If you are a lover of ancient beauty and old cultures, Bago will be a destination that you can’t miss while traveling to Myanmar! Check out the places that you should come when visiting this city via the following article
I/ Something to know about Bago city
Bago is an ancient city located about 80 km to the north of Yangon, on both sides of the Ayeyarwady River, on the east bank, it’s is the old town and on the west bank, there is a new quarter. This is the capital of Bago region, also known as the glorious past name of Pegu, Hanthawadd. The population here is over 200,000 people.
II/ History of the ancient city Bago
Bago city was founded in 573 AD by two Monarchs at Thaton. The two of them had seen a female hamsa bird (legendary bird) that stand on a male hamsa on an island in the middle of a large lake. Considering this as a good omen, they established the royal city by the lake, called Hanthawady (it means the kingdom of hamsa birds). During the later periods of the Mon (1287 – 1539), Hanthawady became the center of the Mon kingdom that’s located in southern Myanmar in the present.
The Bamar came to power in 1539 when King Tabinshwehti merged Bago into his Taungoo kingdom. The city is often mentioned by former European visitors who still know Bago as Pegu – as an important seaport.
In 1740, after a long time staying at Taungoo, the Mon people re-established Bago city as their capital. But in 1757, Alaungpaya destroyed the city. King Bodawpaya, who ruled from 1782 to 1819, rebuilt the city. But because the river changed its course, the city was separated from the sea. So Bago never returns to the glorious period like before.
Bago – the city you should visit when traveling to Myanmar
III/ Bago discovery experience
1- Best time to visit Bago
Only 80km apart, the Bago’s weather has a resemblance to Yangon. It is divided into 3 distinct seasons:
The hot time from February to May, it has little or no rain.
The rainy season between May and October.
Cold and dry weather is from October to February next year.
Many visitors choose the time from October to February as the best time to visit Bago. However, some people like to travel to Myanmar during the hot season, from February and May. In the rainy season, very very few people choose Myanmar as a tourist destination, as long rains will hinder visits and discoveries.
2- Best hotels in Bago
Bago is also a city with a large number of tourists every year, not inferior to Yangon, Mandalay or Bagan… So here, hotel service is quite developed. There are all kinds of rooms, from budget to luxury for you to choose. You can refer to the following 10 hotels, which received a lot of good reviews from tourists:
Oak Thar Kyaw Hotel: Top 1 of the most beloved hotels in Bago thanks to its affordable prices (about 50.000 Kyats) and the rooms are clean, comfortable.
Han Thar Gardens: a high-class hotel with utility services such as swimming pool, gym, wifi free,… The cost is about 172.000 Kyats/room/night
Bulaeinn Villas: This resort villa is also highly appreciated by many tourists by the beautiful view. The cost is about 120.000 Kyats/room/night.
Shwe Pyi Resort: Shwe Pyi Resort is nestled among the lush forestry, it’s very suitable for those who love nature and want to relax maximum after a long day of exploring Bago. The cost is about 110.000 Kyats/room/night.
Amara Gold Hotel: This is a small hotel with the cost savings, just about 27.000 Kyats. However, the hotel still provides a full range of essential services to serve the leisure of tourists, so it also receives a lot of good appreciation.
3- Places to visit at Bago
Bago is a place with a long history and culture. In addition, during its existence and development, it is home to many famous Buddhist buildings. To discover all the beauty of this land, do not ignore any of the following spots:
Shwethalyaung temple is a famous pilgrimage site for many Buddhists, located in the west of Bago, Myanmar. The temple is famous for its reclining Buddha statue, built in 994 by Mingadeipka – the King Mon at that time.
Shwethalyaung temple is a famous pilgrimage site for Buddhists in Bago
In 1757, Bago city was destroyed and the Buddha Shwethalyaung statue was also forgotten. In 1881, when this place was a British colony, the statue was accidentally discovered. The statue is covered with mold and entangled vines at that time. After being restored, they placed it in an iron house (tazaung) to protect it from natural abrasive effects. Gradually, many temples were built around the statue, forme a complex of Shwethlyaung temples.
Today, the Shwethalyaung Buddha is one of Myanmar’s oldest and largest statues. The statue is 16m high and 55m long. It depicts the form of the Buddha before passing away on Nirvana. The Buddha smile benevolently, his hand rests on the head on the “pillow” made of elaborate mosaic boxes. The Buddha’s feet are carved 108 sacred Buddhist symbols. In the surroundings, the statue is guarded by the Nats gods of the Myanmar tradition. The walls around the hall are decorated with murals that depict the life of Buddha. At the hallway on both sides, there is a statue of Naga snake, which is arching high and carrying its body to protect the Buddha.
In addition, facing the Shwethalyaung Buddha, there is another giant Buddha statue named Mya Thar Lyaung. The statue is smaller, placed outdoors and depicts the image of the reclining Buddha.
Located in Bago Myanmar, Shwemawdaw is also called by the people as the Golden Temple of God. This is one of the oldest and most precious temples of Myanmar. In addition, Shwemawdaw is holding the record of the highest temple in this country.
The temple is the architectural masterpiece of the creative Mahasala and Kullasala brothers. Together they designed and participated in building this project after returning to study in India. At that time, they only intended to build a small stupa to worship two Buddha’s hair that they were fortunate to have. Later, Myanmar authorities and people built other structures in the temple that made Shwemawdaw Temple today.
Shwemawdaw – one of the oldest and most precious temples of Bago Myanmar
The temple is home to Buddha’s hair and tooth relics. Although there have been many changes in architecture, the ancient, solemn and pristine beauty of the temple is preserved quite carefully. Not only that, but Shwemawdaw also owns an extremely rare ancient bell that was cast from King Dhammazedi, a crown of King Bayinpauung, an umbrella and a water filter from King Bodawpaya’s time.
Like other Myanmar temples, tourists visit and worship have to remove shoes outside of the gate to show respect for the Buddha. You will be impressed by the red paint, the timeless of the walls surrounding the temple. It seems that the color of the paint has never been covered by the dust of the time even though the temple has been around for thousands of years. From the foot to the Shwemawdaw’s tower, all are overgilded by gold. Under the sun, the tower becomes more gorgeous and charming than ever.
Hintha Gon Pagoda
This is also a unique temple that you can hardly find anywhere else. So this is a tourist spot that you should not miss when coming to Bago city. This pagoda was named after the mythological Hintha bird – the symbol of the Mon people in Myanmar. According to legend, when Bago city was founded in 573 AD by 2 Monarchs in Thaton, the two princes saw two birds (one male, one female) was standing in the middle of a large lake. Considering as a good omen, they established a royal city by the lake, named Hanthawady and built the Hintha Gon Pagoda, that is also taken from the symbol of this bird.
Hintha Gon Pagoda – named after the mythological Hintha bird – symbol of the Mon people
Coming to this temple, you can not only hear the people talking about this legend, but you can also admire the unique architectural beauty here. Located behind Shwemawdaw, this temple was once the only place in this place to rise above the sea. So this is often a place for birds to eat hamsa beans. A bird statue is located on the top of the hill. In addition, wherever in the temple, you can see the symbol hamsa bird that’s exquisitely carved.
Kyaik Pun Pagoda
The ancient pagoda Kyaik Pun in Bago City was built by King Migadippa in the 7th century after the Western calendar and restored by King Dhamma Zedi in the 15th century (1476). The name Kyaik Pun of this Buddhist Temple comes from the language of Mon people: The word “Kyail” means Buddha, Pun is four (it name means “four directions Buddha”).
This is a temple with four-Buddha-statue that fight back, so it is called Kyaik Pun temple. This is also a special point that makes travelers want to come here to admire and discover. According to the legend, this place was chosen as the place to worship Four-Face Buddha. The statue is 27m high, it bears four Buddha faces in four directions: Kakusandha, Konagamana, Kassapa, Gautama.
This pagoda of Bago is considered one of the holiest places in Myanmar, one of the extremely famous spiritual tourist destinations. Visitors often stand in front of the four-sided Buddha statue to pray for themselves, their families, and friends. This temple is a suitable destination for those who are seeking purity for the soul. Do not forget to discover more features in the culture of the local people through this visit.
The impressed four-Buddha-statue in Bago, Myanmar
As one of the most prominent architectural works in Myanmar, the Kanbawzathadi royal palace has become a typical destination in the Myanmar travel guide. Built in King Bayinnaung’s time (1551-1581), in 1556, King Bodawpaya rebuilt the palace and named it Kanbawzathardi. It is currently the most beautiful and ancient architectural work of Myanmar.
Visiting Kanbawzathadi palace, visitors can admire the unique building architecture and the magnificence, splendor of the works with extremely eye-catching yellow. The trees that were selected to build Kanbawzathadi palaces have a long life and extremely good quality. All trees have a lifespan of up to 300 years.
Previously, the Kanbawzathadi royal palace had 9 rooms that were very sophisticated and carefully decorated with different motifs and each room was used for different occasions. However, after the fire, 8 rooms were destroyed, only Thihathana Throne still exists until now. It’s also known as the Lion Throne Room with the elaborately sculpted lions.
Kanbawzathadi Palace – one of the most prominent architectural works in Myanmar
Experiencing the changes of history and the devastation of time, the Kanbawzathadi palace in Bago Myanmar still exists today with its outstanding and unique architectural beauty. This is a living testament to the beautiful old palace architecture and the eternal power of the nation’s pagoda architecture. Kanbawzathadi Palace is now open for visitors on all days except for important Buddhist holidays or Myanmar holidays. Opening hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, visitors who want to enter the palace need to buy a ticket to visit is 4 USD / person.
Bago city owns an ancient beauty, the charm that’s unlike any other city in Myanmar. So it becomes a place you really should visit and explore by yourself while visiting this country!