Mandalay is the Myanmar’s second largest city and is where we start our trip through Myanmar. Myanmar isn’t a Southeast Asian country that is often on “must see” lists. Which is a shame, because Myanmar is one of the most culturally preserved and exciting destinations in Asia. Even me, before traveling to Myanmar, I knew nothing about the country except that it was closed off from the world until its borders opened in 2012. Nowadays, visiting this country is so easy. Even the visa process is simple as you do everything online on their official e-Visa website.
After breakfast at your hotel, it’s time to head out and explore this fascinating city. We’ll start the day with a ferry ride to Mingun. The ferry ride is super cheap but extremely slow at the same time. The ride to Mingun takes around 1h. On the day we went there it was raining quite badly for the first few hours. But once we arrived there, together with 4 more people we haggled and rented a “taxi” for a few hours to drive us around and the guy gave us umbrellas too.
One place we wished we would have more time, or at least to not be raining, is Mingun Pagoda. The almost square shaped pagoda is one of a kind. This should have been the biggest stupa in the world with the height of 150 meters. But the construction was stopped due to a prediction that once the stupa was completed the king will die. But even in this form the temple is impressive. I think it could get a bit crowded at the entrance but since it was raining, we were the only ones there.
Near to the Mingun Pagoda is the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda. This pagoda is a must see while visiting Mandalay. You can walk around or walk up the stairs and explore every level of the pagoda.
Once we returned back to Mandalay, our tuk-tuk driver was waiting for us to give us a proper tour of the city. First stop was Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to the world’s largest book. The size of this area is impressive! Kuthodaw Pagoda has 729 stupas, each of which bears an inscription that together makes up the complete Buddhist doctrine, the Tripitaka. So while it is not necessary a book as we would know one today, it is still an impressive accomplishment.
Second stop was this beautiful buddhist monastery, Shwenandaw Kyaung, also known as the Teak monastery. It is an important site as it is the only original part of the royal palace that survived World War II and it’s architecture is very beautiful. The entrance is 10000 kyats (7.5$). This is a Mandalay Combo ticket which also gives you entry to the monastery, the Royal Palace and a few more.
Since the Royal Palace was quite close to our hotel, this was our last place to visit for the day. King Mindon built this palace in 1861 and has been heavily restored following World War Two. It’s worth walking around but there isn’t really much to do or see.
Visiting Mandalay was a totally different experience for me! It was a great start to my Myanmar experience. And now I cannot wait to see what more this amazing country has to offer! If you have any tips or comments, I would love to read them. So please feel free to leave a comment below.