With more and more people venturing towards the rugged and untamed shores of Myanmar, the busy town of Mandalay is slowly becoming a big tourist destination. From colorful walks around the moat, visits to various monasteries and pagodas. and of course, the endless string of tea shops, there is so much more to this unassuming town. Here’s our list of the best things to do in Mandalay that you shouldn’t miss.
Getting around Mandalay: To get around Mandalay and most of its attractions, you will have to get a motorbike taxi taking you from one place to the next. You also have an option to rent a motorcycle which you can use to drive around. To enter most of the tourist sites, you will need to avail of the tourist pass (payable only in local Kyat at 10,000) but gives you access to Atumashi Kyaungdawgyi, Shwenandaw Kyaung, and Mandalay Palace.
Top things to see and do in Mandlay: Climb Mandalay Hill while most of Mandalay is flat, this hill offers a stunning elevated view of pretty much everything around you. For those that opt to scale up this hill, you will be rewarded with a bird’s eye view of the city walls, the surrounding moat, and various temples and pagodas with Irrawaddy River gleaming from a far. If walking up the long staircase (which takes around 40 minutes) isn’t your thing, you can also opt to take a taxi and an elevator to enjoy these views. Mandalay Hill is located outside the downtown area and is a 10-minutes drive from the main city.
Sandamuni Pagoda: While you’re in Mandalay Hill, the Sandamuni Pagoda is located nearby. Here, you can see the largest iron Buddha, made up of over 41,000 pounds of iron. Best known for its large golden zedi along with hundreds of shrines containing inscribed marble slabs. The entire area has 1774 shrines, each housing a single marble slab which are inscribed with the teachings of the Buddha.
Kuthodaw Pagoda: Located right across each other, Kuthodaw Pagoda is home to the world’s largest book. This “book” is actually made up of 729 standing stone “pages” with individual stupas known as a kyauk-sa gu. They span across the vast pagoda grounds in long organized rows to spectacular effect and are well worth a visit. Filled with sacred teachings representing 15 books of Buddha’s teachings, every page of the book is about a meter wide and two meters tall. Overall, it’s a very interesting place to visit and is worth wondering around before you descend up Mandalay Hill.
Mandalay Palace: Mandalay Palace used to be more than just royal residence. It was like a little-walled city which had a Glass Palace quarters, an audience hall, and a military area. While most of it was destroyed during World War II, the restoration has been well on their way since 1990’s. While you’re there, there is a watch tower to take in the view of the surrounding moat.