The administrative state closely north of Yangon, drape a geography as varied as any in the country is Bago Division, 420km long, comparatively infertile SittaungValley to the east, the broader, more lush and traditionally prosperous Ayeyarwaddy Valley to the west. From the 12th century onwards, this vast expanse of jungle and alluvial plain formed the hinterland of Myanmar’s wealthiest and most powerful city, the port of Pegu, today known as Bago. The main attractions are Bago, Moe Yun Gyi Wetlands, Taungoo, Than TaungGyi, Pho Kyar Elephants Camp, Pyay, Ahkauktaung, Thayekhittaya (Sri Ksetra) and Shwetaung.
A half –and- hour drive from Yangon is the most historic ancient monuments city of Bago(formerly” Pegu“), retains an amazing concentration of temples, pagodas and giant Buddha statues for a town of its size. The famous sites for the visitors are Shwemawdaw Pagoda, Kanbawzathadi Palace, Shwethalyaung (Reclining Buddha) and Kyaik Pun Pagoda (Four Seated Buddha Image).
Moe Yun Gyi Wetlands Resort
Moe Yun Gyi wetlands is situated in Bago Division, about 70 miles north of Yangon – Mandalay highway. It is just two – hour drive from Yangon. In 1878, a water storage reservoir was constructed in Moe Yun Gyi area. Many year later, the reservoir changed naturally into wetlands with the extent of 40 square miles which have high wetland conservation value. As a result, the wetlands have been notified as a wildlife sanctuary since 1988. Every year, millions of birds usually fly from the northern hemisphere to the south along the East Asian – Australian Flyway to escape from winter. They stop to rest and feed in Asia. So the flyway contains a network of wetlands and Moe Yun Gyi is one of them. Moe Yun Gyi is a vital shelter for both resident and migratory waterfowls. A census at Moe Yun Gyi revealed that there are 125 species of waterbirds including 70 species of migrants. Little Grebe, Purple Heron, Grey Heron, Sarus Crane, Asian Open Bill, Rubby Shelduck, Purple Swamphen, Spot – Billed Pelicasn, Pheasant Tailed Jacana, Black Winged Stili, Great Cormorant, etc.., can be seen abundantly. The best season to visit is from November to March. In addition to bird watching, you can observe with livelihood of local populace, fauna and flora of the wetlands.
Except the Naypyidaw (capital of Myanmar), Taungoo is the largest city in the Sittaung Valley and remains the stop of preference for visitors heading between Yangon and Mandalay on the new expressway. The one outstanding historic site that the town remains is the Shwesandaw Pagoda, the iconic focal point in the center of the townand which attracts streams of Buddhist pilgrims year-round.
Than Daung Gyi
Than Daung Gyi Hill-Town Resort Located near Taungoo and 2 hour drive to uphill from Taungoo. It is in the Kayin State and is inhabited mainly by the lovable and simple BweKayin (Karen) people who are mostly Christians. Like many of the picturesque hill towns there is a romantic legend, a Kayin folktale connected to this place and the Dawparkho or Bwihikho mountain range which has its highest peak nearby, at 4,824 feet above sea level. We often overlook another picturesque hill town called Thandaung (meaning Iron Hill) which is much closer to Yangon than the above mentioned towns.It happens to be the hill resort closest to Yangon as it is only about 200 miles away and can be reached by car or bus on a half-day’s journey. If visitors prefer using the railway, they can ride the train from Yangon to Taungoo in about six hour, and from Taungoo to Than Daung Gyiis only 27 miles up by car passing through lush virgin forests, see cascading mountain streams and climb gradually to over 4,000 feet, to reach Than Daung Gyi.
Pho Kyar Elephants Camp
Pho Kyar Elephants camp is located in the foothills of the BagoYoma mountain range and lies within the saingya tropical reserve forest. It is about 16 kilometers from the town of Thargaya on Yangon-Mandalay highway and 330 kilometers from Yangon and 389 kilometers from Mandalay. The place has emerged as an ideal ecotourism spot and enjoys a spectacular location, surrounded by a zigzagging stream and full of the fragrance of wild orchids and seasonal flowers. The stream supplies an abundance of water for local residents and also provides a bathing place for elephants. This trip provides the opportunity to visit an elephant Village, where you can see the skillful manner in which the mahoot (elephant handler) communicates with his elephant.
Pyay (Prome )
Pyay or “Prome” as it was known to the British sprang up in the late 19th century as a transshipment port for river traffic travelling between Mandalay and Yangon. The magnificent Shwedandaw Pagoda rising from its midst, points to the town’s much older roots, which is one of Myanmar’s largest gilded stupas, topping out at a full meter taller than the Shwedagon in Yangon. Its mesmerizing form, soaring like a giant rocket above the tin-rooftop and palms below is reason enough to take time out of the trip to or from Bagan. At sunset, when the rich evening light turns the gold leaf a magical color and the river to the west glows molten orange, for the full effect.
One and half hour drive to western way from Pyay is spectacular embedded Buddha’s images pined into the river cliff is famous site of Ahkauktaung, 45 minute upstream from a village district by Htonebo Bo township. It’s an optionally unimagined site of unique structure of Buddha’s sculptures stuck into the wall of river bank, unforgettable atmosphere back to remember.
Thayekhittaya (Sri Ksetra)
The ruins of ancient Sri Kserra, a site well known as Thayekhitaya, are dotted around the village of Hmawza, 8 km east of Pyay. Three distinct dynasties ruled at Thayekhitaya before their capital fell under the sway of Bagan in the 10th century. The rulers erected an impressive array of brick-built stupas, palaces and monasteries, encircled by moats and walls whose vestiges are still clearly visible. The first of the large pagodas in its area, approaching via the main road in the north is the helmet shaped Payagyi, dating from the 4th century AD. Further west, just beyond the turning to the site, the equally striking Payamar Pagoda is an exact contemporary of the Payagyi. The most famous monument is 46 meter tall Baw BawGyi Pagoda which dates from the 5th century and served as the prototype for most of Myanmar’s ancient payas. A couple of hundred meters to its east, the BeiBei Pagoda is a square structure surmounted by three terraces.
A foray stop on the AyeyarwaddyValley’s pilgrimage trail is the Shwemyetman(Golden Spectacles) Pagoda at Shwetaung, 14km south of Pyay on the main Yangon-Pyay highway, whose central shrine encloses a lacquer-ware Buddha famous as the only one in Myanmar to wear gold-rimmed spectacles.