Monywa (pronounced mon-ywa) is a quite engaging town that is appreciated more for its interesting attractions than the town itself. It is a practical layover destination for travellers on the Myanmar travel packages touring between Bagan and Mandalay. The actual town is relatively flat, hot and big with little to get excited about except for the pleasant Chindwin riverside setting and the markets.
The most popular tourist attraction in Monywa is Mohnyin Thambuddhei Paya which is a Buddhist temple. It has the appearance similar to Borobudur in Indonesia with its large stupa. It is believed to date back to the 1300’s and inside the temple there are hundreds of thousands of Buddha images. Kyauka Village is appreciated for its unique style of lacquer ware, while the Ledi Kyaungteik monastery is filled with 806 stone slabs which are inscribed with Buddhist scriptures.
Monywa is approx 135 km from Mandalay and regarded as a major commercial centre in the local Chindwin Valley. Plus, this region is now a legalized trading hub between Myanmar and India.
The preferred time to visit Monywa on the Myanmar tours and holidays is November to February when this region of the country is experiencing the dry season with weather that is warm and pleasant.
How to get there
There are a variety of travel routes to arrive at Monywa, such as ferry, train and bus. The fastest option is likely to be the bus service that runs from Mandalay. The rail service runs from Mandalay to Budalin and stops at Monywa, while the ferry service is quite slow and has plenty of stops while travelling along the Chindwin River.
Where to stay
Even though Monywa is a small town there are still a few worthwhile places to stay from the mid-range to budget-friendly.
A visit to Hotel Chindwin is perfect for the tourists more interested in the upmarket accommodation. It has a great city centre location with smart and spacious rooms. Most of the rooms include the must-have features (Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV, seating area, etc.) with the deluxe rooms the most spacious with a nice bathroom area. Plus, this hotel makes it possible to hire a car or bicycle for the day.
The King & Queen Hotel is a nice place to stay in town with all the expected amenities (air-con, flat-screen TV, private bathroom, etc.) Plus, the larger rooms have a nice seating area to fully relax after a long day of sightseeing. The on-site restaurant also serves up a varied and delicious menu.
For the budget-friendly traveller the Shwe Taung Tarn is one place that is just about good enough to rest up for the night, but not much else.
Eat and drink
One of the finest restaurants in Monywa is named the Pleasant Island and is well placed on a lake island close to the Win Unity hotel. This restaurant serves the tasty Thai, Malay and Chinese cuisine, while at night it is a great destination to enjoy a cool beer. Most of the main dishes served on the menu cost in the region of $2.50-$7.50.
The Night Market is a great place to visit on the Myanmar local tour package for quick dishes or takeaways that are relatively cheap.
Las Vegas is a more unique and tropical-themed restaurant that serves plenty of choices when it comes to Thai and Chinese dishes. The staff members are warm and friendly with music playing and cool drinks to enjoy in the evening. The mains dishes on the menu cost about $2.50-$6.00.
For the best shopping experience in town, it is worth visiting the lively markets that trade a varied range of local produce, as well as gifts and souvenirs that are great for friends or family.
Things to see and do
The design of the Thanboddhay Pagoda is completely unique to any other in the country. It was first built in the early 1300s and later rebuilt in 1939. This pagoda stands at nearly 132-ft in height and is easily entered by worshippers by using the large square base at nearly 165-ft. Plus, this structure includes several white elephant statues that stand at a height of 36-ft and seen as auspicious and sacred symbols in Buddhist tradition. A local Myanmar travel guide can make it easily to learn about the local history and culture.
This temple is well-maintained and continues to be used on a daily basis for worship. There is plenty of Buddhist art to see with over half a million images on display along the inside and outside wall surfaces.
A visit to the Bodhi Tahtaung Pagoda makes it possible to see the hundreds of Bodhi trees that have their own Buddha image underneath. Also, within the local area is one of the biggest reclining Buddha images at nearly 300-ft. The Buddha image has a hollow centre which makes it possible for the tourist to walk inside and learn more about Buddha’s life.
Other attractions nearby include the Laykyun Setkyar Buddha image which is in a standing position at a height of 380-ft. This is a further hollow feature that makes it possible to climb the stairs inside to get a great view of the local countryside surroundings.
The Aung Sakkya Pagoda is relatively close to the large reclining Buddha. Aung Sakkya Pagoda stands at a height of 226-ft and comes with an ornamental top, golden stupa and white base. This pagoda has a similar look to the Shwedagon pagoda located in Yangon.
An adventure on the Myanmar travel tour to the Po Win Daung Caves makes it possible to travel through the local Monywa landscape, as well as a copper mine, a petrified forest, remote villages and across the Chindwin River. The actual cave system is located alongside a mountain and includes plenty of different openings. Once inside the cave it is possible to see a wide range of Buddha images in small to large sizes. Plus, there are a few paths in the caves that are intended to lead to a space of meditation. The ceilings and walls of the cave are rich in mural paintings which are intended to depict the jataka reincarnation tales that relate to the Buddha.