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Introducing Bago (Pegu)

If it wasn't for its abundance of religious sites and the remains of its former palace, it would be hard to tell that this scrappy town - 50 miles northeast of Yangon on the old highway to Mandalay - was once capital of southern Myanmar. The awarding of a contract to a South Korean consortium to build the country's new Hanthawady International Airport (due for completion in 2018) is set to revive Bago's fortunes.

In the meantime, the great density of blissed-out buddhas and treasure-filled temples makes Bago an appealing and simple day trip from Yangon, or the ideal first stop when you leave the city behind.

Many of Bago’s monuments are actually centuries old, but don’t look it, due to extensive restorations. This is an excellent place to explore by bicycle, as most attractions are near each other. Bikes can be rented at Bago Star Hotel.