Mandalay in Myanmar holds the irreplaceable significance in the Burmese history, as it was the last royal capital of the mighty Burmese Kingdom. As time passes, the old city has become the religious hub filled with some of the best pagodas in Myanmar. If wondering what destination to explore next, then it should be Mandalay.
About Mandalay in Myanmar
Mandalay is the second largest city, and the last royal capital of Myanmar, which was erected in 1875. This city is settled around 716km north of Yangon on the east riverbank of Irrawaddy. Mandalay is named after the 236m-high Mandalay Hill – one of the most well-known attractions of the country. It owns several greatly revered pagodas and temples that make up the gorgeous settings. In fact, the land is the popular venue for numerous monks and practitioners who follow the Buddha doctrines. One of the best highlights to point out in Mandalay is the world’s biggest book of 729 marble slabs of Buddhist scriptures housed at Kuthodaw Pagoda. Together with the significant values of spirituality, Mandalay is rich in Burmese culture and is the commercial, educational, and health center of the Upper Burma. Nowadays, the city terraces are dotted with various contemporary hotels and buildings which grow apart from the age-old monasteries and temples. The constant influx of tourists book Mandalay Package Tours all year round; while some fulfill their adventurous spirits by conquering Mandalay Hill, the others admire Mahagandayon Monastery or do relaxing shopping at Jade Market.
What to See in Mandalay
U Bein Footbridge
U Bein Bridge is supposed to be the longest bridge built from teak planks, with the length of 1.2km. The unique, gorgeous bridge was named after the local mayor, U Bein. This mayor salvaged the wood from the dismantled teak palace at Amarapura after the capital movement to Mandalay in 1857. Nowadays, U Bein Footbridge becomes the attractive tourist site thanks to the extraordinary structure and the irreplaceable significance. On a daily basis, the local people and saffron-robed monks walk on the bridge back to home. Besides, more and more tourists have come to experience the memorable walking. Honestly speaking, the best time to visit U Bein is the sunset when to grasp the best photo moments. And if you want to take the incredible photographs, the great recommendation is to boat to view the bridge closer from the water.
If questioning for the biggest Buddhist monastery in Myanmar, then it is Mahagandayon Monastery. This attraction is a home to more than a thousand of the young monks. The life of Buddhist monks in this monastery are disciplined. The single characteristic of this massive monastery is the disciplined manner of the monks, particularly during the lunchtime. Know what? They have lunch in the respectful and complete silence, following the Buddha’s teaching. So, a visit to Mahagandayon Monastery brings you to the authentic world of the Buddhist monks where to enjoy the stress-and-bustle-free lifestyle. Also, the monastery is gigantic and imposing.
The complex structures of Mahamuni Paya convince every visitor of their antiquity with the age-old chamber, the central shrine, the Buddha statues in the special postures, etc. In the center of the pagoda is a 3.8m-tall Buddha statue, which was taken in 1784 from Mrauk U by the army of King Bodawpaya. This statute is the highlight of Mahamuni complex, and note that only the male devotees can apply gold leaves to it (women are not allowed to enter the inner area; so, they have to give the gold leaf to the male assistant instead). Due to the added gold leaf, the statue gains more weight; its original weight is around 6 tons. At 4:00 every day, there is the face washing ceremony for the Buddha statue, and it is truly engaging to see.
People might love to see the Jade Market to enjoy the somewhat bustling atmosphere and interact with the local merchants. Here, you find numerous stalls selling a variety of items. As you might know, jade is the major business in Myanmar and the trade of Jade, mainly with Chinese, has declined these days due to the tough new import tariffs. So, come to the Jade Market in the morning, you can expect to see how jade is being cut, formed, and polished in an authentic manner. If wanted, feel free to record the jade processing along your visit to the market. Together with the vibrant market, the area has the attractive Shwe In Bin Kyaung – the tranquil, late 19th-century teak monastery, without an entrance fee.
Shwenandawkyaung (Golden Palace Monastery)
This is the great model of the traditional Burmese wooden monastery with the charming wood carvings of the mythical creatures. Also, the Shwenandawkyaung monastery is the reminder of the ancient Mandalay Fort. In the past, the monastery was gilded, but now only the interior gold remains because of the harsh influence of the weather. Also, the hard test of time and weather drive some of the outer carvings to be dimmed and disappeared. But entering the monastery, the golden interior is worth praising, and you can watch the 10 jakata scenes depicting the life of the Buddha. Meanwhile, the basement of the structure is adorned with the dragon pillars. That said, the monastery was used by King Thibaw Min for meditation in 1880, and today the couch on which the King sat is still there.
Kuthodaw Paya was erected by King Mindon and located around 274.2m from the bottom of Mandalay Hill. The construction includes the stone slabs of various thickness and width that were erected on the ground. Thanks to the public money donation, the standing slabs of the inscription are today protected by the ornamental umbrella of stone. That helps to preserve the historical remnants. For the first-time visitors, the presence of 729 marble slabs of Buddhist scriptures is sure to surprise them. People always come to pay homage to the Buddha statues and relax in the shady, age-old trees. Apparently, the visit to Kuthodaw Paya brings you to “The World’s Largest Book” of 729 slabs that nowhere else has.
It takes around 45 minutes walking to Mandalay Hill to enjoy the amazing sunset. That is the fascinating activity to try. Take the steps to climb uphill and pass by various souvenir shops along the climbing route. Before you meet the top of the hill, there sees the Byar Deik Paya where a big standing Buddha statue has its hand pointing back the way you arrived. Legend told that the Buddha came to the hill and predicted that there would be a magnificent city built at its foothill. Please note that the way uphill is dotted with several shrines such as Ngon Minn Stupa or Sutaungpyi Paya, for you to do worshipping if wanted. The higher you climb, the more people you might meet, especially during sunset.
When to Visit Mandalay
- November – March: Theyare the dry and cool months, which create the peak season for tourism in Mandalay. Traveling to Mandalay in these months, you enjoy the comfortable and dry condition with the average temperature of 30 degree Celsius. Thanks to the dry weather, it is ideal for various outdoor events and activities.
- April – October: The months between June and October witness the heavy rainfall and monsoons while April and May experience the hot conditions, making them the offseason for tourism in Mandalay. What’s more, note that April is the festive time in Mandalay when to join various significant festivals, namely Thingyan Water Festival, and the New Year celebration after the enthusiastic water festival.