Only 12 mi (20km) from Mandalay, Inwa can be reached by bus, taxi, or motorbike from Mandalay to Myint Nge. Motorbikes tend to be faster, taking only 30 minutes to reach the river's edge, where a small ferry transports you across the river to 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Whether you’re trekking in from Kalaw, or hiring a wooden boat to float around the lake, Inle has a whole lot going on. Find out the top things to do while you’re there.
There’s plenty to discover in Hpa An – from vast caves filled with ancient Buddhist art to sacred mountains and steamy hot springs, this spot will satisfy even the most adventurous traveler.