Mandalay is the second-largest city of Myanmar, and also the former royal capital of the country, from 1860 to 1885. This city lying northwards on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River is never short of history, culture, and natural beauty. Visiting Mandalay on your trip to Myanmar will be worth the time. So, if you are planning to go to Mandalay, here are things you need to know.
You can visit Mandalay all year round, although the best season would be between October and February as the weather is cooler than other parts of the year, and there is also a minimal chance of rainfall. However, this time is also busiest in the whole of Myanmar, so you should plan your trip quite in advance. If you prefer less crowd of tourist, you should visit during the hot season. During the hot season, you will not only avoid crowds, but also get accommodation in a bargain, and even better values in transportation.
There are many transportation options to reach Mandalay from Yangon. If you are not in a budget, you can take an hour flight from Yangon to Mandalay. However, for those in the budget, the bus is available, which will take about eight hours to reach Mandalay.
If you are visiting Mandalay in peak season, you have to plan ahead as the area tend to get crowded, mainly because there are not many hotels there. However, this does not mean you can't get accommodation according to your budget. In fact, the city has hotels for every budget, ranging from cheap hostels to luxurious, world-class five-star hotels.
If you prefer time over money, it would be better to take a private taxi from the airport to Mandalay. Private taxi to Mandalay cost about 12,000kyat, and you will avoid the hassle of waiting for the minibus to be full and your turn to drop off. In a private taxi, you will reach downtown from Mandalay airport in about one hour.
Street Taxi around Mandalay
You will easily find a taxi for hire in Mandalay, and the cost depends on the journey, ranging from 40000kyat to 6000kyat. Rather than asking for a hotel to book a cab, it would be more convenient to flag a taxi on the street.
Mandalay also has a motorcycle taxi for hire. You will get one-way ride of about 10mins for around 2000kyat.
If you enjoy cycling to explore the city, you can get a bike in rent from most of the hotels in Mandalay. Riding around the town on a bicycle gives you quite a different perspective of the city. However, remember that people in Myanmar practices right-hand drive, so stay on the right side of the road at all times.
It will be much more convenient to hire a taxi for a whole day if you are going to tour the city for an entire day. You can easily get a taxi that will take you around Mandalay city for 15000kyat, and an additional four cities outside Mandalay for 60000kyat. You can book day taxis from the hotel.
Mandalay is a safe place to visit. The city has extremely low rime incidents. However, as in every country in the world, always practice necessary precautions. Petty thefts like bag snatching are common, so always keep your belongings near you. There will be lots of vendors, trying to persuade you to buy things which you should not be much alerted. However, most people will approach you just to practice their English.
Source: Viland Travel
If you want to visit a place right after you land, visit the Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is a massive pilgrimage site, not a sad, lonely monument. The first temple you encounter in the right tells the story of Buddha and his way of living. As you stroll around the temple, you will learn about Buddha's journey, from many Asian countries.
Mandalay is renowned for its gold leaf factories. These leaves are used to decorate Buddha statues; Buddhist use these as a religious offering. The artisans hammer the metal by hand into thin golden sheets. They use a wooden hammer to hit on small pieces of gold to refine them. You can see in the factory that it is a very long process that needs great patience. If you'd like to see how everything is made, you can go to the Gold Rose factory at the 78th and 36th street crossroad or to King Galon which is on the opposite street.
The Palace doesn't authorize public access except a building. You have to pay about 10USD for entrance. However, you will see lots of military around the palace. If you don't like to visit the building, you can enjoy the exterior view of the palace instead.
Mandalay was named after Mandalay Hill, not the other way around. You will get the greatest view of the whole Mandalay city from Mandalay Hill. However, don't try to bike your way up; it is nearly impossible. So, just walk as all the locals do. If you don't like the straining walk, just grab a taxi, or hop on a motorbike and head there.
Source: Atlas Obscura
15km south of Mandalay lies the U Bein Bridge which is very popular. U Bein Bridge is the oldest and longest wooden teak bridge in the world that spans the Taungthaman Lake. This bridge was built in 1850 and is 1.2kilometers long. In the evening, you will get the most beautiful sunset from the bridge, so it gets very busy with local couples and tourists during this time.