Myanmars second largest city Mandalay is full of magnificent temples, traditional workshops and close to beautiful Sagaing, Amarapura and U Bein Bridge.
Do: A highlight is the Kuthadow pagoda with its hundreds of white shrines containing inscribed marble slabs. Magnificent is also the Golden Buddha in the Mahamuni pagoda. Men are allowed to apply gold leaves on the seated Buddha, which is one of the countries most sacred statues. But the whole temple is extremely beautiful with its many details and colors. Also stunning are the old Khmer bronze figures in a building on the north site of the courtyard brought here from Angkor Wat. On 84th street right behind the temples Westgate are many impressive marble and temple-supply workshops where men skillfully craft all sorts of Buddha statues. Not too far away lies the Shwe In Bin Kyaung, a beautiful monastery made of teak with artful carvings all over. It’s visited by few people so you have the wonderful complex to yourself. A great place to see another of the many local, traditional crafts is in the gold leaf workshop King Galon at 36th and 77 and 78th street. The summit of Mandalay Hill is a beautiful viewpoint in the evening when the sun sets over the city. You can either walk the stairs for thirty minutes or take a taxi. Mandalay by night is a true spectacle when many temples and pagodas are illuminated in bright colors. The old Chinese restaurant Golden Duck right across the palace walls is perfect for dinner and serves delicious duck and vegetables.
Stay: The Mandalay Hill Resort is a chic, big luxurious hotel at the foot of Mandalay Hill, so it takes a taxi ride to get into the center of town. But it’s close to many temples and the view from the hill.
Getting around: When doing a roundtrip in Myanmar it’s nice to travel from Bagan to Mandalay with a cruise ship. There are many companies who offer river cruises on the Ayeyarwaddy river. The ships leave very early before dawn and there are no proper jetties, you have to clamber over a brittled wood plank while skilled men carry your luggage for a tip. The trip takes about 12 hours, so there is enough time to read, nap in the sun, relax or observe the everyday life of the people living at the river, you’ll also experience a gorgeous sunrise and sunset.
In Mandalay it’s easiest to take taxis or three-wheel vehicles. Hotels organize drivers and the app Grab also operates in Mandalay.