Mandalay was founded by King Mindon in 1857 as the new royal capital of the Konbaung dynasty. It was the last Burma’s royal capital before the kingdom’s annexation by the British Empire in 1885. In Colonial era, it remained commercially and culturally important even with the rise of Yangon, the new capital of British Burma. In the Second World War, the city suffered severe destruction from the attack of Japan. In 1948, Mandalay became part of the newly independent Union of Myanmar.
Mandalay enjoys a semi-tropical climate, which is characterized by warm to hot summer and mild to cold winters. The average temperature is always high, about 25°C in the summer and 18°C in the winter. The coldest month is January with 14°C and the warmest in April with 38°C. Mandalay receives the less rainfall than other region. The heaviest rainfall occurring in May, June, August, September and October. High humidity can be seen in October with 80%, gradually decreases and reach the driest in March. The best time to take a Mandalay tour is from October to February. In this period, the weather is stable and very suitable for sightseeing and outdoor activities.
Mandalay presents tourists with a number of options with regards to transportation. Those who want to get around with the locals can ride on a bus or on a trishaw. There are also taxis, bicycles and motorcycles to take tourists to their destinations.
Mandalay International Airport
Mandalay International Airport is one of only three international airports in Myanmar, located 35 km south of Mandalay in Tada-U. Its 4267 meter runway is the longest runway in use in Southeast Asia and has the capacity to handle up to 3 million passengers a year. The airport connects 11 domestic and seven international destinations. It is the main operating base of Golden Myanmar Airline.
Tourist can rent motorbikes or bicycles in Mandalay. There are a lot of motorbikes in Mandalay and local people are widely used. But, I don’t want to recommend this because of the traffic problem. You should hire a private driver for a full day to get around the city.
Taxis at the Mandalay airport are reasonably priced and they have a set rate from the airport to Mandalay hotels.
- 4,000K- Shared Taxi
- 12,000K-Private Taxi
- 15,000K-Private Taxi with air conditioning.
But there is a little flexible.
There are several taxi kiosks and they all spoke English. If you don’t have local currency, you can pay the Mandalay airport taxi in USD.
Another means of transportation found in Mandalay is the trishaw, which still travel along the back roads of the city. The fares are cheaper compared to buses and taxis.
Public buses & Pick-up trucks
The public-transport system uses pick-up truck that make regular lengthy stops , rarely leaving tour jammed full. Different- colored boards sometimes denote variant routings but the entire system seems to get upgraded every few months. The fares are normally MMK500.
From 25th St at 83rd St diagonally opposite Nylon Hotel:
- (၁)1,(၅)5,(၁၉ )19 via 78th St , south to the train station , east on 30th; (၅)5 and (၁၉ )19 then head east on 19th , while 1 heads north at 62nd.
- (၁၆)16 goes to the base of Mandalay hill, blue sign goes via the train station.
From 84th street at 29th street.
- (၈)8 passes Mahamuni Pagoda en route to Amarapura.
- (၁၀)10 heads to the Kwe Se Kan Bus station.
Top Things To Do In Mandalay
- U Bein Bridge to see sunrise
- Get to know about the most famous pagoda, Maha Muni
- Walk around the Amarapura Ancient City
- Learn about Glory day of Burma’s Dynasty from Mandalay Palace
- Unique scenery of Moat & Fortress Wall
- Discover the ShweNandaw Kyaung
- Explore Handicraft Workshops
- View the sunset on Mandalay Hill
- Short day trips from Mandalay
U Bein Bridge To See Sunrise
Built around 1850, the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.It is used as an important passageway for the local people and has also become a tourist attraction. A great thing to do at the bridge is to see the sunrise and after sunrise,when hundreds of villagers and monks commute back and forth across it. It is like the perfect and unique picture then you will get a different feeling that you have never been before.
Get To Know About The Most Famous Pagoda, Maha Muni
In Mandalay, the most famous pagoda is Manha Muni like Shwedagon in Yangon. It is the most revered Buddha image in Mandalay. It is also known as the Maha Myat Muni or Paya Gyi and the most ancient Buddha image in Myanmar. It was cast in the life-span of Lord Buddha in the seated posture of relaxed deportment, namely Bumi Phasa Mudras, symbolic of His Conquest of Mara. It has a very interesting history and unique architecture. If you are in Mandalay, you should go to this place and learn about this Buddha image.
Walk around the Amarapura Ancient City
Amarapura is a former capital of Myanmar, and now a township of Mandalay City. Amarapura is bounded by the Ayeyarwaddy river in the west, Chanmyathazi Township in the north and the ancient capital site of Inwa in the south. It was the capital of Myanmar twice during the Konbaung Period ( 1783-1821 and 1842-1859). The township is known today for its traditional silk and cotton weaving, and bronze casting. It was also home to the famous U Bein bridge when you go to Amarapura, you should take day trips to know widely about this city. There are a lot of historical sites and buildings and you can also learn about Burmese culture.
Learn about Glory day of Burma’s Dynasty from Mandalay Palace
The Myan Nan San Kyaw,or Royal Palace, was the first palace to be built in Mandalay. Constructed by King Mindon, who moved his capital from Amarapura to Mandalay, the location was chosen because of astronomical calculations and favourable omens. The entire palace complex was destroyed by fire during World War II, but it has been restored. So, everything you walk through from the entrance hall all the way past the throne room and to the residence was constructed in the early 1990s. Visiting Royal Palace is one of the best things to do in Mandalay, it doesn’t take too long to walk through the palace.
Unique scenery of Moat & Fortress Wall
The whole palace complex was destroyed by fire during the Second World War. The palace walls , the four gates and the moat still stand today as evidence of the majestic palace city. Viewable only from the outside, a 230-ft wide moat and well over 4 miles of crenellated 26ft- high walls form a vast square around the site of the former Mandalay fortress. Reconstructed in the original 1857 style. While artful photograph can make much of these scenes, the effect isn’t as impressive as you might expect, due to the length and regularity of the walls.
Discover the ShweNandaw Kyaung
ShweNandaw Monastery is a historic Buddhist monastery located near Mandalay Hill. It is considered one of the most beautiful monasteries in Myanmar, and it is also one of the highest visited tourist sites in the country. Shwenandaw Monastery was built in 1878 by King Thibaw Min.The monastery is known for its teak carvings of Buddhist myths, which adorn its walls and roofs.The monastery is built in the traditional Burmese architectural style. ShweNanDaw is the single remaining major original structure of the original Royal Palace.
Explore Handicraft Workshops
Mandalay is known as the heart of Burmese culture and politics for at least 500 years prior to that. Through the balance of power shifted to colonial Yangon in the late 19th century, Mandalay remains one of the most important cities in Myanmar to this day, and maintains a rich tradition of arts and crafts as legacy of its illustrious past. So, you want to know about Burmese traditional arts & crafts, Mandalay is the best option. If you are planning to head to Mandalay, I would like to recommend spending a morning or an afternoon exploring some of the city’s surviving arts and crafts,most of which are carried out using the same techniques and tools that have been employed for generations.
View the sunset on Mandalay Hill
If you are looking for the best place to view sunset, its Mandalay Hill. Mandalay is a 240 meters(760ft)that is located to the northeast of the city centre of Mandalay in Myanmar. The city took its name from the hill. It’s a long way up. It’s humid. For much of it, there’s no sidewalk, so you’ll be sharing the narrow road with cars and buses. And you’ll have to do a good part of it barefoot.The climb takes 30 minutes, but much longer if you allow for stops en route But it’s worth it, especially for the sunset.
Short Day Trips From Mandalay
There are a lot of attraction sites within Mandalay and also outside the city. Here are the short day trips from Mandalay.
Mandalay Excursions to Amarapura-Ava-Sagaing ( One Day)
This trip takes around one day but you can visit a lot of attraction sites such as:
- Famous Buddhist monastery Mahagandayon
- 200-year-old U Bein teak bridge
- Bagaya Monastery
- Boa trip to former Royal Capital of Inwa
- Horse-drawn carriage experience
This is so amazing. You will get different experiences within one day. So, if you have not decided where to go in Mandalay , you should take this trip.
Biking Tour ( Duration- 8 hours)
Get around the Mandalay by cycling, it will be the best experience. Spend your time to go around the morning market, see the local peace of life then explore the great Burmese architecture at two of the most beautiful monasteries in the city.
Highlights:Zegyo Market, Shwe Inn Bin Monastery, Shwenandaw Monastery, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mahamuni Temple.
This trip will give you an amazing opportunity to discover the charm of Mandalay on a bicycle.
Short trip to Pyin Oo Lwin ( One Day)
Pyin Oo Lwin is considered as one of the most beautiful towns in Myanmar. It is a scenic hill town in Shan State, with colourful flower, beautiful scenery and cool weather. It is located some 67 kilometers (42 miles) east of Mandalay.
- Explore British hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)
- Riding a traditional horse-drawn carriage
- See Peik Khyin Myaung Caves
- Visit Pwe Kyauk Waterfall
This trip is really worth to take, it takes not too much time, you will enjoy this trip.
Two days Ayeyarwaddy Dolphin Tour
This trip will give you a good opportunity to observe the Ayeyarwaddy Dolphin in their natural habitat and the traditional cast-net fishing method by the help dolphins in order to promote the education programs on dolphin conservation and the importance of adopting sustainable fishing practices.
- Explore Myay-zun Village
- Witness the “cooperative fishery” in Mandalay
- Mingun Bell
- Visit Mingun Paya – the world’s second largest ringing bell
- Hsinbyume Paya – the dramatic round-shaped white pagoda
Enjoy your mesmerizing short trip and stay away from the noise you have in your busy life.
Places to visit
Sandamani Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa located southwest of Mandalay Hill. It is best known for its large golden zedi, its hundreds of shrines containing inscribed marble slabs and the Iron Buddha Sandamuni cast by King Bodawpaya of the Konbaung Dynasty in 1802. The cast was brought from Amarapura to its present location in 1874 by King Mindon.Surrounding the central pagoda are 1774 shrines, each housing a single marble slab. The slabs are inscribed with the teachings of the Buddha, consisting of Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka (the three baskets that make up the Tripitaka) so it can be described as one of the world’s largest book.Each slabs is 1.68 meters tall and 1.07 meters wide. If you are interested, you can go and see the slabs yourself.
The Mandalay Hill is situated to the north-east corner of the Mandalay Royal Palace,it lies from north to south.The landmark of the Mandalay. Almost everyone who visits Mandalay goes to this hill.Like a Tower given by nature, the Mandalay Hill offers a panoramic view over the Golden City of Mandalay. One famous Buddha Image on the Mandalay Hill is the Image of Standing Lord Buddha at the top of the hill where Lord Buddha made a prophecy. It was built by king Mindon. Eight years after the king’s death, the image was damaged by fire, and a new image was restored. The image of standing Lord Buddha is 8.22m high.It will be a memorable experience for the visitor of Mandalay to enjoy the sunset beauty over the blinking, winding Ayeyawaddy and the blue Sagaing Hill and the Min Wun ranges.
The Kuthodaw pagoda in Mandalay comprises of a gilded pagoda, hundreds of shrines housing inscribed marble slabs and several pavilions. The pagoda is also called “the world’s largest book”, named after the 729 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings.King Mindon ordered the “book” to be made. The works started in 1860 and took 8 years to complete. Kuthodaw Pagoda lies at the foot of Mandalay Hill and was built during the reign of King Mindon.The Kuthodaw Paya or “Royal merit pagoda” was built by King Mindon Min at the same time the nearby Mandalay Palace was built. Construction started shortly after the founding of Mandalay in 1857. The King built the Kuthodaw to leave a great work of merit for future generations. It is similar to Sandamuni Pagoda.
Kyauktawgyi Buddha Temple
Kyauktawgyi Buddha Temple is a well-known Buddhisht Temple near the southern entry to Mandalay Hill.The image of the Buddha is officially known as Maha Thetkya Mayazein. The Kyauktawgyi Pagoda was built by King Mindon in 1853 on the model of the Ananda Temple at Bagan. It closely resembles the Ananda in form but it is not as ornate inside.Visitors coming to Kyauktawgyi Pagoda should not miss the chance to enjoy one of the largest festivals in Mandalay usually held in October as the festival of the Kyauktawgyi Paya. This festival attracts a huge number of people both the locals and foreign visitors. This spot is usually crowded during the time the festival is held.
Inwa was the capital of Myanmar for nearly 360 years, on five separate occasions, from 1365 to 1842. Throughout history, it was sacked and rebuilt numerous times. The capital city was finally abandoned after it was completely destroyed by a series of major earthquakes in March 1839. The sights to see in Inwa include Nanmyint Watchtower, Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, Bagaya Monastery, the lacquerware factory and Inwa Bridge spanning the Ayeyarwaddy River.
Mingun is a town located on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy river. approximately 7 miles north of Mandalay. It is reached by ferry-boats across the river and takes 1 hour for up-river and 40 minutes for down-river.There are a lot of attractions to visit and if you are in Mingun, you can visit the ruined Migun Pahtodawgyi, the world’s heaviest Migun Bell, ancient Mingun Paya, and interesting Hsinbyume Paya.
Mingun Bell is a bell located in Mingun, Sagaing Region, Myanmar. It is located approximately 11 km (6.8 mi) north of Mandalay on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy river. It was the heaviest functioning bell in the world at several times in history. It was also considered as the largest ringing bell in the world until 2000. It was built by the longest reigning monarch of the Konbaung dynasty King Bodawpaya (1782-1819) and weighs 55,555 viss (90.718 kilograms or 199.999 pounds). This number is engraved on the surface of the bell.
Mandalay's jade market is probably the market of most interest to the traveller visiting town.In Mandalay, the main buying and selling point is Mahar Aung Myay Market, more commonly known simply as the jade market where you'll find a mass of jade traders haggling, hawking and polishing their wares. There's a K2500 entry fee (often not collected), but you could always sit outside the market and observe craftspeople cutting and polishing jade in the area around 87th St. It's a fascinating spot, with vendors displaying everything from huge chunks of the green rock to tiny fragments, while in the afternoon session other precious stones and gems also make their appearance.
Zaycho Market (also spelled Zay Cho, Zeigyo, Zaygyo, Zegyo Market) is the largest and the most important market in Mandalay as well as in upper Burma. It is also one of the oldest-market in Myanmar.The market was destroyed by fire in 1897 and rebuilt in 1903 with a masonry structure designed by an Italian, Count Conte Calderari.In the 1990s, the colonial era structure was pulled down and replaced with a Chinese-style shopping centre. It is a local market but you can go and see the local people and their products to know their local culture.
Mandalay Cultural Museum is a museum located at the corner of 80th Road and 24th Street, in Mandalay.The museum is also home to coins, palm leaf manuscripts and Bagan-period Buddha images.The museum charges US$2 to foreign visitors. For Burmese people, the charge is 500 Kyats for adults and 250 kyats for children.It is open from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm from Tuesday to Sunday.
Sagaing is one of the religious and monastic centers in Myanmar, with hundreds of white, silver and gold pagodas and monasteries dotted in green tree-covered hills. It is located on the western bank of Ayeyarwaddy River and about 21 kilometers southwest of Mandalay. Sagaing was also the capital of Shan Kingdom in 14th century and once again 18th century. Most of the tourists to Mandalay, across Irrawaddy River, pay a visit to this pretty town. Like any other cities in Myanmar, Sagaing has a lot of places to visit. In Sagaing, you can pay a visit to:
- Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya
- Kaunghmudaw Paya
- Sitagu Buddhist Academy
- Sagaing Hill
- Taungthaman Lake
Traditional Handicraft Workshops in Mandalay
As I mentioned above, Mandalay is the heart of Burmese culture. So, I would like to recommend some workshops that shows unique architecture of Myanmar.
Gold Leaf Making Industry
Mandalay is the only place to find Gold Leaf making industry. Total of 2000 very thin gold leaves can be obtained from a tickle of 24 karat pure gold after seven hours of pounding in many different steps during the process. This is the industry not being able to replace with modern machine and tourists have very good interest to this industry. If you are interested, you can go and learn at King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop.( No.143, 36th Street,Between 77th & 78th Street, Myet Parr Yart, Mandalay, Myanmar)
Throughout Myanmar, Mandalay Shwe-gyi-do Quarter is the best place for embroidery and applique work. Tapestries (shwe-gyi-do) have been known to be a part of Myanmar culture for about 1000 years.Materials used in embroidery and applique workers include, golden silvery thread, sequins (plastic metal) velvet, satin, colored cloth, paper produced in Shan State and glue from sticky rice. In making an embroidery cloth or a tapestry, the cloth has to stretch on a wooden frame, about one foot high above the ground and embroider on it later.
Aung Nan Myanmar Handicrafts Workshop(No 97, 98, 99 Mandalay-Sagaing By Pass Road, Opposite to the Myohaung Warehouse, Pyitawthar Quarter, Chanmyathazi Township)
Marble Carving Workshops
The marble carving workshop is near Mahamuni Pagoda. Marble are from the Sagin quarry about 35 miles (56km) north of Mandalay. Many religious items, mainly Buddha images and stone slabs for inscription, are produced. Other figures such as images of other religions, animal figures are also made by order.Carving workshops in Myanmar began thriving in the early 1990s and their production rate also started to increase due to the use of advanced electric tools. For instance, even a small village in northern Mandalay has now become home to more than 100 workshops, most of which export Buddha statues mainly to China and Thailand.
Wood Carving Workshops
In Mandalay area, wood carving workshops produce many different figures from wood; they not only religious items such as Buddha images but also other items, such as figures and curving of ornamental and decorative flowers. The workshops are near the Mahamuni Pagoda and in Tampawaddy.