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Nyaung U

The Shwezigon Pagoda is the sparkling wonder of bustling Nyaung U (sometime spelt ‘Nyaung Oo’). Building Shwezigon commenced in 1059 by King Anawrahta, and after his death has been habitually renovated. It is the optimum location to be at if in Nyaung U during the colourful tazaungmone, or ‘festival of light’ which takes place in November. (Find out more about festivals in Myanmar here.)

The red brick temple of Htilomilno share a likeness with many of the ruins in Old Bagan. Within it you will find a teak wood Buddha image that fishermen found floating in the Ayeyarwady after the 1974 earthquake. To this day no one is sure where it came from.

The Nyaung U market is also well-worth a visit. Despite the odd stall selling copies of Orwell’s Burmese Days (not to mention its counterparts Une Histoire birmane, Tage in Birma etc. etc. ...) this market is authentic and operates for locals, not tourists. When at the morning market, why not apply some fresh thanaka on to your cheeks? This is the cream-coloured paste made of ground bark that you will see so many of the women and children in Myanmar wearing.

 

Around Nyaung U

 

Just west of Nyaung U towards Old Bagan is the village Wetkyi-in, which means ‘Giant Pig.’ This name comes from the local legend of a pig that dwelled in the village lake and was responsible for gobbling up many a local before a future king of Myanmar vanquished it. Adventurous visitors may want to sniff out one of the inconspicuous toddy shops that lie just outside the village. Trampling down sandy paths through the dunes you will come to a hut or two where you may find a couple of ladies in the shade watching television. The dogs might object to your abrupt entry, but they will be soon silenced and sent whimpering into the shadows with a quick smack of a stick from one of your hosts. You will be settled down in front of the television - likely displaying the fuzzy images of an American blockbuster - and there be served a frothy glass of toddy, perhaps in the company of an indifferent apo (grandfather) and children back from school, still in their smart green and white uniforms.

 

Flying to Nyaung U, Bagan

 

Many visitors fly into Nyaung U to avoid the flat landscape of Myanmar's central delta, broken up only by the tall toddy palm trees, and instead fly from Yangon to Nyaung U Airport. When visiting Bagan, Nyaung U Airport is a small and hassle-free port to arrive at. Yangon to Nyaung U flights are daily, as are those from Mandalay Airport and Heho at Inle Lake.

You can have a look here to find out about hotels within and around Nyaung U, and on these pages you can find out more about Sampan Travel and our Suggested Journeys.

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