You can see this place from just about anywhere along the strand, as it occupies a high bluff overlooking the Ayerawaddy River. the Mya Tha Lun paya was built in 1929 and is a most impressive structure. You may be approached and asked for the camera fee which, if I remember rightly, was 500 kyat (50c US). This is not a scam, it is official It's well worth it for the views.
There are the usual types of Buddha images, the ones you pour water over and the images surrounded by the animals appropriate to the days of the week (see seperate tip in Burma section about naming) and so on.
I visited on a Saturday, and there were many family groups and even tour buses of Burmese people there.
Do the Strand, as Roxy Music once said. In this fairly quiet town, it seems to be de rigeur to take an evening stroll along Strand Road in the late afternoon and early evening. There are a number of cafes to choose from, where you can take tea and snacks and watch the remarkable sunsets see photo). You can also watch the river life of the Ayerawaddy River below you (see second photo).
Unfortunately, there isn't much chance of a beer, except at the Monalisar 2 (see seperate tip).
Difficult to know whether to tip this place as a thing to do, a restaurant or nightlife, as it's all three. It is quite a sizeable restaurant / bar beside the Ayerawaddy River, affording great sunset views (see seperate tip). After the sun goes down, a (very talented) keyboard player takes to the stage, and there then follows one of the most surreal things I have ever seen!
A group of fifteen young ladies all take to the stage a la Miss World, and do a bit of a choreographed dance routine. Then they all troop off and return individually (or occasionally in pairs) to sing. Every so often, they will all return in different costumes and perform some kind of fashion show - it really is odd.
As this is all going on, members of the (mostly male) audience will go on stage and garland the girls with garish sashes, tiaras and the like.
At first I thought it was some vaguely concealed prostitution thing, but the presence of the occasional family group, and the way the girls were shepherded out of the place at the end would suggest not.
The clientele are, in typical Burmese fashion, very friendly, the food is good (predominantly Chinese) and service very attentive bordering on the intrusive.
Be aware that, although this is a "nightlife" tip, like everywhere else in the country you will be thrown out at 2300.
Dress Code: Casual.
For short trips around the town, a trishaw is perfectly OK, the journey from the bus station costs 500 kyat (50c US). For longer journeys out of town, perhaps to the Mya Tha Lun paya or the Dragon Lake you will need a jeep taxi like the one pictured. The picture was actually taken in Mandalay, but it's the same type of vehicles in Magwe.
A full morning trip to both the sites in a jeep taxi cost me 5USD.
Waiting for my pick-up from the bus station in Magwe, I decided on a bit of lunch, and went to the Khin Min Thu restaurant which is one of the numerous restaurants on the main highway opposite the station. I ordered hot and sour pork (pictured), which turned out to be lovely - no complaints there.
What annoyed me was that the young girl serving, after I'd ordered, kept pointing to the soup section of the menu. I know how filling local soups are, so I indicated that I only wanted the main meal. About five minutes later, she was back, again gesticulating and pointing to the soups. Afraid I was committing some terrible social faux pas, I orderd a soup. Of course, he inevitable happened. The meal arrived with a large bowl of rice, and the huge bowl of very filling soup. Three ploughmen couldn't have finished it!
This never happened me anywhere else, and I'm sure she was just trying to get extra custom from me - totally unecessary. I should stress that this was one of only two extremely minor annoyances I had in a month in Myanmar.
Unique Suggestions: You don't have to.
Fun Alternatives: Use any one of the other twenty or so other restaurants within five minutes walk.
I never did discover the name of this pagoda, which is situated on the road back to the bridge from Nga Pa Kwe Taung (Dragon Lake, see seperate tip). You will see it as you pass, so just ask your taxi driver to stop, he probably will anyway.
There are some nice views over the surrpunding countryside and across the river Ayerawaddy from the top, and the pagoda itself is pleasant if not as stunning as some.
The main picture isn't a double exposure, it was me trying to be a bit arty (Heaven help us) and taking a picture through one of the rather ornate wrought-iron window screens.
In the words of the old Flanders & Swann song,
"Mud, mud, glorious mud
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood
So follow me follow, down to the hollow
And there let me wallow in glorious mud."
Well, I don't know about cooling the blood, but there is an abundance of warm, bubbling mud at Nga Pa Kwe Taung, also known as Dragon Lake. You will need a taxi jeep to get there, as it's over the big bridge and then about 2km North of it. There is a small pagoda and then you ascend some steps onto the hill topped by the bubbling mud pool. People leave money donations here for good luck. There are several smaller "mud mountain"s as well. The two largest mounds are named for the daughter and son respectively of the Dragon King
I also saw the young lads (pictured) making really rather accomplished mud figures that they then dry off in the sun.
It's not wildly exciting but it makes for an interesting trip.