Mandalay was a blast as it was the first city we set our foot in Myanmar. We were totally blank about the country but when we arrived, we realise that we were super excited and couldn’t wait to explore the city. After we landed at the airport we took a shared van to the city and even from afar, we could see all those amazing pagodas on the hills. Mandalay truly a charm! I and Arma had a blast time exploring the city, we even get lost in Inwa on our second day, nonetheless, on our third day, we finally began our journey scattering through Mandalay city. And yes, with a motorbike. Because there is no other way you can absorb the places if you don’t blend in with the locals! (Plus it was just two of us, so motorbike definitely the convenience way!). So I have gathered the ultimate Mandalay travel guide for one day trip. You can try to fit in all of these in two days because even one day wasn’t really enough for us!
The Mandalay Hill
The top thing you gotta do is a hike to the Mandalay Hill. We put our motorbike on the bottom of the hills and climbing 1729 stairs, which took us about 30-1 hour (as you know we often stop to take plenty of pictures). According to the Wikipedia, there are some beliefs that when you climb by yourself to the top, you will get a reward and good deed at the same time. Aha! But as we climbed to the top, we were stunned by many locals traditions and how they build their life on this stairs. There were lots of Buddha’s statues and places to pray for the Burmese people as we also pay respect to them. We’re glad we took this path instead of riding a motorbike up to the hill!When we were about to reach the top of the hill, we were welcomed by the stunning monastery that was full of Burmese writings on the wall. As it was our first encounter of this kind of building, we had our jaw dropped and full of awe. We were super happy with the view and imagine how people build this place! The torture was finally finished when we reach the top. The Mandalay Pagoda is absolutely gorgeous with the coloured glasses and Burmese writing along with the golden worshipping place. We could even see the whole Mandalay city from above! I can’t stress enough with words on how to describe the view, so you better check out the photos below.
The second stop of our journey is to take a visit at the Mandalay Palace. The Palace itself were surrounded by this large lake in the middle of the city. So of course, you could never miss that spot. I remember as we were riding the motorcycle, we had to stop and turn off the motorcycle when we pass the guards. You have to remember that back in 2015, the Burmese military rules mostly on the government historical places. And as a tourist, we sure didn’t want to have any problems as the country itself were just opened up for tourism as well. This why travel like a local could be a benefit for foreigners, you got to learn to appreciate other people’s traditions and culture.The Palace area itself were huge with garden and trees along the way. We were a bit lost on the way but then we found the place through the signage. The area was enormous and it was sort of like entering the Forbidden City in China. We had an amazing time here as they really open up the place for tourist. We could enter every building (well maybe not all) but most of them you can see the interior part! And boy, it was super stunning architecture with beautiful details. It was sort of the building mix between the old lush European building, Pagodas and traditional monastery. Nonetheless, it was an unforgetful place for us to remember!
We found this old tower which you can climb up stairs and we could see how big the area is! Even though it has creaking sound as we climb to the top, the view was magnificent!
Kuthodaw Pagoda – The World’s Largest Book
The next stop is the UNESCO World’s Heritage place named Kuthodaw Pagoda that was listed as the world’s largest book. We encountered this place way too late and came by around 3 pm, but turns out it was going to close at 5 pm. The gate to enter the place was beautiful as well and there so many local people around. Then we realise that they came here mostly to pray, whilst tourists like us just wandering around the pagoda area to check out the world’s largest book. A book page that was written in a stone, laid over on each pagoda. And most of them were locked within the gate, but we found one that was open! We didn’t want to ruin any historical object so we just took a photo and observe the details on the stone. Man, it was an amazing visit as we could never see something like this in other countries!
Our last stop of the day is this amazing Monastery from wood that was crafted by hands! Geez! The details were absolutely stunning and the most amazing monastery I have ever encountered in my life. I totally couldn’t imagine how long people can build this monastery back then!
Moustache Brothers Show
A good show to check out at night is the Moustache Brothers Show that opens up every day at 9 pm! It was a good introduction of the Burmese culture and history. You can read about the show here.There are some things that we missed out in Mandalay as we did not have that many times here. But it was a good way to spend a day in Mandalay. Using the motorbike was a totally good idea as we can easily hop in and off in every place. After this trip, we realise how patience and stunningly artistic these Burmese people. Being a temple lover and like to do temples hopping like we had in Thailand, we surely love to do this Pagoda hopping now in Myanmar! Bagan was going to be another amazing journey for us after this city. But we sure like what we saw so far in Mandalay!
Have you been to Mandalay? Any good recommendation places to go beside what I have written above?
© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.