Explore Mandalay, Burma’s second-largest city, for an interesting mix of royal history, traditions and breathtaking religious sites. Those who appreciate ancient architecture will be in their element as they wander through the bustling, hot streets of the city. Pagodas, temples, monasteries and churches all express Southeast Asia’s culture and legends.
Cruise lines that stop by Mandalay during Asian river tours include Viking Cruises and Orient Express Cruises.
Cruise ships anchor along the banks of Mandalay.
It’s best to head into town for a wider range of facilities, including restaurants, cafés and transportation options.
How to Get Around
Pedal trishaws were once the most popular mode of transport around Mandalay; however, nowadays they tend to only stay close to the markets. Motorcycle taxis and regular taxis can be found throughout the city, especially near hotels. As Mandalay covers a large area, it’s best to rely on a mode of transport rather than exploring on foot (especially due to the hot temperatures).
Travel times from Mandalay port:
It is a 35 minute journey to Shwe In Bin Kyaung.
It is a 10 minute journey to Mandalay Hill
It is a 12 minute journey to Mahamuni Buddha Temple
It is a 5 minute journey to Shwe In Bin Kyaung
It is a 7 minute journey to Nann Twin.
Currency – The official currency in Bagan is the kyat (K). Banknotes come in the denominations of K50, K100, K200, K500, K1,000, K5,000, K10,000. There are no coins in circulation.
Time Zone – Mandalay observes Myanmar Time (MMT), which puts the region 6-and-a-half hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). There is no Daylight Saving Time.
Weather – Temperatures are typically high in Mandalay, with the warmest month being April. The majority of rainfall occurs from May until October, the latter being the wettest month of the year.
Mandalay Hill – North of Bagan’s downtown is Mandalay Hill. Its 230-metre summit draws in visitors and locals alike to watch the rising and setting sun over the city. When visiting, be sure to take a photo next to the large lion-cross-dragon statues that guard over the hill. The 30-minute climb up Mandalay Hill’s stairs offers an incredible experience for visitors, with many prayer points and shops located along the journey. Inside the shrine, there is an immense, golden statue of Buddha pointing in the direction of the Royal Palace. Further up the stairs are the ruins of a stone fortress. Visitors with limited mobility can drive up the majority of the hill before using the tower’s escalator.
Mahamuni Buddha Temple – To the south of Mandalay is the Mahamuni Buddha Temple, one of the most revered pilgrimage destinations in Myanmar. It is home to the Mahamuni Buddha image, the most respected in the country. Devotees from all over place a gold leaf on the image, which has now distorted its entire shape. Around the temple, there are several stalls selling religious offerings, like incense sticks, flowers and candles. Visitors also stop by the museum located on the grounds, which outlines the history of Buddhism. The courtyard around the temple is home to six large bronze images.
Shwe In Bin Kyaung – Known as one of the most stunning monasteries in Mandalay is Shwe In Bin Kyaung. Built in 1895, this traditional teak building was constructed by Chinese jade merchants. Those who appreciate intricate architecture will love the tiered roof and its incredible carvings. Currently, around 30 monks call this place their home. Shwe In Bin Kyaung is a relaxing and peaceful stop – perfect for those who may want to slow down their adventure through Mandalay.
Sandamuni Pagoda – Home to numerous shrines with inscribed marble slabs and Burma’s biggest iron Buddha image, the Sandamuni Pagoda is well worth a visit as you explore Mandalay. Situated at the foot of Mandalay Hill, this pagoda was once built as a memorial to Prince Kanaung. The golden pagoda is the oldest and most popular structure on the grounds. Incredibly, around 1,774 shrines each hold an inscribed slab.
Shwenandaw Monastery – To see what the Royal Palace would have looked like before it was destroyed in a fire during World War II, pay a visit to the Shwenandaw Kyaung (otherwise known as Golden Palace Monastery). Located within the Royal Palace grounds, this structure boasts traditional Burmese architecture, as well as a 4-tiered roof that splits into varying sections. Carvings decorate the monastery’s teak veranda and visitors can still spot gold plating throughout the building. Visitors are able to see a Buddha image within the main room of the monastery, and they can learn about the history of Buddhism.