Kyauk Myaung, Myanmar
The residents of Kyauk Myaung carry on an age-old tradition of earthenware jar manufacturing, which was an important part of Myanmar's ancient maritime trade. The village's location between Bagan and Mandalay was also key, as is its setting right on the banks of the clay-rich Irrawaddy River.
What We Love
Burmese Hospitality: There is a down-to-earth, small-town vibe and sense of community in Kyauk Myaung. Although villagers don’t speak English, they welcome visitors with open arms. Your guide will translate your interactions.
Reasonably Priced Souvenirs: The traditional 50-gallon jars are too large to tote home, but you'll find plenty of items at the market that are sized for packing into your carry-on. Choose among votive candle holders, vases, trays, and knickknacks in various shapes and glazes.
Best Known For
Pottery: The phrase “it takes a village” takes on a new meaning in Kyauk Myaung. The entire community practices the trade of pottery making, particularly the oversized Ali Baba (or Martaban) jars that were used to transport goods such as peanut oil and fish sauce during colonial times. You’ll get a chance to witness the production of wares from start to finish, from the throwing of the earthenware clay on the wheel to the vessels’ firing in wood-burning kilns. Out in the open air, you’ll see rows of glazed jars basking side by side in the sun.
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Who It's Best For
Crafts Lovers: Even if you’ve already toured porcelain and ceramics workshops in other parts of the world, you'll be amazed by the production here. The dexterity and careful mastery of these hard-working artisans don’t have parallels elsewhere.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It's Not a Common Port: Few river cruise ships dock at this out-of-the-way port in the remote Upper Irrawaddy.
Lisa Cheng is a New York-based writer for ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel + Leisure.