Should You Take A Day-trip From Mandalay to Inwa?

Because of recent events in Myanmar, we at World Nomads have had a long hard think about whether we should even continue publishing articles about the country. In the end we decided we should. Our reasoning is explained in this piece about ethical travel: "Controversial Destinations: To Boycott or Not?" Please read it.

Inwa was once the capital city of Burma, and to this day appears to be one of many hidden secrets in Myanmar. But is a day-trip to Inwa worth your while?

Only 20km from Mandalay, Inwa can be reached by taking a bus, taxi, or motorbike from Mandalay to Myint Nge. Motorbikes tend to be faster, taking only 30 minutes to reach the rivers edge, where a small ferry transports you across the river to Inwa.

Sight-seeing Circuit Around Inwa

Since Inwa is relatively large, there are locals waiting to take visitors around the typical sightseeing circuit in pony-drawn carts. However, this method of transportation around the vast city does limit your chance to explore on your own and take your time.

Travelers often report being ripped off with transportation here – from the ferry to the carriage rides. Find out what the going rate is, and agree on a price before you take a seat.

Horse-drawn carriage in Inwa. Photo credit: iStock

Bagaya Kyaung Monastery

The Bagaya Kyaung Monastery is the most popular sight to see in Inwa, and arguably one of the most impressive. Constructed in all teak and incredibly well preserved, the Bagaya Kyaung Monastery is still in use today.

Young monks use the Bagaya Kyaung Monastery as a place of learning, with elegantly carved desks, and eager students inside. Outside of the Bagaya Kyaung Monastery there’s an impressive carving of a mythical creature, identified as half-woman half-bird.

Pagodas and Villages

Explore Inwas many pagodas, see the old city wall, and wander through the fields and local villages to get a taste for the slower pace of life.

The Mandalay archaeological zone ticket (US $10) will give you access to the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, as well as other sites around Inwa, and Amarapura too.

Tourist Trap or Must-see?

Some might say Inwa is more a tourist trap than a day-trip. While the only way around is by horse and carriage, these horses look unhealthy and overworked. 

When you ask to stop, it’ll cost you additional kyat – on top of the carriage fee – and when you do stop, you should expect to be approached by dozens of vendors, all trying to sell you trinkets.

See the Ruins in Mingun Instead

Just 11km north of Mandalay, catch a small boat to the ruins of Mingun. These ruins are far less-frequented by crowds of tourists and locals, and are equally as impressive and unique. The boat trip to reach Mingun is exciting, and feels like more of an epic adventure.

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