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Best things to do in Mandalay

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Where in the world: Asia  /  Myanmar  /  Mandalay Region  /  Mandalay

Top 15 things to do in Mandalay

1. Kuthodaw Pagoda & the World's Largest Book

A magnificent gilded 57 m (188 ft) tall stupa the foot of Mandalay Hill, Kuthodaw Pagoda & the World's Largest Book features a courtyard with 729 white marble shrines, each of which contains a 1.53 m (5 ft) tall slab inscribed on both sides. Walking around these mini-temples built in 1860, you can read the entire Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. In fact, it took a team of 2,200 monks working in tandem nearly half a year to read all of the stone tablets. Enjoy the serenity of this splendid structure’s inner courtyard, with many Buddha images and flowers. Dress respectfully, making sure not to wear shorts.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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2. Shwenandaw Monastery

Made entirely from teakwood with intricately carved facades, Shwenandaw Monastery provides one of the finest examples of traditional 19th-century Burmese architecture. Marvel at the skills of local woodworkers as you inspect intricately carved teakwood doors, screens, and facades with ornate endings pointed towards the skies like countless wooden antennae. Once fully gilted and a part of the Mandalay Royal Palace in Amarapura, the monastery was entirely dismantled and brought to its present location in 1857, where it served as King Mingdon's royal quarters. The monastery’s elaborate four-tiered roof, with each section smaller than the one below it, is adorned with carved mythical creatures, animals, dancers, and depictions of various Buddhist legends.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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3. Mahamuni Image

An imposing gilt mountain-temple with arched walls painted red, gold, and white, Mahamuni Image features the most revered Buddha image in Myanmar. Believed to have been made during Buddha's lifetime, the 3.8 m (12.5 ft) high statue sits on a tall pedestal and weighs 6.5 tons; over the ages, countless gold leaves pasted by devotees have in fact disfigured the statue. Admire its golden crown decorated with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, and the spectacular seven-tiered roof rising above. The 18th-century temple grounds also house a museum of history of Buddhism.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Mandalay Palace

See the last royal residency of the Burmese monarchy at Mandalay Palace, an imposing site tipped in vermilion and gold. Constructed according to astronomical calculations in the traditional style between 1857-59, each building in the complex stands one story tall, surrounded by high walls and a deep moat. The entire compound consists of many interesting attractions, such as the royal mausoleums, a clock tower, throne rooms, supreme court, and a royal mint. The museum exhibits some royal dresses, which you can put on and take pictures.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Mandalay Hill

Northeast of the city center rises Mandalay Hill, a haven of monasteries and pagodas that remains one of prominent pilgrimage sites for Burmese Buddhists. Reaching an elevation of 224 m (735 ft), the hill's summit offers panoramic views that make the entire trip worthwhile. You can reach the top by taking one of four covered stairways, or a one-way road leading to an elevator.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. U Bein Bridge, Amarapura

Gently curving across Taung Tha Man Lake, U Bein Bridge stretches 1.2 km (0.75 mi)--making it among the largest wooden bridges in the world. Erected on close to 1,100 pillars in the mid 19th century, the strong timber structure was built using teak from a dismantled teak palace. The footbridge provides an important passageway during flood season, but locals and monks use the bridge as everyday traffic. Chat in few resting areas, or watch fishers drawing their nets. Reflected upon the still surface of the lake, the bridge makes a popular photo opportunity. You can cross it by bicycle when it is not busy.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Dolphin & Whale Watching

Suggested duration: 4 hours
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8. Bagaya Monastery

Visit the cultural heritage of Myanmar, Bagaya Monastery. Made entirely of teak wood, the monastery, which dates back to 1834, is set among the rice fields and brings out the beauty of the surrounding landscape. The 267 pillars make up the building's architecture, accompanied by carvings on the walls, which showcase the typical ancient, ornamental art. Unlike many others, the monastery still serves as an advice school for young monks, so you can see them learning and reading in their everyday surroundings while you experience the peaceful atmosphere inside.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Hsinbyume Pagoda, Mingun

See white, wave-like base of Hsinbyume Pagoda, dating back to 1816. Prince Bagyidaw dedicated the pagoda to his wife, whose name translates as "White Elephant Princess." As you admire the pagoda, inspect the seven concentric terraces, which symbolize seven mountain ranges around Mount Meru. The top of the pagoda represents the Mount Meru, the mythical center of the universe according to Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain mythology. Keep an eye out for the niches around the pagoda, which feature small statues of mythical creatures, such as serpents, ogres, and spirits. Climb to the top of the pagoda to enjoy sweeping views over the nearby river.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
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10. Maha Myat Muni Pagoda- Mahamuni Buddha Temple

One of the country's major Buddhist pilgrimage sites, Maha Myat Muni Pagoda- Mahamuni Buddha Temple boasts a grand, golden image of Mahamuni Buddha. Tradition maintains that this realization of the Buddha is one of only five that were created during his lifetime, when according to legend, the Buddha visited the then capital of Arakan in 554 BC. The then king and his court were so moved by the Buddha's teachings that they asked him to leave an image of himself for the people to worship. Nowadays, the illustrious temple is lavishly adorned with golden spires and intricate flourishes. Look out for the Mahamuni museum on the temple grounds, where you'll have the opportunity to learn about the life of the Buddha.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens, Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)

Made for peaceful strolls, National Kandawgyi Botanical Gardens covers 177 hectares (437 acres), designed to resemble London's Kew Gardens. Founded in 1915, the garden boasts a large variety of plant life, as well as some endangered animal species, such as the hog deer and star tortoise. Relish the park's pleasant, alpine climate, admire its terraced gardens and well-manicured lawns, or pay a visit to the onsite fossil and butterfly museums.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Pahtodawgyi

The life's work of an eccentric king, Pahtodawgyi stands as a testament to a construction project meant to create one of the world's largest shrines. Commissioned in 1790 by King Bodawpaya, the temple never saw completion due to prophetic fears of the king's death should the structure ever be finished. You'll immediately notice that the temple towers above the surrounding forest and river shore, measuring 52.4 m (172 ft) in height. Wander the grounds around the monumental temple base and you'll see other features of the complex, including two giant stone lions and an enormous bell. Don't miss the nearby model that illustrates the hypothetical appearance of the would-be structure.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Mahagandayon Monastery, Amarapura

Founded in 1914 as a teaching center, Mahagandayon Monastery houses nearly 2,000 young monks and marks an inevitable stop on many Myanmar tours. The sight of humble monks in their simple dark red robes lining up in long silent rows for lunch--the final meal of the day--serves as the greatest attraction for tourists. The strict discipline and religious atmosphere don’t stop the monks from being friendly to outsiders. You can learn a lot about the country’s history and daily affairs from many monks who speak English.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. Pahtodawgyi Pagoda

Pahtodawgyi is a Buddhist pagoda located in Amarapura, Burma, north of the Taungthaman Lake. It was built in 1819 by King Bagyidaw.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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