Only one and half hour drive from Bagan, Salay in the vicinity of Chauk, has been renowned among visitors to Myanmar since the colonial days. Salay was one of the administrative centres in during the British rule, and thus vestiges of colonial buildings as well as decrepit monasteries and pagodas will welcome you. Among ancient monasteries, the most distinguished is the Yoke Son Monastery – valued for its numerous sculptures and paintings –just beside of the town’s main road.
The structure of Yoke Son Monastery mainly comprises wood, teak in particular – with 153 teak posts supporting the main structure with the height of more than 3 meters from the ground giving you a spacious headroom. It was and still is home to Myanmar monks. Inside, an ancient Buddha statue, a large throne used by leading monks, and other utensils used in Konbaung Dynasty (circa 19th century) can be discovered. Moreover, the monastery boasts noteworthy wood sculptures of faded glory displaying Buddhist folklores and mythical creatures. Later in 1996, the government designated the monastery a museum during initial stages of Myanmar tourism. In the small building behind the monastery, the collections of famous Myanmar poet during the Konbaung Dynasty, named U Ponya – comparable to Shakespeare in witticism – can be found and observed.
Not far from Yoke Son Kyaung Museum is the old residence of U Bo Kyi, the former donor of the museum. One of the places worth-visiting in Salay, the house was built with the materials of high quality, using teak exclusively – a sign of affluence. The house is part museum and part residence with the descendants of U Bo Kyi still occupying the premise.
In addition to these sites of historical significance, the quaint rural town of Salay has a wealth of religious sites which include such renowned monuments as Mahar Myat Muni Rakhine Pagoda, Shin Pin Sarkyo Pagoda and Omwara Pagoda. Wrap up your tour for the day with Salay House Restaurant and Souvenir Shop, which is also the ideal location from which you can enjoy the panoramic scenery of Irrawaddy River. No trip to Salay will complete without a tour to Tamarind Lake Village (You guessed it. Full of tamarind trees lining a lake!) which is just a few-minute away from Salay. A famous delicacy of Salay enjoyed up and down the country is Salay plums, ubiquitous in every corner of the town, delivered in the forms of fruit, jam and juice.
Tamarind Lake Village
Just a few minute drive away from Salay lies Tamarind Lake Village a success story as CBT destination in Myanmar. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the tradition and lifestyle of Myanmar’s countryside. Welcomed by courteous villagers, visitors can literally enjoy an astonishing visit there. Meals, enriched with local taste are best prepared by the villagers. In the evening when the sun cools down, visitors can enjoy either walks along the paths of the village or bullock carts rides, exploring villagers’ rustic ways of life, and meet folks young and old to listen to their stories – absolutely gratifying experiences one can get only at such authentic locations. Trips during festive seasons will allow visitors to witness annual festivals celebrated and feel the generosity of Myanmar people. Your visit will certainly make immense contribution to the village and community, bringing benefits to the people.
How to get there
A visit to Salay would be complete with a day tour or one-night trip. Most visitors go there from Bagan. Some visit Salay and Mt. Popa on day tours although they are in opposite directions. Visitors can reach Salay by car either from Bagan or Mandalay.
Salay’s history with old colonial buildings, religious sites along with tranquil, authentic, and well-preserved Myanmar culture makes it ideal for history buffs and culture enthusiasts. If your holiday trip leads to Bagan, this small old town filled with genuine culture, Salay, and its enchanting Tamarind Lake Village is definitely worth a visit.