Along with famous destinations in Myanmar, comprising Bagan, Yangon, Inle, the over-140-year-old Mandalay with ancient historical relics has always been a unique attraction to visitors. In this post, let’s find out what you need to know before visiting Mandalay via our Mandalay travel guide.
- 1 Where Is Mandalay?
- 2 The Best Time to Visit Mandalay
- 3 How to Move Around Mandalay
- 4 Must-Visit Mandalay Itineraries
- 5 What to Eat in Mandalay?
Where Is Mandalay?
Being the second-largest city of Myanmar, Mandalay used to be the capital under the Mindon dynasty. It lies in the North of Yangon with many old temples; therefore, it is known as Buddhism’s home.
The Best Time to Visit Mandalay
According to our Mandalay travel guide, there are three primary seasons in the city, the cooling season, the hot season, and the rainy season. The average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius.
The cooling season occurs from November to February with pleasant weather and less rain. It is also the peak season of tourism. Therefore, you should plan a trip and book services to avoid being sold out.
The hot period lasts between March to April. The weather is quite fiery and less rain. Don’t forget to prepare sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun-protect clothing to prevent the UV rays. Besides, you should take part in outdoor activities after 4 pm when there is less heat.
From May to October, the rain will dominate the region. Flights might be canceled due to extreme weather, and transfer among destinations gets harder. However, traveling to Mandalay in the rainy season will help reduce accommodation and service costs, so you should consider when to visit the beautiful city.
How to Move Around Mandalay
The main transport of local people is motorbikes, but you should stay in hotels near the center and hire bikes at about 1.500 kyats per day to freely ride around the city. If you travel with a group of people, it is advisable to book vehicles via an app to save your budget and ensure your safety.
Must-Visit Mandalay Itineraries
Mahamuni Buddha Temple
Constructed in 1785, under the demand of King Bodawpaya, the pagoda is one of Mandalay’s most favorite pilgrimages. It is the place where Buddha had appeared about 200 years ago. Coming to the holy site, you will see a 4-meter-tall statue of Buddha sitting, the most revered Buddha image in the country.
If you visit the temple in February and July, don’t skip the two traditional festivals, the Mahamuni Pagoda Festival and Chinlone (Street Football) Festival. Furthermore, the Mahamuni Museum is worth visiting to learn more about Buddha’s life, from his birthday to the day he passed away.
Opening time: 4:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday), 4:45 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Friday), and 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Saturday)
Entrance fee: $4 per ticket
Another must-visit itinerary on ous list of Mandalay travel guide is Kuthodaw pagoda. The temple is a complex of marble temples and over 700 small towers. The main pagoda with 57 meters in height is modeled after the Shwezigon Temple un Nyaung U near Bagan. The site is called the greatest book in the world, as there are 729 stone plates manually carved Tripitaka in the Pali language. Each slab has two sides placed in a small temple. The building started in 1857, while the inscription began in 1860 and finished in 1868. Another thing impressing visitors is the pleasant fragrance of jasmine grown in the campus.
Opening time: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily
Entrance fee: $5 per ticket
Dee Doke Waterfall
Located on Mandalay’s outskirts, this is a place that few tourists know, but familiar for locals. Due to the rich and abundant minerals, the blue water appears like heaven on the earth. In winter, when the temperature decreases, the water is still warm enough for you to swim without worrying about having a cold.
The way leading to the waterfall is quite distant and dangerous; thus, you should accompany with a guide or local to avoid getting lost and having troubles.
Mingun Ancient Village
The village lies in the upper part of the Irrawaddy River, which keeps plenty of national treasures. The famous stupas, Mingun bell, and a pair of Chinthe statue are the treasures of local dwellers.
Although located near Mandalay, the town is unaffected by the hustle and bustle urban area. It still retains the rustic features with a proud history.
Each morning, boats carry a lot of tourists from the mainland to the village. You should travel with a guide to know more about the history and well-known attractions within site.
Entrance fee: $3 per ticket (also accessible to Sagaing)
Mahar Aung Myay Market or Jade Market
Mahar Aung Myay Market, also known as the Jade Market, is famous for selling jade. You can find numerous types of jade outside the market, from raw jades to meticulously made gems. If you are looking for the famous Jadeit, pay $1 to enter the market and buy one.
Entrance fee: $1 per ticket
Finished in 1959, it is the final palace of the last Burmese monarchy and the residence of King Mindo and Thibaw – the ultimate two kings of the country. The whole architecture is built from wood, then gilded and painted in red.
Not only does it present the king’s magnitude, but the palace is also solid enough to protect the royal family from the invasion. The wall system is two kilometers long, eight kilometers high, and three kilometers thick, with 48 artillery launchers and deep water moats outside. From a distance, the construction looks splendid and magnificent.
Until now, the Mandalay palace still is a pride of local dwellers due to its impressive architecture and history, attracting millions of tourists. Hence, we have put it in the Mandalay travel guide.
Opening time: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
It is the largest monastery in the area made from teak wood, where the King Mindon came to retreat his mind, read scriptures, and pass away in 1879. Previously, the monastery was the Golden palace encased in gilded leaves and glass. Later, King Mindon renovated it with teak wood and elaborately carved designs depicting the Buddha’s life. Although being a monastery, no monk is staying here, currently only for sightseeing purposes.
Opening time: 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
The Ancient Capital of Amarapura
Amarapura was once the ancient capital of Myanmar under King Bodawpaya’s reign of the Konbaung Dynasty. Coming to Amarapura, you should not miss Maha Gandhayon Kyaung Monastery and the sunset on U Bein wooden bridge on the outskirts. The 1.2-kilometer-long Bridge crossing the Taungthaman Lake is made of teak wood in the palace in Inwa when they moved the capital to Amarapura. The construction began in 1849 and completed in 1851. It is considered the oldest and most prolonged bridge in the world.
The hill is situated at an altitude of 240 meters, so travelers must finish 1.729 steps, or use an escalator, car, or bus to reach the tower in the summit. On the path, you will encounter many temples on the two sides. Standing on the mountain peak, numerous famous destinations, such as the Royal Palace, Sagaing Hill, Ayeyarwady and Mingun Rivers, and Yankin and YaeTa Khun Hills, will appear in front of your eyes.
Opening time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Inwa Ancient Imperial Capital
The last attraction in this Mandalay travel guide is the ancient capital of Inwa. About 35 kilometers to the South of central Mandalay, the Inwa city used to be the capital of Myanmar for four centuries. Surrounded by rivers, the town resembles an island. Hence, you need to catch a bus to Inwa city, then hire a boat to access the ancient imperial capital. Due to the rugged terrain, it would be best if you joined a tour to help you explore the city more easily.
You need to buy a Mandalay Zone Ticket at $10, valid for a week, to enter the Palace, Shwenandaw Monastery, Amarapura, Mandalay Hill, and Inwa City.
What to Eat in Mandalay?
Mohinga – Rice Noodle with Fish Soup
For breakfast, Mandalay travel guide suggests a type of rice noodle soup. Mohinga is a traditional rice noodle soup of Burmese people. As its name, the main ingredients are rice noodles and fish. In areas where there is no sea and fresh fish, chefs replace fish with meat. The stock is a mixture of ground roasted rice, garlic, lemongrass, onion, fish sauce, ginger, and chickpea powder. It is a popular breakfast for the resident. However, you can find it in local coffee shops and street food stalls at any time.
In India, samosa is a fried or baked pastry with a savory filling. However, when coming to Myanmar, it is modified with ingredients like chickpeas, onions, cabbage, and potato, creating a tasty salad dish in many streets. The plate is not merely vegetables mixed with fried flour, but the broth is the secret to making the salad special.
It is a unique rice dish of the Shan ethnic group living adjacently to Mandalay. They are renowned for making delicious food. The rice is cooked with turmeric juice to enhance the flavor and color of the dish. Cooked rice will be put on a plate, served with crunchy fried fish and fragrant garlic oil. Other spices, including garlic, black pepper, chili, and clover leaf, helps the Shan rice become the most popular dish in Myanmar.
Street food never loses its fame in Myanmar. Among them, Bein Mont is a typical snack sold in the streets in the afternoon. Cooks make a mixture of glutinous rice flour, shredded fresh coconut, and almond, then deep-fried it. You should eat when it has just been made to enjoy the best savor. It is a must-try among the food in Mandalay.
Dosa is an Indian-styled crepe, made from overnight fermented rice flour and lentils. The chef pours a layer of the mixture on a small pan and puts shredded coconut on top. Besides the original cake, local people make the cake more special by placing tomato, chickpea, and other ingredients.
Koh Pieh is a type of dessert made from glutinous rice sprinkled with sesame seeds, served with shredded coconut and a bit black pepper. The dish has rice fragrance, sesame taste, coconut sweetness, and a bit pepper spicy.
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