It is also known as Neem city because most of the streets of the city are covered by very old Neem trees. It is one of the Unique Cities of the World.
Monywa and neighboring parts of the 'Dry Valley' are the only places in South East Asia where you find the Hot Semi-arid/steppe climate(BSh). The city barely misses the Tropical savanna/Wet and dry climate(Aw) classification due to the very high temperatures(high evaporation levels) and a long dry season. This has to do with the 'Dry valley' being located in the rain shadow of the Arakan Mountains. Temperatures are very high throughout the year, although the winter months (December–February) are significantly milder(around 21°C in January). The early monsoon months from April to July are especially hot, with average high temperatures reaching 38.4 °C (101.1 °F) in April.
Monywa received 139 millimetres (5.5 in) of rainfall on 19 Oct 2011. This was a new record for rainfall within 24 hours in October in Monywa for the last 47 years. The previous record was 135 millimetres (5.3 in) on 24 Oct 1967.
Monywa is served by the Mandalay-Budalin branch railway line, but is best reached by bus as the road from Mandalay is in reasonably good shape. Monywa is linked by road to Budalin, Dabayin, Ye-U and Kin-U, and by rail to Sagaing and the Mandalay - Myitkyina line. River transport on the Chindwin has always been important as it is navigable for 640 km (400 mi) to Hkamti during the monsoon season, and most of the year to Homalin.
Monywa is a major centre for trade and commerce and for agricultural produce from the surrounding Chindwin valley, especially beans, orange, pulses and jaggery (palm sugar). In addition, the local industry includes mills for the production of cotton, flour, noodles, and edible oils. Sausages from Alon called wet udaunk are quite popular, and Budalin longyi (sarong) is known for the strength of the fabric and its checked patterns. Monywa's rough cotton blankets are famous throughout Myanmar (with Monywa providing 80% of the country's blankets for a century), and some can even be found sewn up into knapsacks sold to unsuspecting tourists in Bangkok. Other regional crafts include bamboo and reed products, bullock carts and agricultural implements. The village of Kyaukka is well known for its lacquerware utensils for everyday use.
Black market goods from India, especially saris and bicycle parts, pass through Monywa on their way to other parts of Myanmar.
The major tourist attraction in Monywa is Thambuddhe Pagoda, a Buddhist temple with a huge stupa resembling Indonesia's Borobudur. It dates from 1303, although it was reconstructed in 1939. It is said to contain over 500,000 images of Buddha. Close by is the Maha Bodhi Tahtaung Laykyun Sekkya standing Buddha statue, the tallest statue in the world, with 115,82 metres (at a total of 129.23 metres, including pedestal). This is the focal point of a sprawling site filled with Buddha statues, bodhi trees, and pagodas, established by the Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung Sayadaw in the 1960s. It includes also a 95-metre long reclining Buddha statue.
Another attraction is the Phowintaung cave complex across the Chindwin River, approximately 25 kilometres (16 mi) west of Monywa.
Very few tourists visit Monywa as its facilities are limited.
The city is home to:
The insurgent Burmese Communist Party (BCP) was centred in the Monywa area (west of the Chindwin River) for many years. Although the BCP is no longer active, the Myanmar military presence in Monywa remains heavy.