What to see in Mandalay MyanmarThings to see in Mandalay Myanmar
Things to see in Mandalay, Myanmar
andalay is the second biggest town ("after Yangon") in Myanmar. Like Yangon, it was the capitol of the land and has maintained its regal splendour to this date. Amazingly, Mandalay may feel much older than Yangon, but was only discovered in the nineteenth cent. Although the most beloved of the pagodas in Myanmar (the Shwedagon Pagoda) is in Yangon, I prefer the genuine feel and feel of Mandalay in Burma.
Fewer contemporary skyscrapers, more dramatic churches, castles and elaborate timberwork. Mandalay visitors usually go there to get to the stunning Bagan sanctuaries (a must in Myanmar!), take a look at this article to find out how we got to Bagan and how we avoided the stunningagodas.
Nevertheless Mandalay itself is already definitely a worthwhile stop! Myanmar, thank God, is not as touristic as neighbouring Thailand and Cambodia, so it is less likely to be fooled by fraud. It was not comfortable what we went through in Thailand, especially in Bangkok (see my contribution to why Bangkok is an overvalued tourism trap) and I was more than well equipped to do something similar in Myanmar.
Learn more about masticating the betelnut in the story about the mad adventures of the Golden Pagoda. andaly is one of those towns where you can sense the astonishing breath of regal splendour and lovely charms in the outdoors. While we only stayed a day and a half in Mandalay, it felt like we had seen enough and been exploring the town well - not only the monasteries, but also the usual places where the locals spend their time.
Have a look at what you can see and await in Mandaly, apart from the major pagodas described below, you will see many other, smaller ones at practically every turn. We' had reserved our lodging near the Royal Palace (1 on the map), so it was simple to go there. Please be aware that Myanmar tends to be more pricey than Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam.
Entrance fees for the Palast amount to approx. 5 US dollars and are therefore very attractive compared to other locations in Southeast Asia. The area was visited by only a few visitors and the nineteenth c. building is made of many nice wood constructions in different colours. Scale the stairs of the timber watch tower - the views over the castle area are fantastic.
It is a must in Mandalay. East of the Royal Castle are some of the most interesting monasteries and other monuments such as Atumashi and Shwenandaw (2 on the map). Shenandaw Monastery (also known as Golden Palace) is made of tea tree (like the Mandalay Castle and many other buildings) and has absolute nice detail and finish ( "carvings of Buddhist myths") - it is a small, apparently unimpressive edifice that is definitely deserving a visit, especially because it is so near the Palazzo and other important shrines.
It was also part of the former King's residence and is one of the last remaining edifices from the time when the monarchs reigned in Mandalay. The Kuthodaw Pagoda (3 on the map) is one of the two most important and spectaculous pagods in Mandalay.
One can only walk barefooted into the front area and be cautious, as even straying strays can wander around and the ground can get dirt. Nevertheless, the Kuthodaw Pagoda and the Sandamuni Pagoda (4 on the map) were my favourites in Myanmar. Kuthodaw's principal gold stupa is encircled by a rectangle full of hundred smaller whiteboards with inscriptions (over 1400 pages).
Sandamuni, the second major shrine is directly western of Kuthodaw. It' also similar in design and shapes - it's encircled by a wood of smaller blankupa trees with the Mandalay hills in the backdrop - our next stop. There is a twin door to Mandaly Mountain (5 on the map) next to the Kuthodaw Pagoda and mark the entry to the long stairs up to the top.
However, you will have to plan more hours, because you will want to stop many often to enjoy the views, marvel at the temple on the way and observe a bit of community living in basic cabins right next to the "covered corridor" and we had the opportunity to observe them in the kitchen.
Its most imposing is the Su Taung Pyae Pagoda - with famous gold Stupa, Buddha sculptures and patios that offer an outstanding panoramic sight over the town - especially over the square of square shaped like a needle - the Kuthadow Pagoda. It would be great if it weren't for the thick fog that is blocking your gaze - you can see it clearly in the images.
The U-Bein is the longest wooden deck in the whole wide range of Teakwood bridges - over 1 km long and spanning the Taun Tha Man Lake, just South of Mandalay. It is quite far from the centre - but you can order a cab quite easy - it will take about 30 min. to reach the U-leg of Mandalay.
Also, we stoped half way at the astonishing Mahamuni Buddha Temple, more or less half way between Mandalay and the footbridge (see below). The U-leg pedestrian crossing is one of Myanmar's most popular landmarks - I'm sure you've seen many pictures of it in the back as the rising sundown. It really looks like an average timber footbridge over a filthy pond.
The Mahamuni Buddha is not interesting because of the form of the template (which is not unusual), but because of the huge Buddha sculpture inside. Together with the base, the gold sculpture is almost 4m high and adorned with many valuable gemstones. One can see the worshippers putting gold sheets on the statues - hundred and thousand of them.
In the vicinity of the Mahamuni temple we came across a plant that makes castings and Buddha-studios.