Mandalay is the largest city of Myanmar, a vibrant and modern city that still exudes the old world charm. More than a gateway to Bagan, Mandalay has its own share of attractions like the Mandalay Hill and the nearby U-Bein Bridge in Amarapura that offers great views of sunrise or sunset. Other places of interests include Mahamuni Temple which is regarded as the holiest pagoda in the country, the Kuthodaw Pagoda which is dubbed as the largest book in the world, Sanda Muni Paya, Grand Palace and more.
Where to Stay in Mandalay
For budget backpackers, I highly recommend Ace Star Bed and Breakfast which is strategically located in the downtown. Rate starts at 15USD per bed per night for dormitory room including breakfast, but they also have private rooms. Rocky, the owner and the staff are very helpful and accommodating.
How to Tour Mandalay
There are packaged tours open for joiners for as low as 10,000 Kyats (approximately 400 Php), your hotel will be able to help you on this. You may also rent a bike for 3,000 Kyats (approximately 130 Php) whole day and 2,000 Kyats (approximately 100 Php) half day.
Going In and Out of Mandalay
Mandalay International Airport links Mandalay City to China, Singapore and Thailand. Budget carrier Air Asia Thailand offers low cost travel from Bangkok Don Mueang.
Going to the downtown from Mandalay International Airport, get into a shared taxi for 4,000 Kyats (approximately 150 Php) per person or the private taxi at 12,000 (approximately 500 Php), travel time is approximately 45 minutes.
From Bagan, there are coaches and buses that will fetch you from your hotel and bring you straight to your hotel or destination in Mandalay. There are departures at any time of the day, even in the early morning or at midnight, travel time is around four to five hours. You may book it thru your hotel in Bagan or thru their stalls in New Bagan and Nyaung U. Fare starts at 8500 Kyats (approximately 300 Php). Same goes for Mandalay to Bagan buses and coaches.
From Yangon, you can take a bus, a train or a plane to Mandalay. By bus, there are at least two daily departures, usually around 7AM for morning trip and 6PM for overnight trip with 10 to 12 hours of travel time and fare of 10 USD for non-aircon and 12 USD for air-con. Train is more expensive and slower, fare is at least 30 USD and travel time is from 14 to 15 hours. Air travel is the fastest yet most expensive way of traveling from Yangon to Mandlay with fare that plays around 100 USD for a 60-minute flight via domestic carriers Air Bagan, Mandalay Air, Yangon Air and Myanmar Air.
Top Attractions in and near Mandalay
- Mandalay Hill
- Sanda Muni Paya and Kuthodaw Pagoda
- Mahamuni Temple
- Grand Palace
- Golden Palace Monastery (Shwenandaw Kyaung)
- Night Market
- U-Bein Bridge
- Sagaing Hill
- Kaungmudaw Pagoda
- Bargaya Monastery
- Mingun Temple
- Best months to visit is from November to April
- Filipinos can visit Myanmar visa-free for 14 days
- Elecrical plug/outlet uses Europlug, Schuko and sometimes Indian sockets
- Power voltage ranges from 220V to 240V