The world’s oldest teak bridge and one of the most photographed sights in Burma is Amarapura’s U Bein Bridge. It’s now a major passageway for locals going about their daily activities and also happens to be where social media loving monks love to congregate. Fun fact: The bridge was actually built using teak wood reclaimed from the former Royal Palace.
Now as captivating as this incredibly long pedestrian bridge is to see, it was the dozens and dozens of friendly locals we encountered while crossing U Bein Bridge that truly made it one of the best days in Burma. If you love photographing the locals when you travel, then this has to be one of the best places in Burma to do it.
Becoming Facebook Friends with Monks
If you think walking 1.2km across a bridge won’t take you long, well come to Burma and see how long it takes you. To say that we were stopped every few metres by an excited local is an understatement. Parents would proudly hold up their children for photos, gleaming with pride and thrusting them into our arms. We realized monks were just as modern and addicted to technology as us and that they love a good selfie. They were also as equally curious of us as we were of them, asking countless questions about Australia and our travels through Burma. After an hour and a half later we were finally nearing the end of the bridge, accompanied by our new monk friends who had insisted they take us to drink coconuts. The look of envy from every other tourist we passed wishing they had their own monk friends was priceless. Burmese monks also have Facebook. That’s right, how many people can say they’re Facebook friends with monks? Well I can.
No Smiling Allowed
Even the local Burmese drop by U Bein Bridge for a photo-op and local photographers have cashed in on this. A lady who asked to have a photo with us by a professional Burmese photographer later chased after us to proudly show off her newly printed photo. Yes, there is some kind of photo printing service at the bridge too! She was very excited, even though it’s hard to tell from her stone face in the photo.
The Best Time of Day to Visit
If you arrive a couple of hours before sunset you’ll get to witness all the locals crossing the bridge on their way home from work, while also giving yourself enough time to explore before dark as it’ll take you twice as long to get anywhere with all the fan photos. Everyone knows how high my standards are when it comes to sunsets, but U Bein Bridge was certainly one of the most beautiful and unique sunsets I’ve witnessed. A long skinny bridge with silhouettes of monks walking across, plus a dozen boats all lined up make for a very Instagram worthy sunset.