The small village of Sale, also known as Salay, doesn’t look like much when you first stroll through its dusty streets filled with abandoned and crumbling colonial buildings — until, that is, you realize that this stop on some Myanmar river-cruise itineraries is home to more than 100 individual monasteries and Bagan-era shrines.
What We Love
The Quaint Charm: The monasteries and shrines are about a 15-minute walk from your river cruise ship, but half the joy of this small town is strolling through its deserted lanes and café-lined city center.
It’s Not Overrun: Located a considerable distance from Bagan and without any local hotels, Sale attracts few tourists — save for hearty backpackers and river cruisers. After being overwhelmed by crowds in temple-rich Bagan, you’ll relish the quiet solitude here.
Best Known For
Yoke-Sone-Kyaung Wooden Monastery: Constructed in 1882, this entirely wooden monastery looks older than it should. Famed for its intricate carvings, it is known as a Burmese Cultural Heritage Site. Though some of the wooden details have obviously been touched up over the past century and a half, the site is an impressive spectacle to behold.
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Who It's Best For
River Cruisers: With its limited facilities, Sale isn’t the place to travel over land on your own. As an afternoon port of call on a river cruise, however, this town is small enough to be explored independently, or as part of your ship’s guided shore excursions.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It’s Hot — Very Hot: This is particularly true at the Yoke-Sone-Kyaung wooden monastery, where the breeze seems to disappear completely. Carry plenty of bottled water.
You’re Going to Get Dusty: Wear loose-fitting clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty; most of the roads in Salay are dirt, and passing motorcycles and trucks will leave you wearing a fine coating of dust.
Aaron Saunders is a Calgary-based contributor to ShermansCruise.com.