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Monday, 14 September 2015 10:33

We Love Thanlyin

 

we-love-thanlyin

 

Getting there

Located on the South Western side of the Yangon river lies leafy green Thanlyin Township. A one hour bike ride or a fifteen minute cab journey (4-5,000 Kyats) from downtown, Thanlyin makes for an ideal daytrip for those looking for an authentic slice of tourist free Yangon.

 

If you choose to cycle to Thanlyin the best way to get there from downtown is to follow MahaBandula Eastward, crossing the bridge over Panzundaung creek. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, take a right onto Yamonnar road and follow it till you arrive at Thanlyin Bridge (the longest bridge in Myanmar).

 

National Races Village

Just before crossing the bridge, follow the road to the left to the National Races Park, (entrance 3,200 Kyats). As the name suggests, the park contains several mock up ethnic houses from the various different states in Myanmar, with local artifacts and costumed staff inside. The Park also has some animal enclosures, a viewing tower, a pond with pedalo boats, and a mini climbable mountain range. It makes for a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.

 

Getting Into Thanlyin

If you’re coming into Thanlyin by bike you have to dismount before crossing the bridge. One of the toll guards will flag down a bus or pick-up truck to take you and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get across for free - though be prepared to pay between 500-1000 Kyats. Get off the bus at the very first opportunity (Kyaik Khauk Pagoda road).

 

The Portuguese Ruins

From the bridge take the second road on the right (look for the Myanmar Carbonix signpost) and follow the road round to the left as it becomes a dirt road. Keep to the left as it winds up the hill and you’ll come to the Portuguese Church Ruins.The ruins are believed to be what’s left of one of the oldest catholic churches in Myanmar. They are among the last remaining remnants of Portuguese rule under Philip De Brito in 16th/17th century Thanlyin. Most of the walls remain standing and you can still check out the tomb (gotta love the skull and crossbones), even if all the rubbish piled up inside is a bit depressing.

 

If you retrace your steps back and take the second turn on your left you’ll come to Shin Mhay Loon Lake. To the left of the security gate you’ll find another small dirt track which gives you some views of the lake. If you’re feeling brave, you can ride past the security gate and around the lake which is surrounded by colonial era buildings in various stages of decay, eventually looping back into downtown Thanlyin. But be warned: cycling round the lake is technically prohibited and you may be politely asked to turn round and go back.

 

Central Bazaar

Rejoin Kyaik khauk Pagoda road and continue up the hill turning right on Bogyoke road. Follow the road past the clock tower and into what passes for downtown Thanlyin. Aside from a couple of modest pagodas and a few colonial era buildings, there’s not much to do in the center itself. But for those who like their markets big, bustling, and completely devoid of tourists, the Central Bazaar is well worth visiting. It’s also a handy place to pick up an afternoon snack as the market contains several little food stalls where you can grab something to eat.

 

Sandawshin Kyaik Khauk Pagoda/ Kyauktan
Yele Pagoda

From here you’ll need some kind of taxi to visit the two remaining sights. If by now you’re craving your pagoda fix, Sandawhin Kyaik Khauk Pagoda few miles outside of town should suffice. Approaching Shwedagon in terms of size, the pagoda costs 1,000 kyat for entry and provides some nice views of the surrounding area. Once a year, in February, it hosts the biggest pagoda festival in Lower Myanmar.

 

A few miles further south and you’ll arrive at the small town of Kyauktan with Kyauktan Yele Pagoda sitting pretty in the middle of the creek. The name roughly translates to “Pagoda on the water’ and that’s exactly what you get. At 7,000 Kyats (5,000 Kyats for the return boat trip and 2,000 Kyats for entry). However, the complex offers some lovely views of the river and is striking enough in itself to justify the expenditure. Before boarding the boat you can buy bread/popcorn to feed the large catfish that swarm around the complex.

 

For a round trip taking in both pagodas, expect to pay around 5,000 Kyats for a motorbike taxi, or 8-9,000 Kyats if you go by car.

 

Getting Away

From Thanlyin bridge most buses will take you back to downtown (at an extra cost if you’ve got bikes) or you can get a taxi for around 4-5,000 Kyats.

 

EATING

Channel Five Restaurant – Hantharwaddy Road: The closest thing Thanlyin has to an actual restaurant, this teahouse with it’s raised platform booths is a popular haunt with the locals and serves up Chinese and Shan dishes (the Shan noodles are particularly good) as well as the standard teashop fare. The menu’s not in English so be prepared to accept recommendations.

 

Early Bird CafĂ© – Theinkyaung Road: Good place to have a rest and grab a coffee. Also sells cake, sausage rolls and mini pizzas. Everything’s a good price.

 

SLEEPING

Accommodation options in Thanlyin are limited and pricey. It’s far better to make it a day trip if you can. If you are planning to stay however, there are a couple of places that accept tourists.

 

The so-bleak-it’s-actually-kind-of-cool Excel River View (first turning on the right after Thanlyin Bridge) does rooms for $50 per night.

 

Further up on the left hand side of Kyaik Khauk Pagoda Road you’ll find Myamyint Moh, where prices range from $45-65 per night. Both hotels are clean and have hot water.


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