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Myanmar’s second largest city located in the hot and dry central region. Being the former royal capital of Konboung - Myanmar’s last dynasty – Mandalay has its own graceful charm. The remaining fortress with beautiful moats and finely built palace walls is the icon of this historic city. It houses Maha Myat Muni - the most revered Buddha statue in entire Myanmar. From its 230 meter high Mandalay Hill, one has a scenic view of the city, the plains surrounding it, the Shan Mountain, as well as the Ayeyarwaddy River, especially great at sunsets. Mandalay is a centre for traditional handicraft artists; well known for its silk and cotton weaving, wood, stone and marble carving, tapestry making, brasses molding, gold leaf pressing, just to name a few. The city is also the principle centre for Buddhism studies, its many monasteries and pagodas are of great religious significance. Furthermore, surrounded by Sagaing, Ava (Inwa) and Amarapura – other ancient royal cities just as remarkable for their historical and religious importance – this destination has a lot to reveal about Myanmar and its past. A boat trip on the Ayeyarwaddy River to Mingun Village or exploring the rural life in the city’s premises can also be excellent highlights of your tour program. Besides, Mandalay has very good air, road and river connections to all parts of Myanmar and is the ideal base to explore the rest of Upper Myanmar.
Highlights of Mandalay
Maha Myat Muni Buddha Image, The Royal Palace, Mandalay Hill, Golden Palace Monastery, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Kyauktawgyi Buddha Image, The Buffalo Point, Zeycho Market, Handicraft Workshops
Day excursion highlights
Situated about 11 km south of Mandalay, it is an ancient capital of King Bodawpaya of Konbaung Dynasty in 17th century. Amarapura is noted for silk and cotton weaving and bronze casting. Highlights are U Bein teak bridge, Kyauktawgyi Pagoda and Mahagandayon Monastery.
Another ancient royal capital of Myanmar founded in 13th century, during the second Myanmar Empire. As the name Innwa means the mouth of a lake, the capital was set up on an artificial island at the confluence of the Ayeyarwady and the Myitnge created by digging a canal linking the two rivers. Today, Innwa is a small town south of Amarapura. The sights to see in Innwa includes Nan Myint Watch Tower, Maha Aung Myae Bonzan Monastery, Bagayar Monastery and lacquareware workshops mainly producing alms bowls.
Sagaing Hills lies 21 km southeast of Mandalay on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. Around 1315 AD, after the fall of Bagan, Sagaing briefly became a capital of an independent Shan Kingdom. Today, Sagaing is a religious and monastic center, with numerous Buddhist monasteries. The place is also known for its meditation centers where Buddhist devotees visit for the purpose of religious retreat. Highlights of Sagaing include Sagaing Hills dotted with numerous whitewashed pagodas, a dome-shaped Kaungmudaw Pagoda and the handcrafted silverware workshops.
Located about 11 km upriver from Mandalay on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, Mingun is reached after a 45-minute boat ride. This trip lets travelers experience life along Myanmar’s most dominant river; a different phase to enjoy one’s visit of Mandalay. Major attractions are Mingun Bell, Pahtodawgyi Paya (The Huge Unfinished Pagoda), Myatheindan Zedi, and Settawyar Zedi (Zedi = Pagoda).
Brief overnight tour highlights
Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo)
Formerly known as Maymyo, Pyin Oo Lwin is a cool scenic hill station, over 1,000 m. above sea level, reached within two hours drive from Mandalay. The town was founded during colonial times, as hill town hideaway in hot summer months. Its main street is part of the famous Burma Road, an important route that leads north to the trading town of Lashio and beyond to the Chinese border. Thanks to its cooler weather, many flowers, fruits and a variety of green vegetation commonly found in temperate climates are thriving here. A stagecoach ride along its quiet and scenic lane is a well-known option to wander around this peaceful small town. Its nostalgic atmosphere of former days in its old buildings and botanical gardens (now called Kandawgyi National Park), home to diverse species of birds, insects, orchids and trees, attracts many visitors, both local and foreign travelers. Close to Pyin Oo Lwin are several natural attractions, waterfalls and caves. Pyin Oo Lwin is truly a refuge from busy city life.
Lies 140-km northwest of Mandalay on the eastern banks of the
Chindwin River, Monywa is best reached by road in less than 4 hours.
This is an important commercial centre of the Chindwin Valley and of the
overland trade route between Myanmar and India. Its major tourist
attractions are Thanboddhay Paya, a huge stupa somewhat resembling
Indonesia’s Borobudur, with over 500,000 small Buddha images studded all
over its inner walls and Kyauka lacquer ware village. Across the
Chindwin River reached by local ferry and by road, there are other
important highlights namely Phowin Taung with many sandstone cave
temples and Shwe Ba Taung featuring unique pavilions cut from the
surrounding sandstone and filled with Buddha images.