About 11 kilometers south of Mandalay, just between the Taungthaman Lake and the Ayeyarwady River, lays the small town of Amarapura, another former capital of the old Burmese kingdom. Apart from pagodas and the ruins of the ancient palace, the city offers one of Myanmar’s most photographed sights: the narrow, 1,200-meter-long U Bein bridge, which made entirely out of teak wood. The gangly looking bridge was built in 1784, but is still in mint condition and never needed any serious repairs. It was named after its founder, a former mayor, and was built from over 1,000 teak logs, partially even with the ruins of the abandoned royal city. Thus, for its incredible length spanning the lake, the U Bein bridge is recognized as the longest teak wood bridge in the world. Sunsets are especially popular, as the setting sun creates a beautiful silhouette of the bridge, photos of which adorn many a living room at home.
Sporadically, platforms, pavilions and benches are built into the bridge to offer travellers some rest and protection from the burning Southeast Asian sun. Apart from crossing on foot, it is also worth it to head to the Mahagandayon Monastery, which is located right at the beginning of the bridge. The monastery is one of the biggest in Myanmar and houses up to 1000 monks, some of which can often be seen strolling across the teak wood bridge in their billowing red robes. Visitors are welcome to glimpse into the life of these devout Buddhists and wander through the hallways, although it gets almost too busy during mealtimes.
Because of the short distance from Mandalay, most people visit Amarapura on a day trip. You can either fly into the Mandalay International Airport or take one of the many bus or train connections and then head to Amarapurna by scooter, taxi or boat.