We arrived in Mandalay at around 7:40 am after “sleeping” on the night train, then walked to our guest house.
A C C O M M O D A T I O N
We stayed at the Nylon Hotel, which I highly recommend. The staff is incredibly helpful and can help you book taxis, tickets, and transportation to your next destination. The rooms were clean and much nicer than I had anticipated. There were also Western toilets and a clean (warm) shower! Mind you, I’m traveling with my mother this round, so we aren’t on a strict backpacker budget. This hotel is about SGD $30 per night – pretty expensive for our liking.
T H E C I T Y
Mandalay is a huge grid layout city. It’s relatively easy to navigate (we used the app Maps.Me for wifi-less directions).
We spent the first day wandering around Mandalay. We bought our boat tickets to Bagan and strolled around the Royal Palace’s moat. I have to admit, initially I wasn’t too impressed.
If you go into Mandalay, I highly recommend going out of the city.
W H A T T O D O
We went to U-Bein Bridge, a touristy attraction that I thought was totally worth the hype. It’s the longest teak footbridge in the world, coming in at 1.2 kilometres. It’s well known for the pretty sunsets around it. Yes, sunset is crowded, but it’s a beautiful beautiful view. You can rent boats to take you into the water, but personally, I thought going down the stairs to the water bank was great, as you could photograph the boats in the water as well as the sunset and bridge.
Cross the bridge and you’ll find yourself in a little village, which is home to some beautiful temples/pagodas.
I would leave Mandalay by 15:30 so you have some time to walk across the bridge and explore, then see the sunset.
The next day, we walked to the Royal Palace. There is a foreigners entrance that is much further than the local one. We walked to the moat, then took a rickshaw to the foreigners gate.
The Royal Palace requires a ticket, which you can buy there. The ticket will also get you into other attractions (more on that later).
Definitely spend some time wandering around the grounds, and if you’re able to, climb up the tower. There’s a great view of the palace from the top.
Our next stop was Shwenandaw Kyaung, a teak temple. It was initially in the Royal Palace, but moved piece by piece outside, as the King didn’t like the spirits inside the temple.
You use your Royal Palace ticket to enter this, as well as the white temple right next to it.
The white temple is big and vast; totally recommend heading into it.
We walked through some local streets to our next destination, avoiding the main roads.
After arriving at Kuthodaw Paya, the temple that houses the worlds biggest book, we wandered around its grounds. This temple is spectacular.
If you’re in Mandalay, go to Mandalay Hill. We took the Southern Route, which takes you from Pagoda to Pagoda up the hill, so you’re never really bored. This is 1729 steps, all barefoot.
The steps are totally worth it though, as the temple at the top of the hill is absolutely stunning. We went during sunset, a super touristy time. If you arrive a little earlier, like we did, you’ll have the temple mainly to yourselves for a little while.
W H E R E T O E A T
I have never had a problem finding food in Southeast Asia. For those of you who know me, you know my love for food! However, in Myanmar, I found it a bit difficult to come across food.
If you’re looking for food, Mandalay’s 27th street is where to go. There are plenty of restaurants along this road, most of which looked amazing. If you stay at Nylon Hotel, there is a restaurant called Mann which is very close by. Although at busy times, you can wait up to an hour for food, the restaurant is cheap, yummy, and a really wonderful mix of locals and tourists.
If you’re looking for a place to splurge at, check out the Green Elephant! It’s a touristy restaurant with great wifi and yummy food 🙂
Mandalay turned out to be one of my favourite places in Myanmar- after getting out of the city and seeing the beauties this place has to offer!
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