Yangon, the capital city, is the main gateway to Myanmar. Evergreen and cool with lush tropical trees, shady parks and beautiful lakes, Yangon has earned the name of the Garden City of the East. Yangon was founded by King Alaungpaya on the site of a small village called Dagon when he conquered lower Myanmar in 1755. The name of Yangon means “End of Strife” which was anglicized to Rangoon. The present day Yangon covers over 350 sq.km and has a population of over 5 million.
A small town is 24 km from Yangon, reachable by road in an hour or by boat in about two hours on the Twante Canal. The boat trip itself is a joy and a chance to see rural life along the canal while Twante is known for marking potteries. This craft has been handed down from generation to generation and is still carried on in the time-honored tradition. Twante pottery is recognized and distributed throughout the country.
Once a trading port occupied by the Portuguese in the early 17th century. Later the Portuguese adventure de Brito established his own private kingdom. The ruin of a Catholic church built by an Italian missionary in the 18th century can still be seen today. Thanlyin and its surroundings offer many attractions. The old buildings still stand in evidence of the days of Portuguese occupation. The 1822 meter long bridge spanning the Bago River made possible the 45 minutes drive from Yangon. Kyaik-Khauk Pagoda and Kyauktan Pagoda in the creek are worth visiting.
Situated only 80 km east of Yangon, Bago was an ancient capital of Myanmar in the reign of King Bayingnaung during 16th century and of the Hanthawadi Kingdom for many centuries under the Mon and Myanmar Kings. Points of interest are 55 metres long Shwethalyaung reclining Buddha, Shwe Maw Daw Pagoda, Kalyani Sima Ordination Hall, 28 metres high huge Boddha Image of Kyaikpun Pagoda, Bago Market and Pottery.
Kyaikhtiyo is the location of the incredible balancing boulder stupa. The small stupa sits atop the Gold Rock, a massive, gold leafed boulder delicately balanced on the edge of a cliff at the top of Mt. Kyaikto, over 1100m above sea level. Kyaiktiyo is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Myanmar. It is an 11km up-hill climb for the hikers from Kinpun base comp. There is also a steep winding road for 4-wheel drive cars from the base nearest point of the pagoda. There are many legends about the pagoda and the 'nats' or ‘sprits’.
The capital of the Kayin State is situated about 170 miles from Yangon on the eastern bank of the Than Lwin (Salween) river. It can also be reached by boat from Mawlamying. The picturesque Mt. Zwekapin is only 10 miles away. Ethnological Museum and Main Market are interesting places. It is worthy of seeing the village life of the different tribes of Kayin people along the bank of the river.
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