Myanmar (Burma)

This ancient site, about 5 miles east of central Pyay, makes for an enjoyable few hours of laid-back exploration, often in isolation. Known to Pali-Sanskrit scholars as Sri Ksetra (Fabulous City), Thayekhittaya is an enormous Pyu city that ruled in the area from the 5th to 9th centuries AD. Local legend links its origin to the mythical King Duttabaung, who supposedly worked with ogres and other supernatural creatures to build the ‘magical city’ in 443 BC.

The earliest Pali inscriptions found here date from the 5th or 6th century. Although the site is not as impressive as Bagan, it's well worth seeing if you're passing through the area, particularly for those interested in Myanmar's early history. Along with two other Pyu cities, Thayekhittaya was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2014.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Myanmar (Burma) attractions

1. Sri Ksetra Museum


Before exploring the ancient ruins of Thayekhittaya, it's worth stopping by this three-room museum at the entrance to the site. Inside, you'll find a…

2. Payagyi Paya

2.39 MILES

Once marking one of Thayekhittaya’s four corners, this bulbous, towering pagoda probably dates from the 5th or 6th century AD. Three terraces encircle the…

3. Wunchataung Paya

4.16 MILES

The smaller gold stupa on the highest hill southeast of Shwesandaw is the Wunchataung Paya, where people can say ‘sorry’ for misdeeds. While they’re at it…

4. Sehtatgyi Paya

4.33 MILES

Looming high over Pyay is Sehtatgyi Paya, a giant (maybe not the claimed 10 storeys, though) buddha seated in the earth-witness mudra (left hand palm…

5. Shwesandaw Paya & Around

4.43 MILES

Set atop a hill in the town centre, the stunning Shwesandaw Paya (and the surrounding pagodas and monasteries) is not only Pyay’s major point of interest,…

6. Aung San Statue


This gilded statue of Aung San on horseback is a handy landmark when navigating the centre of town.

7. Central Market

4.91 MILES

Follow Strand Rd north to catch the action at the lively and colourful central market which spreads over several blocks. As you approach, you’ll pass an…

8. Shwemyetman Paya

8.74 MILES

South of Pyay, you'll find an oversized buddha wearing a gargantuan set of eyeglasses with gold-plated rims.