Shwenandaw Monastery is a historic Buddhist monastery in the city of Mandalay. Known as the Golden Palace, this important building is located in central Myanmar. It was originally part of the Mandalay Palace complex as the royal apartment of a king, but his son moved it outside the palace after his death believing it was haunted by the king’s spirit. It later became a monastery. At one time, the building was covered in gold but the gold is mostly inside now. The exterior is covered with ornate teak carvings representing Buddhist myths. Ornate carvings made from other materials such as stone can be found throughout the structure.
Vast and serene Inle Lake is one of the top tourist attractions in Myanmar. Besides its considerable natural beauty, the lake also attracts tourists for the stilt houses of the Intha, the descendants of Mon people from the far southeast. A typical day-trip on the lake, taken in a long, narrow boat with a noisy outboard motor, will stick to the northern reaches of Inle Lake. These trips also include visits to small workshops in stilt villages, several pagodas and probably a market. Travelers are also likely to see fishermen propelling their boats using a distinctive leg-rowing technique, and other Intha residents of the lake tending to fruit and vegetables on floating gardens.
Golden Rock, or Kyaiktiyo Zedi as it is known locally, is a totally awesome sight: a pagoda (zedi) sitting atop a huge boulder that appears as if it’s about to fall off the edge of a cliff. Both are covered in golf leaf. The locals believe the boulder, which sits 1,100 meters (3,600 feet) above sea level, is held in place through a miracle of Buddha; the pagoda is said to contain a strand of his hair. Visiting here is a pilgrimage for Myanmar Buddhists. Golden Rock is about a five-hour drive from Yangon, and also involves a long walk. A staircase leads to the pagoda complex that houses several viewing platforms and Buddha shrines.
Travelers with a passion for Buddhist temples, pagodas and stupas should have a field day in Bagan since it contains more of these than any other place in the world. The most popular destination in Myanmar, Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire from the 9th to the 13th centuries. The site that Marco Polo once described as the “gilded city” was home to around Buddhist 13,000 temples in its 11th-century heyday. Thousands of temples, stupas and pagodas remain, including the famous Ananda temple with its sparkling gold spires.