The town of Monywa (pronounced as two syllables, “mon-ywa”) lies in the Sagaing Division of northern Myanmar. A popular stopping-off point on the route between Bagan and Mandalay, a visit here isn’t so much about the town itself as it is about the beautiful, remote surroundings.
Few visitors come to Monywa, and its scenic riverside setting makes it a relaxing spot to spend a few days. If you’re travelling from Mandalay, expect the journey to take around three hours. There are a couple of sights worth visiting in the town and we’d start with the two main pagoda complexes. Shwezigon Paya is the most impressive complex with its intricate gilded temple, while eye-catching Su Taung Pye Zedi is also worth taking some time to explore.
Take a 30-minute tuk-tuk journey out of town to Thanboddhay Pagoda, where you’ll spot over 500,000 small Buddha sculptures! Then head just up the road to Bodhi Tataung, where you can see a golden pagoda and three big Buddha statues – it’s even possible to climb the inside of the standing statue. At 381 feet, it is the second tallest Buddha statue in the world after the Spring Temple Buddha in China
For a taste of authentic local Burmese life (and after all, isn’t that why you’re here?) we recommend heading to the riverside. The city’s location on the Chindwin River makes the waterfront a hive of activity all-year-round, and there’s no better place to people watch. You’ll see people washing (themselves and their clothes) as well as boat-dwelling families, and it’s a really great spot to spend a sunny afternoon.
It’s easy to get off the beaten track here too with a boat trip on the Chindwin. Hire a local guide and visit villages like Homalin, Khamti and Mawlaik. You’ll come across some great photo opportunities, but always remember to be particularly respectful as locals here are not used to visitors. While you’re here, make sure you check out the lively old market. This wet market sells a dazzling array of local fruit, vegetables, fish and flowers. You should also make time to see the New Market on Bogyoke Street, where you can shop for souvenirs.
Plan your trip to Monywa today.