The lively port town of PYAY (known as Prome by the British) boasts a stunning pagoda, but is otherwise interesting mainly for its commercial bustle (reflected in a colourful central market) and for providing access to ancient ruins at Thayekhittaya. Pyay sees relatively few tourists, since most people rush north on the highway from Yangon to Mandalay rather than take the more attractive (but longer) alternative western route via Pyay and Magwe.
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The most obvious attraction in Pyay itself is the hilltop Shwesandaw Paya, which has a stupa built on the same scale as Yangon’s Shwedagon. Said to contain strands of the Buddha’s hair and also a tooth (the latter is in a golden bell, revealed just once a year for the November full moon festival), it’s a major destination for pilgrims.
The most interesting day-trip is to Thayekhittaya (also known as Sri Ksetra), an archeological site 8km east of Pyay. It was the capital of a Pyu kingdom from the fifth to the ninth centuries, but its importance had faded by the time it was sacked by Bagan’s King Anawrahta in 1057. There’s a small government museum and an 11km path through the site that you can explore on foot or by ox-drawn cart. The route includes three pagodas, including one dating back to the fourth century, which doubled as watchtowers along the city walls.