While easily traversable by foot, motorbikes or private cars can be hired for the day, allowing for quick movements between Bago’s sites.
To visit the city’s main attractions, a 10,000 kyat archaeological zone pass must be purchased, along with an optional 3,000 kyat camera pass. These passes can be obtained at Shwemawdaw Pagoda or Kanbawzathadi Palace, and allow access to four of the city’s main attractions.
Beginning in the northeast corner of Bago, the hilltop Hinthagone Pagoda offers a panoramic view of the city and easy access to the city’s palace.
Since its original construction in the mid-1500s, the once-stunning Kanbawzathadi Palace has faced arson and heavy looting. Today, it's home to few original details and a fungus growing as thick as the pack of wild dogs overtaking the grounds.
While it would be easy to be dissuaded from visiting the palace, the interior museum and exterior details are well worth a look.
Nearby, Shwemawdaw Pagoda is undeniably the city’s most iconic structure. Taller than Yangon’s own Shwedagon, the 114-meter-high stupa can be seen across the city.
A walk around the pagoda can take an hour or more, as hundreds of smaller surrounding stupas and buildings adorn the grounds and provide cultural and religious insights.
A masterpiece of giant proportions, the 53-foot-long reclining Buddha Mya Tha Lyaung lies draped in a golden cloak on the city’s western edge. Once concealed by overgrown jungle, the Buddha’s slight smile and casual gaze were hand-crafted over a millennium ago, and only rediscovered in the 1880s.
While Mya Tha Lyaung remains exposed to the elements, a short distance away lies a covered, reclining Buddha. This nearby Shwethalyaung Buddha is just two meters longer than its outdoor neighbour, and is accessible via an indoor pathway lined with excited artisans.
Between the reclining Buddhas and Bago’s railway station, a final stop at Kyaik Pun – literally translating to “Four Buddha” – is the perfect end to a busy day.
These four 27-meter-high Buddhas have sat together, uncovered and back to back, since the 7th century. Nearby, a statue of the city’s iconic golden Hintha birds, resting one on top of the other, can be found.
Accessible by rail and road, a visit to Bago can be arranged as a day trip, weekend away, or as a stopover on the way to the country’s northern cities.
With six morning arrivals and six evening departures, tickets for the train between Yangon and Bago may be purchased on the day of travel with presentation of a passport.
The train’s calming sways provide a slow-paced, authentic experience, taking passengers through emerald fields and villages dotted with golden pagodas. Upon arrival in Bago, visitors should inquire about return tickets to Yangon before leaving the train station.
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