This buzzing city feels a bit like Bangkok ten years ago. There is a lot of traffic, noise, pollution but also a lot of life. And there are some of the best sights in Myanmar.
Our night bus arrived in Mandalay at 3am even though our scheduled arrival time was 5am. And as the ride had been quite bumpy, and we therefore hadn’t enjoyed much sleep we were so glad when our hotel agreed to a super early check-in at 3.30am and we could enjoy an almost proper night of sleep. After this long awaited sleep we were ready to explore the 5 highlights of Mandalay:
1. Climb up Mandalay Hill
This place is one of the main sunset viewpoints in Mandalay as the view over the city is impressive. You can take an exhausting 45min climb or a relaxed tuk tuk drive to reach the top and enjoy the view. For many locals it is also an exercise hill that they try to run up in the evening. For other locals it is a place to practice their English with the tourists. We got chatted up by several young monks and enjoyed it a lot to help them and to learn about their way of living.
2. Explore the Kuthodow Pagoda
This pagoda sits right next to Mandalay Hill and can easily be combined. Its most noticeable feature are the countless white stupas that are lined up in perfect symmetry.
3. Admire the white Mya Thein Tan Pagoda
To reach Mingun it is best to catch the boat at 9am from the Mingun jetty. Within one hour you reach Mingun and a 15min walk later you reach this breathtakingly beautiful pagoda. It is completely white, shaped like a cone with many symmetric rings. Each one a bit higher than the last one and on the top level there is, who would have guessed, a buddha statue. Weirdly one buddha is sitting in front of the other.
4. Count the bricks of the Mingun Pagoda
This pagoda was meant to become 150m tall and therefore the largest in Myanmar. But during the building process a prophecy was made, that the country would stop to exist when the pagoda was finished. According to the legend, this was the reason why they stopped the building process and left the world’s biggest pile of bricks.
5. Cross the U-Bein Bridge
The longest teakwood bridge in the world is a must see while in Mandalay. Unfortunately, it is also on the list of many Chinese and Burmese tourists and therefore packed during sunset. A better time to enjoy this bridge is during sunrise but then you miss out on all the locals who have made this bridge their chill-out place.