Mandalay may be noisy and often congested, but it is always underestimated by visitors.
Once you get exploring this charming, lively city, you’ll soon see that Mandalay has so many exciting sites to discover. Downtown is easily walk-able and the city is bursting with bustling side streets, exciting culinary treats, busy tea-houses and ancient temples.
Mandalay is not only an irresistibly buzzing city; it also serves as the perfect hub for unmissable adventures in the country’s surrounding regions.
There’s certainly no lack of inner-city charm and Burmese style sites to explore, but one thing that makes Mandalay an unmissable stop on your Myanmar adventure is its exciting surrounding regions and unrivaled adventures. Mandalay makes the ideal place to stay, sleep, dine and explore whilst still enjoying the endless opportunities to relish unforgettable adventures outside of the city.
You’ve no doubt heard about Mandalay Hill. No visitor stays in Mandalay without a trip to Mandalay Hill being high up on their agenda.
Climbing the hill will take about 40 minutes, but if walking isn’t your thing, you can also take a taxi up the hill. Whichever way you opt to get to the top of Mandalay Hill, you will be rewarded by breath-taking views across valleys, temples, pagodas, the city below and stunning surrounding countryside. The striking views are not the only reason to visit. At the top of the hill stands the beautiful Sutaungpyei Pagoda. A truly unique site, this stunningly ornate pagoda impresses visitors daily with its kaleidoscope of glittering mosaics.
Make this an early evening adventure and catch the sunset over the Ayeyarwady River for an unforgettable evening chatting locals, enjoying the mild atmosphere, soaking in the peace and tranquillity and being mesmerised by the orange sky and sprawling views of the city below.
Located 21 kilometres southwest of Mandalay, Sagaing is worth taking a taxi ride to if a culturally and historically immersive family day out is on your radar.
One of Myanmar’s many beautiful ancient capitals, Sagaing in particularly famous for its unique hilly landscape and its uncountable temples and pagodas dotted across the rolling landscape. Here, what feels like hundreds of temples glimmer in the sun in clean, bright whites and stunning golds. The ancient capital dates way back to about 1312 and, as result, nobody really knows exactly how many temples exist in Sagaing. A mystical fact that adds the wonderful mystery and sense of adventure that makes Sagaing so exciting.
Don’t miss the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda located right at the top of the hill for unforgettable views across the lush surrounding landscapes.
You can easily spend a whole day here exploring the endless pagodas, stunning temples and the intriguing streets and caves scattered around the area. There’s also a couple of restaurants offering delicious lunch menus helping you to easily make a visit to Sagaing a fun, family day out.
20 kilometres south of Mandalay lays the beautiful ancient city of Inwa, or Ava as it was previously known. The royal court abandoned Inwa in 1841 and despite earthquake damage, today Inwa is bursting with quintessential charm.
Located in a remarkably quiet, uninhabited spot just outside of Mandalay, Inwa makes for a relaxing adventure if you feel you want to get off the beaten path a little bit and take a break from busy city life. Take a taxi from Mandalay but explore Inwa easily by foot, bicycle or traditional horse and cart.
The area of Inwa is littered with charming ancient monasteries, watch towers, fortresses, temples and pagodas and promises a relaxing adventure and an experience that will really offer a window into a time gone by.
Don’t miss the fascinating Bagaya Monastery. Built in teak wood and supported by over 260 teak wood posts, this ancient monastery was built around 1834 and its unique atmosphere promises an exceptional experience and memories to last a lifetime.
A trip to the U Bein Bridge at sunset will undeniably be one of every visitors Mandalay highlights and never fails to provide a fairy tale like experience.
Sitting amongst the Burmese countryside 8kms northwest of Mandalay is the unforgettable village of Mingun. This quaint little village just outside of Mandalay is home to some of Myanmar’s most famous sites.
Located on the banks of the famous Ayeyarwaddy River, arriving at Mingun village is half the fun. Take an exciting 1-hour ferry ride from Mandalay and sit back and take in the sites of Myanmar’s most famous river on route to your Mingun adventure.
Mingun Pahtodawgyi, also known as the ‘unfinished pagoda’ is, probably, Mingun’s most frequented site. The massive stupa was famously intended to reach a whopping 150 metres. Today, it still stands, unfinished at an impressive 50 metres. Even at its unfinished height, it is frequently referred to as largest ‘pile of bricks’ in the world and really does promise a fascinating experience unlike any other in Myanmar.
Of course, you cannot visit Mingun without witnessing the largest bell in the world. The glorious Mingun Bell weighs in at an astonishing 90 tonnes and measures over 5 metres in circumference making it a thoroughly unique and mesmerising experience. Adults and children alike will be blown away its vast size and intriguing story.
Perhaps the most beautiful and more photogenic site around Mandalay is the Hsinbyume Pagoda, also known as the Myatheintan Pagoda. Built by King Bagyidaw, this temple’s unique architecture and bright white colour make the Hsinbyume Pagoda one of the most photographed sacred sites in the whole of Myanmar. Its beauty is not hard to see and Hsinbyume Pagoda should sit high on your list if you’re interested in photography.
Amarapura translates to ‘the city of immortality’. Home to several beautiful monasteries, visitors can even take the opportunity to watch Monks take their daily lunch. Once a sacred royal city, today Amarapura is better known as the famous setting for the magical U Bein Bridge.
Sitting proudly on the left bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, Amarapura is easily referred to as a suburb of Mandalay and effortlessly reachable by taxi.
The magnificent U Bein Bridge is rightly known as the longest teakwood bridge in the world. It measures in at a fascinating 1.2 kilometres in length. The bridge is believed to be built from remaining teak wood that was historically salvaged from the old royal palace after it was dismantled in 1857.
Even today the U Bein Bridge is central to community life in Amarapura. Every day hundreds of local people, monks and fishermen cross the bridge going about their daily lives. It becomes considerably busier at sunset. And for good reason. The sprawling bridge becomes quite the spectacle. A wonderful way to wind down at the end of a busy day. Take a gentle walk across the famous bridge as the sky turns magnificent pinks and oranges around you. Or join the locals relaxing on the riverbank as the sun sets and reflections dance on the beautiful Ayeyarwaddy River