Bicycle, motorbike and car city tours
One of the best ways to explore the city is to take a day, or even just an afternoon if you’re tight on time, to hire bicycles or a motorbike if you’re feeling confident and just ride around the various districts and neighbourhoods.
One great route is to follow the old city walls around the palace and its moat, where roads are in better condition than some other areas and many places are quite quiet when it comes to traffic.
Small scooters cost from USD15 per day and bicycles from USD2-3 per day.
Taking a private day tour by car is a lot more expensive at USD80-90, but is a great way to get around the main attractions while being economical on time.
Massage and spas
Also in the city it’s easy to get some rest and relaxation at one of the many spas, with a basic massage coming in at around USD6 and presenting great value for money. Be prepared for a massage that is similar in style to Thai massage and be sure to check reviews so you get a decent masseuse, some set up with very little experience.
After you’ve enjoyed a massage why not treat yourself to an evening at one of the many popular cultural shows that Mandalay has to offer its visitors. You have to see a traditional marionette show whilst you’re in Myanmar and the show at the Mandalay Marionettes Theatre is one of the best and a bargain at just USD7.
Classes & workshops
If you have an afternoon to spend at a class or workshop to teach you more about Myanmar’s fascinating culture, top choices are to take either a cooking class or street food tour, or perhaps if you’re a crafts fan a handicrafts workshop.
Food tours at night are great and take in plenty of stops at some of the city’s best night markets where you can try incredible local flavours - both these and the cooking classes last 3-4 hours and cost around USD30-35 per person.
For nature fans, a boat trip under the U Bean bridge where you can take in the sunset is a brilliant choice and costs only a few dollars for an hour or so in a shared boat. Try to go at sunset for the best pictures. A boat trip also means you can avoid walking over the bridge itself which is very rickety!
Otherwise, for the best natural wonders of Myanmar you’ll need to take a short tour out of the city, which may be welcomed after a couple of days in the hustle and bustle of Mandalay.
Day trips to see amazing temples and beautiful landscapes at Sagaing Ava and Amarapura cost around USD80 and upwards, whilst touring the areas of Inwa and Hsithe village also offer some great rural landscapes, impressive pagodas and don’t set you back too much more.
Another day trip which is extremely popular and can be done very cost effectively is a DIY trip to the stunning Dee Doke waterfalls which are a couple of hours outside of the city. Many hire a car and driver or even just a motorbike and make the journey to this impressive natural wonder - be sure to allow a full day to take in the area and spend plenty of time swimming in the bright blue waters.