Mandalay, Myanmar: Top 5 Amazing Sites

Mandalay is Myanmar's city of kings. The last independent Burmese kingdom ruled from Mandalay Palace through the 19th century, and the city is still steeped in history and culture. From beautiful palaces to ancient and mysterious temples, Mandalay has it all. Don't miss a walk amongst the world's largest book and the chance to spot a rare pink river dolphin.

Top 5 Amazing Sites in Mandalay, Myanmar

1. Mandalay Hill

The city is dominated by Mandalay Hill, a 790-foot hill covered in temples and pagodas. The hill is crowned by the Sutaungpyei Pagoda, which offers a fantastic panorama view back over Mandalay.

mandalay hill in myanmar with golden temples

If you are feeling adventurous, you can hike the pilgrim's trail to the top. For the rest, the summit is also serviced by an escalator from the parking lot to the temple. Mandalay Hill is the best place in town for watching the sunset!

2. Mandalay Palace

The original Mandalay Palace was destroyed during the Second World War, but a faithful replica was rebuilt in the 1990's. Today, only the throne hall is decorated, but visitors are free to follow a map and explore all the buildings in the sprawling complex.

red and white Burmese-style architecture at mandalay palace

Climb the spiral stairs up the palace watch tower for amazing views of the whole palace complex. Tickets cost $10 USD (10,000kyat) per person and includes entry to Kuthodow Pagoda and Shwenandaw Monastery as well.

3. Kuthodow Pagoda (The World's Largest Book!)

Kuthodow Pagoda, one of Myanmar's coolest sites, is the world's largest book. That's right, the temple itself is the world's largest book! The temple grounds are filled with white stone Buddhist stupas, each one containing a tablet inscribed with words from the Theravada Buddhist Pali Canon, the canonical texts and writings of the religion.

white stone stupas a mandalay kuthodow pagoda

Entrance is included with the Mandalay Historical Zone ticket purchased for entry to the Mandalay Palace.

4. Shwenandaw Monastery

Unlike Mandalay Palace, Shwenandaw Monastery is an original building. It is the only surviving building, in fact, from the original Mandalay Palace complex. The building is very different from the other golden and gaudy temples that you'll find throughout Burma. The monastery, made of hand-carved teak wood, is dark, quiet, and peaceful inside.

teak wood monastery shwenandaw temple in mandalay myanmar

Entrance is included with the Mandalay Historical Zone ticket purchased for entry to the Mandalay Palace.

5. Dolphin Watching on the River

You have to be patient and lucky to spot the famous Irrawaddy dolphins, but if  you do, it will be worth the wait! Head down to the river and keep an eye out for the legendary pink dolphins that swim up and down the Irrawaddy!

pink river dolphins in the Irrawaddy river in mandalay myanmar

You can even sign up for a dolphin-watching excursion, although seeing the rare creatures is not guaranteed.

Getting to and From Mandalay

As one of the country's major cities and port of entry, you can reach Mandalay by flight at the international airport. You can also arrive by bus or train from Yangon (warning: read this first!), but by far the best way to travel around this part of the Myanmar is by boat. If you have time, spend a day on the Irrawaddy River and take a cruise from Mandalay to Bagan. You won't regret it!

a boat on the Irrawaddy River in myanmar

Read

If you are interested in Myanmar, check out my second book, Across A Golden Land,

my travelogue of our journey by land across the country from Yangon to Bagan. And, yes, it features both the awful night train and the wonderful river boat!

Available on Amazon.com.

Watch

"Golden Land" - our travel vlog about our recent adventure in Myanmar.

Best Hotel Deals in Mandalay

Booking.com