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Exploring Mandalay City by foot

Mandalay is often described as a busy city not really worth spending in – and compared to places such as Lake Inle and the temples of Bagan it can not compete on tourist sites.

But what it can provide is a valuable insight into economic and cultural characteristics of Myanmar. There are a wide range of ethnic groups in the city and an increasingly strong Chinese influence and this is evident in commerce and cuisine. In the past Mandalay has been well known as a centre for drug lords and gem traders, but the city is generally safe for foreigners.

An excellent way to see a real slice of life in Mandalay is to walk. Arm yourself with a Mandalay City map and get out there. 

In terms of a route anywhere will work but there are a number of interesting quiet neighbourhoods in the area south-west of the royal palace. The lonely planet guide book has a suggested tour wending around the areas between 24th and 30th streets and the blocks around the Gold and Stone carving workshops throw up plenty of local sights, without being too far from the main streets.

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With your walking tour try and avoid the heat of the day and as soon as possible head away from the busy streets. Off the main streets you will find much less traffic and although you might be just a stones throw from anywhere you are not likely to see another Westerner while wandering through suburbia. People love to see the foreigner and you will have no shortage of conversations and greetings.

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Try having a beer in a local beer hall – don’t worry about a lack of common language if no one speaks your language you will find the international language of pointing and miming will work. People are friendly – your drinks will be delivered along with a plate of nuts and you can sit and watch the world go by and you will find the world will want to watch you too.

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In terms of a route anywhere will work but there are a number of interesting quiet neighbourhoods in the area south-west of the royal palace. The lonely planet guide book has a suggested tour wending around the areas between 24th and 30th streets and the blocks around the Gold and Stone carving workshops throw up plenty of local sights, without being too far from the main streets.

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