When people are talking about Myanmar they often rave about Hpa An, Bagan, Inle Lake or Yangon. And Mandalay, the forgotten city, does not seem to fit in with the other four. But with stunning waterfalls, outstanding monuments and palaces along with many beautiful temples, the former royal capital of Myanmar is a paradise for adventure lovers and for culture seekers to spend a couple of days exploring this beautiful city. Mandalay is a real hidden treasure that you shouldn’t forget to include on your Myanmar itinerary.
Like Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Mandalay Palace (Mya Nan San Kyaw Palace) is a huge fortress located in the middle of the moat in the heart of Mandalay and was once royal living quarters of the Burmese monarchy. The complex was constructed between 1857 and 1859 and even though little of the original palace survives today due to World War II, a faithful reconstruction process began in 1989. The Mandalay Palace was home to the last two kings of Myanmar: King Mindon and King Thibaw, but since 1885 the palace has no longer been a royal residence as the royal family was captured.
Its beauty must be witnessed from both outsides and inside these walls. When entering the buildings, you will see stunning architecture with beautiful details which seems to be sort of the building mix between the old lush European building, Pagodas and traditional monastery. Take a walk around the compound, enjoy the cool atmosphere here and admire a royal mint, royal mausoleums, clock tower and watchtower from which there are wonderful views.
Climbing the top of Mandalay Hill is the best way to get an incredible view of the whole area here. Standing at this 240-meter high hill, you can see the old city walls and moat, temples and pagodas, the Irrawaddy River and mountains on the horizon.
The Su Taung Pyae Pagoda on top of Mandalay Hill is an ideal place to admire one of the most magical sunsets you will see in South East Asia. This pagoda is covered with a mosaic of broken colored mirrors which makes it illuminate in a golden glow every time sun rays appear.
Getting there is easier than you expect, you can rent a motorbike and drive up Mandalay Hill yourself from the center or there are elevator and escalator on the foot of the highest of the temple. Be sure to dress respectfully. Your shoulders and knees should be covered and remember to take your shoes off entering the temple.
Anisakan Waterfall is perhaps one of the most stunning waterfalls of Southeast Asia situated in the next town over: Pyin Oo Lwin. The best time to visit the waterfall is early in the morning when you can avoid the large crowds gathering at the waterfall and the temperatures will be lower than in the day. Then, you will have a chance to experience the most adventurous activities and enjoy the most beautiful natural sight to see in Mandalay. Not to mention, it is also a great place to go for a refreshing swim and to escape the heat for a day.
Myanmar is home to some stunning sights and Mandalay might be one of the highlights which is definitely worth exploring. Check out Asia Senses’ Myanmar Bucket List for some more travel inspiration.
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