Today it may be a sleepy rural area, but Inwa – formerly known as Ava – was the site of the Burmese capital for more than 300 years, across three separate periods.
Most people take a tour of Inwa by horse and cart , covering the four main sights, although it’s also possible to visit independently on foot or if you bring your own bicycle or motorbike from Mandalay (the circuit is 5km long). The closest to the start is the bulky brick Maha Aungmye Bonzan temple, where you should take a look in the creepy bat-filled undercroft. The second attraction, nearby, is the “leaning tower” Nanmyint, one of the only structures remaining from King Bagyidaw’s palace. Further west you’ll find Yedanasini Paya, a collection of stupas situated photogenically in fields, and then Bagaya Kyaung. The highlight of Inwa, this is a wonderfully atmospheric working monastery built from teak in 1834.