Mandalay Travelling Guide
Mandalay in Myanmar is best known for the Royal Palace, the monks and Buddhist arcades, and its cultural potpourri. Touted to be the economic hub of Myanmar, Mandalay oozes considerable charm and charisma to lure even the most whimsical of travellers into spending a tranquil and peaceful retreat in the town.
How to Get to Mandalay
You can get to Mandalay through air, train or road. Mandalay has an International Airport with regular flights to Thailand, Bangkok, Bangladesh, China and India. In fact, most people coming to Myanmar are known to fly through the Airport at Mandalay. Trains through Yangon, Pyin U Lwin, and Hsipaw run to Mandalay regularly, albeit the tracks are bumpy. Mandalay is well connected through road to every other neighbouring town in Myanmar. Mandalay is one of the very few hubs in Myanmar that are open to public and contain no restricted military areas.
Mandalay Attractions and Sightseeing
Located on the banks of the Irrawady River, Mandalay is the last one of the Royal Seats in Myanmar. It has innumerable Buddhist pagodas and the Royal Palace in the centre of the town is a sure-fire destination. Apart from them, you also have the following places of interest to explore while you are here:
- The Mandalay Royal Palace. We promised not to include this obvious destination, however, we changed our mind and rightly so! The Mandalay Royal Palace is the last remaining Royal Palace in Myanmar and currently is the residence of King Mindon and King Thibaw. The splendid architecture of the palace and the attractions within: Clock Tower, Relic Tower, the Mausoleum, and the Shrine are worthy places to view.
- Amarapura. Located barely 12 miles away from Mandalay, Amarapura and its quiet charm beckon you to discover its sites on display. There are golf courses, wooden monasteries, and wonderful Buddhist shrines that are worth exploring at Amarapura city.
- Mahagandhayon Monastery. The Mahagandhayon Monastery is one of the biggest teaching monasteries in Mandalay. A trip to this Monastery should not be missed at all if delving into the Mandalay culture is your top priority while traveling here. Moreover, during the Buddhist Lent festival, the Monastery is crowded with pilgrims from across the world.
- The Mandalay and Waterfall Hills. Nature’s bounty on the outskirts of Mandalay is available in plenty. You can brace yourself for some really terrifying curves and turns as you drive along from the Mandalay City Square to the pagodas on the Mandalay Hill. All in all, the experience is awesome.
- Shwenandaw Monastery. One of the most beautiful teakwood monasteries in Mandalay, the Shwenandaw Monastery is one of the most delightful locations in the town. There are many carvings, intricate paintings, and inscriptions on the walls of the monastery.
Weather at Mandalay
Mandalay is hilly and yet very close to the coast. Thus, you can expect a little chillness in the morning whereas during the middle of the day, it can get really hot and humid, courtesy the tropical location of the city. However, Mandalay has the best climate overall in Myanmar on account of its hilly terrain offset by its proximity to the seaside. You are however, advised to stay away from travelling here during the Monsoon months that comprise of June, July, August, and September.
Food at Mandalay
Mandalay has a sizeable population of Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists, each with their own special culinary assortments for you to delight in. The Hindu cuisine experience is heavily inspired from India and hence contains heaps of spices, condiments, and copious amounts of oil. Meat in the form of lamb, chicken, turkey, and beef are cooked in traditional Muslim Mughlai varieties. The Buddhist populace prefers steamed veggies and stir fried noodles to go with them and treat you to bland delicacies. You cannot hope to conclude your Mandalay sojourn without gorging into the delicious dessert Thou Mouh, accompanied with every meal.
Mandalay Culture and Hospitality
The Mandalay culture is typically Burmese in nature and there is heavy importance levied on hospitality and austere living. Most of the Mandalay population comprises of monks who appear to have a spiritual aura about them, having shunned all physical desire. It is a treat to watch traditional Burmese monks move about in their peculiar maroon outfits on the street.
The influx of technology has however, entered (although not too much) into Mandalay and as a result you find considerable Western influence in the life and style of the people here.
Do’s and Don’ts at Mandalay
Mandalay easily ranks in the top half of the safest places to visit in Asia, thanks to the fact that there is no petty pilfering and harassment on the road. However, as visitors, you are required to note the following
- Make sure you drink clean and bottled water. Also, make sure your bottled water is sealed.
- Do not promote begging. Even the smallest amount is too generous when you consider the paltry sum most natives make in a month after toiling hard for around 40 – 50 hours each week.
- Do not accept drinks and medication from strangers on the road. In fact, since Mandalay does not have any nightlife options, you are advised to simply stay indoors and catch up on some good sleep while you are here.
Mandalay Budget Vacation Tips
A trip to Myanmar would fit in comfortably with eve the tightest budget. Therefore, we do not have such budget saving exercises for you to save money during your trip. You will probably struggle to spend all your holiday money while there anyway. However, what we can say is this
- The infrastructure at Mandalay is very primitive, even if you go to pricey lodges. So if you forget about the more expensive accommodation options and opt for a downtown motel you will likely save the bulk of your money there, while sleeping in very similar levels of luxury.
- Bargaining when you shop around for souvenirs is a must while you are in Mandalay.
All in all, a trip to Mandalay, although very uncomfortable without any modern upscale luxuries, would make the ideal holiday destination for people of all ages.