Mandalay is Myanmar‘s second largest city (and once the capital). Founded in 1857 by King Mindon, Mandalay lies at the foot of Mandalay Hill. Despite its traffic congested streets and bustling atmosphere, Mandalay has undeniable charm. Indian temples, monasteries and mosques, fantastic markets and, of course, the teahouse culture all combine to make this a place even frequent travellers can’t afford to miss!
Without a doubt the best thing to do on your trip to Mandalay is to soak up the atmosphere of the city; and how better to do so than by watching locals go about their day as you tuck into street food and tea? Try Muslim Chinese noodles with chilli and chicken or the famous ‘lahpet’ (Burmese tea leaf salad), made with pickled tea leaves, roasted peanuts, crunchy beans and garlic. It’s far tastier than it sounds! Finish off with delicious ‘htou moun’, a Burmese dessert that you’ll only find in Mandalay!
Another of our favourite activities on a trip to Mandalay is to take a motorcycle tour around the outskirts of the city to see the ancient capitals. First stop off at Amarapura village to see the famous U-Bein Bridge. Spanning 1,300 yards, this is the longest teak footbridge on the planet and it’s best to come at sunset for the fantastic views. Then it’s on to Sagaing for hilltop pagodas before heading to Old Ava (Inwa) to see monasteries, temples and palaces. It’s also worth taking the two-hour round trip to Dee Doke Waterfalls for a refreshing swim on hot sunny days.
While you’re in the city, there are plenty of temples and religious sites to visit – it’s little wonder half of all the monks in Burma reside in the city and surrounding areas! The second most holy pilgrimage site in Myanmar is here: Maha Myat Muni Paya. This four-metre-high gold, jewelled Buddha is a must-see, and for a small fee you can pick up some gold leaf and take part in the ancient ceremony of decorating the Buddha.
Mandalay may seem like a smoggy, busy city to the uninitiated, but peel back its layers and you’ll be rewarded with rich culture, history and friendly locals.
Plan your trip to Mandalay today.