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Home Travel Guide Myanmar Travel Guide Mandalay Travel Guide

Mandalay Travel Guide

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1. Overview of Mandalay

As the second largest city of Myanmar, Mandalay is only after Yangon and served as the capital city of the Konbaung Dynasty from 1857 to 1885. It is about 631 km (392 mi) north of Yangon, situated on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River. The city was colonized by the British Empire from 1885 to 1948 and Burma was divided into upper and lower Burma with Mandalay as the boundary during that time. Today Mandalay still keeps as the economic hub of Upper Burma and the center of Burmese culture. As the last royal capital of Burma, Mandalay witnessed the glory of the last royal dynasty and preserved numerous Buddhist sites and historical relics. Though most of the buildings in Mandalay were destroyed during World War II, the ancient royal palace and many old temples are still well-preserved.

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2. Top Things to Do in Mandalay

Climb the Mandalay Hill 

Located in the northeast of Mandalay, Mandalay Hill is a must-visit attraction once you get to the city. The hill is only about 240 meters (787 ft.) high but it does offer an amazing panoramic view of the whole city. Climbing the hill is not so difficult and only 40 to 50 minutes are needed. However, you have to climb barefoot. For those who are scared of its stairways, there is an elevator and escalator available at the foot of the hill. Besides enjoying the full view of the city, many pagodas and monasteries dotted on the hill are worth a visit. Please note to cover your body when visiting monasteries.

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Visit Astonishing Unfinished Mingun Pahtodawgyi 

Mingun Pagoda was built at the end of the 18th century and it was meant to be the country’s largest pagoda. However, the project was halted when the king then died and the pagoda keeps unfinished today. Nevertheless, it is still the biggest pile of bricks on the planet. Located only 10 km (6 mi) from Mandalay, it is easy to reach by taking a short ferry over the Irrawaddy River. The massive ruin measures 450 by 450 feet and the height is about 172 feet. You can not only stroll around the giant pagoda to take pictures but also walk up to the top for an incredible view.

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Pay a Visit to Mandalay Royal Palace

As the country’s last royal palace, this magnificent architecture built in 1857 witnessed the glory of the last Burmese monarchy. The complex is not far from Mandalay Hill, located between 12th street and 26th street. Some parts of the palace were destroyed in the war but it was reconstructed in the 1990s. However, this is still the best place to learn about traditional Myanmar culture and ancient architectural designs. The imposing fort, magnificent multilayered pyramid-style palaces, and the cool moat surrounding the walls will leave you a deep impression.

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Sightsee in Kuthodaw Pagoda to Witness World’s Largest Book

Kuthodaw Pagoda must be on your bucket list when you travel to Mandalay as it contains ‘the largest book’ in the world. Built in 1857 by King Mindon Min, the gorgeous Buddhist stupa lies at the foot of Mandalay Hill and it is composed of a gilded pagoda and 729 smaller white pagodas. These small shrines all contain inscribed marble slabs and those are the ‘pages’ of the world’s largest book and each ‘page’ is inscribed with Buddhist teachings. Don’t miss the chance to read the sprawling giant book.  

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Watch Sunset on Wooden U-Bein Bridge

Spanning over the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura, the U-Bein Bridge built in 1850 is b believed to be the world’s oldest and longest teakwood bridge. The winding bridge is about 1.2 km long (0.75 mi) and there are over one thousand pillars stretching out of the water to support the bridge. Though it has gradually become a popular tourist attraction, local people and monks can be seen crossing the bridge very often, all of which make it one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites, especially during sunset and sunrise. By a 20-min short drive, you can reach the bridge from Mandalay very quickly.

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Stroll through Zay Cho Market

Zay Cho Market is the largest and oldest market in Mandalay, and it is located just in the center of the city. Here you can buy almost anything. The partly covered market sells fresh fruits, vegetables, baskets, books, clothing, and some Myanmar souvenirs. Of course, there are also some food stalls selling popular street snacks. It will be an unforgettable experience to stroll through the market in the early morning to go shopping and experience the locals’ daily life. However, as it is partly covered and there is no air conditioner in the building, it is not advised to wander here in the hot summer.

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3. Mandalay Weather: Best Time to Visit Mandalay

In general, the best time to travel to Mandalay is from October to January. During this period, the weather is wild to roam around the city and it has a manageable humidity. What’s more, it is possible to try some boat cruises in the Irrawaddy River in these months. As Mandalay is situated in central Myanmar, it features a typical tropical monsoon climate and its average temperature can reach 34°C (93°F) in the daytime. May to October is usually the rainy season when it has a lot of rain and March to April is extremely hot with the highest temperature of 40℃ (104℉). Tourists are not so recommended to travel during these months but the cost during the low season is surely lower and there are fewer crowds.

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4.Mandalay Transportation: How to Reach and Get around

How to Reach Mandalay

In general, the best time to travel to Mandalay is from October to January. During this period, the weather is wild to roam around the city and it has a manageable humidity. What’s more, it is possible to try some boat cruises in the Irrawaddy River in these months. As Mandalay is situated in central Myanmar, it features a typical tropical monsoon climate and its average temperature can reach 34°C (93°F) in the daytime. May to October is usually the rainy season when it has a lot of rain and March to April is extremely hot with the highest temperature of 40℃ (104℉). Tourists are not so recommended to travel during these months but the cost during the low season is surely lower and there are fewer crowds.

How to Get around Mandalay:

By Taxi

Taxis in Mandalay are generally not metered so it is advised to negotiate the price before taking. To arrive at attractions within the city, the taxi fare is always within MMK 2,000, and hiring a car for one day costs about USD$ 30.

By Bus

As there is not any English sign on buses, it is not recommended to take a bus. Though it has a very low cost, about MMK 200 to 400, it is hard to find the right bus and location for foreigners.  

By Trishaw  

Generally, the cost ranges from MMK 1,000 to 2,000 if you are traveling to attractions within the city.

By Bike

It is cheap and convenient to hire a bicycle in Mandalay. A separate bike takes MMK 2,500 to 3,000 per day and a tandem bicycle may cost around MMK 4,000 for one day’s trip.

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