When you’re tired of Mandalay with all of its heat, smog, and traffic – consider visiting the surrounding towns on the outskirts of the city on a day trip. Since these places are not too far away, you can either hire a taxi or rent a motorbike to take you around. To hire a car, you don’t really need an advance booking, just walk to a hotel where taxis are usually parked and haggle with the driver on the price and itinerary. We went with Mr. Po, our personal cabby, who took us to the villages for 45,000 Kyatt ($38 USD). Here is a breakdown of the places we visited, organized by location: Continue reading
There are many attractions in and around Mandalay, but one of my favorites has to be the U Bein Bridge, located in Amarapura, a small town on the outskirts of the city. The aging structure spans Taungthaman Lake, stretching 1.2km (0.75 mi), making it the longest teakwood bridge in the world. Known for its beautiful sunrise and sunset, this place is easily one of Myanmar’s most photographed sites.
Temples and monasteries are an integral part of life in Myanmar, and so we spent the good part of our visit in Mandalay temple-hopping. There are so many to visit, and each one is unique in its own way. Most of the pagodas we visited are within walking distance to each other located at the foot of the Mandalay Hill. Some of the religious sites charge a small entrance fee for foreigners, but you can buy a Mandalay archeological zone ticket that allows you to see all the places within the city and surrounding town for 10,000 Kyatt per person, valid for 5 days. On our first day we found a taxi driver, Mr. Po, who shared his expert knowledge of the area and helped us navigate the city. He would drive us to each destination and waited until we were done. It was especially helpful when we wanted to go to Amarapura and other nearby towns.
One of the best things for me to do after each trip is to go through my notes and photos as I start to write about my trip. It allows me to relive my trip and recall memorable experiences. Here are some of the places we visited in Mandalay:
Since Burma was quite insulated until recently, Burmese food has not had a chance to spread to other parts of the world. Like most people, we had not tried Burmese food before setting foot in Myanmar. In fact, we’re still hard pressed to find an authentic Burmese restaurant in New York, our melting pot city. Our journey around the country was also a culinary learning experience. While there are some similarities and influences derived from other Asian cuisines, some dishes we tried were quite unique and like nothing we have had before. Similar to what we found in Yangon, food in Mandalay is both delicious and inexpensive, two of my favorite things. In fact, this is where we had some of the best and most memorable food of the trip. Continue reading
One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to visit to the local markets. The cacophony of sights, sounds, and smells adds to the ambience of the city. Watching people as they go through their daily tasks is a wonderful way immerse yourself in the local life of a new city. Continue reading
In the small village of Mingun, just an hour boat ride north of Mandalay, you can catch an ox cart taxi to take you around town. Even though the town is small, it is famous for the unfinished Pahtodawgyi Pagoda. The King at the time wanted to build the largest temple in the world that would rival the Great Pyramids of Giza. His ambitious project drained local resources and was an unpopular undertaking. When he passed away, the pagoda was left unfinished and currently stands as an impressively gigantic dilapidated pile of bricks.
This photo was inspired by one I saw when I first looked up Mandalay, and one of the reasons why I wanted to come to this city. Getting up at 4 am, stumbling around in the dark and falling in the mud was totally worth it when we got to see the sunrise over the world’s longest teak bridge spanning 1.2 km across the Taungthaman lake.
This picture is of the citadel at the corner of Mandalay palace. The sun was just setting as we drove by and I couldn’t help but admire this scene. Intense colors, scattering clouds, and a clear lake created a setting for this stunning photo.