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Home > Myanmar Highlights > Yangon & Surroundings > Bago


In-city highlights Bago Twante

Bago, the Kingdom of the Swans

If we have to choose the most promising day trip from Yangon, it will be nothing but Bago (British called Pegu), the provincial capital of rice-growing & timber industrial region was a great seaport, and the many monuments prove its glorious and magnificent past.

Bago is only 80-km north of Yangon, on the main road to Mandalay. It can also be reached by train from Yangon. The trip to Bago can be combined with Golden Rock (Kyaikhtiyo) or on the way to Taungoo, another 14th & 15th century Burmese ancient capital, 210km north of Bago.

Bago was firstly founded by the Mons, around 9th century (some also claim 6th century), on the land just emerged from the seabed. The legend has that at first the island was so minute that the female bird has to perch on her mate’s back but then the bird’s nest expended over the centuries, having enough space for the other swans. Then the kingdom was officially named as Hamsawaddy, the Kingdom of the Swans! The golden period begun in the late 13th century when Bagan of Burmese fell to Kublai Khan’s forces, and Mon king Warau moved his palace from Mottama Gulf to Bago. In mid-16th century, Taunggo of Burmese overruns Hamsawaddy to become one of the great cities of the East under the King Bayintnaung, who always referred as the founder of second Burmese empire. However, the Burmese finally moved the throne to Inwa in 17th century, while the Mons efforts to reestablish Hamsawaddy in 1740 were utterly destroyed by Alaungpaya of Burmese in 1752. Nowadays, many pagodas, monasteries, and the palace site still standing to witness once ‘the golden city of the east’ is just an hour drive away from Yangon.

Kyaik Pun Paya

This distinctive 30-m high four seated Buddha images could be seen from the distance as you turn into the unpaved red soil lane. The images were donated by renowned Mon king named Dhamazedi, in 1476. The earthquake in 1930 caused some damages to the west-facing image, which is related to the fascinating story of four Mon sisters who participated in the construction work is a story they must hear from your guide.

Shwethalyaung Buddha

Although this is not a largest reclining Buddha in the world, probably the most life-like and revered of its kind. The 55-m long & 16-m high Shwethalyaung image is dated 994AD of Mon king Mingadepa II reign. The great king Bayintnaung had it renovated in 16th century but lost again until British built a railroad through Bago in 1881; it was unearthed by an Indian contractor who found the image accidentally in his search for brick-supply for the railroad. Later the image was covered by iron shed in 1903. The stalls at the entrance selling various stuffs made from wood, bamboo, terracotta to colored-stones draw a lot interest to the visitors.

Shwemawdaw Paya

Probably built around 6th century AD by the Mons, this originally 23m high stupa was modified several times throughout the centuries has finally reached 114m, earning the title of the world’s highest stupa. Since the stupa suffered from a series of earthquakes, especially the last three at the turn of 19th century caused major damages, requiring to reconstruct almost from its base. Thus, recent configurations dated to 1950s.

Hamsagone (Hintha Gon Paya)

The highest point in Bago and reputedly claimed as the spot where once female bird perched on her mate’s back, which has been taken as a good omen of the kingdom’s foundation. There are figures of the birds and the Buddha with his disciples according to the popular folklore in the shrine on the hill top. The views from the hill is rewarding especially to the direction of Shwemawdaw stupa.

Mahazedi Paya

The graceful whitewashed stupa was constructed in 1560 by King Bayintnaung. It was badly destroyed by Portuguese sacking of Bago in 1757, while the worst was to follow in 1930 earthquake that leveled the entire stupa. The restoration was completed only in 1982. King Bayintnaung had it built this stupa to house the tooth of Kandy, Sri Lanka, together with a begging bowl used by the Buddha himself. These sacred objectes were later moved to Kaung Mu Daw paya of Sagaing in 1636. The stairs lead to the upper terrace of the stupa, where one can enjoy the fine views of Bago.

Kanbawzathadi Palace Site

The Palace of King Bayintnaung, who extended the furthest Burmese boundaries in Southeast Asia, was once walled in square shape and surround with 5-gates on each-side, making total in 20, which then named after the king’s subjugated regions. The palace itself was then surrounded by a moat filled with water and crocodiles. According to the some European visitors of that time, it was mentioned that the roofs of the palace was covered with solid gold plates! In fact, the entire palace was destroyed during the sacking of Bago by the Arakhans at the turn of 16th century. Nowadays, you could see the King’s Palace, the great audience hall, and other minor buildings reconstructed according to the original ground plan as recorded by the manuscripts.

Other attractions

Visitors can see pottery making village, Taukkant Second World War memorial graves, and Shwenyaungbin Nat shrine can be seen on the way to Bago. It is also possible to learn how rice is grown or simply take photos of farmers working in the fields.




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