In a nutshell
Inwa used to be called Ava and is widely known in Myanmar as the most important of all its ancient capitals.
Why go to Inwa
Inwa is located around 20 kilometres away from Mandalay and most people come here for a day trip as you can easily enjoy the centre and the main sights in a few hours. Some of the highlights of a trip here include the gorgeous Bagaya Monastery which is encircled by scenic stupas as well as the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, or you can visit the Nanmyint Watch Tower which is another one of the iconic structures for which Inwa is famous.
When to go to Inwa
The dry season in Inwa usually runs from January to May although it can be very hot and dusty at this time which can be unpleasant if you are not used to tropical heat. The rainy season lasts from June to October but it can rain every day at this time which can make it difficult if you want to take in the best of the sights in town.
As a general rule, many people say that November and December are the best months to visit Myanmar as the weather is cooler and usually dry.
Where to stay in Inwa
It can be difficult to find accommodation in Inwa, especially for foreigners as guesthouses need to be licensed in order to accommodate foreign guests. As such most people choose to stay in Mandalay and visit Inwa for the day.
Where to eat in Inwa
There is not a huge amount of choice when it comes to restaurants in Inwa although there are the usual street food options that are common all over Myanmar. Some choices include dishes from the local market or you can buy snacks like noodle soups and stuffed breads from street food vendors.
If you are looking for a sit-down restaurant then consider Small River Restaurant which is conveniently located close to the main jetty and serves a mix of international fare and some Burmese dishes. It also has some toothsome vegetarian curries for those who don’t eat meat and most dishes are priced at around MMK 3,500-7,000.
How to get around Inwa
Unlike many of the towns around Mandalay, Inwa is quite large and you can’t easily walk around on foot. This means that the best thing to do is to hire a horse and cart to get around from the main jetty. These cost around MMK 10,000 and will take you on a two hour trip of the main sights.
Alternatively you can also hire a motorbike taxi which will do the same circuit but is slightly less scenic.
How to get to and from Inwa
Many people come to Inwa as part of an organized day trip from neighbouring Mandalay. If you want to come here on your own then you can get a motorbike or a taxi from Mandalay which will take you to Myint Nge. From here you will need to get a ferry across the river to Inwa and can then get a motorbike or horse and cart around the city.
If you are not traveling as part of a guided tour then you can take a pick-up from Mandalay which departs from Zegyo Market and will take you to Myint Nge and should cost around MMK 300.
Is Inwa a safe place to visit?
Inwa is a safe place to visit and violent crime against foreigners is rare. You should however make sure to take care of your possessions at all times.
The ferry to Inwa can sometimes be overcrowded in the high season and this has led to safety issues in the past with some boats sinking as they have been weighed down with luggage and passengers. Make sure to monitor the situation before you get on the ferry and if it seems overcrowded then consider waiting for a different ferry.