Mandalay Myanmar – Top Picks for Attractions and Sights
Whilst smaller than its partner in the south, Yangon, you’ll still find that Mandalay is a pretty crazy city to spend time in. As motorbikes whiz by and street sellers trade their wares, you’ll be entranced by the sights and sounds that surround you.
Almost destroyed after several serious fires and heavy bombing in the Second World War, it has been reconstructed over the past 70 years and features a mishmash of more modern buildings and what remains of the older and more historic city monuments.
The city is perfect for those looking to shop till they drop, especially when it comes to picking up souvenirs to remind you of your time in Myanmar. Pop into the Jade Market located in the area around 87th street (daily; USD1) where you’ll find a multitude of street vendors haggling and selling their jade ornaments and decorations - a bracelet of jade makes a great treat to take home.
Alternatively, if you fancy shipping home something larger, why not visit one of the many Buddha Factories - you’ll hardly believe the sights at these huge workshops that churn out large plaster Buddha figures, worth a visit even if you don’t fancy buying anything.
Sights included into Manadalay Zone ticket
Be sure to buy the ‘Mandalay Zone’ admission ticket for access to most of these - it’s valid for MMK10,000 and covers all of the main historical attractions, including the most famous Royal Palace (daily; 9am-6pm). It’s a little disconcerting as you arrive here to find that you have to hand in your passport for the duration of your visit, a feeling that was amplified by a significant military presence inside the walls practising their drills! The complex is extensive and features many, mainly reconstructed buildings that mirror what the palace would have looked like before it was destroyed.
If you fancy a hike, take the walk up to the summit of Mandalay Hill (daily; Mandalay Zone Ticket), past the temple at the bottom, it’s the city’s highest peak and offers amazing views of the surrounding landscape. It’s no mean feat in the hot Myanmar weather though and if you’re not up to it, shared taxis are available for a couple of dollars at the bottom of the hill.
Another place you have to see is the Shwenandaw monastery (9am-6pm daily; Mandalay Zone Ticket), a large and incredibly well preserved teak monastery that showcases the finest teak work. Be aware that only men may approach the Buddha image that sits in the central room of the monastery.
For more culture, and of course, more pagodas there are many religious sites in Mandalay to try and fit into your visit to the city.
Not too far away from Shwenandaw monastery are many smaller pagodas, near to the amazing Kuthodaw Pagoda (8am–8pm daily, USD5). This pagoda is well known as the home of the world’s largest book - painstakingly inscribed on over 700 tablets.
Finally, if you only add one other temple to your list, make it the Mahamuni Buddha temple (6am–8pm, daily; USD4) which is centrally located and hosts the most highly revered images of Buddha in the whole of Myanmar. It can get very busy as it’s a popular pilgrimage site, attracting visitors from across the country, and again be prepared for the fact that only men may approach the sacred Buddha.
To cool down after a day of sightseeing in the city, take a ride to the landmark U Been Bridge, the longest and the oldest teak bridge of its kind in the world. Be warned, it’s extremely rickety and very easy to trip up, so wear sensible shoes and watch your steps – you’ll marvel at young locals dashing along without a care in the world as you wobble your way across! Visit at sunset to take iconic photographs of the bridge.