Mandalay - the land of legends

Mandalay is a nice city lies on the East bank of the Irrawaddy River. After Yangon, Mandalay is the second largest city of Myanmar, but thanks to the well structured numbering system of the streets, it is neater than Yangon and you can easily explore this old city.

To some people Mandalay is considered as a stopover on the trip visiting Myanmar, but more than that, with number of temples and historical, cultural, natural sites, this is an interesting place worthwhile exploring. If the Yangon gives you the remnants of the colonial past, Mandalay gets you in a glimpse of the imperial past of Myanmar.

two girls walking along Mandalay Ancient Citadel
Mandalay Ancient Citadel 

In 1850s, to replace Amarapura, the King Mindon of Konbaung dynasty had found and set up Mandalay as the new royal capital of his reign. Before being annexed by the Bristish Empire in 1885, this is the last royal capital of Burma.

When Yangon risen up as new capital of British Burma, Mandalay kept their important role in commercial and cultural development. Moreover, although it was lumbering devastation in World War II, it remains its own beauty and strength to become a good part of newly independent Union of Burma and the economic, educational, and cultural center of the country as nowadays.

Being home of the largest book of the world and palaces of the Konbaung Dynasty, the Mandalay with beautiful pagodas, bustling alleys, unique architecture and friendly locals and a lot of religious and cultural significance made it one of main destinations along the journey to Myanmar of any tourists.

Kuthodaw Pagoda & the World's Largest Book

Every year Kuthodaw with the unique style welcomes a great number of visitors come to visit and learn about Buddhism.

Kuthodaw pagoda is a pride not only for locals but also for Buddhists all around the world.

Almost Buddhists hope to have a chance to visit and admire the gilded Buddhist scriptures carved on rocks in the temple once in their lifetime.

This is home to the largest marble Buddhist scripture in the world. All details are sculpted in an old style and preserved until now make it deserve to be one of the most beautiful ancient pagodas in Myanmar.

Kuthadaw Pagoda
Stupas containing Buddha scripts at Kuthodaw pagoda

Kuthodaw was built in 1857 under the direction of the King Mindon Min (1808-1878). It consists of a main temple and many small towers around. The main temple is 57m high and is inspired by Shwezigon Pagoda in Nyaung-U near Bagan. The entire main temple is gilded that makes it brilliant in sunshine.

The pages of the scripture were carved on white marbles with 153cm high, 107cm wide and 13cm thick.These marble blocks were exploited and transported via river way from Sagyin region which is 51km North of Mandalay.The classic content of the Tripitaka was carved in Pali language on both sides of the rocks. Each side of a rock has about 80 to 100 lines with many gilded words and black-ink words. Each stone plate is placed in a tower shaped as a small cave that people here call them Kyauksa Gu. There are currently 730 towers neatly arranged in 3 rows around the gilded main temple.

It takes you about 1 hour to visit all around the area. As the regulations of all other pagodas, please choose suitable clothes to come here and ask in advance before taking photos.

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Mandalay Marionettes Theater

Myanmar Puppetry was not only an entertainment type but also a high level art form that held in much esteem by all classes. They are not only small puppets, but also the means of educating people in literature, history and religion and the way of making people aware of current events as well as display the custom and lifestyle of the country. More than that, in royalty it is the mouthpiece for the people to show their opinions, helps to raise the tiny hands in state and social affairs.

At Mandalay Marionettes Theater, in about one hour show, the colorful marionettes expressively re-create excerpts of traditional tales on a small stage. Each scene started with a brief description in English and during each scene, the curtain is lifted for a minute so that you can also see the puppeteers.

Besides visiting religious sites and nature landscapes outside, watching a marionettes show in an artistic theatre is a special way to explore the cultural and historical depth of the country.

the artists are contolling the puppets in a Marionettes Show in Mandalay
Mandalay Marionettes Show

Mandalay Palace

Mandalay Palace is named as “the city of pearl”. It was built between 1857 and 1859 and the palace is considered as important part of the new royal capital of Mandalay. The Mandalay Palace is also the last royal palace of the Burmese monarchy. Therefore, the interior design of the palace still follows the style of the traditional Burmese palace.

The place was built extremely magnificent with teak and gilded because it was formerly the main residence of King Mindo and King Thibaw - the last two kings of the country.

Moreover, it was constructed and designed extremely sophisticated and beautiful, in an up-to-413-hectare campus, along with the moat built around. It is inside a fortified fortress with a wall system up to 2 km long, 8 meters high and 3 meters thick, was installed with 48 artillery launchers for safety.

The palace was burnt down in World War II but the system of the outer walls and moats is preserved until now. By 1989, archaeologists had rebuilt the entire palace.

The Mandalay Palace has become the most popular tourist attraction of Myanmar today.

the red and golden roof of Mandalay Royal Palace
Mandalay Royal Palace

Shwenandaw Monastery

Locates right on the road connecting Atumashi Monastery and Mandalay Buddhist University, near the Mandalay hill, the Shwenandaw Monastery attracts every travellers visiting.

The historical monastery was built in the 19th century by the king of Mindon (1853-1878). This is a royal gilded monastery, famous for not only traditional architecture and teak wood carvings but also a glorious imprint of the past. Currently, Shwenandaw is the only remained large wooden original structure of Mandalay Royal Palace.

The building is a large multi-storey wooden house with four separated roofs make it majestic and gorgeous. All the walls, roofs, corridors and balustrades are intricately carved with images of bird, leafy motifs and Buddhist deities.

Shwenandaw floor is perched on teak wooden pillars including 15 columns in the Northeast and 10 ones in the Southwest. These are all 150 pillars located on a stylized lotus, with 54 Nayar - a form of mythical creature - adorns the outermost columns of the architecture, both for showing majesty and protecting the monastery from being attacked by evil forces.

Shwenandaw is a masterpiece of Myanmar teak wood sculpture. Come and enjoy it in moments of amazement but peaceful.

Shwenandaw Monastery is made from teak wood
Shwenandaw Monastery

Mandalay Hill

Mandalay Hill is located in the Northeast of the Mandalay ancient city, is considered as the sacred hill of Myanmar. There are many famous temples around the hill such as Kuthodaw, Sandamuni... From here, you can enjoy the panoramic views of surrounding areas like Sagaing Hill, Ayeyarwady and Mingun Rivers in the West, Yankin Hill, YaeTa Khun Hill in the East.

Mandalay Hill looks like a natural tower. On top of Mandalay hill, there is the unique Sutaungpyi temple with a system of mirror tiles on the wall that reflect light. This architecture makes the pagoda become golden bright and sparkle in centre of the hill whenever the sun shines.

Coming to the top of the hill, enjoying the beautiful scenery of Mandalay in the morning mist with peaceful atmosphere or admiring the sunset with wonderful scenery are the best experiences for all travellers.

Mahamuni Pagoda

The Mahamuni Buddha Temple (also known as Mahamuni Temple, Mahamuni Paya and Mayat Maha Muni Temple) is an important pilgrimage site not only of Mandalay, but also of Myanmar. This very sacred Buddhist temple locates in the Southwest region of Mandalay City.

The legend said that when Buddha visited Arakan, Candrasuriya - the King of this area asked for permission to sculpt a statue the same size as Buddha to worship at the temple on Sirigutta hill. In 1784 when King Bodawpaya conquered Arakan, he took the Buddha statue out of the temple. He built Mahamuni pagoda at the foot of Mandalay hill to preserve the Buddha sculpture.

The bronze 4m height and 6.5 ton weight statue is placed in main hall. This 2500-year-old statue is one of only three portraits of Buddha that made on Earth during his lifetime. That why this statue is to be the most revered by Buddhism devotees in Myanmar. It is being made bigger and bigger every day thanks to the gold leaf inlaid by Buddhists. The estimated gold layer is currently about 15cm thick.

Muhamuni pagoda
Mahamuni Pagoda

Jade Pagoda Mandalay

Mandalay has been considered as the "Buddhist mecca" with more than 4,000 finely sculpted temples and pagodas. In particular, there are many pagodas inlaid with gold outside and many Buddha statues are cast in solid gold. And Jade Pagoda is one of that one.

The Jade pagoda is quite far from the city center and on the way to airport. The temple - also known as Kyauksein Pagoda - is believed to be built using 10,000 tons of jade and is considered as the first jade pagoda in the world. It is absolutely fascinating for being surrounded by lots of jewels and countless towers. Going here at sunset is an amazing experience and it is such a bright illuminant at night.

Zay cho market

It can be said that in Mandalay you can find anything you desire. And Zay Cho market is the oldest main shopping destination in Mandalay. You can quickly find everything here, from practical home appliances such as spices, fabrics, typical street food, to gems and jewelry.

This huge and partly covered market open from 6 AM until 5 PM. Let’s go here in the early morning, wander around and see how these locals spend their morning.

a lady smiling beside her fish vendor at Mandalay local market
Local markets are the gateways to step into a new culture

Dee Dote WaterFall

Dee Dote WaterFal is considered the highest waterfall of Myanmar and lies deep inside the mountain. This super charming waterfall brings visitors the most relaxing moments and sweeps away all your daily noise. Don’t miss soaking in cool water to enjoy moments of relaxation and sublimation.

The falls is also a destination in must-visit list of couples who is finding a paradise resort to immerse in majestic nature and an extremely romantic place to achieve the beginning of their life with full love.

King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop

The Burmese apply thin gold leaves on the statues of Buddha as a solemn offering way to Lord Buddha. And they can be seen at many pagodas you visit.

The ancient capital of Myanmar – Mandalay has many factories producing gold leaf, of which King Galon is one of the oldest and most famous gold factories here.

Coming here, you can observe pieces of gold leaf making process. Everyone at King Galon is very happy and enthusiastic, you could try hammering on the gold piece yourself. The experience is free, but of course this is not a light work. You could also buy one as a special souvenir from this golden land.

U Bein Bridge in Amarapura

The U-Bein Bridge which crosses the Taungthaman Lake was built around 1850s. With the length is about 1.2km, the bridge is believed to be the longest and also oldest teakwood bridge in the world. It was built from wood that reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa. It has 1086 pillars stretch out of water with some have been replaced with concrete.

It is not only an important passageway for local people but also is in the tourist attraction list for all travelers visiting Mandalay.

sunset on U Bein Bridge
Sunset on U Bein Bridge

The best time to visit the bridge is between Jul and Aug when the lake is highest away from water surface but of course it could be crowded. It just takes 20 minutes to drive here from Mandalay and you'd better arrive here 2 hours before the sunset, which is less crowded and it is the time you could catch the beauty of Mandalay.

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