A One-Day Tour of Bago, Myanmar: A Checklist of Must-See Sites

If you find yourself in Yangon and have spent all the time you want to in the dynamic but crumbling city,  a day trip to the once-capital of a Mon kingdom in the lower Myanmar area is a worthwhile possibility. This is especially true if you are not stupa-fied and buddha-ed out by the thought of more zedis, pahtos, and monuments.  My threshold may be a bit higher than most so I was keen to make the trip.

Some seventy kilometers north of Yangon is the modern city of Bago, formerly known in English as Pegu. It was founded by Mon traders in the 800’s C.E.  From 1365 to 1625 C.E., it flourished under a string of competent rulers who left impressive religious monuments. These works not only expressed but helped strengthen their claims of spiritual legitimacy and worldly power.

Pegu hit its peak in the half-century from 1550 to 1600 under the rule of Bayinnaung, who made it the capital of his short-lived Taungoo Empire. Its impressive size is indicated in the map below.

map of Bayinnaung's Taungoo Empire in 1580

Pegu – today’s Bago – the centre of the Taungoo Empire

The hotel receptionist arranged for a taxi to pick me up at 7:00 a.m.  For $70. U.S. I would have the service of an air-conditioned car for the day. The driver Yan had done the trip often before so he already had a checklist of sites to visit in his head and we wasted little time getting from place to place. With another passenger or two to split the cost the trip would have been downright cheap! It was still worth it. We arrived in Bago around 9:00 and for the next six hours Yan drove me from site to site and waited in the car while I did my thing.

What follows is a list of sites that my visit to Bago included.  Some were more impressive than others; all would have benefitted from being visited in the cool of the evening near dusk when they would have been more alive with the presence of worshippers.

1. The Shwemawdaw Pagoda

Bago's Shwemawdaw Pagoda and terrace

Bago’s Shwemawdaw Pagoda and terrace

the fallen Hti and one of the eight planetary posts

the fallen Hti and one of the eight planetary posts

monks walking past one of the pavilions on the Shwemawdaw terrace

monks walking past one of the pavilions on the Shwemawdaw terrace

Click on the following title to access more pix and info on the Shwemawdaw Pagoda –

Bago’s Shwemawdaw Pagoda – Myanmar’s Tallest Stupa

 

2. The Hintha Gon (The Hill of the Hamsa)

Welcome To Hintha Gon Patho

Welcome To Hintha Gon Pahto

monk making devotions at Hintha Gon Pahto

monk making devotions at Hintha Gon Pahto

Click on the following title to access more pix and info on the Hintha Gon-

Bago’s Hintha Gon and the “New” Kanbawzathadi Palace

3. Kanbawzathadi Palace

Kanbawzathadi Palace

Kanbawzathadi Palace

another view of the excavated posts on display at Kanbawzathadi Palace in Bago

another view of the excavated posts on display at Kanbawzathadi Palace in Bago

Click on the following title to access more pix and info on the Kanbawzathadi Palace area –

Bago’s Hintha Gon and the “New” Kanbawzathadi Palace

 

4. The Shwethalyaung Buddha

Shwethalyaung - panoramic view

Shwethalyaung – panoramic view

Shwethalyaung - The Buddha's pillow boxes

Shwethalyaung – The Buddha’s pillow boxes

Shwethalyaung Buddha - face and lotus

Click on the following title to access more pix and info on the Shwethalyaung Buddha –

AN AFTERNOON IN BAGO – VISITING THE RECLINING BUDDHAS 

5. Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha

Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha Bago Myanmar

Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha Bago Myanmar

elephant statue on the Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha site

elephant statue on the edge of the Mya Tha Lyaung Reclining Buddha site

Click on the following title to access more pix and info on the Mya Tha Lyaung Buddha –

AN AFTEROON IN BAGO, MYANMAR – VISITING THE RECLINING BUDDHAS

6. The Mahazedi Paya

the top section of the Mahazedi

the top section of the Mahazedi

the entrance ot the Mahazedi staircase - for men only!

the entrance ot the Mahazedi staircase – for men only!

a view the road to Mahazedi from the top platform

a view of Bago’s sites from the  Mahazedi’s top platform

Click on the following title to see more about the Mahazedi and the two following sites –

VISITING BAGO’S BUDDHIST SITES – THE DAY TOUR CONCLUDED

7. Shwegugale Paya

the Shwegugale Pagoda interior

the Shwegugale Pagoda interior

four of the seated Buddhas at Shwegugale Pagoda

four of the seated Buddhas at Shwegugale Pagoda

three seated Buddhas - each with a different mudra

three seated Buddhas – each with a different mudra

8. Kayak Pun Pagoda

the Kayak Pun Buddha pillar

the Kayak Pun Buddha pillar

Kayak Pun Pagoda

Kayak Pun Pagoda

Kayak Pun planetary pillar

Kayak Pun planetary pillar

Click on the following title to see more about the Kayak Pun Pagoda –

VISITING BAGO’S BUDDHIST SITES – THE DAY TOUR CONCLUDED

 

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Your comments and questions are always appreciated, as are any suggestions on how to make this post more useful to future travellers. Just drop me a line or two!

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