transfer to hotel on beautiful Ngapali Beach. Our recommended hotel is the wonderful Yoma Cherry. Day 20 — Ngapali Beach Beach day! Head to the fishing villages on the southern end of the beach in the morning, to watch the local fishermen and village women unloading and sorting the evening catch, endlessly colorful and fascinating.
And your dinner this evening, probably! Overnight at Yoma Cherry garden view room. Day 21 — Ngapali Beach Another beach day on this idyllic stretch of sand, under the palms. Take a walk to the end of the beach, and take a look at the local crafts exhibited by talented women en route. Day 22 — Ngapali Beach You may want to head to one of the local markets in the village, a step back in time and an incredibly exotic and bustling marketplace. Maung Shwe Lay is a local fishing community where life stood still; we walk around the village and show you the local market, village school and library.
We continue on foot or by oxcart through the village back to the beach, enjoying real rural life in this part of Myanmar. A home cooked lunch with seafood is prepared by your host family in a local house on the beach, a moment to get to know the people. Around 2 pm in the afternoon we bring you back to your hotel in Ngapali.
Day 23 — Transfer to Airport. Transfer to the international airport for your trip home. Trip Advisor Reviews. Client Highlights We just wanted to tell you ALL how amazing our trip was and how much we appreciate all the fine work you put into making it all happen so smoothly. Chris and Peter have said it all. It was a most memorable trip. Everything went smoothly and the range of activities perfect! Regarding the Chin part of our trip, the scenery was stunning and relatively easy walking, just enough for each day, and a real treat staying in villages and seeing how the people lived there!
Mi Wong and his helpers did an excellent job cooking for us. Amazing how we quickly adapted to sleeping next to each other on the floor and going outside to use the pit toilets. And of course we thank you Kim and Khiri Travel for organizing it all! I came with little knowledge of Myanmar and now understand some of the complexities of this beautiful country and will watch with great interest what happens in the future!
Much appreciated! We would really like to congratulate you and Khiri for such a well planned and interesting itinerary with such a great mix of destinations and activities. It was well paced and with a good level of challenge and a great variety of daily action. It was also very memorable because of the wonderful tour guides, who were all very generous in the time and energy they gave to the group and we also really appreciated the often frank conversations we had about the politics and culture of the country.
Thanks again for your time and efforts. It was a really fabulous time for us. This will stay with us for many years. We certainly had excellent guides and with their excellent knowledge of their particular areas they made our trip even more interesting and enjoyable.
I had a wonderful time and it is one of the best trips I have ever had. I thoroughly recommend it to others. Burma Blog Kamzang Burma Blog. A Luminous Lake of Unusual Talents. History of the Present Yangon. Kamzang Journeys Contact Kim Bannister kim kamzang. Travel Advisories We follow the strict advice of the government of Myanmar, very cautious in regards to the safety of foreigners; our trips are well coordinated and in safe areas.
Do check with your embassy or consulate before traveling. You can apply for this visa at a Myanmar embassy in or near your country. Please make sure you have enough pages in your passport. The passport has to be valid for at least 6 more months. Different embassies have different rules to apply for a tourist visa, which takes about 3 working days.
Some embassies will ask you to come in person to apply for the visa or they will ask for your CV to check where you have been working in the past and they might ask for your planned travel itinerary. It is also possible to apply for an eVisa for Myanmar which takes at least 5 working days. Myanmar Visa. You will have to bring cash as well. The Kyat is the official currency of Myanmar and is available in notes of The last few years the Kyat has been hovering between to Kyats to the US Dollar — ask your hotel or your guide about the current exchange rate on arrival and also where to exchange.
There are more bank exchange counters opening all over the country, including on arrival at the airport and those counters usually give the best exchange rate. In theory it is possible to exchange Travelers Checks at the National Bank in Yangon, but in practice it is slow and costly. Tips Tipping in Myanmar is not customary. In a relatively poor country like Myanmar, tipping is however highly appreciated. In other places leaving the small change or 1 USD is enough. Guides and drivers of rented vehicles do expect to be tipped.
Of course tipping is always related to the quality of services rendered. Even Myanmar people with just a slightly higher than average income are very generous and a culture of giving to poor, elderly and people in need is deeply rooted in the culture. Also, a rich Burmese would generally also accept paying a higher price than a poor Burmese. People greatly appreciate if you bring postcards and pictures etc.
Gifts for school, orphanages, local hospitals are always greatly appreciated, and its best is actually to buy gifts locally at the market in Myanmar cheaper, good fun to do, better for the economy and you can be sure the receiver knows how to use it and it also saves you space in your luggage. We strongly recommend you to visit either your personal physician or a travel health clinic weeks before departure. Up-to-date advice should be sought before deciding whether these precautions should include vaccination, as medical opinion is divided over its effectiveness.
Malaria risk exists throughout the year in the whole country, except in bigger towns such as Yangon and Mandalay. Medical facilities with western standards are very limited in Myanmar and practically only exist in Yangon.
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Many doctors have been educated in Europe especially in the UK but have limited access to modern medicines and limited updated knowledge. All travelers visiting Myanmar with Khiri Travel must show proof of a health insurance upon arrival in the country so in case of emergency we can assist and make sure you will receive the necessary medical attention in Myanmar or in Bangkok, where the best medical facilities are available. These seasons are very similar to the seasons in Thailand. Every season has its own advantages and disadvantages to travel. See below. Landscapes are a bit dry — excellent time to visit the beaches and to visit higher parts of Myanmar Shan state for example.
November — February Winter The most popular season for tourists to travel because of the lower temperatures evenings in the mountains can be cold — 10 degrees Celsius while the chance for rain is less although November saw more rainy days then July or August of that year. Daytime temperature is around 30 degrees Celsius. A good time to visit any place in the country but it can be busy at the major tourist locations — if you have the choice we suggest you to avoid the months of November and February when it can be very busy everywhere.
June — mid October Green Season The temperatures drop till about 25 — 30 degrees Celsius and the scenery is green. Sightseeing is not too hot and not too dusty. Yangon can get quite some rain as well so it is better to spend just 1 or 2 nights here. There are in this period on average less than 10 rainy days a month upcountry: weather base website — Myanmar.
Consider yourself incommunicado, as your mobile phone will probably not be working. Myanmar has only a few roaming agreements.
Buying a local simcard is getting easier and a temporary telephone number would cost about 2 Usd MPT, Telenor and Oredoo and can be bought easily in shops all around the country. Internet cafes can be found in the bigger cities and most of the hotels around the country offer Wifi. Cultural Issues When visiting Myanmar, do try to adapt to and respect the unique culture.
Here are some examples of rules of which visitors should be aware. Water used for drinking, or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilized. Bottled water is available throughout the country. Avoid dairy products that are likely to have been made from raw milk. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. Myanmar food is traditionally eaten with steamed rice using either the fingers or spoon and fork chop sticks are sometimes used for Chinese food or noodles. In the countryside, people will all eat family style; sitting on the floor, sharing a few dishes.
Traditional Myanmar food consists out of 1 or 2 curries not very spicy , a lot of steamed rice and some pickles or salad as well as fish paste. The traditional food out of the center of Myanmar can be a bit greasy; make sure you also try the food of all the different states like Shan food, Rakhine food or mix with Chinese, Indian or Thai food. Mix it with a lot of rice. In Myanmar traditional families the believe is that a guest should be always served the best and richest food hence a bit of extra oil is added!
It is a fish soup with vermicelli mixed with ingredients like lemon, coriander, boiled egg, banana stem or crispy fried beans. It is an excellent dish for lunch. It is a thick coconut soup with rice noodles and chicken as well as onions, rice crackers and a bit of coriander. The bowl of noodles comes with a sauce of meat and vegetable and can be ordered as a salad or as a soup. Arrival Yangon Arrival You will be met at the airport when you arrive in Yangon, Myanmar, by a representative of our local travel agency and brought to the Yangon Clover Wingaba Hotel hotel where your rooms have been booked.
See Yangon Extensions lower tabs for day tours and options to extend for several days.
Myanmar Visa Get your visa before arrival in Myanmar! Extra Days in Myanmar Customize your Journey! If you have the time to plan to stay an extra week or two and explore more deeply into this unique country. See bottom tabs for optional tours in Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake and Mandalay, and we can also set up custom itineraries for you in other parts of Myanmar.
Consider a stay on the still pristine Ngapali Coast, with an extra day to photography the local fishing villages. Our wonderful travel agency is supporting a local English school whose students love to practice their conversational English with foreigners. The students are from 4 years old till adults and depending on the day you visit the school you will find yourself either playing with young kids and read stories or have discussions in English about all kind of subjects regarding Myanmar, the world and daily life of the students.
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A fun and interactive way to get to know the local people of Myanmar. Starting after lunch this walking tour will take you through downtown Yangon, focusing on its old colonial buildings. Your guide will walk you through the back streets in a relaxed tempo and explain you the history of each building some of them empty, some getting restored and some used for different purposes than when built. This walk along the streets of Yangon will at least architecturally take you a step back in time, also a high tea at the famous Strand hotel will make you feel being back in colonial time.
Four entrance stairways lead to the main terrace. Visit in the cool of dawn if you want tranquility. Otherwise, pay your respects when the golden stupa flames crimson and burnt orange in the setting sun. The following covers the history and layout of Shwedagon Paya. Tour agencies can also arrange guides; a good tour, including the surrounding area, is offered by Khiri Travel. He gave them eight of his hairs to take back to Myanmar, a land ruled over by King Okkalapa. Okkalapa enshrined the hairs in a temple of gold, together with relics of three former buddhas, which was then enclosed in a temple of silver, then one of tin, then copper, then lead, then marble and, finally, one of plain iron-brick.
Archaeologists suggest that the original stupa was built by the Mon people some time between the 6th and 10th centuries. In common with many other ancient zedi in earthquake-prone Myanmar, it has been rebuilt many times. Near the top of the eastern stairway is a brick inscribed with the date In the 15th century, the tradition of gilding the stupa began. Queen Shinsawbu, who was responsible for many improvements to the stupa, provided her own weight 88lb in gold, which was beaten into gold leaf and used to cover the structure.
Her son-in-law, Dhammazedi, went several better, offering four times his own weight and that of his wife in gold. As the British were to do later with another bell, he accidentally dropped it into the river where it remains. During the 17th century, the monument suffered earthquake damage on eight occasions. Worse was to follow in , when a quake brought down the whole top of the zedi. King Hsinbyushin had it rebuilt to virtually its present height, and its current configuration dates from that renovation.
British troops occupied the compound for two years immediately after the First Anglo-Burmese War in In , during the Second Anglo-Burmese War, the British again took the paya, the soldiers pillaged it once more and it remained under military control for 77 years, until Prior to the British takeover of southern Myanmar there had been defensive earthworks around the paya, but these were considerably extended by the British.
The emplacements for their cannons can still be seen outside the outer wall. In the provision of a new hti the umbrella-like decorative top of a stupa by King Mindon Min from Mandalay, caused considerable head-scratching for the British, who were not at all keen for such an association to be made with the still-independent part of Myanmar.
The huge earthquake of , which totally destroyed the Shwemawdaw in Bago, caused only minor damage to Shwedagon. Temple Layout The hill on which the stupa stands is ft above sea level with the entire complex covering 46 hectares. As is common with all temples in Myanmar, the main terrace is approached by four zaungdan covered walkways each of which is flanked at its entrance by a pair of 9m-tall chinthe. All but the western zaungdan are lined with stalls selling flowers — both real and beautifully made paper ones — for offerings, buddha images, ceremonial umbrellas, books, antiques, incense sticks and much more.
There are also fortune tellers and money exchange booths. You emerge from the shade of the zaungdan into a visual cacophany of technicoloured glitter at the marble-floored main terrace , littered with pavilions and worship halls containing buddha images and two giant cast-iron bells. At the centre of the terrace Shwedagon Paya sits on a square plinth, which stands 21ft above the clutter of the main platform and immediately sets the stupa above the lesser structures.
Smaller stupas sit on this raised platform level — four large ones mark the four cardinal directions, four medium-sized ones mark the four corners of the plinth and 60 small ones run around the perimeter. These consist of a band of down-turned petals, followed by a band of up-turned petals. The banana bud is the final element of the zedi before the jewel-encrusted hti tops it. Note that Wednesday is divided into births in the morning and births in afternoon — for the latter you worship at the Rahu post at the northwest corner of the stupa base.
Before leaving the main terrace pop into the small museum which is chock full of buddha statues and religious ornaments. Look for the scale model of the stupa and the beautiful painting of the temple by MT Hla. The photo gallery is also well worth a look, particularly for the close-up snaps it displays of the top of the stupa. Gear Gear List Gear list for the Chin trek. The state is a mountainous region with few transportation links, sparsely populated and remains one of the least developed areas of the country.
Some historians speculate that the Thaik or Thek people mentioned in the Burmese Chronicles might be the Chins. For much of history, the sparsely populated Chin Hills were ruled by local chiefs. The first recorded instance of a western kingdom believed to be near the Chin Hills is the Kingdom of Pateikkaya, a tributary to the Pagan Kingdom in the 11th and 12th centuries. Some historians put Pateikkaya in eastern Bengal, thus placing the entire Chin Hills under Pagan suzerainty but others, citing stone inscriptions, put it near the eastern Chin Hills.
Kale was a minor Shan state. Its authority did not extend more than its immediate surrounding area, no more than a small portion of northern Chin Hills. The minor state occasionally paid tribute to the larger Shan States of Mohnyin and Mogaung and ultimately became a vassal state of the Burmese Ava Kingdom in the s. Starting in the s, Ava began to disintegrate and Kale was swallowed up by the Shan State of Mohnyin by the s.
The entire Chin Hills came under the authority of the Burmese kingdoms between and when King Bayinnaung of the Toungoo Dynastyconquered all of Upper Burma and its surrounding regions, stretching from the eastern and northern Shan states to the western Chin Hills and Manipur. Toungoo began to weaken in the late 17th century. The ensuing Chin resistance to the British was suppressed only by with the arrest of Khaikam Suantak of Siyin area. After the war, Chin leaders headed by Vumkhohau Suantak, with Burman, Shan and Kachin leaders, participated in the Panglong Conference which discussed the future of an independent Union of Burma.
As a result, when the Constitution of Burma granted the right of secession to states after 10 years after the independence, the Chin did not get a state. The Karen, who did not participate in the conference, received a state, with the right to secede. The Ayeyarwady River drifts past its northern and western sides.
About 2. Between the two is Myinkaba, a village boasting a long-running lacquerware tradition.
Connecting the towns are paved roads making a mile oval. In between and around these towns is the bulk of the Bagan action: the plain, featuring most of the temples, all connected with a vast network of bumpy dirt roads and trails. Ananda Pahto With its shimmering gold, ft-high, corncob hti shimmering across the plains, Ananda is one of the finest, largest, best preserved and most revered of all Bagan temples. Thought to have been built between and by King Kyanzittha, this perfectly proportioned temple heralds the stylistic end of the early Bagan period and the beginning of the middle period.
The central square measures ft along each side. Upper floors are closed to visitors. The entranceways make the structure a perfect Greek cross; each entrance is crowned with a stupa finial. The base and the terraces are decorated with glazed tiles showing Jataka scenes, thought to be derived from Mon texts.
Look back as you enter to see the huge carved teak doors that separate interior halls from cross passages on all four sides. Facing outward from the centre of the cube are four 31ft standing buddha statues. Only the Bagan-style images facing north and south are original; both display the dhammachakka mudra a hand position symbolising the Buddha teaching his first sermon.
The other two images are replacements for figures destroyed by fire in the s. All four have bodies of solid teak, though guides may claim the southern image is made of a bronze alloy. Guides like to point out that if you stand by the donation box in front of the original southern buddha, his face looks sad, while from a distance he tends to look mirthful.
The western and eastern standing buddha images are done in the later Konbaung, or Mandalay, style. If looked at from the right angle, the two lions at the eastern side resemble an ogre. A small, nut-like sphere held between the thumb and middle finger of the east-facing image is said to resemble a herbal pill, and may represent the Buddha offering dhamma Buddhist teachings as a cure for suffering. The west-facing buddha features the abhaya mudra the hands outstretched, in the gesture of no fear.
At its feet sit two life-sized lacquer statues, said to represent King Kyanzittha and Shin Arahan, the Mon monk who initiated Anawrahta into Theravada Buddhism. In , on its th anniversary, the temple spires were gilded. The remainder of the temple exterior is whitewashed from time to time. Most visitors access it from the northern side, where the highest concentration of hawkers are.
For a quieter approach, enter from the east side. Dhammayangyi Pahto Visible from all parts of Bagan, this massive, walled, 12th-century temple about ft east of Shwesandaw is infamous for its mysterious, bricked-up inner passageways and cruel history. Workers who failed in this task had their arms chopped off: just inside the west entrance, note the stones with arm-sized grooves where these amputations allegedly happened. Others quietly argue the temple dates from the earlier reign of Alaungsithu, which would refute all this fun legend behind it. The plan here is similar to Ananda, with projecting porticoes and receding terraces, though its sikhara is reduced to a stub nowadays.
Walking around the outer ambulatory, under ceilings so high you can only hear the squeaks of bats circling in the dark, you can see some intact stucco reliefs and paintings, suggesting the work had been completed. The mystery goes on. Three out of the four buddha sanctums were also filled with bricks. Perhaps in time, one of the great architectural mysteries of Bagan will be solved. Lit up impressively at dusk the gilded zedi sits on three rising terraces. Enamelled plaques in panels around the base of the zedi illustrate scenes from the Jataka.
At the cardinal points, facing the terrace stairways, are four shrines, each of which houses a 13ft-high bronze standing buddha. A 4in circular indentation in a stone slab, before the upwards-heading eastern steps, was filled with water to allow former Myanmar monarchs to look at the reflection of the hti without tipping their heads backwards which might have caused them to lose their crowns. The most important site here is the small yellow compound called 37 Nat in English on the southeast side of the site. Inside are figures of all the 37 pre-Buddhist nat that were officially endorsed by Bamar monarchy in a compromising gesture towards a public reluctant to give up all their beliefs for Buddhism.
Ask around if the compound is locked. At one end stands an original stone figure of Thagyamin, king of the nat and a direct appropriation of the Hindu god Indra. This is the oldest known freestanding Thagyamin figure in Myanmar. The site was started by Anawrahta but not completed until the reign of Kyanzittha. The latter is thought to have built his palace nearby. A path on the north side leads down to the riverbank, where you can get some interesting views.
Its top terrace is roomy, which is just as well, considering the numbers of camera-toting travellers coming by taxi or bus before sunset. The terraces once bore terracotta plaques showing scenes from the Jataka but traces of these, and of other sculptures, were covered by rather heavy-handed renovations.