What to See in Mandalay
Like other cities in Myanmar, Mandalay is home to many pagodas. It is to be expected, as Theravada Buddhism is the predominant religion in the country, with 80% of the population practising it. There are also monasteries to visit in Mandalay, some of which are impressive in their architectural style and construction. Most of the attractions in the city offer tourists a spiritual, if not enlightening, experience.
Mandalay is not only a city of temples and monasteries; it can also be considered as city of royalty. The other attractions in Mandalay are reminders of the time when Burmese kingdoms were still in existence. This is the city where the Royal Palace can be found, as well as other structures built by the kings. However, the best attraction in Mandalay is not made by man. Mandalay Hill is the most famous attraction of the city, a necessary stop for any tourist who arrives in this part of Myanmar.
Some 11km south of Mandalay. It became the capital of the Konbaung Dynasty in 1783 during the reign of King Bodawpaya. Places of interest are Pahtodawgyi Pagoda, U Bein Bridge across the Taungthaman Lake, Kyauktawgyi Pagoda, Nagayon Pagoda, Mahagandayone Monastery and cotton and silkweaving cottage industries.
Built in 1857, the Atumashi Kyaung was one of the last religious construction projects of King Mindon. The name means 'Incomparable Monastery'. The Atumashi is an example of traditional Burmese monastic construction: it features a masonry base with a wooden building on top. However, instead of a multi-roofed design, it has graduated rectangular terraces.
- Location: Near the base of Mandalay Hill, beside Shwenandaw Kyaung.
Cultural Museum Mandalay
Those interested in the royal history of Myanmar will enjoy the collections of Mandalay regalia, as well as royally commissioned art. The museum is also home to coins, palm leaf manuscripts and Bagan-period Buddha images.
- Opening Hours: 09:30-16:30
- Location: On the corner of the 24th and 80th Streets.
Known as the Kingdom of Inwa during the Second Myanmar Empire, today it is a small town south of Amarapura. The sights to see in In-wa include Nanmyint Watch Tower, Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, Bagaya Monastery, the lacquerware factory and Inwa Bridge spanning the Ayeyarwad River.
It is easy to spot the Kaungmudaw Pagoda because of its imposing structure. The most recognized of all Sagaing stupas, this large dome with a whitewashed edifice was modelled on the Great Stupa in Sri Lanka. The pagoda, which is 46 metres in height, was built to commemorate Inwa's establishment as the royal capital of Myanmar.
- Location: 10 kilometres from Sagaing, Mandalay Division.
The Kuthodaw Pagoda is home to what is considered as the world's largest book. The pagoda is surrounded with 729 slabs, with each slab having its own stupa and all 15 books of the Tripitaka are inscribed on the slabs. The building of this pagoda was started by King Mindon in1857, the same time work began on the Royal Palace.
- Location: Base of the south-east stairways to Mandalay Hill.
This pagoda, whose name means ‘Great Marble Buddha Image’ was built by King Mindon in 1853 using the Ananda Temple in Bagan as a model. This is why the pagoda sharply resembles the Ananda's exterior. The fame of this attraction can be attributed solely to the large seated Buddha figure made from a single block of pale green marble. It is said that 10,000 men spent 13 days transporting the image from the Irrawaddy River to its current site.
- Opening Hours: 06:00-20:00
- Location: Near the southern entry to Mandalay Hill.
Maha Myat Muni Pagoda
The Maha Myat Muni Pagoda, also known as the Mahamuni Pagoda, is the holiest pilgrimage site in Mandalay. This pagoda houses the Maha Myat Muni Pagoda Buddha image, the most ancient and most revered of all Buddha images. The pagoda was built by King Bodawpaya, who took the Buddha image during his invasion of Rakhaing.
- Opening Hours: 06:00-20:00
- Location: Southwest of Mandalay, three kilometres south of the city centre on the road towards Amarapura.
Almost everyone who visits Mandalay goes to this hill. It is the landmark of Mandalay and also serves as a natural watchtower because it overlooks the city. Visitors often watch the sunrise or sunset over the city plains here because of the stunning views. According to legend, the Lord Buddha visited the hill and made a prophecy that a great city would be established at its foot.
- Location: Northeast corner of the Mandalay Royal Palace.
The Myan Nan San Kyaw, or Royal Palace, was the first palace to be built in Mandalay. Constructed by King Mindon, who moved his capital from Amarapura to Mandalay, the location was chosen because of astronomical calculations and favourable omens. The entire palace complex was destroyed by fire during World War II, but it has been restored.
- Opening Hours: 07:30-17:00
- Location: Between 12th Street and 26th Street.
A delightful river trip from Mandalay is required to get to this marvelous unfinished temple. Famous for the 90-ton Mingun Bell, supposedly the largest hung bell in the world, it was cast in 1790 on the orders of King Bodawpaya, who wished for it to be installed at the top of his planned giant 150 metre-high pagoda. Due to the king's death in 1819, however, the pagoda was never completed.
Pyin Oo Lwin
The former British hill station of Maymyo, 67 km east of Mandalay, stands about 1,000 meters above sea level. Though the town was damaged during World War II, several of the old English houses were spared. This is also the centre for Myanmar's small but burgeoning new coffee industry.
This Mandalay attraction is most notable for its resemblance to the Kuthodaw Pagoda, because the Sandamuni also has many slender whitewashed ancillary stupas in its grounds. The Sandamuni Pagoda is best known for the Iron Buddha Sandamuni cast by King Bodawpaya of the Konbaung Dynasty in 1802. The cast was brought from Amarapura to its present location in 1874 by King Mindon.
- Location: Southeast of Mandalay Hill.
Once an ancient capital, Sagaing lies 21km south west of the Ayeyarwad River. The Sagaing Hills are dotted with pagodas and there are over 500 monasteries, a retreat for some 6000 monks and nuns. Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, Kaung Hmudaw Pagoda (a copy of the Mahaceti Pagoda in Sri Lanka), and Ywahtaung village (home of the silversmiths' guild) are places worth visiting.
Shwenandaw Kyaung (Golden Palace Monastery)
This is not only another example of a traditional Burmese monastery, but it is also a piece of the old Mandalay Palace. Part of the royal palace where King Mindon died, the teak structure was moved out of the palace under King Thibaw in 1880 and was converted into a monastery.
- Location: Near 14th Street.