The Ayeyarwaddy River runs along the West side of the city of Mandalay. It’s not exactly considered one of the local must-see sights and for the most part its tourist potential is not yet realized. But there are a few options for enjoying the sunset. We experienced three of the best options over the course of two weekends.
First, we really wanted to take a ride on the Karaweik teak boat. We happened upon it in Fall of 2014 back when it was being built. We got a tour of the teak wonder as it was being completed. Every-every-everything is made of intricately carved teak. It’s gorgeous! There are 2 big white elephants on the front deck and 2 gold karaweik birds leading the boat at the very front. We’ve visited a couple of times in the evening for dinner or drinks and seen the show at 7pm—puppets and a balancing, juggling act. Now, the boat also does a cruise a couple of times a week Saturday and Sunday and maybe Thursday at 3:30. When we first tried to visit, we thought it was at 4:30 and we arrived just in time to see the boat leaving the dock. There are a couple of smaller boats that also do cruises.
On that trip, we made our way to a local beer station along the water with lots of Dagon signs out front. It’s our go-to place on the water. There are a couple of nicer restaurants along the road too. One does frequent puppet shows. (For any of the destinations mentioned so far, from the moat, head down 26 and keep going until you hit the river—turn left and look for your choice destination).
Next stop: Ayeyarwaddy River Hotel (to the right instead of left). They have FREE sundowner drinks starting at 5. They have a nice rooftop bar/restaurant. One side overlooks the river and the sunset. The other side overlooks the town. They also have some instruments and puppets, presumably for a show later, but we only stayed long enough for the photo opp. The hotel also has good food.
The next weekend, we left earlier, determined to make it to onto the boat. And we succeeded! It was nice to sit on the outside deck and watch the scenery go by. We did a couple of turn-around maneuvers to see different scenery and avoid running a-ground in the dry season. It was cool to see the quaint villages, green crops and oxen off of one side. The other side was a very different scene with overstuffed boats and home-made huts perched precariously along the narrow divide between road and river. The $15 ticket included snacks, juice and a magic show. Drinks and more filling food are also available on board. We enjoyed both weekends along river.