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A former capital city of Myanmar, Amarapura is situated on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. To explore this ancient city, you can join us on one of four of our Irrawaddy river cruises. In this guide to the former capital, we’ll explain exactly how you can fill your time in Amarapura.

The History Of Amarapura

Amarapura has a long history and it can be traced back to 1783, when the city was originally founded by King Bodawpaya and called “The City of Immortals”. It was made the capital of the Konbaung empire until Bodawpaya’s grandson moved power to the city of Ava in 1823. The capital has been moved around numerous times since then and power landed back in Amarapura for a short period from 1841.

Even though Amarapura was used as a capital city for a number of times throughout its history, there is actually little to see of this period of power and grandeur. That’s because the parliament, royal apartments, military barracks, and horse and elephant stables were dismantled and taken to the new capitals. A royal palace did remain, but over the years it was dismantled so its bricks and stones could be used elsewhere.

Nowadays, Amarapura is classed as a suburb of Mandalay and is home to a strong population of craftsmen. You’ll even find that the town is split into different quarters depending on occupations and crafts, such as stone carvers and bronze casters.

Waterfront at Amarapura
Waterfront at Amarapura

Things To See And Do In Amarapura

There is plenty to see and do around Amarapura these days, and one of the main sites of interest is the Bagaya monastery. Originally built in 1593, the monastery was badly damaged in a fire in 1821. The government rebuilt an exact replica in its place in the early 1990s, and this still stands and attracts visitors to this day.

The U-Bein bridge is another popular attraction for travelers and visitors these days. This long footbridge is the world’s longest and crosses the shallow Taungthaman Lake. It is thought to be one of the most photographed sights in the whole of Myanmar. Try to visit the bridge just after sunrise to see hundreds of monks and locals cross the bridge in droves.

Sunset behind the U-Bein Bridge
Sunset behind the U-Bein Bridge

The Werawsana Jade Pagoda is another highlight in Amarapura as it is the only pagoda in the world to be built completely out of jade. Try to see it in the evening when the light from the setting sun makes the temple’s jade shine green. You might also see travelers attend one of the many carnival-like religious events and parties that regularly take place at the pagoda.

There’s certainly plenty to see and do once you disembark the boat in Amarapura. It’s a great place to explore and discover some of the best that the Myanmar culture has to offer. The best way to explore Amarapura is on either The Irrawaddy or The Golden Land cruise where you can see the U-Bein bridge for yourself.