- Place or Religious Monument
- Archaeological Site
Mandalay gives you the chance to experience a different side of Burma during your trip. It's Burma's most developed city, as well as its most populated. Chinese people make up a large portion of the population, and the city is swarming with people.
After spending a day in the city, strolling its streets and visiting various temples, I then hired a taxi for the day. A little away from the city there are a large number of sites that are really worth exploring! There's a monastery that sits right at the top of a hill and offers breathtaking views over the city.
Further away still, I got the chance to walk on the world's longest teak bridge. But it was the island of Inwa that left the greatest impression on me! If offers a real journey back in time, and you can travel around the island by horse-drawn cart and explore some incredible archaeological sites.
Mandalay was Burma's last royal city. It is still the country's second city today. I absolutely recommend that you visit there when touring Burma.
It is the religious and cultural center for Buddhism in Burma. It actually has no less than 700 monasteries and pagodas. It's also where more than half of all the country's monks live. You will easily recognize them due to their shaved heads and orange colored clothing. They file through the city every morning at around 10 am. Over 1000 of them come to collect their plate of rice and vegetables, which constitutes their sole meal of the day! An absolute must see!
The most venerated pagoda is Mahamuni Pagoda, constructed following a fire in the 19th century, though from memory the price of admission is quite high.
Mandalay was the second stop of my trip after Yangon and I have to admit that I didn't like the town itself very much. Some big roads, no particular charms, but nonetheless it's somewhere that everyone who wants to visit the unmissable historical sites of the country has to pass through. First there is the wonderful Monastery of Shwenandaw, totally carved in teak. I also enjoyed walking round the local markets, looking at the fruit and vegetables, the stalls of local products and the beautiful baskets full of betel leaves.
What I liked best was visiting the numerous historic sites in the area, such as Sagaing hill, Inwa and Amarapura. At Amarapura you're bound to take part in the monks' meal, even though it's a shame to have so many tourists at such a special ritual.
In order to visit all the sites in Mandalay and its surroundings I found that 3 nights were both essential and enough!