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Mandalay is the second largest city, and the last royal capital of Myanmar. Underneath its bustling facade you will find many historical sights that evoke images of a bygone era. Mandalay remains as the proud cultural capital of Myanmar and its many artisan workshops and tea houses are an inspiring testament to its history.

Rudyard Kipling may never have actually visited, but his renowned poem Road to Mandalay still conjures up richly exotic impressions. Located on the banks of the mighty Ayeyarwady River, Myanmar lies within easy striking distance of former colonial hill stations, ruined cities and other cultural attractions.

Road to Mandalay: the last royal capital

At the heart of the city is the huge complex of Mandalay Palace, surrounded by its regal gardens and a walled moat, which dates back to the Konbaung Dynasty and was the residence for the last kings of Burma. Admire the incredible religious artwork of Mandalay's pagodas and see local artisans at work on tapestries and using delicate gold leaf. Climb the covered stairway to Mandalay Hill to watch an unforgettable sunset over the floodplain of Ayeyarwady River, with as the golden light reflects in the mirror mosaics of the monastery.

If you’re not continuing your Myanmar holiday by taking the slow boat from Mandalay to Bagan, be sure to enjoy a river cruise to Sagaing Hill and Ava, and enjoy a stop at sunset to walk along the picturesque U Bein Bridge at Amarapura. At over a kilometre long, this old teak bridge with its constant and colourful traffic of local people provides a great photographic opportunity to capture the spirit of Myanmar.

As well as Bagan, you can combine your time in Mandalay with a few days in the vibrant city of Yangon or embrace a relaxing end to your Myanmar holiday at the pristinely beautiful Ngapali Beach.

Destination Highlights

  • Visit the Shwenandaw Monastery, an ancient wooden building with intricate carvings that was once King Mindon's home in Mandalay.
  • View the 'world's largest book', Theravada Buddhist Scriptures, which are inscribed on marble slabs at Kuthodaw Pagoda.
  • Spend a morning at Innwa (Ava), located on a river island, where the ruins of an ancient city and its impressive monasteries reward exploration.
  • Take a trip to Sagaing Hill. With its many white and gold pagodas, it’s considered the living centre of Buddhist faith in Myanmar.

Great sample itineraries


Get inspired by our selection of popular itineraries that featuring Myanmar, including your Mandalay holiday. Call our Destination Specialists and let us help you plan an amazing tailor made holiday.

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Myanmar Luxury Private Tour

  • 9 Days
  • Guide Price £2,799 PP
Discover Buddhist monks, bright golden pagodas and plains scattered with magnificent temples on our Highlights of Myanmar tour. This classic...
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Cultural holidays
Bagan

Tour Mandalay Yangon

  • 6 Days
Available as either a small group or private tour, this journey gives you the ideal introduction to this fascinating country....
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Couples Holidays
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Classic Myanmar

  • 6 Days
Peaceful pagodas with shiny pointed stupas, temples in beautiful teak and awe-inspiring sunsets – discover these delights and more on...
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Couples Holidays

Explore Mandalay

Time Zone

GMT+ 6:30

Flight Time

Direct flights are available via Bangkok.

Currency

MMK - Myanmar Kyat

Visa Information

British citizens will need to obtain a visa for travel to Myanmar.

Language

English is widely spoken

Health Info

No special vaccines are required or recommended for travel to Myanmar.

Robert, Destination Specialist

“For a delightful river trip from Mandalay, less than a mile from the city you can visit the enormous Mingun Bell and even more enormous unfinished Mingun Pahtodawgyi Pagoda. Climb up the stupa for views over the river, then walk further down the lane to see the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda.”

Robert
Destination Specialist
a woman in a red shirt

“Experience the cultural capital of Mandalay with a visit to the tiny puppet theatre, where handcrafted marionettes represent centuries of tradition with local myths and legends.”

Karen
Destination Executive

Events & Festivals

Mandalay boasts a couple of events and traditional festivals that are held throughout the year and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Mahamuni Pagoda Festival

Mahamuni Pagoda Festival attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over Myanmar on the full moon day of Thabodwe, during early February. This energy-filled festival takes place over two days and involves recitations from scripture, burning incense sticks before images of the Buddha, dancing and music performances. 

Local Cuisine

Mandalay has a wonderful tea house culture and these range from road side stalls to more elaborate affairs. Sample Burmese tea sweetened with condensed milk with a range of delicious snacks, or lunch on the famous fermented tea leaf salad.

Tea

Mandalay has a wonderful tea house culture and these range from road side stalls to more elaborate affairs. Sample Burmese tea sweetened with condensed milk with a range of delicious snacks, or lunch on the famous fermented tea leaf salad.

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