Kanbawzathadi Palace is the must see place if you are a fan of majestic palaces and royal constructions. It is located in Bago city, the old capital of Myanmar which is less than 2 hour drive from Yangon. If you are visiting Yangon, Bago is highly recommended for a day trip and there are few important sites beside this palace.
Chinthes – Lion looking creature
A pair of giant Chinthes was seen displayed at the gate of the Palace when our private taxi drove near to our destination. Chinthes are often seen outside the pagodas & temples throughout Myanmar. You also see Chinthes in Thailand & Cambodia. Similar to the Chinese guardian lions/石獅 for protection purposes.
I was indeed quite excited as I have been seeing too many pagodas and stupas so it is a good break to see something different. The Palace was painted with gold color so it is also known as the Golden Palace.
The Kanbawzathadi Golden Palace complex has two main buildings. The main one is the Golden Palace which was built in the 16th century but was destroyed due to fire and war. Things inside were being looted. But luckily a replica was built in 1990 which look identical to the original palace. The original palace was built during the successful time in Burmese history by the famous King Bayinnaung who conquered Ayutthaya in Thailand (Ayutthaya Ruin is less than an hour from Bangkok Thailand).
There are several pictures and artifacts when you entering the palace hall which gives us some history lesson of this place.
Picture of the 3 famous King in Myanmar
King Anawrahta – The first king for Myanmar who introduced Theravada Buddhism. He also united the northern part of Myanmar with the Mon Kingdom of the south.
King Bayingnaung – The King of Toungoo Dynasty, making Myanmar the most powerful kingdom in southeast Asia. (Invaded Thai capital of Ayutthaya and brought back the Thai princess as hostage)
King Alaungmintaya – He is considered one of the three greatest monarchs of Burma/Myanmar alongside Anawrahta and Bayinnaung for unifying Burma for the third time.
The hall look grand with giant pillars all painted in gold. You are able to see the original teak wood used to build the palace which were mostly destroyed and burnt which were placed next to the new pillars.
Original teak wood used in 16th century
167 teak pillars were found, 135 of which are inscribed in Mon language with the names of towns, regions and people who donated them to the palace in the 16th century.
Royal Lion Throne Hall
This is the place for the King to meet his ministers. Once upon a time, this place has 9 Royal Thrones, each of them was used for different occasion and in different style and design but due to the fire in 1599, most of the thrones were burned down, except for the Lion Throne here. If you see clearly, there is lion figures carved on it. The real throne is exhibited in the National Museum of Myanmar in Yangon.
You can go behind the throne and walk one round but it is quite dark.
Replica of the King’s golden coach
The three important dynasties in Myanmar History
Bagan Period, Hantharwaddy Period and Konboung Period.
Bhammayarthana Throne Hall also known as Bee Throne Hall
This is a private quarter for the King, you are able to see the Royal bed chamber and living chamber. Again, it is a bit dim inside. You can count the 7 layered roof top known as “Pyatthat” usually incorporated into Burmese Buddhist and royal architecture. Such style of roof top are prominent feature in the royal buildings which symbolized Buddhist heaven.
Included in Bago archeological zone ticket at US$ 10 or 10,000 kyatt for 4 attractions in Bago.
Operating hours :
9am to 5 pm daily except Burmese national holidays.
Shops outside the palace park
Final thoughts :
Even though Kanbawzathadi Golden Palace is the replica, it is still worth to visit to see the stunning Burmese architecture. You can use your imagination to visualise how it looks like in the 16th Century. Plenty of photo opportunities outside and inside the palace. The Golden Palace is located in a huge park and locals especially couples love coming here for photo taking and courtship. An hour is enough to explore this palace.