Taking the Slow Road from Mandalay to Bagan
Like the Nile in Egypt, the Irrawaddy River is an important gift to the people of Myanmar that gave rise to the ancient royal capitals of Mandalay and Bagan. However, traveling to this region in the country’s central dry zone is not just about visiting these ancient cities, but also about discovering village life and learning about the people of these communities that have followed the same traditions for centuries.
Many visitors to the region choose to fly, or take a luxury cruise between the two royal capitals, but if you opt to travel overland by car, why not take Khiri Travel Myanmar’s alternative road trip from Mandalay to Bagan, which gives you the opportunity to truly explore the region’s attractions. During the journey not only do you get to visit ancient temples and cruise down the Irrawaddy, but you will also discover an endemic tortoise species, fascinating local people, and a forgotten pottery town that was once the gateway for the British annexation of Burma.
Visiting Minzontaung Wildlife Sanctuary is certainly one of the highlights of this trip. Home to the star tortoise which is indigenous to the dry zone, Khiri Travel has developed an excursion that allows clients to visit the sanctuary’s ranger station and learn more about this endangered tortoise species. A unique part of this visit is a walk with the rangers through the forest, carrying a tracking device to locate some of the tortoises in their natural habitat.
The walk then continues on to the breeding center where visitors can also help feed the tortoises and see how they are kept, before their reintroduction into the wild. To complete the tour and to understand how the whole system works, visitors are then taken to the baby tortoise pens for a glimpse of these tiny creatures.
After the Sanctuary you continue your drive through rural Myanmar to Yandabo village, which makes a living from producing beautiful red earthenware pots. A remote village with only 200 houses, Yandabo also has an intriguing history. In 1826, under a tree on the banks of the Irrawaddy, the Treaty of Yandabo was signed, which ended the First Anglo-Burmese War. With the British in Yandabo – which was only 80 km from the capital Ava – the Burmese were forced to accept the British terms, leading to a long period of colonial rule.
During your visit, you can also stay at a small boutique hotel in Yandabo village that lies on the quiet banks of Irrawaddy. From here, you can easily walk around the villagers’ houses and watch them patiently making the pots and firing them in their kilns. In the late afternoon, take a 15-minute boat ride to visit Pan Nyo village and observe the village farmers and their ox carts returning from the fields – each stacked with hay and drawn by a pair of buffalos. Alternatively, walk along the banks of the Irrawaddy River and enjoy the stunning sunset.
The next morning, continue by car to Pakkoku and visit the local market, a slipper factory, and see where the famed Pakkoku blankets are made. A private boat will then be waiting at the jetty in Pakkoku for a leisurely trip down the Irrawaddy, with lunch served on board. Along the way, you visit a cave temple, a place that rarely sees foreign visitors. After your temple visit, you continue your cruise to Bagan, where the famous plain of ancient temples and stupas awaits you.
For more information on this experience and other Myanmar adventures, get in touch with us at: [email protected]