Myanmar is the name which has long been used by its people to describe their homeland which the British called Burma . Also known as the Golden Land for its rich land and the wealth of its agriculture and minerals. Myanmar, with a total area of 676, 577 square kilometers, is the largest mainland in South - East Asia. It shares a total of 5858 km ( 3640 miles ) of international borders with Bangladesh and India on the North – West, China on the North- East, Laos on the East and Thailand on the South – East. It has a total length of 2832 km ( 1760 miles ) of coastlines. The country stretches 2090 km ( 1299 miles ) from North to South and 925 km ( 575 miles ) from East to West at its points. The official name is the Union of Myanmar.
Myanmar enjoys a tropical climate with three general seasons: The rainy season from mid-May to mid-October; the cool season ( cold season ) from mid-October to mid-February and the hot season ( summer ) from mid-February to mid- May before the rains begin. The best time to visit Myanmar is from mid-October to mid-May during open season.
Early history of Myanmar began with the founding of the first capital of the Myanmar Kings at Tabaung, 100 miles up – river from Mandalay, reputed to have been thriving during the 5th Century B.C. The Pyu Civilization which followed flourish in the Ayeyarwaddy valley from Tabaung to Pyay ( former Prome ) in the 1st Century B.C., and reached a high level of economic, social and cultural development. Myanmar greatness in history date back to 11th Century. There were three golden periods in Myanmar history, King Anawrahta consolidated the whole country into the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan ( 044 .A.D-1077 A.D ). The Bagan Empire encompassed the area of present-day Myanmar and the entire Menam Valley in Thailand and last two centuries. The Bagan dynasty collapsed with the invasion of the Mongols under Kublai Khan in the 13th Century. The Second Myanmar Empire of the Toungoo period ( 1551 A.D- 1581 A.D ) was founded by King Bayint Naung; and King Alaungpaya founded the Third Myanmar Empire in 1752. It was the during the zenith of the KoneBaung Dynasty that the British moved into Myanmar. Myanmar became a British colony after three Anglo-Myanmar Wars in 1825, 1852 and 1885. During the World War ( 2 ), Myanmar was occupied by the Japanese from 1942 till the return of the Allied Forces in 1945. Myanmar regained the status of a “ Sovereign Independent State” on 4th January 1948, after 123 years of British colonial administration.
The first imperial capital of Myanmar, Bagan, became a world centre of the Theravada Buddhism by the start of the 12th Century A.D. Successive Kings and their subjects to glorify their faith through the lavish and ambitious construction of monuments and Buddhist culture.
Theravada Buddhism is the predominant religion with about 89.4 percent of the people embracing it. The said Buddhist percentage of the population-mainly are Burma, Shan, Mons, Rakhine, and some Kayin.
There are also Christians, Muslims, Hindus and some animists. The Christians population is composed mainly of Kayin, Kachin and Chins. Islam and Hinduism are practiced mainly by people of Indian origin.
Myanmar’s population, spread over 7 States and 7 Divisions, is about 47 million in 1996. It is a Union of nationalities as many as 135 groups, with their own languages and dialects. The term Myanmar embraces all nationalities: the Bamar, the Chin, the Kachin, the Kayah, the Kayin, the Mon, the Rakhine and the Shan. The Bamar make up about 69 percent of the total population. The population growth rate is 1.88 percent.
Myanmar lies in a meeting place of two of the world’s great civilization – China and India – but its culture is neither that of India nor either China exclusively, but a bland of interspersed with Myanmar native traits and characteristics. Buddhism has great influence on daily life of the Myanmars.
Myanmar people have preserved the traditions of close family ties, respect for the elders, reverence for Myanmar social life and each month has its own festive occasion. Myanmars are known for their simplicity, honesty, generosity, hospitality and friendliness.
Since late 1988, Myanmar has replaced the centrally planned economy with a more liberalized economic Policy based on market-oriented system. In moving towards a more market-oriented economy, Myanmar has liberalized domestic and external trades, promoting the role of private sector and opening up to foreign investment .The Union of Myanmar Foreign Investment Commission has been set up. Foreign Investment Law, New Central Bank of Myanmar Law, Financial Institutions of Myanmar Law and Myanmar Tourism Law has been enacted and “ Chamber of Commerce and Industry “ had been reactivated. Myanmar is richly endowed with renewable and non- Renewable energy resources which are being exploited by the State sector with the participation of local and foreign and investors.
Agriculture remains the main sector of the economy and measures have been taken to increase productivity, diversification of crop patterns and revitalization of agriculture exports.
The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is the most promising business in Myanmar these days. There are many Hotels, inns, motels, guest-house, restaurant, tour companies and several other related services are growing through-out the Country. The Ministry of Hotels and Tourism is making also all out efforts to promote this sector while foreign investment in this field is earnestly invited too. At present, more than 409 hotels ( local / overseas ownership )9275 rooms are operating. Some more hotels are still under construction.
Myanmar use to wear light casual dress almost all year round except in mountains area. Thin cotton is the best in summer and open season. A cardigan or light sweater needs for the cool season especially when visiting Upper Myanmar, like Mandalay, Bagan and hilly region. Generally, a warm sweater or light jacket may be necessary in the cool season ( winter ). An umbrella will be useful during the rainy season and summer. Sandals or slippers are convenient.
Visitors are advised not to wear shorts or brief when visiting pagodas and monasteries. All foot-wear must be taken off when entering the precincts of pagodas, monasteries, religious building and homes.
Myanmar currency is Kyat which comprises 100 Pyas.
Note: Kyat 1000, Kyat 500, Kyat 100, Kyat 90, Kyat 50, Kyat 20, Kyat 15, Kyat 10, Kyat 5, Kyat 1 and 50 Pyas.
Coins: Kyat 1, 50 Pyas, 25 Pyas, 10 Pyas, 5 Pyas and 1 Pya.
Visitors are not allowed to bring in all take out Kyat.
Yangon has direct air-links with Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dhaka, New Delhi, Vientiane , Kuala Lumpur, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brunei, Bhutan and Cumming. The Myanmar Airways International, Thai Airways, International, Silk Air, Biman, Aerofloat.
Air France, Air China ( CAAC ), KLM, Lao Aviation Airlines, India Airlines, Quarter Airways, PIA, Royal Brunei Airlines, All Nippon Airways, JAL, MAS, Yangon Airways, EVA Air, Pacific Cargo Service, Condor Airline, Druk-Air, Bhutan Airlines Services, Air Mandalay operate scheduled flights in and out of Yangon.
Passport and Visa
Valid Passport with Visa is required for all visitors. Tourist visa for 28 days, extendable up to 14 days. Tourist and Business Visas are available at Myanmar Diplomatic Missions aboard. Online visa is applicable at www.visa.gov.mm.
With a Border Pass, tourist from Yunnan have been allowed to enter Lweje, Namkhan, Muse, Kyukok and Kunlong. Organized groups can travel up to Yangon visa Lashio and Mandalay. On Myanmar Thai Border, tourists can enter Tachilek opposite Mae Sai ( Thailand ) and travel to Kengtung. From Kengtung, organized groups can go to Sipxhaungbana( Yunnan ) vea Mai-Lar. Day return Thai Myanmar cross-border traffic is also allowed at Myawaddy, Three-Pagoda-Pass and Kawthaung.
Foreigners and non-residents can bring into Myanmar any foreign currency not in excess of US $23-25 or its equivalent without making a declaration to the Customs on arrival.
All foreign currencies above US $ 2000, jewelry, electrical goods and cameras must be declared to the Customs at the airport. Exports or antiques and archaeological valuable items are prohibited. Only gems, jewelry and silverware purchased at the authorized shops are allowed to be taken out.
For visitor’s convenience, there are Duty-Free Shops in the airport arrival and departure lounges. Allowance is 2 Liters of liquor, 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars and ½ liter of perfumes.
Airport Departure Tax
US $ 10.It is advisable to reconfirm int’l flight before going out country.
Where to stay
There are State-owned hotels, as well as inns, hotels, motels and guest-house run by private operators at all Tourist centers. Rates vary according to location, facilities and service. Check the hotel listings available at Tourist Information Counters.
Travels and Tours
Myanmar Travels and Tours ( State – owned ) and licensed travel agencies are at your service for travel and tour arrangements. Travel agency counters are located at Yangon International Airport Terminal and agencies office in downtown Yangon.
Tourist Information Service
Tourist Information Service counters are located at airports, the railway stations, hotels and the main office downtown for information and assistance you may need.
Foreign currencies must be changed only at authorized Money-Changers at the airport, hotels, bank and Myanmar Travels and Tours Offices. For their convenience the Central Bank of Myanmar has issued Foreign Exchange Certificates ( FECs ) in Dollar units. Foreign Exchange Certificates ( FECs ) are issued in four denominations:
|( 1 )
||FEC equivalent to US Dollar Twenty;
( 2 )
FEC equivalent to US Dollar Ten;
( 3 )
FEC equivalent to US Dollar Five;
( 4 )
FEC equivalent to Us Dollar One;
They are accepted by hotels, tourist restaurant, and as payment of admission fees at museums and pagodas. US Dollars are accepted in lieu of FECs. Travelers Cheques exchanged in banks are given FEC equivalent. Foreign Exchange Certificates are exchangeable with the following currencies:
( 1 )
( 2 )
Pound Sterling. The exchange rate of Foreign Exchange Certificates are:
( 1 )
US Dollar( One ) = Foreign Exchange Certificates ( One ) unit.
( 2 )
Pound Starling is to be changed at the daily cross rate notified by banks.
The fractions of Foreign Exchange of Certificates calculated at the daily cross rate will not be exchanged. These Foreign Exchange Certificates are acceptable by any person in the Union of Myanmar. Foreign Exchange Certificates can only be used within the Union of Myanmar.
Airport Transfer and Taxi Services
For transfer from airport to hotel, taxi and limousines are available at the Airport Tourist Information Services. Licensed travel agencies and private hotel / guest-houses have and their own limousines for hire. There are many Highway Express Services running all over the country.
The Yangon Central Post Office is located at No. 39, Bo Aung Kyaw Street. All post offices in Myanmar are open from 09:00 am to 04: 00 pm Monday through Friday. Mail boxes are at most hotel and postage stamps available at reception counters. Some courier service and moving services in Yangon area.
Myanmar Time is 6:00 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time ( one and half hour difference with Singapore and 30 minutes with Thailand.
Electrical Power Supply
230 volts, 50 HZ Ac.
Governments offices are open from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and Banks from 10 am to 2 pm from Monday to Friday. Shops are generally open longer but their hours vary.
If service charge is not included, tip for good service.
Reconfirm your air tickets before going up-Country. Visitors are requested to ignore touts who may approach you offering guides services, for exchanging Foreign Currency, or for selling gems of a doubtful nature.
As there are strict Foreign Exchange Control Regulations, tourists are advised to change the foreign currencies only at the authorized private shops where you will be given a legal voucher with a permit for export.
Always keep your passport, money and other valuable properties in secure places, especially when traveling by train or bus or ship. Report all losses to the nearest police station as will as to your embassy
Tourists are requested to dress decently within the precincts of religious places. Footwear is strictly prohibited in pagodas and monasteries. Weather is generally warm and dry. The light clothing and comfortable shoes of sandals are recommended.
Radio & TV
There are Myanma Radio, City FM and three channels in Television such as Myanmar Television, Myawaddy TV
( Armed Forces ) & MRTV4.
There are five Newspapers in Myanmar: “ Myanma Alin”, “ Kyemon “( The Mirror ), “ The New Light of
Myanmar “ which is the only newspaper in English “ Myodaw “ City News ( evening tabloid ) and “ Yandanabon” which is being published in Mandalay. The commercial advertisement services are available on Radio, Televisions and Newspapers.
WHAT TO SEE
The main tourist centers are Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Taunggyi areas.
How to go about
Visitors have a choice of travel agencies to arrange for travels and tours ( State- owned ) and other licensed travel Agencies have their counters opened in Arrival Lounge at the Airport.
Myanmar Airways, Air Mandalay, Yangon Airways and Air Bagan have daily flights to main tourist centers- Bagan, Mandalay and Heho ( Taunggyi ) during the tourist season. Air tickets are available at Myanmar Travel / Tours and Myanmar Airways Head Office. 104, Strand Road, major tourist centre and respective Airways Counters.
There is a large rail network and Myanmar Railways operates many lines of which Yangon-Mandalay is the main with many trunk lines. Special counters are opened for tourists at Yangon. Thazi and Mandalay stations. For more information, tourists are advised to consult with Tourist information Service. Regular Express Trains are running daily between Yangon and Mandalay which take about 12 hours. Visitors to Bagan and Inlay Lake have to get off at Thazi Station to take a bus. Traveling time from Thazi to Bagan is about 4 hours and from Thazi to Shwe Nyaung ( Inlay Lake ) about 5 hours. The newly constructed Railway line of Mandalay-Bagan was unveiled on 19th September, 1996. The round Trip regular express trains are running daily, and it takes about 8 hours. Newly established Railway Lines – Communication, Construction and Transportations works about 1000 miles, have done in some more States and Divisions under the State Peace and Development Council Government Regime from late 1988 to end of 1996, taking opportunity to peace between the government and insurgents ( some National Races armed groups ). At present, there are about 3000 miles of Railway Lines all over the Country. Some other new lines are also under construction.
There is a large network of road all over the country and all the tourist site are accessible by road. Road Transport operates regular bus services linking major tourist centers. Regular bus services are running between Yangon and Mandalay; Mandalay and Bagan; Bagan and Taunggyi; Taunggyi and Mandalay. Bus tickets are available at Myanmar Travels and Tours, and respective Transport counters.
Inland Water Transport
Myanmar is endowed with many rivers and a large deltaic area and Inland Water Transport operates a huge net work of waterways transport. Sailing down the majestic Ayeyarwaddy river is a rewarding experience for all travelers. Mostly, tourists enjoy day-long boat trip from Mandalay to Bagan-Nyaung Oo twice a week. A 12-hour journey is leaving Mandalay in the early morning and arriving Bagan by sunset. In Ayeyarwaddy Delta, Pathein ( Bassein ) is easily accessible and it is becoming popular as a tourist site. Tickets available at Myanmar travels and tours.
Entrances fees are collected a well-known pagodas, temples, monasteries, old palaces, archaeological sites, Gardens and etc. Ticket offices are at the entrance.
Yangon, the capital City, is the main gateway to Myanmar. Evergreen and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes, Yangon has earned the name of “ the Garden City of the East “. Relatively simple city without skyscrapers, neon-lit clamour, crowded squalor and the pace of modern life, Yangon is attractive in its own special way. Yangon was founded by “ King Alaung Phaya “ on the site of a small settlement called ‘ Dagon ‘ when he conquered Lower Myanmar in 1755. The name “ Yangon “ means “ End of Strife “ which was anglicized to ‘ Rangoon ‘ after the British annexed Myanmar in1855. At present ‘ Yangon “ covers about 500 sq. km and has a population of over 5 million.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN YANGON AREAS
The historic Shwedagon Pagoda, which towers almost 98 meters ( 326 feet ) above the green city-scape of Yangon, never fails to enchant visitors. The shimmering main stupa soars high above the capital and is visible for miles around.
One of the wonders of the world, the Shwedagon Pagoda is believed to be the earliest Pagoda of Gautama Buddha Era and it had been built on the Singottara Hill more than 2500 years ago. The Pagoda was renovated many Times over the centuries by various Myanmar Kings. There are many pagodas in Myanmar but few were come Closer to it in scale or beauty. It is not just one main stupa but a complete of beauty. It is not just one main stupa but a complete of many stupas. All around the principals stupa is a cluster of smaller stupas. Temples, shrine, prayer halls, pavilions, religious images and statues. Lengthy staircases lined with stalls selling religious articles, Silver- wares, Souvenirs, Lacquer-wares, handicrafts, flowers, ceremonial umbrellas, and etc. The best time to visit Shwedagon Pagoda is at sunset when its glided stupa is bathed in the fading rays of the sun and takes on a magical Glow. A visit to Myanmar is incomplete without a visit to Shwedagon.
Entrance Fee - US$ 5
Video Camera Fee – US$ 3
It is situated right in the centre of Yangon beside the Myanmar Travels and Tours office, Mahabandoola Park and Independence Monument, Town Hall and Supreme Court. Sule Pagoda is said to be over 2,000 years old and to enshrine a hair of Buddha. “ Mon “ name “ Kyaik Athok” translates as “ the pagoda where a Sacred Hair Relic is enshrined”. The golden pagoda is unusual in that its octagonal shapes continues right up to the bell and inverted bowl. It stands 46 meters ( 152 feet ) high and is surrounded by small shops and all the familiar non – religious services such as astrologers, palmists, photo studios, mini-stores, etc.
Kaba Aye Pagoda
The name “ Kaba Aye “ in Myanmar means “ World Peace “ to which this pagoda is dedicated. Built by 1952, this pagoda is significant for the Sixth World Buddhist Synod which was held in its large precinct in 1954. The Buddhist Museum, Maha Pasana Cave and newly built Wizaya Mingala Dhammathabin Hall are also located in the same precinct.
Chauk Htat Kyee Reclining Buddha Statue
Located on Shwegondaing Road, this colossal ( 70 ) meters long ) Reclining Buddha Statue is one of the largest images in Myanmar. The original image was built 1907. But it has suffered damage due to climate over the years. In 1957, it was demolished and rebuilt to this structure in 1966.
Mei Lamu Pagoda
A wonder land of spired pagodas and sculptured figures located in North Okkalapa, a satellite town about 20 minutes drive from the city centre. Mei Lamu Pagoda is famous for the giant image depicting Buddha’s earlier lives.
Maha Vijaya Pagoda
The Maha Vijaya Pagoda is situated adjacent to the Shwedagon Pagoda. The symbolic memorial the First Successful Congregation of the Sangha of All Orders held in 1890, this elegant Maha Vijaya Pagoda is a unique blend of traditional pattern and the modern styles. The sanctuary contains the finely wrought Buddha image and the reliquary donated the King and Queen of Nepal.
“ Bo “ means “ Military Leader “ and “ Tahtaung “ means “ one thousand “, the “ Botataung “ Pagoda was named after the thousand military leaders who escorted relics of the “ Buddha “ brought from India over 2,000 years ago. Its hollow inside can walk through and a sort of mirrored maze inside the pagoda with glass showcases containing many of the ancient relics and artifacts which were sealed inside the earlier pagoda. Above this interesting interior, the golden pagoda spire rises to 40 meters ( 132 feet ).
Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda ( Yangon )
“ Gautama “ Lord Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic was conveyed to the Union of Myanmar from the People’s Republic of China for the Second time on 20th April, 1994 under the program of friendly cooperation between the Two countries and kept for 45 days Myanmar public homage. Buddha’s Tooth Relic from China was kept together with two Replica Tooth Relics of Myanmar.
Of the two, one Sacred Replica Tooth Relic was enshrined in the Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda ( Yangon ) on Dhammapala Hill in Mayangon Township. The pagoda was being built with cash donations donors entire world under the supervision of the Myanmar government.
The Myanmar government authorities and donors hoisted Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda of Yangon’s Shwe Htidaw ( sacred golden umbrella ), Hngetmyatnadaw ( sacred diamond bud ) on 24th, November, 1996.
The new five-storeyed National Museum, constructed on 380 feet by 200 feet area, is situated at No. 66/74, Pyay Road, Dagon Township at a coast of Ks. 365.591million. It has been opened to the public since 18th, September,1996. The visitors will find the statue of King Bayint Naung, the founder of the” Second Myanmar Empire of the Toungoo Period ( AD. 1551-AD 1581)”, in front of the museum.
The Myanmar Epigraphy and Calligraphy Showroom, the Lion Throne Hall and Yandanabon Period
Showroom were on ground floor. The history of Myanmar alphabets ( including some nationalities – Kayin, Mon, Rakhine, Shan and etc. ) such as even from Pyu, Bagan, Pinya, Innwa, Toungoo, Konbaung period to the present age were exhibited in the Myanmar Epigraphy and Calligraphy Showroom.
The 180-year-old Sihasana Pallanka( Great Lion Throne ) ( Myay Nan ) was exhibited in the Lion Throne Hall – Surrounding were all together 8 miniature replica models of the Thrones used by the ( Lion Throne ) ( Myay Nan ), Hamsasana Pallanka ( Hamsa Throne ), Gijasana Pallanka ( Elephant Throne ), Mayurasana Pallanka ( Peacock Throne ), Bhamarasana Pallanka ( Bumble Bee Throne ), Padumasana Pallanka ( Lotus Throne ), Sinkhasana Pallanka ( Conch Shell Throne ) and Migasana Pallanka ( Deer Throne ).
The miniature models of the Royal apartments in the Royal Palace of the Mandalay Yadanabon Period, the Couch of King Thibow’s Sayadaw ( Royal presiding monk ), the royal couches of King Mindon and the Chief Queen, King Thibow’s ivory chair, a cabinet for storing palm leaf manuscripts and “ parabaiks “, donated to the presiding monk of Hman Kyaung monastery in Mandalay from Su – Gyi – Su, Chief Queen of Mindon, King Thibow’s attire, Chief Queen Supayalat’s ceremonial frock, a one – line royal order written on palm leaf and the copies horoscopes of King Thibow’s and Queen Supayalat were shown in the Yadanabon Period showroom.
Moreover, the visitors can by the articles of Myanmar at the ground floor souvenir shop. Myanmar
Prehistoric Period and Proto Historic Period Showroom, Myanmar Historic Period Showroom and Royal Regalia Showroom can be seen in the first floor.
A miniature model of 11,000- years-old Pyadalin cave which bears witness of a flourishing neolithic cultrre, neolithic period articles, stone artifacts obtained from within the cave, reproduction of the paintings on the cave walls can be seen in Myanmar Prehistoric and Proto Historic Period Showroom.
Articles of cultural heritage from the Pyu Period A.D 1st- 9th Century, picture of the most ancient pagodas in Myanmar, the Baw Baw Gyi Pyu Pagoda at old Thayekhittaya, a 5th . Century Silver Bodhi-Tree Casket and many interesting articles of the Pyu Period can be seen also it.
The very distinguished Bagan Period which flourished from A.D. 10th.-12th Century is a great significant in the history of Myanmar. Original Buddha Image of sandstone and cast bronze, original clay votive tablets and many evidence of Bagan Period culture, and also the items of Pinya, Innwa, Toungoo and Nyaung Yang Period can be viewed in the Myanmar Historic Period Showroom.
The visitors can study the articles such as made of pure solid gold and decorated which gems which were displayed in front of the throne to the left and right in customary order when the Kings of Myanmar gave audience to receive homage, in the Royal Regalia Showroom.
Myanmar Traditional Folk Art Showroom and Myanmar Performing Arts Showroom were in the second floor.
Myanmar Art Gallery No.1 and No.2 were on the third floor where the copies of the drawings upon the walls of the drawing upon of the 11,000-year-old Pyadalin cave, copies of the wall paintings from the thousand-year-old vault-based temples and stupas of the Bagan Period, reproductions of paintings of successive periods are exhibited. Original works in oil and water color of Myanmar great Artists can be viewed also.
Buddha Image Showroom and Culture of National Races Showroom were on the 4th floor- 176 ancient Buddha Images of Pyu, Pinya, Innwa, Toungoo, Nyaung Yang and Konbaung in Hall ‘ A ‘ and Totem emblems and symbols of the clan or lineage of the national races who live in cordial unity in he Union of Myanmar, Musical instruments, art and craft articles, and weaponry are displayed.
It opens from Tuesday to Sunday expect Mondays and gazetted holidays
Open from – 10: 00 to 15:30 hours
Entrance Fee – US $ / FEC 5
Natural History Museum
Situated on Lu – O – Yon Street, the Natural History Museum has a notable collection of Myanmar natural resources including flora and fauna, forest products, minerals and rocks.
Entrance Fee – US $ 4.
Memorial to Fallen Heroes
The “ Memorial to Fallen Heroes “ is situated at Singottara Hill which is very close to the famous
Shwedagon Pagoda. It was unveiled on 27th March, 1990, in commemoration of 45th Anniversary of the Myanmar Armed Forces Day. The objective of the establishment of this Memorial is in honor of the Myanmar Fallin Heroes-commencing all the Fallen Heroes of Anglo-Myanmar First War in 1825; the Fallen Heroes who fought for Independence; and the Fallen Heroes who fought for the safeguard of the National Independence, sovereignty and stability of the Union of Myanmar Territory.
On 27th September, 1943, War Minister General Aung San ( the Great Fallen Hero and National Leaders ) established the first monument for the Memorial to Fallen Heroes at the said place.
The honorary slogan of the Memorial is “ Honor beyond compare for the noblest sacrifice”.
The Memorial is open from 8:00 to 17:30 hours every day.
Entrance Fee – US $ 3.
Defence Service Museum
The grand Museum is situated at Shwedagon Pagoda Road, Dagon Township and close to the Shwedagon Pagoda. It was unveiled on 24th March,1994, in commemoration of the 49th Anniversary of the Myanmar Armed Forces Day. There are 12 big halls, giant hanger for Aircrafts and totally 52 showrooms – 30 showrooms of Ministries: 10 for Regional Military Commands; 10 for Service Arms; and 2 Halls of Historical Facts on Development of Myanmar Armed Forces.
In those 2 large halls of Historical Section are showing historical development of Myanmar Armed Forces dating from Pagan, the First Empire of Myanmar, and the period to present day. The objectives of this section are for the peoples of inland and abroad to know about: -
A thousand years of history in the defence of sovereignty and territorial integrity and the struggle for Independence
An Army not only for professionalism, but also of patriotism, born in the struggle for Independence. Five decades of sacrifice and service for the motherland to prevent disintegration.
The leading political force formed of the people, for service to the people, always hand in hand with the people and to understand the past and contemporary history of Myanmar.
The Essence of 30 Ministerial showrooms are:-
Rebuilding the Union of Myanmar to be a modern, prosperous, peaceful and democratic nation by all the government departments.
Modernization and construction projects of cities, towns structure, hotels, bridges, and etc. by ministries concerned shown with models, panoramas, paintings and photos.
Statistics and data on all important sectors of government.
Nearly everything about the Union of Myanmar can be learnt from the Showrooms of ministries. In 10 showrooms of Regional Military Commands are-:
Cultures, traditions and way of life of different nationalities in respective regions.
Historical facts of struggle against aggression in colonialism by the by the peoples of different regions.
Development works in frontier areas, building of peace, tranquility and unity in all regions.
Useful information for travels and tours to all parts of the country still unknown outside Myanmar.
Data and Information on resources and opportunities for investment in all parts of Myanmar Security and Communication all around the country.
Development of “ Myanmar Navy “, models of ships in service; Arms and Equipment. Development of Myanmar “ Air Force “ Decommissioned Aircrafts in giant hanger; models of Aircrafts in service; in Portrayal of combat experience; Air bases country wide; Arms and Equipment, Mission today etc.
Service Arms of Training; Signals; Artillery and Armour; Engineers; Public Relations and Psychological waterfare; Medical Crops; Ordnance Supply and Transport; Rehabilitations are also portraying the histories of development, the mission and role of their respective services.
All the visitors will know the history of their Union of Myanmar and Armed Forces of Myanmar, after the study of the
Defence Service Museum
It opens from Monday to Friday except Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
Open from – 09:00 to 16:00 hours
Entrance Fee – 3 US Dollars
Myanma Gems Museum and Gems Mart
The four – storey building is situated at No. 66, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangone Township and very close to
Kaba Aye Pagoda.
Myanmar is the land of precious stones such as Ruby, Sapphire and Jade as well as deposits. The Myanmar gems, Pearl Emporium has been held annually in late February or early March since 1964.
The mid-year sales were organized in October since 1992, to meet the jewelers’ demand of abroad in land.
At present, interim sales are also organized in July and December.
Moreover, special sales are organized in January and July when Jade and Gems stones can be purchased with both Foreign Currency or Foreign Exchange Certificates ( FEC ), and Myanmar Currency.
The Gems Museum was on the top floor of the Gems Mart building. The exhibits are presented in Five main sections: Jade, Gems, Jewelery, and Minerals.
Jade exhibits covered imperial jade, commercial jade, utility jade from the different jade provinces as well as jade figurines. The collection box contained 55 kinds of jade together with all the various colours of the said varieties of jade.
Another collection box exhibited 22 specimens of precious and semi – precious stones. The largest Pearl Weighing 9.8 momes which was created in 1977 and largest rough Sapphire height 6.7" top circumference 14.25", base 27.8,” weighing 11877 grams, which was recovered from Mogok Treasure Land were exhibited there.55 varieties of Pearls were displayer in the Pearl Section.
The Mineral section presented where 30 kinds of minerals occurred in Myanmar. The gold bullion and silver bullion were also exhibited. The world renowned “ Nawata Ruby ,” ( the flawless crimson rose ruby ) recovered from Mogok Treasure Land, weighing 504.5 Carats, was refined to the present weight of 496.5 Carats can be seen by visitors during the exhibition days only.
The largest jade boulder ( 12’ * 6.5 * 7 ) recovered from Phakant Jade Land weighs about 33 tons can been seen always between the Gems Museum and Gems Mart Hall. Moreover, the remembrance of each and every exhibition, the creations of the Buddhist Era and Myanmar’s
Historic miniature models which were decorated with Myanma Gems, Jade, Pearl and precious stones such as the Shwedagon Pagoda, Palace Tower and Mandalay Hill, Royal Regalia and etc. can be seen also by the visitors. Persons wishing to attend the Emporium have obtained the invitation by requesting Myanma Gems
Enterprise at the above mentioned address, The favourite Myanma Ruby, Sapphire, Semi-precious assorted colours stones, Imperial Jade, Commercial Jade and Utility Jade, and Pearl are carefully selected and created into attractive jewellery of traditional or modern design and mounted in 18K or 14K gold put up for competitive biding on over a thousand lots. Over 500 merchants and dealers from some 17 countries used to attend the annual and midterm sales.
The whole range of Myanma Ruby, Sapphire, Peridot, precious assorted colour stones, Jade Imperial or Commercial, Pearls unmounted or created into exquisite jewellery, goldware, silverware and jade figurines shops in hundred counters on three floors were established as permanent Gems Mart.
The articles brought by all the visitors or merchants with Foreign Currency or Foreign Exchange Certificates ( FEC ) can be taken abroad and brought with Myanmar Kayts can be taken throughout Myanmar legally.
The Mart is open from 09:00 to 17: 00 hours daily except Monday and gazetted holidays.
The Gems Emporium have been held every year.
One of the significant measures taken by the Government is that capital and loans have been extended in advance to entrepreneurs engaged in gem mining field under the revolving fund system to enable them to run their business properly. The Government have also taken measures so that foreign exchange can be earned as quickly as
In that past, efforts were made to keep the ruby extraction and ruby trade within the legal fold. But illicit mining and smuggling persisted and many quality stones went out of the country via border passes. Later special measures were taken to prevent precious stones from being smuggled out of the country through investigations and supervision of the respective military Commands in accordance with the orders issued for the purpose. As a result bigger and better quality gems and jade pieces than the previous emporiums can be put on display at this Emporium. At the same time the number of lots and amount their value have become high.
Another significance of this Emporium is that arrangements have been made through the Consulate-General in Hong Kong to enable the gem merchants from the People’s Republic of China to attend the Emporium. Accordingly 14 merchants from companies of PRC attended the 35th Emporium.
Generally, gems, jade and pearls are usually sold by competitive biding, tender system and fixed price system. The Emporium which have been held up to now included six special Emporium and six Mid year Emporiums. The gem merchants who attended the Emporiums are from Australia, France, Hong Kong, India, Japan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America, and United Arab Emirates.
International Business Centre
The Ministry of Forestry established the four-storey International Business Centre for the governments and entrepreneurs of both inland and abroad. IBC was the first International Standard Business Centre of the Union of Myanmar. It is situated at No.88, Pyay Road, 61/2 –Mile, Hlaing Township, Yangon and close to the Yangon International Airport and hotel zone. The choice of the IBC building site on the bank of the Innya Lake is remarkable and ideal. Really, the pleasant scenario is one of the best even all over the world. It was unveiled on 20th. January 1994 to commemorate and implement the government’s market-oriented economic policy.
Generally, there were 4 departments operating such as Convention Hall, Lobby and Patio, Offices, and Administration and Services.
|In the fully equipped Convention Hall:
Electricity can be restored automatically from the stand-by generators. In the event of a power failure.
Can seat about 400 about comfortably.
Modern facilities are always ready for holding seminars, meeting, workshops, conferences, lectures, small exhibitions, shows, movies, presentations and ceremonies.
Finger tip control system was already installed to use the curtains, light videos, slice projector, etc.
A visualizer has been provided for the presentation of maps, graph, pictures, and etc. The Convention Centre has also been out-fitted with standard and laser audio visual equipment, cordless mikes, a drop screen, an overhead projector, a slide projector, and etc. The stage is collapsible and can be designed to taste.
6 channels of Cordless Interpretation System had been installed and operating for all the participants in the Convention Hall.
Lobby and Patio are provided for tea-brakes, parties, cocktail reception, dinners and gatherings for more than 800 people at the same time.
Some foreign governments’ and private entrepreneurs’ offices were already open or occupied almost all the 33 office room big and small of the four-storey building. The office rental rates are very reasonable.
The Administration, Secretarial Service and Treatment, International Standard Communication, 24 hours Security, Fire Fighting, Clean Water and Sanitation System, etc. are implementing efficiently.
The ‘Planetarium’ is situated in the compound of People’s Square and People’s Park and very close to the Shwedagon Pagoda and People’s Parliament. It was constructed by the aid of Japan International Cooperation. Agency – JICA aid was in Yen ( equivalent to 8.2 Million Kyats), and 2.3 Million Kyats from Myanmar Governments’ side.
It was unveiled on 4th January, 1987 legally to show the public. The objective of the Planetarium is to get the knowledge of space Phenomenon for the children, students and youths of Myanmar. In fact, it is one of the most valuable institute for astrologers and scientists. Because of the assistance of this Planetarium’s Precision Circle Apparatus, all the visitors can study the ‘Past 12,000 years’ and also ‘Future 12,000 years’ periods from the astronomy point of view.
It is open on Saturdays and Sundays except Mondays to Fridays and public holidays.
Open from – 10:00 11:30
Entrance Fee – 10 Kyats ( Adults )
- 5 Kyats ( Children )
Bogyoke Aung San Park
A scenic park with a lovely view of Kandawgyi Lake is located on Natmauk Road and close to the pagodas of Shwedagon and Mahavijaya. This Park is a popular recreation centre where city-dwellers relax and enjoy their leisure in peace and tranquility. The playground and picnic areas are favourite spots for children and teenagers.
People’s Square and People’s Park
People’s Square and People’s Park occupied over’130 acres of land between Shwedagon Pagoda and Pyithu Hluttaw ( Parliament ). There is a museum housing life – size models of nationalities in their colourful dress and flora and fauna. The restaurant and Myanmar, Chinese and European cuisine.
Entrance Fee – US $ 3
Camera Fee – US $ 3
Video Camera Fee – US $ 6
Located near “ Kandawgyi Palace Hotel “ the Zoo is noted for its collection of wild animals, flora and fauna which have been collected over the years since it was opened in 1906. On weekend and Public holidays, snake dance and elephant circus are performed for visitors. It is open daily from 08:00 to 18:00 hours. The Zoological Garden Amusement Park is also a wellknown spot for children and teenagers.
Entrance Fee – US$ 5 Foreigners
- US $ 2 Resident Foreigner
Camera Fee- Ks.25
Video ( Family ) – Ks. 300
Hlawga Wildlife Park
The Hlawga Wildlife Park is situated at Htaukkyant, Mingaladon Township, Yangon Division, about 45 minutes drive from Yangon. The park which covers 1650 acres of land and lake is home for over 70 kinds of herbivorous animals and 90 species of birds. It has a museum with a background of landscapes of 17 States and 7 Division, picnic area, view point with pagoda, monastery and Myanmar Traditional Buildings and a small zoo with rock garden.
Flock of migratory birds frequently visit the park. It is an ideal place for picnickers, naturalists, botanists and bird – watchers. Visitors can also enjoy elephant rides, lasting fishing – and boating in the park.
There are some main Mediation centre in Yangon- The Mahasi Mediation Centre at No.16 , Thathana Yeiktha Road, Bahan Township( Phone: 951- 541971 ) the International Meditation Centre at No 31-A, Inya Myaing Road, Bahan Township ( Phone – 951- 531549 ), Chanmyay Yeiktha Meditation Centre at No. 55 – A, Kaba Aye Pagoda Road, Mayangon Township( Phone: 951- 661479 ), Panditarama Meditation Centre at No. 80-A,Thanlwin Road, Bahan Township( Phone: 951- 531448 ), and Society for Propagation of Vipassana Mogok Sayadaw’s Way at No. 82, Natmauk Road, Bahan Township( Phone: 951- 550184 ), have facilities for full-time meditation. Aspiring Yogis from abroad should write to the said main centres for detailed information.
There are many Meditation Centres not only in Yangon Area but also all over the country.
Allied World Memorial Cemetery
“ The Allies “ ( Conquerors of the World War ( 2 ) led by Britain, United States of America and France ) had established the Allied War Memorial Cemeteries all over the world. There were Allied War Memorial Cemeteries in Myanmar-Htauk Kyant, Thanbyuzayat and Yangon.
The Htauk Kyant War Memorial Cemetery, beautifully kept ground, had 27,000 metres grave of Common wealth and Allied Forces Fallen Soldiers the Myanmar Campaign were honourably kept. It is located in Mingaladon Township, Yangon Division about 32 km from Yangon, on the road to Bago.
The 3771 stone-graves can be seen in Thanbyuzayat Memorial War Cemetery at Mawlamyaing District, Mon State near Thai-Myanmar border. It was unveiled on 18th December, 1946 by Myanmar National Leader, AFPFL Chairman, major General Aung San and British Government Sir Huburt Rance.
The 1450 stone-grave were also in Yangon War Memorial Cemetery which was situated at Pyay Road, Sangyoung Township, Yangon Division. The visitors will notice the important point that all the Governments of Myanmar and the peoples of Myanmar’s honourable concept, forgiveness, and heart and soul, when they see under-mentioned quoted historic words at the said cemetery with their own eyes.
Yangon War Cemetery ( 1993-1945 ) – the land on which this cemetery stands in the gift of the Myanmar people for the perpetual resting place of the sailors, soldiers and airmen who are honoured here “.
“ This Cemetery was built and is maintained by the Commission “.
It is regretted that it is not possible to keep the cemetery register in this box at all times. Assistance may be obtained from the cemetery staff during normal working hours, or from the residence caretaker.
“ Inquiries may also be addressed to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Maidenhead, England “.The relative of the Allied Forces Fallen Soldiers throughout the would used to visit the said War Memorial Cemeteries in Myanmar to pay homage to their respective Allied Forces Fallen Soldiers’ Graves “.
Japanese Imperial Fallen Soldiers Graves
“ The Axis “ ( Alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan ) had lost the World War ( 2 ). The Japanese Imperial Forces occupied almost Asia except Russia and India Sub-continent during the said World War. The casualities of Japanese soldiers were more than 200,000 even only in Myanmar Campaign according to the historical records. The Japan got no right to establish the War Memorial Cemeteries legally like “ The Allies” – the conquerors of the World war ( 2 ). But there were many graves of Japanese Imperial Fallen Soldiers in entire Myanmar-North- Okkalapa Yayway Cemetery in Yangon Area; Bago ( Pegu ) near Shwe Tha Lyaung Pagoda and Bago mountain area in Bago Division; Myeik in Taninthayi Division; Ayeyawady Division; Monywa in Sagaing Division; Shan State; Thanbyuzayat in Mon State; Kachin State; Kayin State; Meikhtila in Mandalay Division; Rakkhine State; and Myanmar-India border areas.
The people of Myanmar never destroyed the graves of the Japanese Imperial Fallen Soldiers with hatred throughout the Country. Myanmars kept very well not only the graves of Japanese Imperial Fallen Soldiers but also all the Fallen Soldiers from all over the World from heartfelt humanitarian ground. Some relatives from Japan used to visit to pay homage yearly at their respective Japanese Imperial Fallen Soldiers’ graves throughout the Myanmar.
Myanmar arts and crafts mostly pure hand-made, are best souvenirs and prices are very reasonable. Lecquer – wares, wood and ivory carvings, tapestries, silver-wares, brass-wares, silk and cotton fabrics and bags ( especially traditional sling bags ) are some of favourite items. For jewellery, there are Myanmar rubies, sapphires, jades and pearls available at the authorized Myanmar gems shops.
Bago ( Pegu )
An ancient capital of the Mon Kingdom ( 15th Century ), Bago ( Pegu ) is situated only 80 km from Yangon. It is about 2 hours drive from Yangon across the country side. The new International Airport Project of Bago is under construction.
Over 2000-year-old Shwemawdaw Pagoda, 114-metres-high Stupa overlooks the landscapes, was built by two merchants ‘ Taphussa ‘ and ‘ Bhillka ‘ and was rebuilt several times because of damage cause by earthquakes.The glided Pagoda is said to house a number of Holy Relics of the Buddha and is consequently one of the most venerated pagodas in the country.
Meha Zedi Pagoda
The Maha Zedi or the Great Pagoda, where only men are allowed to ascend the steps to the top of the 100 –metre-high structure was built in AD 1560 to house a duplicate tooth of the Buddha and Emerald Bowl containing more of His Relics. There is an another similar pagoda at Sagaing in Upper Myanmar. Shwe Tha Lyaung Buddha.
The huge 1000-year-old Shwe Tha Lyaung Buddha Image is reckoned to be one of the larges Reclining Buddha and the most life-like, measuring 55-meter in length and 16-meter in height.
Kanbawza Thadi Palace
Bago is one of the richest archaeology sites in Myanmar. The archaeology Department has been excavating at the palace site of “ King Bayint Naung” at the ancient Royal Capital Bago.
Actually, “ Bayint Naung “ was the title, not the name. “ Shin Ye Htut” was “Bayint Naung” name. It was at “ the Battle of Nyaung Yoe “ in 1538 that “ Shin Ye Htut “ earned the title “ Bayint Naung “. “ Bayint Naung “ literally means “ the King’s Elder Brother “. King Tabin Shwe Hti, brother-in-law of Bayint Naung, had high regard for “ Shin Ye Htut “. The King conferred upon him the unusual title of “ Bayint Naung “.
King Tabin Shwe Hti and Shin Ye Htut fought side by side in wars of national unification. In A.D 1551, a year after the death of King Tabin Shwe Hti, Bayint became king. After assuming office, King Bayint Naung began his career of conquest, building the “ Second Myanmar Empire “.
The creditable achievement of King Bayint Naung was fully recorded in Myanmar History. Especially, the new Capital “ Hamsavaddy “ ( Hanthawaddy ) which King Bayint Naung founded and the new Palace “ Kanbawza Tha Di “ which he built were mentioned in some details not only native chronicles but also in foreign historical writings.
Achievement of King Bayint Naung’s military campaigns, political, social and religious merits, and his Capital Palace “ Kanbawza Thadi “ were of world renown. An immortal fame and historic figure like King Bayint Naung, the Royal Capital Hamsavaddy and that of the Palace “ Kambawza Thadi “ at Bago has been well-known to Myanmar people.
The works of excavation and restoration of old Capital and Palace was begun in 1990. The archaeological diggings make good progress with enthusiasm and high tempo. The construction work of some historic Buildings have to complete during ‘ Visit Myanmar Year 1996 ‘.
Thanlyin ( Syriam )
Only 45 minutes by ferry along Ngamoyeik Creek and Bago River and about 30 minutes drive from Yangon car or by train through “ Thanlyin Bridge “ which was constructed ty the aid of People’s Republic of China, and one of the biggest and longest bridge in the Union of Myanmar. Thanlyin was an important trading centre in the 17th century under the Portuguese Colonial Administration – Old buildings can be seen in Thanlyin. The construction work of some historic buildings were completed during “ Visit Myanmar Year 1996 “. Kyaikhauk Pagoda and Yele Pagoda ( a pagoda on a small island ) at Kyauktan are worth visiting. Ferries for Thanlyin leave lower Pazundaung jetty every hour. In future, Thanlyin Area will be one of the Industrial and Economic Zones of the country according the government plan.
A boat cruise to Twantay ( 24 km from Yangon ) along the Twantay Canal takes about two hours. Twantay is noted for its pottery and cotton-weaving industries and its also affords visitors an opportunity to see life along the canal.
“ Letkhokkone “ is the Capital City’s nearest Beach. It is located only 50 km due to the south of Yangon about one-hour drive from the capital. There were direct buses to Let-khok-kon. Those who desire to come in their own or special arrangement Limousine can cross the river of Yangon or Hlaing in a Z-Craft from Sin-oh-dan jetty three times a day. Day return visitors are travelling everyday by car. The hotel also provides a ferry service on Tuesdays and Saturday with a 10-seaters mini-bus. There were colourful, beautiful and decent cottage which Together could accommodation 108 visitors at any time.
Visitors can see not only the sun, but also the moon rising out of the sea in the East and sinking into the sea in the West. The hotel has built a swimming platform and provided a speed-boat for joy rides. There is a 14-acre golf link on the west of the coconut groove. All of the preparations such as telecommunication , transports., construction works and roads under repairing have been finished in time since the “ Visit Myanmar Year 1996 “.
Places of other interest in Yangon Areas
Kyaikkasan Pagoda, Ko Htat Kyee Pagoda, Ngar Htat Kyee Pagoda, Shwe Phone Pwint Pagoda, Mo Gaung Pagoda, Kyaik Kaloh Pagoda, Kyaik Kalei Pagoda, Say Wingabar Pagoda, Zina Mang Man Aung Pagoda, Aquarium, Maha Bandoola Park, Mingaladon Garden, Kandawgyi ( Royal Lake ), Bogyoke Aung San Museum and Karaweik Palace are also interesting places to visit.
A brief introduction of Mandalay ( Yadanabon ), Myanmar’s second Capital and a city regal identity famous pagodas, religious edifices, and the enchanting city if ancient Bagan where visitors will find not only Myanmar and culture and handicrafts but also scenic beauty of Upper Myanmar and Shan States.
Mandalay ( Yadanabon )
Mandalay ( Yadanabon ), the last capital of the Myanmar Kingdom, is in Central Myanmar, 688 km due north of Yangon. It is the Largest city after Yangon and is the place where one will come closest to real Myanmar.
The Royal City came into being only in 1859 when “ King Mindon “ established it as new centre for the teaching of Buddhism. The King also made Mandalay as his capital, moving it from nearby Amarapura to the newly- built Royal-Palace at the foot of the Mandalay.
Being rich in monasteries and pagodas, it is still accepted as the arts and cultural heart-land of Myanmar. For lovers of arts and crafts, Mandalay represents the largest repository of Myanmar arts and crafts. Skilled craft- men make world famous genuine tapestry called “ Shwe Chi Htoe “ ( Golden Weaving ), beautiful articles of ivory, wood, marble and stone, silverware and bronze statues according to the time-honoured traditions of their fore-fathers.
How to get there
It takes about one hour and thirty minutes by air from Yangon. There are daily flights during the tourist season from October to May. The new International Airport project of Mandalay is under construction. Express trains are running which take about 14 hours. Yangon – Mandalay highway is over 700 km and overland travelers are advised to break journey at Taungoo ( 280 km ) or at Meikhtila ( 540 km ) where there are hotels for overnight stay. The government and private express buses are also running everyday.
Visitors are advised to check with Tourist Information Services for flight / train / express bus schedules.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN MANDALAY AREAS
The hill has for long been a holy mount and legends has it that the Buddha on His visit had prophesied that a great city would be founded at its foot. Mandalay Hill 230 metres in elevation, command a magnificent view of the city and surrounding countryside. At present, has already finished construction of motor-car road to reach hill-top easily.
The whole magnificent palace complex was destroyed by the fire during the World War ( 2 ). However, the finely built palace walls, the city gates with their crowing wooden pavilions and the surrounding moat still present an impressive scene of the Mandalay Palace “ Mya-nan–san–kyaw “ Shwenandaw “, the model of the Mandalay Palace, Nanmyint – saung, Cultural Museum and Pyi-gyi-mon Floating Restaurant in the moot are located inside the Palace grounds.
Famous for its intricate wood-carvings, this monastery is a fragile remainder of the old Mandalay Palace. Actually, it was moved to this place by King Thibaw in 1880.
The image is said to have been cast in the left-time of the Gautama Buddha and that the Buddha embraced .It 7 times thereby bringing It to life. Consequently, devout Buddhists hold It to be alive and refer to It as the Maha Muni Scared Living Image. Revered as the holiest pagoda in Mandalay, It was built by King Bodawpaya in 1784.The image is sitting posture is 12 feet and 7 inches ( 3.8 Metres ) high. The pagoda enshrine the famous Maha Muni Buddha Image brought from Rakkhine State also called the Rakkhine Buddha Image. The early morning ritual of washing the Face of Buddha Image draws a large crowd of devotees everyday. And the image is also considered as the greatest, next to Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar. A visit to Mandalay is incomplete without a visit to Maha Muni Pagoda
Built by Kung Mindon in 1857, this pagoda modeled on the Shwe Zigon at Nyaung U, is surrounded by 729 upright stone slabs on which inscribed the entire Buddhist Scriptures as edited approved by the 5th Buddhist Synod. It is popularly known as “ the Worlds Biggest Book “ for its stone scriptures.
Near the southern approach to Mandalay Hill stands the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda Images that was built by King Mindon in 1853-78. The Image was curved out of a huge single block of marble stone. The statues of 80 Arahats ( the Great Disciples of the Buddha ) are around the Image, 20 on each side. The carving of the Image was complete In 1865.
Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda ( Mandalay )
One of the Buddha’s Sacred Replica Tooth Relic was enshrined in the Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda ( Mandalay ) on Maha Dhammayanthi Hill in Amarapura Township. The pagoda was being built with cash donations contributed by the people of Myanmar and Buddhist donors of entire world under the supervision of the Myanmar government.
The Myanmar government authorities and donors hoisted Buddha’s Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda Mandalay’s Shwe Htidaw ( sacred golden umbrella ), Hngetmyatnadaw ( sacred bird perch vane ) and Seinphudaw ( sacred diamond bud ) on 13th December, 1996.
The “ Atumashi Kyaung “ ( which literally means the inimitable monastery ) is also one of the worth seeing place. Actually, it was ruined by fire in 1890 and partly survived. It was indeed an inimitable one in its heyday. The reconstruction project started by the government on 2nd May, 1995 and completed in June, 1996.
PLACES OF OTHER INTEREST IN MANDALAY AREAS
Moreover such places as the Eindawya Pagoda, the Setkya, Thiha Pagoda, the old Watch Tower, King Mindon’s Tomb, etc. should also be visited.
Sagaing lies 21 km South-West of Mandalay on the west bank of the Ayeyarwady River. It is also an ancient capital of ‘ Sagaing Dynasty ‘. Sagaing Hills are known as a religious retreat where over 400 monasteries for monk and nuns are located for Buddhistic studies and meditation. About 10 km from Sagaing is the Kaung-Hmu- daw, an enormous dome-shaped pagoda, built by King Thalun in 1636 on the model of the Maha-Ceti Pagoda of Sri Lanka.There is also Ywataung village known for its silver-smiths.
Kaung-hmu-daw & other Pagodas Entrance Fee – US $ 3
Situated about 11km south of Mandalay, Amarapura is an ancient capital of the Konbaung Dynasty.
Patodawgyi Pagoda, and silk weaving industries are places of interest to visit.
Patodawgyi Pagoda is situated South-West of Mandalay on the west bank of Ayeyawaddy River. The Pagoda was built by King Bagyidaw in 1820. The lower terraces have marbles slabs illustrating scences from the Jakata. A marvelous fine view over the surrounding country-side and Ayeyawaddy river bank can be seen from the upper terrace. The history of the pagoda’s construction is described on inscription stone.
U Pein Bridge
The old intriguing 1208 Metres long “ U Pein Bridge “ was totally constructed with teak planks by Mayor U Pein over 2 centuries ago near Amarapura, South of the Mandalay. This bridge is the longest wooden bridge in Myanmar. It can use cross safely and stands as a new style except minor reconstruction.
Innwa ( Ava )
The historical capital was founded by King Thado Minbya in 1364. There is Maha Aungmye Bonzan
monastery which is a fine example of Myanmar masonry, and arts and architectural.
Me Nu Brick Monastery
The beautiful brick monastery which was erected in 1818 by Nanmadaw Me Nu, chief queen of King
Bagyidaw ( 1819 – 1837 ) in Innwa, had an epitome of religious beliefs that were a part of Myanmar culture even today. This graceful and beautiful stucco-decorated building was known as “ Oak Kyaung “ because of the masonry construction. The visitors can study the great deal of Myanmar traditional engineering technique and architecture.
Situated about 11 km up – river from Mandalay on the western band of the Ayeyawaddy river, Mingun is noted for its huge unfinished pagoda and 90-ton bell, the largest ringing bell in the world. A 45-minutes boat trip to Mingun is very pleasant with plenty of life on the river to see.
Entrance Fee – US $ 3
About 136 km to the West of Mandalay is Monywa, the commercial centre of Chindwin Valley. Places of interest are Than-bok-de pagoda adomed with over 500,000 Buddha Images; Bodhi-tahtaung ( one thousand Bo trees ); Ledi Kyaungtaik, a teaching monastery where Buddha Scriptures are inscribed on 806 stone slabs; and Kyaukka village known for its own distinctive kind of lacquer-ware.
Pyin Oo Lwin ( May Myo )
Over 1,100 metres in elevation, it is located 69 km to the east of Mandalay. It enjoys cool and pleasant weather the whole year round. Places to visit include the Botanical Garden ( 142-hectare ), the Chinese Temple, Pwe kauk Water-falls, Peik-chin-myaung cave and Gok-hteik rail bridge ( a viaduct ). Pyin Oo Lwin is most favourite and ideal place for visitors during the summer.
It is one of the most pleasant scenic spots not only in Myanmar but also in South-East Asia perhaps.
A historic capital, Bagan, known as the city of four millions Pagodas, is the richest archaeological site in Asia.This enchanting city is situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyawaddy river about 193 km South of Mandalay.
The ruins of the city of Bagan cover an area of 42 sq . km containing over 2000 ediflices. The majority of these well-preserved temples and pagodas offer a rich architectural heritage from the 11th to 13th century Era.
Zonal Charges - US $ 10
Museum Fee - US $ 3
How to get there
It takes about one hour and twenty minutes to fly from Yangon to Bagan / Nyaung Oo. The are daily flights to Bagan during the tour season. By overland, Express Trains to Mandalay stops at Thazi junction from which one can take a bus to Bagan. The newly constructed Railway line of Mandalay-Bagan was unveiled on 19th September,1996. The express trains are running daily and the round-trip takes about 8 hours only. There is a regular bus and steamer service between Mandalay and Bagan. Visitors are advised to check with Tourist Information Services for flight / train / bus / steamer schedules.
WHAT TO SEE
The Ananda Temple, completed in 1090, is King Kyansitha’s master-piece and the crowning achievement of the early style of temple architectural. The plan is that of a perfect Greek cross. There are 4 huge Buddha images in standing position and a series of 80 reliefs depicting the Final Life of the Buddha from His Birth to His Enlightenment which is notable. The Ananda Pagoda festival held in January is a big event drawing pilgrims even from far away places.
Over 66 metres high, the temple was built by King Alaungsithu in the middle of 15th century. It overtops all other monuments and affords visitors a magnificent panorama of Bagan plains.
Standing on high brick plinth, this temple was built by King Alaungsithu in 1131 AD. The arch-pediments pilasters, plinth and cornice moulding are decorated with fine stucco carving , evidence of Myanmar architecture, in the early 12th century.
This 12th Century Temple was built by King Narapati-situ, is about 60 metres high. From the upper terrace of Gawdawpalin Temple , one can leisurely watch the sunset over the scenic beauty of the Ayeyawaddy river with the backdrop of Tantkyitaung hill and the panoramic view of ancient Bagan. The fading light gradually veils the ruined city of Bagan – a “ Bagan Sunset “, and one will never forget one’s itinerary in Myanmar.
Gubyaukgyi Temple ( Wet Kyi Inn )
A 13th century temple with a spire resembling the Maha – Bodhi temple at Budh Gaya. This temple is known for its walls paintings depicting scenes from the Jakata.
Built about ( 1211 A.D ) by Nam-daung- myaMin, the Htilo Minlo is one of the largest temples of Bagan. It is a double – storeyed structure rising 50 metres above the ground. This temple is noted for its fine plaster carvings on the arch-pediments, friez and pilaster.
It was built by King Anawrahta and completed by King Kyansitha in 1084. Shwezigon Pagoda is the
prototype for later Myanmar Pagodas. There are green glazed plaques depicting scenes from the Jakata. The pagoda festival is held from late October to early November.
Standing on the bank of the Ayeyawaddy river, Bupaya Pagoda is a conspicuous landmark for travelers along the river. This pagoda with a bulbous dome resembling the “ Bu “ of gourd fruit is a favourite spot for visitors to watch the sunset.
The new Archaeological Museum is the most splendid and significant with its main hall, Bagan literature hall, social and military paintings hall. Architecture hall, fine arts hall. Stupa and temple paintings hall, and Gawdawpalin Temple in Bagan – Nyaung U Township. It was inaugurated on Myanmar New Year Day, 17 April1998. Open from 09:30 to 15:00 hours daily except Mondays and public holidays.
Entrance Fee – US $ 5
Mount Popa, 1500 metres high, is an extinct volcano located about 67 metres km south-east of Bagan. Among the western foothills, the mountain stands a perpendicular rock formation with almost vertical sides. The whole top is dotted with pagodas and shrines which are made accessible by a series of stairway. It is generally known as the abode of legendary ‘ Nats ‘ ( Spirit Gods ) for which the annual festival is which the annual festival is held during the Myanmar month of Nayon ( May / June ).
Master-pieces of lacquer-ware have been the pride of Bagan since the days of the Bagan Empire. It is still the main industry of Bagan today and every body can see the process of making lacquer-wares from the basic stage to the finished products ready for sale at the shops. Lacquer-wares such as ashtrays, bowls. Jewellery boxes, trays and painting are the best souvenirs of Bagan.
Taunggyi, the capital city of Shan State in the eastern part of Myanmar, is-known for its scenic beauty and pleasant climate. It is cool the whole year round and the area is colourful with lovely flowers, pine trees and green orchards. Being situated over 1400 metres above sea-level, Taunggyi is ideal for holiday-makers during the summer.
How to get there
Myanmar Airways and Air Mandalay operate scheduled flights for tourists to Bagan / Nyaung Oo, Mandalay and Heho ( Taunggyi ) during tourists season. Tickets are available at the respective Airways offices in Yangon and major tourists centres. By overland Express Trains to Mandalay or Yangon stop at Thazi junction, from where one can take a regular train or bus toTaunggyi. Visitors are advised to check with Tourist Information services for flight / train / bus schedules.
WHAT TO SEE
It is an ethnographic museum which contains colourful dress of national groups, their traditional weapons and utilities in addition to the dress of the late Shan Sawbwas ( Dudes of Lords ). Open from 09:30 to 15:00 except Saturdays and Sundays.
Inlay Lake, the jewel of Shan State, is located about 30 km to the south of Taunggyi. This vast, beautiful and picturesque Lade, sheltered among the hazy blue mountains of 1524 meters, stretches 22.4 km long and 10.2 km wide. The lake itself is about 900 meters above sea-level and studded with floating islands.
Inlay Lake is famous for its unique low-leg rowers, floating villages and colorful markets. Ywama’ the site of a daily floating “ markets “ and Inlay – Khaungdaing Spa are places to visit. Inlay silk is quite popular in Myanmar and silk weaving and hand-looms can be seen at Inpaw-Khon village.
The celebrated Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda is situated in this lake. Its festival, held once a year in October, is full pageantry and ceremonial splendour.
There is one thing very peculiar and different from other countries i.e. Inlay traditional unique one-leg rowers races can be seen by visitors during the festival of Phaung Daw U Pagoda.
Phaung Daw U Pagoda Entrance Fee – US$ 5
Inlay Lake Entrance Fee – US$ 5
Kalaw, which lies about 72 km west of Taunggyi, is a beautiful hill station surrounded by mountains. It is a peaceful summer and fragrant pine meandering mountains streams and fragrant pine woods. There are Palaung villages costumes can be seen at Kalaw market held every days.
Pindaya, is situated at the foot of Mene-Taung Range about 45 km north of Kalaw, is a picturesque place. This small quiet town is famous for its caves in which thousands of centuries-old Buddha Images are seated. The images are of various sizes, some carved in the face of rock and some deposited in riches in the walls. The road from Kalaw to Pindaya ( 38 km ) passes through a countryside of magnificent scenic beauty.
Pindaya Cave Entrance Fee – US $ 5
Colorful and full of life, the markets are attraction for visitors in search of native life and souvenirs. Hand-woven Inlay, bags and shawls, Shan jackets, Zinmai longyis and other cotton materials, hand-made bamboo parasols, earthen pots with beautiful designs, bamboo hats and wooden sandals are available.
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
Kyaik Htiyo Pagoda
Kyaik Htiyo Pagoda is the largest domestic tourism centre located about 130 miles ( 200 km ) from Yangon. It stands on a gold gilded boulder precariously perched in the edge of the hill over 1100 km above sea-level. There are many legends about the pagoda and ‘ Nat ‘ ( Spirit Gods ) shrines along the 11 km. uphill hike from the base camp to the pagoda. There is also a popular belief that a person gains in wealth every time he climbs the hill. It is a test of one’s endurance and very exhilarating once a person reached the summit. Kyaik Hto hotel located on the hill side is in full view of the pagoda. Formerly the pilgrims season is from October to May, but now it is accessible to go there the whole year.
Before 1996, coaches reach only Kinpun Base Camp at the foot of the hills from which visitors can trek uphill for about 11 km. At present, the trusteeship council of the Kyaik Htiyo Pagoda has already constructed the new motor- car road up to the foot of the hill’s highest destination to climb all the seasons for the deevotees and visitors. Porters and palanquins are available to carry luggage and pilgrims who are too old or weak.
Entrance Fee – US$ 10
Video Camera Fee – US$ 2
The beautifully Ngapali Beach is located in Thandwe ( Sandoway ) about an hour’s flight from Yangon. This unspoilt beach stretches over 3 km and is an ideal place for everyone who loves sea, sand, sun or swimming, snorkeling or carefree loitering on the beach, exploring or just sitting amidst whistling wind. There is a 9-hole golf course only three miles away from the Ngapali hotel. Nearby fishing villages are also interesting places. Ngapali Beach opens from October to May.
Kann Thaya Beach Resort
Rakhine State’s third pleasant beach resort “ Kann Thaya “ was unveiled on 24th March, 1995 in commemoration of the 50th Golden Jubilee Myanmar Armed Forces Day. It is situated in “ Gwa “ township only 82 km miles from “ Ngapali “ beach. Yangon to Gwa is about 174 miles by Motor road, and the route from Gwa to Kann Thaya beach is 17 miles – in a meter 8 hours. The renovation of Gwa airfield is now improved to receive F-28 Jet aircraft in “ Visit Myanmar Year 1996 “, and F-27 aircraft can land at present. It takes about 50 minutes to fly from Yangon to Gwa.
The out-standing features of ‘Kann Thaya’ beach are the blue sea, a very long stretch f silvery sands, a dark green line of coconut palm grooves along the wide coast almost level beach about 8000 yards long and massive rock slabs and boulders. Speed-boats are available there for visitors who desire rides. A telegraphic and telephone station is at “ Myay Hill “ for inland and overseas communications. The fauna in the Yoma Forests are elephants, tigers, rhines, gaurs, leopards, jungle cats, wild boars, deer, monkeys, etc. It is different from other countries that these wild animals are to be seen frequently. Vacationers may go on hunting expeditions near the resort. People with a penchant for fishing may go out angling in the sea reefs and rocks providing a natural fence for the beach. For those who desire to stretch their limbs, a 9-hole golf link has been kept in readiness.
Chaungtha beach is located 40 km to the west of Pathein ( Bassein ) in Ayeyarwaddy Division. A regular double-decker boat leaves Yangon about 4 pm every evening and reaches Pathein early in the next day and bus drive from Pathein to Chaungtha takes about 2 hours. It is reached by road from Yangon via Pathein taking about5 hours.
Thayekhittaya ( Srikhitshtra )
An ancient ‘Pyu’ Capital lies 8 km South –East of Pyay ( Prome ) which is located about 285 km north-west of Yangon. Archaeological discoveries indicate that the city attained its height of prosperity between the 5th and 9th centuries. At Thayekhittaya one will find palace site, the prototype of Bagan vaulted temple such as Lemyetnha and East Zagu, the cylinder-shaped Bawbawgyi Pagoda, Payagyi and Payama Stupas each with a high conical dame and the Archaeological Museum.
In Pyay, Shwe Sandaw Pagoda, a gigantic sitting Buddha Statue of Hse Htat Kyi Pagoda, Shwe Phone Pwint Library and Museum are palaces or interest.
Pyay is easily accessible by road or by rail. The visitors can stay at Pyay Hotel and other Private Guest-houses for over-night stay.
Mrauk U ( Mro Haung )
Mrauk U, the ancient City of Rakhine Kingdom ( 15th Century ), is known for its old temples with
paintings of Indian cultural influence. It is reached by boat along Kalatan River from Sittway ( Akyab ), the capital of Rakhine State. A boat trip takes about 5 hours.
The high-lights of Mrauk U are the massive Shitthaung-paya a curiously remarkable temple with countless Buddha Images and relief, the fortress-like temple Htaukkan-thein noted for the interesting stone sculptures in the vaulted passages; an octagonal temple Andaw-Thein with its unique stone carvings and flora design; Sakaya Man Aung, a tall attenuated stupa; and Archaeological Museum. 8 km to the north of Mrauk U is Withal, another ancient capital ( 8th to 10th centuries A.D. ). There is one more ancient capital called Danyaddy which is about 22 km to the North of Withal.
The basic Myanmar food is mainly rice and curry. Some Myanmar curries are spicy, and there is always fishpaste in many forms with salad. Soups mostly made of vegetables is taken together with rice and other dishes. “ Mohinga “ rice noodles with fish gravy is favorite for breakfast, and “ Ohn-No-Khaukswe “( noodles with coconut and chicken curry ) is the most popular among Myanmar food. Favorite desserts are “ Sanwin-ma-kin “ ( Myanmar sweet cakes made with semolina, sugar, egg, butter and coconut ), Myanmar style banana cakes, “Kyaukyaw “ ( sea weed jelly ) and jiggery.
More and more visitors to Myanmar have discovered to their delight that Myanmar is not only a country of fruits and vegetables but also a country of seafood. Anyone who has experienced Myanmar seafood readily agree to its great variety and its crabs, prawns, lobsters and other shellfish are prepared and seasoned with various sorts of flavor and spices. In this way, all dinners will find the most palatable. Because of the fertility of marine fish most shellfish, seafood is available wherever you are in Myanmar.
Chinese food both Cantonese and Funkiness are popular among Myanmars and there are Chinese restaurants in almost every town. Indian food like Kebabs, brainy are also popular with Myanmar palate. European, Thai, Japanese, Korean and Singapore cuisine are available only at hotels and specific restaurants.
SEASONAL FRUITS OF MYANMAR
Pear-shaped tropical fruit sometimes eaten mashed and sweetened, or whipped into a cool drink.
Season : October – April
So many varieties with different flavors and tastes. Highly valued for its versatility.
Season : All the year round.
The Queen of all fruits is the Durian. It is nature’s sweetness at its creamy gold flesh but for its sharp spikes and the strong smell.
Season : May – September.
Huge, almost spherical with warly rind, it is one of the early monsoon fruits. Halve the fruit to rescue its many seeds each embedded in a yellow sheath and chew up the sweet and juicy sheaths.
Season : March – June
Popular fruit of the season with yellow flesh inside. Very much liked by the locals and foreigners alike as it is soft, sweet and savory.
Season : April – July.
Fruit with thick purple staining rind and white segments. Press the hard casing open and enjoy the
delicately sweet segments which melt in your mouth.
Season : May – September.
Orange in Myanmar means the loose-skinned tangerine, larger than the tangerine of Europe. It is juicy, delicious and easy to peel and very much preferred to the real oranges.
Papaya ( Pawpaw )
Large fruit with yellow pulp within. The taste being quite sweet and the flesh rich in Vitamin A and calcium. Some locals like green papaya in salad fashion.
Season : All the year round.
A bit sour for dessert fruit. Food ones are juicy and refreshingly different from the orange.
Season : All the year round.
Sweet, juicy and plentiful in Myanmar. Local people like pineapple with a dash of honey over it.
Season : June- September.
Big, smooth-skinned melon with juicy flesh, pink or red inside. Cut it into slices and eat the mea.
Season : November – April.
FESTIVAL IN MYANMAR
The Myanmars are said to have a penchant for theatre and festivals ( Pews ). The two are intertwined, for whenever there is a major festival, there will be a theatre of sorts to provide entertainment for the people. It is true that at least one festival has in each month but none of the festivals is just a fun fair. People who have studied thoroughly the life and nations of our people in the light of Buddhism that hives them guidance knew that “ the Myanmars are the most calm and contented of morals. A Myanmar jogs on through a cheerful existence, troubled by no anxious cares “.
Festivals form the Myanmar social and religious activities and full moon day of each month of Myanmar calendar has its own festive occasion.
Thingyan Water Festival / Myanmar New Year Festival
By the Myanmar calendar, the first month is “ Tagu “ ( April ). It is the time of the Water Festival – we call it “ Thingyan “ which means ‘ change ‘. This is often symbolized with the change of duty from one celestial daughter to another to hold the severed head of the ‘ Brahma “ lest it might fall into the sea or on land and cause a complete dry-up in wherever it happens to fall. But, that belief may originally belongs to Hinduism. The people of Myanmar usher in their “ New Year “ around the middle of April with the showers of blessing – in the form of water, which is thrown over friends and even strangers on the streets. Even foreigners and all other believers can participate in the same family of Myanmars during three of four days. Everybody can see the enjoyable sights and sounds as others or perform religious meritorious acts or just enjoy rest and recreation in festive atmosphere all around. There is also pageantry with decorated pandals ( Mandates ), floats, music, songs and dances, celebration of ‘ Thingyan ‘ in a cultured way is being promoted by the State and People of the Union of Myanmar.
Pouring water in ‘ New Year “ is believed to cleanse the body and mind of evils of year that was left
behind. There is merriment and fun galore. But it is not all fun and play ; the elderly and the pious perform a lot of meritorious deeds to usher in the ‘ New Year “. People keep Sabbath ; go to pagodas and monasteries ; and offer foods and alms to monks and nuns. Even children too welcome the ‘ New Year ‘ by paying respects to their parents, teachers and elders. To again merit, fish and cattle are also set free. Through merriment and fun, and meritorious and pious deeds, the Myanmars usher in a ‘ New Year ‘.
According to belief, it also marks the time that when the King of Nats, ‘ Tha – gya- min ‘ descends to Human World for a visit to check on the conduct of human ‘ gold’. He records the names of those who have committed sin into the ‘dog-skin’ book, while be enters the names of do-goodies in the golden book.
The Kason Festival
A month after ‘ Thingyan’ is another water-related event- ‘the Kason festival’. It falls on the full moon Day of Kason according to the Myanmar Calendar ( early May ). The Full moon Day of Kason is a day of three- fold significance-the Day of Buddha was born , the Day He attained Enlightenment and the Day of His Demise. All over the Myanmar, men and women of all ages ho to pagodas in procession to pour water at the root of sacred ‘ B-Tree ‘ or ‘ Bodhi ‘ tree under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment carrying water pots on their heads, the lines of people make up a picturesque parade indeed, as they are usually accompanied by a music troupe whose flutes, cymbals, drums and bamboo clappers add a note of gaiety to the festival. They always walk in the clockwise direction. The worshippers chant verses in praise of Buddha.
The Buddhists perform meritorious deeds; meditate to attain Enlightenment; keep Sabbath; go to pagodas and monasteries , and give offertories to monks and nuns.
Nayon ( June ) is the month for the holding of ‘Ti-pt-ta-ka’ Examinations. Successful candidates are duly recognized and outstanding ones accorded popular acclaim. Buddhists donate all the necessary things such as ‘soon’, offertories and etc, to the Sang has and Nuns who participates as the sons and daughters of the Buddha, during the exam period and ceremonies.
Beginning of Buddhist Lent
Waso Full moon day in ( July ) commemorates the Buddha’s First Sermon and the beginning of the
Buddhist Lent. It is an occasion for religious function of the Singh but the laity also participate in it with offerings of food, robes, shelters ( monastery ) and medicine ( the requisites of a ‘Bikkhu’ ) to the Saga going into rains retreat. Young people go on outgoings to pick flowers in season to offer at pagodas. There are also Novitiation and ordination ceremonies all over the country. It is a period for reflection, meditation and contemplation. Ordinary folk are also expected to be more spiritual. Events such as marriages for people and for monks moving from one monastery to another are avoided.
‘Wagaung’ ( August ) is the month for what is called ‘Maha Dad’ festival, named after a very poor man who became rich over-night for his offerings to ‘Kassapa Buddha ‘. On the festival days, a large marquee is built to place as many alms bowls as there are monks ( bikkhus ) in the locality. People passing by contribute what they can by putting alms into the bowls which get filled up and are finally distributed to the ‘saga’, and also the ‘Saga’ are assigned to the donors, with the drawing of lots in both cases.
Taung Pyone Festival
Buddhist are not actually spirit-worshippers, thousands of country folks and townspeople alike flock to this yearly festival of “ Nats “ ( Spirit Gods ) near Mandalay to participate in its joyous, light-hearted merrymaking. The small Taung Pyone Hill and surrounding areas had been’ awarded ‘ to the “Nats” as a special province of their own by Myanmar Kings since the Bagan Dynasty in the 11th century. Once a year, festival are held to honor these “Nats The festival of ‘Taung Pyone’ ( in August 0 is a very peculiar and particular festival that although Myanmar”.
‘Tawthalin’( September ) is the sixth month on Myanmar calendar and it is the time for royal regatta
festivals which is being revived by the State with the holding of festivals as of yore complete with pageantry and boat races. September is the month when boat races are held in practically every pond , river and lake throughout the country.
Paungde ( Buddha’s Tooth Relic Festival )
Buddhist devotees from all over the country come to Paungde ( Buddha’s Tooth Relic Festival ), 130 miles north of Yangon, to worship this Sacred Relic brought ort once a year ( in September) from its vaults. It is taken around the town on an elephant in a procession.
Thadingyut, Festival of Lights / End of Buddhist Lent‘Thadingyut’ ( October ) is the end of the Buddhist Lent of the retreat. It is the festival of lights on the full-moon days, one day before and one day after. Houses and streets in cities and towns are brilliantly illuminated. Pagodas are also crowded with people doing meritorious deeds. It is not only a time of joy but also of thanksgiving and paying homage teachers, parents and elders, and asking pardon for whatever misdeeds in speech or thought they might have committed during the year, and elders also readily forgive if there is anything to forgive. This significant, honorable and beautiful customs of Myanmar people serves as a bridge across the generation gap which often is the cause of trouble in many other countries.
It originates in the story of worldly beings welcoming back the Buddha with lights as He descended from “ Ta-va-tim-sa”, the highest abode of the ‘Nats’ ( celestial being ). He spent the three months preaching ‘Abhidham-ma’, the Highest Doctrine of Buddhism, to the celestials headed by His mother who has died soon after giving birth to Him and reincarnated as a ‘Deva’ by the name of ‘San-tus-si-ta’. It will be remembered that ‘Gautama Buddha’, after displaying unheard of miracles under the ‘Ganda’ mango tree, had disappeared from that mango grove and gone to ‘Ta-va-tim-sa’, and spent the three months of the Rains-Retreat. The full moon day of the Thadingyut is accordingly known as ‘Maha Pavarana Day’ from the earliest times. It is also known as ‘Ta-va-tim-sa festival’ or ‘Festival of Lights on Mount Meru’.
Phaungdaw U Pagoda Festival
The festival ‘Phaungdaw U Pagoda’, in ‘Inlay Lake is held every year during the month of Thadingyut ( October ), is the biggest occasion of the lake. The images of the Buddha from ‘Phaungdaw U Pagoda’ are placed on a decorated royal barge called ‘Karaweik’ ( Mythical bird ) and taken around the lake, stopping at villages for people to pay homage. The festival is full of pageantry and colorful, and there are fun fairs, music, dances and boat races participated by both men and women rowing with their legs.
Elephant Dance Festival
En route from Yangon to Mandalay, there lies a thriving town called ‘Kyauk-se’ in Upper myanmar- situated some 26 miles to the south of Mandalay. This town is noted particularly for the elephant dance which is performed at annual Light festival in the month of Thadingyut ( October ). The main feature of this festival is the elephant dance accompanied by colorful pageantry – a life-size ‘white paper elephant’ decked with regal trappings carries on its back a Replica of an ‘Arahat’ while a ‘black paper elephant’ follows as the finale of the procession. Each of these paper elephant is borne and animated by two men inside. The ‘ black paper elephant’ dances merrily to the procession music and thus it is the centre of attraction during the carnival. Nowadays, the elephant dance no longer sticks to its native town alone. It has become one of the highlights in many auspicious celebrations throughout the country.
Tazaungdaing Festival of Lights
In ‘Tazaungmon’ ( November ), ‘Tazaungdaing’ Festival is held on the full moon day of Tazaungmon according to the Myanmar calendar. Homes, buildings and streets are illuminated and monks are provided with robes and various requisites at Kahtein ( ceremony of offering robes to monks ). The offering of ‘Ma-tho-thin-gan’ saffron-colored robes weaving ceremony is held on the eve of the full moon day of ‘Tazaungmon’ in one night. On that day, young women teams of weavers complete with one another to complete weaving robes overnight. Crowds watch intensely as the ‘go signal is given for the teams to start speed weaving at a stretch – from evening onwards till completion at dawn for offering to the great image of Lord Buddha. The weaving of this special robes is still done the traditional way as a demonstration and contest of weaving skill.
During the ‘Kahtein’ festival some Myanmar young men usually release fire balloons.
‘Nadaw’ is the name of the ninth month on the Myanmar calendar corresponding to ‘December’ of the calendar in International use. The actual spelling in Myanmar characters transliterates as ‘Nattaw’-or ‘Nat’ is a general term applied to ‘spirit’ God, Deva or Deity, and Taw or Daw’ is honorific signifying ‘respect’. In the time of Myanmar Kings, it was a month for oblation to deities of ‘Nats’, hence the name of the month. Actually, it is not that the Myanmar people are animists paying homage to Nats, but Animism that had taken roots from very early times had perennially survived, though in very limited spheres, when the Theravada Buddhism reached Bagan in the 11th century ( C.E. ) and King Anawrahta accepted it and made it the religion of his kingdom, suppressing all corrupt forms of worship including
animistic sacrifices and unwholesome practices that existed in Pre-Buddhist Bagan.
In this month, there are also ceremonies of conferring titles and honors to distinguished figures in Myanmar literati.
In the Independent Union of Myanmar, the month of ‘Nadaw’ ( December ) is the time for literary activities, honoring those to whom honor is due as in the times of Myanmar Kings. Ceremonies of giving awards in various fields of literary work are usually held on the first day of the waxing moon in ‘Nadaw’ ( December ). There are festivities celebrating the anniversaries of great literary figures – like Na-wa-de, Nat-shin-naung, Seinda-Kyawthu, Let-wei-thondra, Myawaddy Mangy U Sa, U Pony, etc.
Writers and poets travel all over the country to meet their readers and hold seminars, discussions and talks on literary subjects.
Although the great majority of Myanmars are Buddhists, Union of Myanmar is not a Buddhist State – secular one and highly motivated in their respective religions.
All Christians in Myanmar celebrate Christmas at their respective Church on 25th December every year Carols are sung, friends greeted and gifts exchanged, not forgetting the aged and the poor.
Kayin New Year
The Kayin, one of the Union National Groups in the Union of Myanmar, celebrate their ‘new crop”
Ceremony bringing in their New Year. Garbed in their national costumes, dances and songs are put on show high- lighting with their lively ‘Don’ folk dance.
Welcome to “ The Golden Land “.
Traditionally, the month of ‘Pyatho’( January ) is the time for the royal equestrian festivals. The custom of holding equestrian festivals is being revived and promoted by the State.
The Government and people of the Union of Myanmar celebrate the Independence Day on 4th January every year commencing from 4th January 1948. The whole country is lit up. Yangon is ablaze night with illuminations all over the city. All Myanmars in various walks of life, celebrate with ‘Pews’ fun fairs and races all over the country.
‘Tabodwe’ ( February ), the eleventh month of the Myanmar calendar, is the times for the festival of ‘Htamane’ in honor of the traditional harvesting period – a light food preparation of glutinous rice, cooked and crushed in oil, with addition of other ingredients such as ground – nut, sesame seeds, ginger and coconut slices. It is a communal activity organized in festivity just in the private circle of family and friends. The nature of the feast is such that it means a big gathering because many hands are needed.
Boys and men tear away the fibers of the coconut until the shell makes it appearance. This also call for dexterity, strength and experience. This shell is broken and milk inside is shared by the deserving workers. The kernel is taken out and sliced on a carpenter’s plane.
Girls shell the peanuts; the seed are put on a flat tray and a fair- sized bottle is rolled over them to remove the thin husk. Meanwhile, a giant concave iron pot is put over the fireplace, a pot dug for the purpose. Cooking oil is sizzling and shredded ginger is the first to go in, and then the glutinous rice which has been soaked in water.
A large cauldron of water is kept ready to be added to the glutinous rice cooking in the pot. When the rice is soft enough, the iron pot is removed from the fire and two stalwart men, each with a huge wooden ladle, begin to stir the rice crushing it between the ladles. An experienced man help between the two men to smooth the stir operation, holding two ladles harmoniously. Even as they stir and crush, the glutinous rice gets stickier and they have to use not only their strength but also their skill to make the coagulate mass yield to their ladles.
After some time of vigorous stirring and crushing, people come round to add sliced coconuts and peanuts to make the whole thing a good mixture. Sesame seeds are added last. This last does not call for strength, but it needs skill, so Myanmar say. The blend and flavor of ‘Htamane’ depends on the sesame seed sprinklers, it is said.
Tabaung Pagoda Festivals
‘Tabaung’( March ) is the month of Pagoda festivals. It is Spring in this part of the world. Pagoda festivals are held for each particular pagoda all over the country including local festivals of paying homage to the Buddha in what are known as ‘Sand Stupa Festivals’. These festivals are traditional Myanmar equivalent of the western fun fairs. Food stalls, toy shops, shops with all kinds of consumer goods, magic shows, puppet shows and dramas – all these form part of the festival.
Source : Ministry of Hotels and Tourism Booklets and Pamphlets.