The complex of shrines is accessed by a 25 minute climb (watch out for the monkeys) and there are panoramic views from the top. Tradition says you should avoid wearing red or black on the mountain as this may offend the resident spirits. Festivals take place here throughout the year; timing your visit to coincide with one would be a very interesting experience. Mt Popa lies within a National Park and there are hiking and horse riding opportunities in the area.
The road journey to Mt Popa from Bagan passes several villages typical of the region. The farms produce dry country crops such as peanuts and sesame, the fields ploughed by water buffalo. You can stop along the way to see the production of palm sugar balls and try some of the local ‘toddy’.
Dating from 1882 this historic teak monastery is on the tentative world heritage list. The outside of the building boasts detailed original carvings of scenes from the Jataka and Ramayana. There are also carved scenes of ordinary people going about their daily lives. There are more Bagan-era carvings on show inside the building.
This 13th Century shrine about a mile to the south of Salay features hundreds of painted scenes of the Jataka (stories of the Buddha’s past lives).
This is a trio of Indian-style Buddhist temples (Temples 18,19 and 20) best known for their murals and views over the area.
Mr Myanmar Travel can arrange day tours in the Bagan area that include a half day tour of Salay. Alternatively, you can combine a visit to Salay with a visit to Mt Popa by air-conditioned car to create a full day excursion from your hotel in Bagan.