The last royal capital of the Burmese Kingdom, modern-day Mandalay is a dynamic city and important religious centre, home to wide avenues and some of the country’s most spectacular pagodas.
Immortalised by Kipling’s eponymous poem, Mandalay is Myanmar’s second largest city after Yangon. Whilst its name may conjure up splendid images of the Burma of old, Mandalay is in fact a relatively young and modern metropolis. A place where gleaming glass structures exist alongside ancient wooden monasteries, bustling markets and intriguing religious sites. Plus, a thriving teahouse scene.
Mandalay’s enduring attraction is its Royal Palace citadel - a replica of the 19th century original that, like much of the city, was destroyed during WWII bombing. Visitors are free to wander among the throne rooms, audience halls and red-roofed pagodas, and view the few surviving original buildings such as the royal mint and watch tower.
From the Mahagandayone Monastery with its 1,000 monks to the revered Mahamuni temple with its spectacular gold-covered Buddha image, Mandalay has more monasteries than anywhere else in Myanmar. During your visit, you’ll also want to stop by the 150-year-old U Bein Bridge, examine the world’s largest book at the white-marbled Kuthodaw Pagoda and catch the sunset from the top of Mandalay Hill.
Arts and crafts are very much alive and well in Mandalay. You can visit traditional workshops all over the city where time-honoured methods are used to produce kalaga tapestries, gold leaf and polished jade.