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Mandalay Holidays

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Mandalay Holidays

Mandalay is Myanmar's second-largest city and the former royal capital of the Burmese kingdom. The city is modernising rapidly, due largely to an influx of Chinese money and businessmen, and while amenities and infrastructure are improving many feel that the charm of old Mandalay is receding. Travellers arriving with no past knowledge of the city won't be burdened by comparison and will no doubt find Mandalay enchanting.

A good place to start a visit here is to hike up the 780-foot (240m) stairwell to the top of Mandalay Hill, itself a holy site with an ornately decorated temple and Buddha statue overlooking the former capital city and far-reaching flatlands. Dominating the city's centre are the 150-year-old palace grounds of King Mindon and King Thibaw, with an adjacent temple and wide surrounding moat. More than 50 people were buried alive during construction; a prison visible below is a reminder that human rights are still a contentious issue. For local travellers, the Mahamuni Buddha is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists in Myanmar.

Aside from sightseeing, shopping is Mandalay's major pastime. A fun jewel market, where visitors can watch craftsmen shape gems, is worth a visit. Crafts such as monk's umbrellas, gold leaf, ornate furniture, and lacquer-ware are made and sold in the city. Motorbike taxis seem a bit overeager in a city where horses and wagons are traditionally more common; better to use the trishaw and fall into Mandalay's slow rhythms. Bland guesthouses are splashed about the city offering cheap accommodation, but there are a few gems awaiting tired travellers.

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Top 5 Things to do in Mandalay

The Mandalay Palace is the last royal palace of the Burmese monarchy. Over 100 years old, the palace now stands as a symbol of Myanmar's past and is a large tourist attraction.
Shwenandaw Monastery - Known for its teak carvings of Buddhist myths, the Shwenandaw Monastery is the single remaining major original structure of the original Royal Palace today.
Kuthodaw Pagoda - Formally called Mahalawka Marazein, the Kuthidaw Pagoda is a stupa that is located in Manadaly. The big attraction other than being a stupa which honours Buddhism, is that it contains the world's largest book.
Mingun Pahtodawgyi - A deliberately left incomplete stupa northwest of Mandalay. This stupa was deliberately left incomplete after a prophecy was allegedly created, to stop the project saying that as soon as the building was complete, the country would also be gone.
Shweinbin Monastery - Built in the tradition of Burmese teak architecture, the Shweinbin Monastery is a monastery featuring intricate carvings and facades that has stood for over a 100 years in Mandalay.


When to Visit

  • Jan
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  • Currency The currency used in Mandalay is the Burmese kyat.
  • Flying time from the UK The average flight time from London to Mandalay is 15h 55min.
  • Primary Language The official language of Mandalay is Burmese.
  • Passport & Visas British citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their arrival in Myanmar. A visa is required.