Mandalay and Surrounds Travel Guide

Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar, though it looks and feels more like a large village. Situated near the famed Ayeyarwady River, it is the perfect starting point for a trip to Bagan and Lagu Lake or to northern Myanmar. This lovely city has a lot to offer. There is no skyline here, and while strolling down some of its dirt tracks, you may be forgiven for thinking you have somehow entered a time warp.

There are some excellent holy sites in Mandalay. Myanmar’s second holiest site for pilgrims is the Maha Myat Muni Paya, home to a gold Buddha statue that is decorated with gems and jewels. Therevada Buddhism’s most important text is kept at Kuthodaw Paya, carved on 729 marble slabs enshrined within 729 white stupas inside the complex.

Within Mandalay is a walled city known as Man Da Lei Nan Dau, or the Royal Palace. Once magnificent, it was burned down in recent times, but a large-scale model depicts its former grandeur. Other attractions include the ancient Shwe Kyi Myin Paya and the Sandamuni Paya.

Try walking the long, hard trek up Mandalay Hill for panoramic views of the town sitting among rice paddies and open plains. The less energetic can take a pickup to and from the hilltop pagoda. Head to Zegyo Market for a chance to shop like the locals.

Outside of Mandalay is the longest teak walkway in the world at U Bein Bridge in Amarapura. Enjoy the romantic sight of locals cycling homeward as the sun grows weak in the sky, or visit the nearby Mahagandhayon Kyaung Monastery.

Take a horse drawn carriage through the old royal capital of Inwa, and visit Bagaya Kyaung, a stunning old teak monastery. Close by, Sagaing is a religious center full to the brim with Buddhist architecture.

Another popular excursion from Mandalay is to take a boat upriver to Mingun. The impressive, unfinished Mingun Paya stands 164 feet high and 230 feet long on each side, and though damaged by earthquakes, it is still an imposing sight.