Pyay is an ancient yet modern city dating back to 638. It has interesting religious sights such as the giant sitting Buddha south of the city and the Shwebontha Muni Pagoda in nearby Pa Daung. It has three universities.
Most people come here to see the ancient ruins of Sri Kshetra aka the old Pyu city. Pyay is not yet that famous with western tourists.
- 1 Highway Bus Station (almost 4 km east of the train station).
From specific destinations:
- Bagan – The bus from the bus station near the airport south of Nyaung U leaves Bagan at 13:30 and takes about 10 hr, from 11,000 kyat.
- Mrauk U – 16 hr, 20,000 kyat.
- Ngapali – Via Taungup. 9-10 hr, 13-15,000 kyat. You could also take a 7-hr taxi (also from Thandwe) for US$50-60.
- Pathein – Mostly early morning buses. 10 hr, 6-10,000 kyat.
- Sittwe – 18 hr, 22,000 kyat.
- Taungup – Most people will come from Mrauk U, Sittwe and Ngapali going through Taungup. Prepare (your stomach) for a very bumpy ride through the mountains at certain seasons. 4-7 hr. 4,000-10,000 kyat.
- Thandwe – 8-12 hr, 8-10,000 kyat.
- Yangon – Pyay is a stopover for buses from Yangon to Sittwe or Mrauk U. 8 hr, from 10,000 kyat.
- 1 Pyay Main Station (in the centre of the city). The ticket counter is not open all day, so ask the locals before heading to the train station.
From specific destinations:
- Yangon – Trains leave every day from two different stations in Yangon, central and Kyemyindine station. From Kyemyindine 07:00 & 11:00 to arrive at 06:00 & 22:00. (11 hr), respectively. From central Yangon at 13:00 to arrive at 21:30 (8½ hr). Upper class is 3,900 kyat and ordinary seat 1,950 kyat for the whole distance.
- Pathein – The train leaves at 05:30 (2,000 kyat) and stops at Hinthada and 1 Kyankin. For the last 100 km from Kyankin to Pyay use local transport, because the train does not cross the Irrawaddy River. Boats are also an option.
- There is a local ferry that leaves Bagan Sundays at 17:30 and arrives on Monday at 10:45, from 20,000 kyat.
- Another local ferry leaves Yangon Fridays at 16:00 and arrives on Tuesday 24 hr later.
- 2 Pyay Airport (PRU IATA) (5 km east of the city centre). No scheduled flights from other Myanmar cities.
The 1 Main Roundabout with an Aung San statue in the middle can be used for orientation, because most destinations are close.
Most sights and the Main Station can be reached by foot if you stay in one of the guesthouses in the center. For destinations outside this range, take a motorbike taxi or shared ride/pickup along the main roads. A private ride to the Highway Bus Station is about 1,000 kyat. Shared pickups are about 500 kyat for 10-15 km.
As always, you can also rent a bicycle starting at 1,000 kyat from one of the guesthouses.
- 1 Shwe Sandaw Pagoda (500 m east/southeast of the Main Station, on the hill). This pagoda offers the perfect view to take pictures of the giant, sitting Buddha (Sehtatgyi). 3,000 kyat (take the stairs to avoid it).
- 2 Sehtatgyi (Big Ten-storey Buddha) (On the eastern foot of Shwe Sandaw). Giant, sitting Buddha.
- 3 Pagoda (6 km west of the city via the bridge). This pagoda offers a great view of Pyay and the surrounding area.
- 4 Tharaykhittaya Archaeological Museum (In the middle of Sri Kshetra). An interesting collection of artifacts found around the ruins, showing bronze, ceramic and stone funerary urns, silver coins and bowls, jewellery, carved stone Buddhist and Hindu figures as well as ceramic votive plaques. 5,000 kyat.
- 5 Shwe Myethman Pagoda (14 km south of Pyay along the river in Shwedaung village). A Buddha with glasses, and the 80 Buddhas Monastery. There are other pagodas within 400 m diameter around Shwe Myethman. Also see this 6 interesting sight, 2 km before Shwe Myethman.
- 7 Shwe Bontha Muni Pagoda (19 km south of the city across the bridge in Pa Daung). The Shwe Bontha Muni Buddha is supposed to be one of three replicas of the Maha Myat Muni Buddha, believed to date to 554 BCE when Sandar Thuriya, the king, ruled.
- 1 Sri Ksetra (Hmwaza) (9 km east of Pyay, southeast of the airport, take the road right (not left to the airport) through the suburb, best explored by motorbike, tuk-tuk for 15,000 kyat or robust bicycle.). Even if you have seen Bagan, this sight is well-worth the visit. In 2014, Sri Kshetra, Halin and Beikthano (the Pyu cities) have been declared UNESCO World Heritage. 5,000 kyat.
- 2 Akauk Taung (Along the river about 40 km south of Pyay—take a 1.5 hr shared ride/taxi to Htonbo and a boat further from there). 1/2 day. In the cliff carved, beautiful Buddha statues. Best be seen by boat from the river. In addition, you can make a stop and explore the temples and Buddhas on top of Akuak Tuang mountain, which takes about one hour. 15,000 kyat per boat (2-6 people).
Several ATMs can be found in the city.
- 1 Pyay Say Gyi Market (1 km north of the main roundabout). Try this market for the typical items found on Burmese markets.
- 2 Night Market (First from the main roundabout to Strand Rd).
- 1 May Ywet War Myanmar Restaurant (Auntie Moe's), Kan St (One block north of San Francisco), ☏ . A wide range of delicious curries. Top choice among all restaurants in Pyay.
- 2 San Francisco Restaurant, Strand Rd (Just north of Pyay Strand Hotel), ☏ . Not very good value for money.
- 3 Grandma's Restaurant (Northwest of the night market). Good western and South Korean food by the owner Banyar Aung, who has worked as a cook in Kuala Lumpur. 1,000-2,500 kyat.
- 4 Hline Ayar Restaurant (On the riverfront). Great for sunset, including extensive English menu.
- Eat Hotpot BBQ and Cafe (On highway 2.). Serve yourself all you can eat hotpot and BBQ for 6,000 kyat.
Some bars for the evening and including beer can be found south of the main roundabout. Some have English menus.
- 1 Jade Dragon, No.29, Market Street (3 blocks south of Pyay Say Gyi Market), ☏ . 06:00-09:00. Coffee, tea and little snacks.
- 2 Romeo Cold Cafe (Just before Pyay Say Gyi Market along Strand Rd). Another riverside option good for a chill and tea.
Most accommodation options are central near the main roundabout.
- 1 Pan Ga Ba Guest House, 342 Merchant Street (One block from Myat Lodging House). This is the recommended choice in Pyay. Family run, cozy and clean, although a little outdated and moldy. Very helpful people and great breakfast (papaya, samosa, spring rolls). $14-20 (fan/AC).
- 2 Hotel 3D, No.1448, Shwe Tite Tan Street. Small but cheap rooms. Including a bottle of water. WiFi.
- 3 Myat Lodging House, 222 Bazaar Street (North of the post office, 250 m north of the main roundabout), ☏ . Not clean or comfortable. 15-26,000 kyat (highly negotiable).
- 4 Smile Motel (Between the main roundabout and Shwe Sandaw Pagoda), ☏ . Has 20 old but decent rooms on the first floor in a very central location. Room are small but include comfortable beds, bathroom, TV, fridge and AC. Very friendly staff and bell boys. From US$22 (highly negotiable and volatile, do not arrive late without reservation).
- 5 Pyay Strand, 6 Strand Road (150 m southwest of the main roundabout), ☏ , . Bright, big rooms including bathroom and TV. Comfort of the rooms various, so make sure to see your room before checking in. Great location nearby the river. US$25.
- 6 Lucky Dragon, No.772 Strand Road (Just north of Pyay Strand Hotel and San Francisco Restaurant), ☏ , . One of the more expensive hotels including all amenities, e.g. a swimming pool. US$45-70.
Long distance buses will start from the Highway Bus Station. For short distances, try the pickups or minibus along the main road out of town.
- Bagan – One of the most famous attractions in Myanmar. Due to the new and direct highway between Yangon and Mandalay, it has become harder to catch a bus to Bagan from Pyay—but also reachable by ferry.
- Mrauk U – Famous for is ancient sights and traditional, surrounding Chin Villages.
- Ngapali – Has the most beautiful beaches in Myanmar, but is mostly a resort place with few budget options available. The best option is to go by bus to Taungup and catch onward travel to Thandwe bus station (6 km from the beach) from there.
- Pathein – Famous for its handcrafted umbrellas. Reachable by bus or ferry.
- Sittwe – Not particularly famous, more a transport hub for in- & outbound travel from & to Yangon (via plane), mostly for Mrauk U.
- Taungup – Is nothing special, but there exist some tourist accommodation options. It can be a convenient hub for road travel between Pyay, Mrauk U, Sittwe and Ngapali.
- Yangon – Reachable by bus, train or ferry.