• Location: 136 km northwest of Mandalay
  • Status: a major trading and commercial centre among the Chindwin valley
  • Area: 10,041.8 square km (Monywa District)
  • Population: 182,011 (2006 – Monywa Town)
  • Highlight: Buddha architecture
  • Major tourist attraction: Mohnyin Thambuddhei Paya

If you are Buddhism followers or love the beauty of Buddha architecture, it will be a big mistake if you pass Monywa, one of the attractions in Myanmar. This city lies on the eastern bank of Chindwin River, serving as a major trade center for India and Burma through Kalay Myo road and Chindwin River.

Given curiosity, people coming here sometimes wonder about the name of this beautiful city. “Monywa” can be split into “mon” and “ywa” to refer to a romantic legend through the history of Myanmar. Monywa, in the time of the legend, was merely a village. “Mon” means “cake or snack food”, and “ywa” is the way Myanmar call the village. It is said that once a Myanmar King felt in love for a cake seller from this village and conferred Queen on her. However, this event did not enhance the position of the city much. It was not until 1886 with the Annexation, the village became the Headquarter of the Lower Chindwin District and then soon carved the image of a buzzing city right after the trade border legalization with India a few years later. 

Coming to this city, you will be fascinated by the world of Buddhism spreading through each corner here. The most typical case that needs to be mentioned is Thanboddhay Pagoda (also known as Mohnyin Thambuddhei Paya), a massive Buddhist complex in Monywa, Myanmar. It is a gilded world, brightly screaming out praise for Buddha through colorful celebration. Throughout the area, each pillar and tower of the Pagoda is carefully and completely covered with images of Buddha.

From statues inside the pagoda, to miniatures climbing the sides of the building itself, there are 500,000 depictions of Buddha in total. Although it was originally built in the early 14th century, it was reconstructed in 1939, and is incredibly preserved in its golden form.

Unlike many other temples in Myanmar, the entrance is not guarded by lions. Instead, two imposing white elephants stand out against their shimmering backdrop. Since its reconstruction, the pagoda has been one of the largest tourist attractions in Myanmar, drawing awe-struck tourists and pious religious visitors alike.

Besides Thanboddhay Pagoda, you need to see Pho Win Hill. Pho Win Hill is located on the west bank of Chindwin River and 25 kilometers west of Monywa. It is about 20 minutes walk up the hill. There are about 900 sandstone caves containing many carved Buddha images and well preserved mural paintings. Some caves have beautiful exterior decorations. Some caves have large collections of ancient Buddha images some of which have been covered in gold leaf by local pilgrims. There are wonderful mural paintings in vivid colors representing Burmese life and Jataka stories. Pho Win Hill’s unique Buddha images and precious paintings have been dated to between the 14th and 18th centuries. This hill is thought to be South East Asia’s richest collection of Buddhist mural paintings and images.

If you like Pho Win Hill, you should not miss Shwe Ba Hill, which is located on the west bank of Chindwin River just beyond the Pho Win Hill. Many caves and temples are carved out from the surrounding volcanic rocks and filled with ancient Buddha images. 13th century mural paintings can be seen in some of the caves inside walls. Those caves and temples are between the walk through narrow cliffs which is lead down by stone stairs.

A trip to Monywa will certainly make you satisfied and relax not only because of attractive scenes but also the peaceful atmosphere and hospitability of people who follow Buddhism there. Getting in Monywa is easy, but getting out is rather difficult – you simply do not want to leave.

Monywa Tours

  •  Discover Yangon's colonial buildings and world-famous Shwedagon pagoda
  •   Tour around ancient Bagan with thousands brick temples and pagodas
  •   Explore fine collection of mural paintings and beautiful Buddha images in Pho Win Taung pagoda
  •   Visit spiritual key sights around royal Mandalay
  •   Immerse in magical sunset over U Bein bridge
  •   Enjoy scenic boat trip to visit unfinished Mingun pagoda and gigantic bell
  •   Get more local senses in 5-day rotated floating market on Inle Lake
Experiences :
Only From $1,559 $1,730
  •  Explore the mysterious Myanmar with visits to almost ancient city like Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Monywa, etc.
  •   Chance to meet hill tribe people and know more about the Burmese culture.
  •   Soak into the natural beauty of Pyin Oo Lwin.
  •   Get the unforgettable moment with visit to Golden Rock.
  •   Enjoy amazing pictures of local fishermen mixing with the red sunset on Inle Lake.
Experiences :
Only From $2,618
  •  Visiting the four key destinations of Myanmar: Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay, Inle Lake
  •   Experiencing the life of locals through local workshops and markets
  •   Contemplating the magnificent pagodas and stupas of Myanmar
  •   Feeling Myanmar through a wide range of landscapes, changing from region to region
Experiences :
Only From $1,912
  •  Visit a lot of famous architectures in Yangon, and six other areas in Myanmar.
  •   Experience locals' life in the temples, tobacco workshop and markets.
  •   Discover natural landscapes and others beautiful places on the way of the tour.
  •   Taste local dishes and have knowledge about local culture and custom.
Experiences :
Only From $1,854
  •  View the beautiful sights of Yangon City: some temples and pagodas to have a great experience in the most bustling city in Myanmar.
  •   Visit the other famous cities with attractive natural destinations.
  •   Take some village treks on the rural areas to explore nature and people in peaceful spaces.
  •   Discover the floating market on Inle Lake and get more knowledge of Intha people.
  •   Relax on Ngapali beach, the most famous and pristine beach in Myanmar.
Experiences :
Only From $2,813
  •  Experiencing Myanmar culture through two interesting festivals of Phaungdawoo Pagoda and Elephant Dance
  •   Truly communicating with native people via various activities: boating, joining festivals, visiting cultural sites
  •   Discovering Myanmar history with Bagan archeological sites as well as former royal capitals of Amarapura and Inwa
  •   Immersing yourself in mesmerizing natural settings and spectacular architectural constructions
Experiences :
  •  Visit the local morning and night markets and Mandalay Hill for beautiful sightseeing.
  •   Explore Burmese architectural arts in Thanboddhay Pagoda and Boditahtaung Pagoda in Monywa.
  •   Discover cave temple complex of Po Win Taung - the richest collection of Buddhist statues and mural paintings in Southeast Asia.
  •   Halt at some local villages and workshops to learn about the local life and process of producing wood carvings and lacquer ware in Bagan.
Experiences :
  •  Maintaining genuine contacts with indigenous people
  •   Contemplating various magnificent religious as well as historical constructions
  •   Discovering the two countries through many means of transportations: car, horse cart, boat
  •   Pondering over the culture and history of each country through different periods
Experiences :
  •  Visit a selection of famous Buddhist religious sites as Bagaya Kyaung Monastery, Nanmyin watchtower, Me Nu Ok Kyaung monastery and Sambuddhai Kat Kyaw Pagoda
  •   Have a chance to discover some highlights such as U-Bein Wooden Bridge, Kandawgyi Lake, etc
  •   Wonderful trip to explore natural sites: Hpowindaung and Shwebadaung caves
  •   Take a boat cruising along the river and drop by some traditional villages
  •   Go sight-seeing in the sites of Minkaba Gubyaukyi Temple, MyaZedi pagoda and Manuha Temple
  •   Cruise to some traditional villages to get to know the life of local people
Experiences :
18 days
  •  Experience a whole new world in the holy land of Myanmar when paying visits to many different sites in the country
  •   Taste the flavor of rusticity in every corner including villages, workshops, palm houses
  •   Admire the gentle shining light from the sunset in the red sky of Myanmar
  •   Get healthier from many exciting activities along the way
Experiences :
Only From $2,698 $2,932

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