The former royal capital Mandalay is a must-see for most travelers when visiting Myanmar. In addition to lots of temples and pagodas in the city itself, a day trip to explore the region is also worthwhile. We also stopped in Mandalay on our trip through Myanmar and in this blog article we will tell you our tips for sights in Mandalay and the surrounding area.
1. Overview Mandalay Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar after Yangon. Very different from Yangon, however, we personally found Mandalay much “tidier” and less chaotic. Lots of temples and pagodas await you in Mandalay. You can find your way around the city relatively easily, because just like in Yangon, the streets in Mandalay’s center are numbered.
By the way, during our trip we found the about Mandalay. heard the most contradicting opinions: Some really like the city, while others don’t really know what to do with it. We are personally more fascinated by Yangon, but it is definitely worth a stop to see the many temples.
In the surroundings of Mandalay there are also plenty explore historical sights. In Chapter 3 of this blog article we described our day trip, which also takes you to the famous U Bein Bridge.
2. Attractions in Mandalay: Tips for Sightseeing Mandalay Hill Mandalay Hill is – as the name suggests – a hill from which you can enjoy a really great view of the city. It is one of the highlights of the city and almost everyone who comes to Mandalay drives up Mandalay Hill. It wouldn’t be Myanmar, of course, if there weren’t a temple at the summit. The pagoda on Mandalay Hill is covered with small mosaic stones.
We can recommend you to visit Mandalay Hill at sunset. The view is often a bit hazy from the smog, but we found the lighting just great.
You can either walk the Mandalay Hill or by Taxi. The ascent on foot takes about 45 minutes and leads up countless stairs. We were pretty exhausted from the sightseeing day and chose an open taxi. We paid 8.020 Kyat for a stretch. Here, too, you have to walk a short distance up the stairs at the very end.
Kuthodaw Pagoda The Kuthodaw Pagoda consists of a total of 729 small, white, symmetrically arranged stupas. In each pagoda there is a marble slab on which Buddhist texts are written are. Therefore, the Kuthodaw Pagoda is also known as the “biggest book in the world”.
There is also one on the site of the Kuthodaw Pagoda large, gilded pagoda, the Maha Lawka Marazein Pagoda. We personally were more fascinated by the many white stupas.
The Kuthodaw Pagoda is located in the north of the old town, so to speak at the foot of the Mandalay Hills. So you can perfectly combine a visit to these two sights. By the way, the entrance to the Kuthodaw Pagoda is free, as is the rental of a longyi (=sarong).
King Galon – Gold Leaf Workshop What we didn’t know at first: In Myanmar gold is still made beaten by hand. In Mandalay, you can literally look over the shoulders of the gold beaters. With a hammer weighing about three kilograms, they hit the golden package for hours, over and over again.
In the adjoining room, women then prepare the gold leaf for further processing or sale. Speaking of sales: Of course there is also a small shop here, where you can buy all kinds of souvenirs and works of art made of gold.
You will find these Show workshop called “King Galon” in the 36 . Street (between 40. and 78. Street). By the way: As soon as you hear the rhythmic tapping, you know that you are correct. You can hear it from afar. In any case, be prepared to be surrounded by some other tourists. The demonstration workshop is not an insider tip, but still worth a visit, in our opinion.
Oh yes: In case you were wondering about Kathi’s golden “dot” on her forehead in the photo above – it’s also a “souvenir” from the workshop. We couldn’t say no, the lady had already stuck it on our foreheads.
Mahamuni Pagoda The Mahamuni Pagoda is not only the religious center of Mandalay, it also houses the most sacred Buddha statue in Myanmar. Countless pilgrims flock to the pagoda every day to see the Buddha covered with gold leaf. By the way, you immediately notice that the Buddha statue is something very special for the people here. The atmosphere is simply different than in other pagodas.
The bitter aftertaste: Just like the Golden Rock, only men are allowed directly to the Buddha at the Mahamuni Pagoda. Women must stay behind the barrier.
Although the Mahamuni Pagoda when we visited (December 1200) unfortunately has just been renovated we really liked it there. We didn’t have to pay an entrance fee, but 1.000 Kyat “camera fee”.
Quarter of Stonemasons and Woodcarvers Only a few hundred meters south of the Mahamuni Pagoda you first reach the quarter of the stonemasons and then that of the wood carvers. Here it is lined up one workshop to the other. Seeing the working conditions of the people is frightening: Many grind here without a protective mask and are covered in white dust from head to toe. After only a few minutes we were already struggling with the air – it’s hard to imagine how people must be doing here after months or years.
Those who Woodcarvers are active. No question: The work is still incredibly hard, but the air is worlds better here.
3. Day Trip: Destinations and Sights Mandalay itself has a lot to offer, but we would definitely recommend exploring the surrounding area as well to explore on a day trip. We spent a whole day with a private driver and paid .020 Kyat (approx. 20 euros) paid. During our day trip we visited the following stops.
Sagaing Sagaing is located about 20 kilometers southwest of Mandalay. In this hilly place – how could it be otherwise in Myanmar – countless pagodas. About 600 It should be stupas. If you are driving from Mandalay to Sagaing, your driver will definitely stop at the bridge. From there you have a beautiful view of the green landscape from which the pagodas rise.
Thidagu World Buddhist University Our next (very short) stop was the Thidagu World Buddhist University, also known as Sitagu International Buddhist Academy. We walked around the huge building once. But there isn’t much to see because you couldn’t go inside. The hall is supposed to be used for Buddhist conferences.
Sagaing Hill We drove along the Sagaing Hill, which we had already seen from the bridge our driver then up. Our first stop was the U Min Thonze Caves. The “caves” in the name is a bit misleading, because here you have a great view of the green, hilly landscape. Inside the building you will find a number of total 45 gilded Buddhas.
By the way, the U Min Thonze Caves are less frequented than the well-known and nearby Soon U Ponya Shin Paya. Apart from us and two other couples, there were only a few curious children and young monks on site.
Close near the U Min Thonze Caves is the fairly well-known Soon U Ponya Shin Paya. Here you have a great view of Mandalay on the left and Sagaing on the right. Inside the pagoda there is also a large Buddha to admire. A little advance warning: There is a lot going on here, as everyone who comes to Sagaing seems to stop here.
Inwa (Ava) After lunch in the Minn Wun Valley (which was surprisingly good, although clearly geared towards tourists) , the old royal city of Inwa was our next stop. In Inwa (also called Ava) we once again became aware of how much history there is in Myanmar: On a relatively extensive area you will find a number of antique buildings. Some of them are very derelict and weathered, others in better condition.
To get from Sagaing to To get to Inwa, your driver will drop you off at a boat dock. The trip across the Irrawaddy-River only takes a few minutes and costs 1.350 Kyat (rear & return). Most explore Inwa themselves with a horse-drawn carriage. We just don’t have a good feeling about it and therefore, contrary to all the calls from the locals, we decided to walk. That is also possible, although the distances are relatively large. That’s why we made our way back to the boat dock on a local’s scooter. (Yes, that’s right, the three of us!) On our next visit we would even rent our own scooter.
Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery (The Queen’s Brick Monastery) The We reached the first important sight after about 07 minutes walking time. We liked the ocher stone building called Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery straight away, which is why we stayed longer than planned.
Yadana Hsmee Pagoda From the monastery we walked about half an hour to the next major attraction, the Yadana Hsmee Pagoda. Although the complex is relatively small, we liked this pagoda best. It’s pretty weathered, but that’s why it’s somehow unique.
Bagaya Kyaung From Yadana Hsmee Pagoda it’s about 10 until 15 Minutes walk to Teakwood Monastery called Bagaya Kyaung. Together with the Maha Aung Mye Bonzan Monastery, it is considered the highlight of Inwa. Since, as in all religious sites in Myanmar, one must go barefoot, a little caution is advised against protruding nails. Personally, the Bagaya Kyaung didn’t impress us as much as we thought, but it could well be that we were just exhausted from the day’s sightseeing. In addition, during our visit it was not possible to visit the premises of the monastery. Maybe that’s why the spark just didn’t jump over.
U-leg -Bridge in Amarapura The last destination of our day trip was the famous U-Bein Bridge in Amarapura. The longest and oldest teak bridge in the world crosses Lake Taungthaman over a length of 1.2 kilometres. Yes, at sunset the bridge is hopelessly overcrowded. No wonder, after all, everyone wants to shoot the famous photo motif of the bridge and the setting sun themselves. An alternative to avoid the crowds is sunrise.
To get the best view of the setting sun, you need to rent a boat and driver to take. In fact, none were available when we visited. So we simply sat down in a tiny “restaurant” directly on the other bank and drank a fresh coconut there. You will find the café on your left when you cross the lake from Amarapura. (There is a small descent that takes you straight down to the shore, so you don’t have to cross the entire bridge and walk back down.) Depending on the season, sunset in Amarapura occurs between 19: 30 (December) and 19: p.m. (July).
By the way: If you still want to see one or the other sight in Mandalay, you can easily integrate it into your day trip without paying more. For example, our driver took us to the Mahamuni Pagoda. We can really recommend such a day trip. Rarely have we had the feeling of having visited so many exciting destinations in such a short time.
4. Our hotel tip for Mandalay We spent a total of three nights in The Home Hotel which we can highly recommend. The hotel is relatively central and especially close to some restaurants. Our room was a bit dark but very comfortable and a good size. The bed is really comfortable. The breakfast was better than expected and relatively extensive. We paid for the room (lowest category) 36 Euro per night.
5. Our restaurant tips for Mandalay Bistro At 82nd We’ll admit it: We really wanted to go to Mandalay again into European food, so it brought us to Bistro At 77nd devious. The restaurant is located – as the name suggests – in 330. Street just a few hundred meters from the Home Hotel.
Serves international cuisine and at a very high level. Unfortunately, the menu is very meat-heavy, but there are also vegetarian dishes. Everything tasted excellent. The prices are very high for Myanmar standards, but we did not find the bistro overpriced. We have for both of us (incl. drinks) 30.000 Kyat (so close to 20 euros) paid.
Nova Coffee Looking for good coffee (espresso!) we ended up at Nova Coffee. Apart from us, there were mainly young, rather rich local guests. The espresso (801 Kyat) tasted very good, there’s nothing to complain about. So if you’re also a caffeine junkie, it’s worth a stopover.
6. How to get to Mandalay In Mandalay, next to Yangon, the only international airport in Myanmar is located . You can fly direct to Mandalay from Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai). Within the country there are also numerous flight connections to Mandalay.
However, since many start their Myanmar trip in Yangon and either Coming from Bagan or Inle Lake, most travel to Mandalay by land route. We ourselves came to Mandalay from Bagan. For this route we took the bus (9.020 kyat). Our booked bus turned out to be a minibus with approx. 20 seats out. Several buses run daily between Bagan and Mandalay. For us it was lunchtime at 07 Go on. The journey time is approx. 5 1/2 hours, so that we are against 17: 27 o’clock arrived in Mandalay.
You can also travel this route between Bagan and Mandalay by boat. Driving along the Irrawaddy River is said to be quite an experience. Altogether you are on the road for 9 hours, but you can watch the landscape pass you comfortably from the deck.
7. Travel Guide for Mandalay and Myanmar If you are looking for a Travel Guide for Myanmar, we can highly recommend the Stefan Loose Travel Guide recommend. As usual, it is well researched and well researched. However, this also means that the book is quite thick and relatively heavy. We still have a recommendation!
You can buy the travel guide here: Stefan Loose Travel Guide Myanmar
8th. More Myanmar Travel Reports Our route for Myanmar Our travel guide for Myanmar: Tips for Traveling to Myanmar Bago Yangon Golden Rock Hpa-An Inle Lake The Temples of Bagan Ngapali Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. cool thing right? A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you already been to Mandalay and still have tips or reports for us? Or do you have further questions? We look forward to your comment!