Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar, and was its former royal capital. At its heart lies the restored Mandalay Palace, a collection of over 40 beautiful buildings that stand as a final testament to the last Burmese monarchy.
Mandalay is a surprisingly built up city, as the country’s cultural and economic centre. Yet between the concrete lie hidden remnants of its complex past – Indian temples, Buddhist pagodas, churches and mosques – as well as tucked away arts and crafts markets where you can still find authentic antiques.
Sights to See
Religious sites are the most common attraction in Mandalay. For a quiet spot of rest and reflection, find Shwe In Bin Kyaung. This monastery was built in 1895 and is decorated with detailed teak carvings and engravings. It’s considered one of the most attractive in the city and is still in use today.
For a touch of natural Myanmar beauty, head out to Yaedagon Taung, or Waterfall Hill on the east side of the city. This is a favourite among adventurers for caving and rock climbing, with wild monkeys roaming and buddhist monks chanting from the monasteries perched on the cliffs.
What’s For Lunch
Myanmar is a culturally diverse nation so you’ll have no problem finding Chinese, Indian, Thai, Nepali and other dishes. However, if it’s traditional Burmese food you’re after then a curry with rice is a must-have. Try the beef curry with soy paste and lime leaves from the Green Elephant Restaurant, the most popular chain in Myanmar.
If You Only See One Thing
Mandalay is a very flat city, so you can see it all from one of the few small peaks simply known as Mandalay Hill. Take the walk barefoot past pagodas, monasteries, prayer and shopping spots. If you make it to the top in time for sunset you won’t just be treated to a stunning view of the fading light over the river, hills and city – this is when the young monks gather to practice their English with the foreigners!
Just in case you step on any toes, a sorry is always handy! Have a go at Taung ban ba de if you bump into someone during your travels.
Mandalay is known for its precious stones so pick up gems or jewellery with jade, ruby and sapphire.