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Best Time: October - January Read More

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"The Cultural & Pilgrimage Centre of Myanmar"

Mandalay Tourism

Mandalay is a city located on the banks of the Irrawaddy(Ayeyarwady) River in Central Myanmar. It is the second-largest city in the country after Yangon. Most people expect an old Burma when it comes to Mandalay, but end up getting welcomed by sprawling buildings, wide roads filled with motorcycles and cars, pagodas with towering stupas, shopping complexes, tea houses and many lovely buzzing markets.

Spread around the foot of Mandalay Hill, Mandalay functioned as a royal capital of Ava kingdom for a few decades. The magnificent Royal Palace and Atumashi pagoda are some of the monuments of this period, which were reconstructed by the British. Mandalay is famous for trade, the centre of Burmese culture and Buddhist learning.

The city is popular among tourists for life across the Irrawaddy, plenty of ancient Buddhist pagodas which speak of the rich Burmese culture revolving around Buddhism. The boat cruises from Mandalay to Bagan and Inle and are quite famous for the scenic journey which spans for multiple days on the river.

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History of Mandalay

Mandalay was established in 1857 by King Mindon at the foot of Mandalay Hill, as the new royal capital of the Konbaung dynasty, replacing the city of Amarapura. The town gets its current name from the Pali language, but at the time of founding it was known as Yadanabon, which translated to the City of Gems. Four rivers surrounded the site, and within the walled town were prominent buildings. The most powerful was the Royal Palace, a massive wooden structure studded with golden towers surrounded by moats.

The city functioned as the royal capital and centre of administration for more than 25 years until the annexation by the British Empire, during which the last King Thibaw Min and his Queen Supayalat were sent into exile. The British established their capital in Yangon, and Mandalay became the centre for commerce and culture. It was considered as the centre for Buddhist learning in Burma.

The British looted the wealth from the Royal Palace and renovated it to function as a fort. Mandalay suffered extensively during WWII when the Japanese tried conquering Burma, which resulted in substantial loss. Mandalay became a part of independent Myanmar in 1948. It continues to be a centre for trade and commerce, and the rise in the number of Chinese has increased its position with the republic.


  • The boat cruises in Mandalay river comes in different types - short sunset or sunrise trips in groups or private guided tours and the multiple days' boat trips from Mandalay to other cities. It is best to book them once in your in the city for better prices. Check with local operators and hotels to compare quotations before making a booking.
  • Although Mandalay hill can be explored within a few hours, it is recommended to keep more than half-a-day as there are many sites.
  • There are many bicycle group tours, especially to U-bein bridge, which is recommended if you enjoy outdoor sports.
  • There are plenty of options for accommodation in the city, but most hotels don't allow early check-in unless you are willing to pay extra, which is usually a day's price. So plan your arrival accordingly.

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FAQs on Mandalay

What is famous about Mandalay?

Mandalay offers an excellent insight into Burmese culture, traditions and the local life across the river. It is a great place to spend a few days in Myanmar.

What is not so good about Mandalay?

For those running short on time, it is not worth visiting as Mandalay is a bit similar to Yangon in what it offers. Also, those who prefer quieter and smaller towns might not like Mandalay.

What is the best time to visit Mandalay?

The best time to visit Mandalay is between October and January. The weather is not very hot, and the humidity is manageable during these months. Boat cruises in the Irrawaddy river are quite popular during this time. From late February, summer sets in slowly with March to May being the hottest months. Monsoon in Mandalay begins in late July and lasts until September, with the city witnessing heavy downpours and even floods. 
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What are the things to do in Mandalay?

The top things to do in Mandalay are U Bein Bridge, Mandalay palace, Kuthodaw pagoda, Jade Market, Kandawgyi Lake, Cultural Museum. You can see all the places to visit in Mandalay here

What are the places near Mandalay?

The top places near to Mandalay are Sagaing which is 13 km from Mandalay, Inwa which is located 15 km from Mandalay, Monywa which is located 98 km from Mandalay, Bagan which is located 154 km from Mandalay, Hsipaw which is located 144 km from Mandalay

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