Another perfect antidote to the congested streets of Mandalay is a visit to the archaeological site of Inwa (Ava), where monuments spanning five centuries of Burmese history stand among the paddy fields. You have to cross the Myitnge River by boat to reach the main cluster, dominated by a grand stucco monastery, from where visitors trundle around the remainder of the ruins by horse cart. Highlight of the trip is the timeless Bagaya Kyaung, a wonderfully well-preserved teak monastery nestled under palmyra palms, where you can watch little red-robed novice monks studying their scriptures.

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