Mandalay is a must see city in Myanmar. It is the second largest city and the last royal capital of Myanmar. It is located along the Ayeyarwady River about 716 kilometers north of Yangon. It is the northern economic center of the country and a fundamental trade route between China and India. Its current population is around a million and continues to grow. The recent arrival of Yunnan people has aided in the growth of the city’s economy. Traditional values and it’s roots is still very much the way of life in Mandalay City even though commercialism has penetrated this city.
Mandalay has plenty of spots that will truly inspire and amaze you. Some of the wonderful spots within and around Mandalay are listed below.
Mandalay Palace and Fort – this site was once an amazing set of sophisticated carved wooden buildings but most of it were destroyed because of the bombings of WWII. However, remains of the walls and moat of the palace will give you an illustration of what it used to be. These giant walls of the palace are 26 foot high that is almost 2 miles long. It is complete with a moat and 4 entrances in the palace compound. Most of the buildings have been rebuilt and gives a good image of how the compound was laid out. The only building that survived the attacks of WWII is the Golden Palace Monastery. There is also a 7 tiered central palace where the kings used to live. You will have an excellent view of the Mandalay Palace at the top of the 110ft spiral watchtower where you can gaze out over this sprawling palace.
Mahamuni Temple – this temple is one of the many holy places in Myanmar. It holds a very large bronze Buddha that is covered in layers of gold leaf. Cast originally in Rakhine, the holy image was brought by King Bodaw Phayar to Mandalay in the year 1784. Buddhist devotees from all over Myanmar usually crowd the temple and the surrounding vendors bring life to this peaceful temple. To learn more about Mahamuni Pagoda and it’s Buddha image, click here.
Mandalay Hill – this is really an impressive hill which is about 760 feet that stands over the flat city of Mandalay. You will need to wind up a small road that leads to the entrance of the hill to get on its top. From here, there’s a set of escalator you can take to get on the top. You can get a wonderful panoramic view of the city as well as the river and the Shan hills from the peak of this hill.
Kuthodaw Pagoda – this pagoda is situated at the base of Mandalay Hill which is a must see site as it is known as the biggest book in the world. It is filled with almost 800 individual pagodas/pages making this an extraordinary site to see. Each individual pages of the Buddhist scripts and writings have been transcribed onto flat marbles and enshrined in their stupas personally. They said that reading each page would take over 450 days at the rate of 8 hours a day.
Amarapura – it used to be one of the old capitals of the 3rd Burmese Empire, located about 11km south of Mandalay. Built two hundred years ago by Alderman U Pein, this 1,208 meters bridge is built solely with wooden planks made of teak and it is the world longest bridge made of wood.
Inwa – is one of the memorable cities of Myanmar as well as Royal capital city. The palace’s name is Yadanapura which means treasures land. It is situated at the confluence of Ayeyarwaddy River and Mytinge River and 11 miles from Mandalay. It is built by King Tadominphya in 726AD.
Mingun – this has a 50-meter high incomplete pagoda and 90 tons Mingun Bell, the world largest ringing bell cast by King Bodawpaya in 1170. It is situated about 11 kilometers up river from Mandalay, on the western bank of the Ayeyarwady River. A boat trip to this place is very pleasant with plenty of life on the river to see, which will take about 45 minutes.
Sagaing – is a religious and monastic center with plenty of Buddhist monasteries. It is the capital of Sagaing Division in Myanmar that is situated on the Ayeyarwady River, 20km to the southwest of Mandalay on the opposite bank of the river.
Aside from visiting these wonderful places of Mandalay, there are also lots of wonderful things you can do in Mandalay. Some of these are:
Outdoor sports like caving and rock climbing on the Waterfall Hill ( Yaedagon Taung) – this site is the most favorite one since it is not spoiled, or crowded and not far from the city. It is situated on the east side of Mandalay.
Motorcycle tour of Mandalay Outskirts – Plenty of motorcycle drivers are hooked up to hotels and can take the guests on a tour on the three main tourist sites surrounding Mandalay; the U Bien Bridge in Amarapura, Sagaing Hilltop, and the town of Inwa, also called as Old Ava.
Watch puppet show at Mandalay Marionettes Theatre – this is a hard to find show, not even in Yangon. It is featured as regular show but it is impressive considering that the marionette master is 80 years old.
Watch classical dance at Mintha Theater – it is a classical court and folkloric dances show that include a full 8-piece traditional orchestra.