Across the Irrawaddy, a new world opens up – one that delves deep into the local atmosphere of the country’s pure side. When in need of a break from the Bagan temples and pagodas and wanting to see another side of Bagan, where one wades through a region where the sands of time have been standing still as soon one disembarks, Tantkyi fills that void perfectly. Situated on the western side of the Irrawaddy River, an important means of livelihood for the many local villages, the town and the pagoda bearing the same name have held up its way of living for centuries. From admiring the vistas to gaining a bird’s eye view from the top of new vantage points, it is you and your bicycle for the day in finding yourself time traveling in search for religious relics and authencity around every corner.
An early morning departure commences right at your hotel’s door step; your biking guide for the day welcomes you to a morning of fun-filled pedalling exploration on the other side of the Irrawaddy River. Depending on the location of your accommodation in either New or Old Bagan, the route brings us first for a couple of kilometres to the Ayeyar Jetty, located in Old Bagan. From here, cross the river, with your bikes on board, to the western banks for the start of your cycling adventure back in time. For the following hour, your trail leader navigates over local road and passing local villages towards Tantkyi. Upon arrival at one of these settlements, park your bike and switch over to a car to head up to the top of Tantkyi Mountain. On clear days, the view over the Bagan Plains and even Mount Popa cannot be described in words. On and around the mountain, there are a few Buddhist landmarks which will be included – a meditation cave, a monastery and the well-known Tantkyi Taung Pagoda. The latter spiritual centre for the faithful has adorned the mountain since 1059 AD when King Anawrahta ordered the construction. Over time, expansion commenced and the importance of this octagonal pagoda grew. Unique are the 32 elephant statues, each pointing in different directions at the base.
Enjoy a packed lunch at one of the monastery rest houses near the pagoda before descending back to the village and your bikes. The ride back to the Let Paung Chaung Jetty will be as enjoyable as the morning ride, filled with moments of amazing Myanmar. After crossing the river back towards Old Bagan, the final cycling kilometres to your hotel mark the end of an adventure day in Myanmar’s countryside.