U Bein Bridge is long wooden bridge across Taungthaman Lake in Amarapura in Myanmar.
U Bein Bridge crosses Taungthaman Lake
U Bein Bridge is generally credited with being the oldest and longest teak bridge in the world, and this along with its picturesque setting makes it one of Myanmar’s top tourist attractions. From Bagan you get to U Bein Bridge by taking a train to Mandalay and then a taxi slightly over 12 km to the nearby royal city Amarapura.
About U Bein Bridge
U Bein Bridge was constructed sometime during the 1850s. Some sources put the date of construction as between 1848 and 1850, but more likely the construction of the bridge started in 1853 or 1854 because the wood for the bridge was salvaged from a palace which was dismantled after the accession to the throne of King Mindon in 1853. King Mindon is an important character in the the story of the bridge because when he became king he decided to move the capital from Amarapura, where the bridge is located, to Mandalay. King Mindon decided to dismantle many of the buildings in Amapura and rebuild them in a new royal city in Mandalay. Some of the buildings, such as the Shwenandaw Monastery, were reconstructed in Mandalay and others were taken apart to be used as materials for the construction of completely new buildings. The wood for the U Bein Bridge came from the Inwa Royal Palace, which was one of the buildings which was stripped for use in building something new.
Teak wood supports of U Bein Bridge
The U Bein Bridge is 1.2 km long and is supported by 1,086 teak wood pillars which are sunk into the bottom of the lake. The bridge, which joins two sides of Taungthaman Lake at the narrowest point, is slightly curved. This is a design feature which added strength to the bridge.
U Bein Bridge at sunset
The bridge is still is use today as a shortcut for the local residents who would otherwise have a much longer journey across by walking around this lake or need to travel across in a boat. Over the years the bridge has suffered as a consequence of an attempt to turn Taungthaman Lake into a large fish farm, which changed the chemical composition of the water to make it more corrosive to the wood, vandalism and some clumsy attempts to address the disrepair using concrete. Fortunately, and most likely as consequence of increased tourism in Myanmar, the authorities have started to take better car of this historic monument. There is a police presence now to stop the vandalism, and harassment of foreign visitors, and a more sympathetic approach to maintaining the bridge. It is free to visit the U Bein Bridge and its open at all hours, including at sunset when the light brings out the rich colours of the aged teak.
Location of U Bein Bridge
U Bein Bridge is 12.3 km from Mandalay Railway Station.