In many ways Mandalay is much quieter and laid-back than Rangoon but traffic congestion is increasing and things are changing. It is not a pretty looking city, but it does have it’s own charms. Most guides recommend if you have enough time in Burma at least one day here will be worth your while.
Mandalay airport is located 45km south of the city itself. The drive takes about an hour.
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The best times to visit are outside the heat of the day – so early morning or leading up to sunset.
It is possible to walk all the way up the hill and there are covered stairways. There are supposed to be 1790 stairs – so it does involve a little effort. There are 4 stair approaches and the 2 on the southern side are considered to have the most gentle incline, while the western has the steepest incline. The southern stairs are guarded by two enormous Asian lions.
Many people will however take a motorised version up the hill and walk back down.
The hill is steep and three-wheeled public transport struggle to make it up the incline. Instead blue taxis will take people to a pint halfway up the hill where an escalator will take you to the top.
Between the top and the bottom of the hill there are a number of temples and monasteries as well as people selling food and water.
From the top there are obviously good views over the city
A good trip report of this can be found http://www.legalnomads.com
This is a wooden monastery that was once part of the royal palace. Most of the other palace buildings were bombed in WWII, but as this was a monastery this was spared.
The interior wooden carved panels are in excellent condition but those on the outside have fared less well.
This is near to the golden palace monastery and was restored in the late 1990s – with convict labour
Mandalay Palace and fort
Another major site restored with conscripted labour – young males were required to give one day’s labour per month
This is one of Burma’s top Buddhist sites. It was originally built in 1784 but was destroyed by fire 1884 and then rebuilt.
The most famous icon here is the 4m high bronze Buddha. Over the years temple worshippers have applied layers and layers of gold leaf. The gold covering is now 15cm thick around the base of the statue. The monks carefully wash the image each morning and brush it’s teeth.
This is a peaceful place not always crowded with tourists. Built in 1895 by wealthy Chinese merchants on poles. Around it is you will see a large number of monks in the area.
There are a number of places that are outside the city of Mandalay and make for a pleasant part day or full day excursion. These include Mingun, U-Bien Bridge, and Sagaing