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Mandalay and Its Surroundings

Mandalay

Mandalay was the last capital of the Myanmar Kingdom, that is strategically located in the heart of the country in order for the kings to have tight control over their country. Due to its location, Mandalay is a trading center for both local and foreign goods. Today, there are over one million people living in this city, that are working in different industries, such as trading, hospitality, and etc. Mandalay also have a strong culture and tradition, which can be seen through the different attractions the city has to offer.

Different tourist attractions have lured tourist to Mandalay, making it a must-go destination for tourists. The most famous attraction is the Mahamuni Pagoda, that holds the Mahamuni Buddha Image. This Buddha Image was transported to Mandalay from Mrauk U in 1784, with a rich history claiming that the image was first casted during the 1st century. Today, devout Buddhists have covered the 4-meter-high bronze image in 15 cm thick layer of gold as well as other precious stones. If one wanted to see the intricate Burmese craftsmanship, he or she should visit the Golden Palace Monastery which is covered inside out with carved wooden panels. At one time, this building was part of the Mandalay palace, which was used as an apartment by King Mindon and his chief queen. Even though the outside is not as magnificent as it used to be due to weathering, the insides are still in excellent condition. Another famous attraction is the Mandalay Palace, which has been reconstructed after the World War II as parts were destroyed during the war. However, the fort and the original city walls which rises up to 33 meters still remain to this day. Last but not least, Kuthodaw Pagoda is home of the world’s biggest book where pages are carved out of stone slabs. In the early 1870s, King Mindon commissioned 5,000 masons to carry out this task, which took over 8 years to be completed. Originally, the letters were laid with gold and a total of 729 marble slabs that is engraved with Buddha’s teachings.

Mandalay is one of Myanmar’s busiest cities, where the most basic transportation is motorbikes and cars. The chaotic traffic throughout the city itself, as it is a trade hub. One can avoid the traffic by visiting the top of Mandalay Hill, which is 235 meters above sea level, and enjoy the sunset over the beautiful Mandalay city which sits alongside the majestic Irrawaddy River and the Shan Plateau. For arts and crafts lovers, Mandalay is the perfect place to be as it represents the largest repository of Burmese arts and crafts. Here, visitors can observe skilled craftsmen making beautiful art out of wood, marble, silverware, and bronze honoring the traditions of their fore-fathers.

Mingun

Located about 11 km upriver from Mandalay on the western bank of Irrawaddy River, Mingun is the home of the largest ringing bell in the world along with the Mingun Pagoda. The pagoda, which remains unfinished, was to be the largest pagoda built in the world, rising up to 150 meters. However, only 50 meters of the pagoda was completed, and an earthquake during 1838 have destroyed some parts of the pagoda as well. Today, it is known as the world’s largest pile of bricks, but is still an attraction as tourist enjoy a short excursion to Mingun from Mandalay by a beautiful and tranquil boat ride.

Amarapura

Amarapura was an ancient capital of the Konbaung dynasty that is located 11 km south of Mandalay. Many different monuments such as the Mahagangayon Monastery offers to vistors to observe the lives of the monks. The most famous attraction of Amarapura is the U Bein Bridge, which was constructed solely with teak pillars from the Ava palace and spans a total length of 1.2 km long. Here, you can enjoy a walk along the bridge or take a human-rowed boat to enjoy the picturesque sunset to end the day of your visit.

Sagaing

Not too far from Mandalay, is the famous place for religious centers called Sagaing. After the fall of the Bagan empire, Sagaing became the capital for a short time, where dozens of Buddhist temples and monasteries were built around the sacred Sagaing Hill. The most famous of the lot is the Kaungmudaw Pagoda, built in 1636 as a commemoration for the re-establishment of AVA as the royal capital. The city is also known for its Ywahtaung village, where silversmiths are renowned for their engraving skills and handcrafted products.

Innwa

This historical city was founded by King Thado Minphya in 1364 and was the capital for a record breaking of 400 years. However, there are very few remnants from its golden period due to poor weather and preservation. The remaining buildings such as Maenu Okkyaung Monastery and the Bargayar Monastery offers different styles of architecture that is unique to its time. All these places can be visited by a horse cart and bring you back to the old days through the different landscapes and ruins.

Pyin Oo Lwin

A popular summer getaway town for locals, Pyin Oo Lwin is located just 66 km east of Mandalay, which is reachable through a scenic drive passing the slopes of Shan Plateau. At 1040 meters above sea level, Pyin Oo Lwin’s cool weather provides a relief from the heat of Mandalay below. This city is covered with beautiful trees, where you can go to different shops to enjoy the local coffee or to pick your own strawberries. Different attractions such as the Kandawgyi National Park, Pwekauk waterfalls, and other attractions are the highlights of Pwin Oo Lwin. Getting around the city can be unique, where you can stroll around the city in an enclosed wagon pulled by a pony.

Gokhteik Bridge

On behalf of the British, the Pennsylvania Steel Co. built the Gokhteik Bridge over a deep gorge around a hundred years ago. Back then, it was the second highest railway bridge in the world. Its infrastructure has been recently renovated so that people can cross this bridge on a train and enjoying the scenic views of the hills around.

Monywa

3 hours’ drive away from Mandalay, lies Monywa, a major trading center for agricultural produce from the surrounding Chindwin Valley. In addition to hundreds of warehouses, Monywa supports mills for the production of cotton, flour, noodles, and edible oil. The main attraction in this city is the Thabode Temple with over five hundred thousand Buddha images. Another attraction worth mentioning is the Powintaung Caves, where four hundred thousand Buddha statues and mural paintings which all dates back to the 17th century exists.

Mogoke

Located 200 km north east of Mandalay, and 1170 meters above sea level, the “Ruby Land” have a cool climate. Royals throughout the world have sought after Mogoke rubies and sapphires for many centuries. Due to its location, many precious and semi-precious gems can be found in the city, with the most famous being the pigeon blood ruby. The famous “Nga Mouk” Ruby, which has a price of a small country, can be found on Queen Elizabeth’s crown.

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Tel: +951-502901~5, 505103.

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