Mandalay is known for its millionaires, its monks (half of the country's monks reside in Mandalay and surrounding areas), and its cultural diversity.
famous for its ancient sights, and for U Bein bridge, the world's longest teak bridge.
Bus leaves at 06:00 and 14:30 (5,000 kyat), 5 hr.
Overnight bus Shwe Mandalar at 18:00 (15,000 kyat), leaves from the Highway Bus Station. Quite luxurious (Swedish) bus, includes a towel, pillow, blanket toothbrushes and water. Arrives at Mawlamyine at 05:00.
former British hill station in a lush alpine forest. The small town contains a variety of colonial relics, and is most famous for its botanical gardens (modelled on England's Kew Gardens). Also known for the Defence Services Academy, the top-ranked military academy in Myanmar. Shared taxis come pick you up (6,500 kyat, back seat, 7,000 front, 1.5 hr). Pickups leave from the corner of 27th and 82nd (1,500 kyat, 2 hr). Train is highly scenic, and is a must-do train journey if you like trains, but unfortunately leaves Mandalay at 04:00 (USD 3 for upper class)
Hill station established by the British. Pick-up trucks run east along 35th street and take about 2 hours and cost 1500 kyats.
Overnight buses at 07:00 and 09:00 (10,500 kyat). Luxury bus for 16,000 kyat. Leaves from the Highway Bus Station.
by bus (OK-Bus with pick up and drop off at your hotels) 8,000 kyat. By slow boat (13h) on Sundays and Wednesdays at 05:30 for USD15 or express boat (8h) daily at 07:00 but only Nov.-Feb., USD45. Ticket office for both in 35th Street & Sein Pann Road (kyat not accepted)
The very name Mandalay evokes the splendours of old Burma. But most people will be surprised to learn that Mandalay is not an old city, not even a medieval one, but rather a new city created by King Mingdon Min in 1857 as the new capital of the kingdom of Ava. Only two Burmese kings ruled from there, King Mingdon and King Thibaw, before the British conquest of Upper Burma in 1885. It was a city of splendour between 1858 and 1885, but most of the magnificence has vanished, gone in the fires that consume wooden structures and by intensive Allied bombing during the Second World War. The city, neatly planned with its lettered roads and numbered streets, is a British creation. The once magnificent royal palace and the great Atumashi ("incomparable") pagoda, King Mingdon Min's finest creations, are modern reconstructions supervised by the ruling junta with the help of forced labour. Today, Mandalay lies at the end of the Lashio Rd and it is, by Burmese standards, relatively prosperous as a centre for trade with China and India. Despite the capital having been moved to Naypyidaw, Mandalay remains by far the main commercial centre of Upper Myanmar.
Mandalay is ethnically diverse, with the Bamar (Burmans) forming a slight majority. In recent years, there has been a major influx of Chinese from mainland China, and the local Chinese (both recent migrants and descendants of colonial-era immigrants) form 30-40% of the population. Their influence is seen in the Chinese-style glass buildings throughout the city. Other ethnic groups include the Shan, who are ethnically and linguistically related to the Thais and Laotians, and the Karen (Kayin). There is also a sizable ethnic Indian population, including Nepalis and Sikhs.
Mandalay has a semi-tropical climate. Winter (which is dry and cold) lasts from Nov-Feb, and summer lasts from Mar-May. Because Mandalay is in the central dry zone, it receives far less rain than the more tropical south.
- Mingun - best known for the Mingun Bell (one of the largest bells in the world), is a boat ride away. Boats leave from the Mingun jetty (all drivers know it) at 09:00 and return at 13:00. 5,000 kyat return.
- Sagaing (to the east) - has many Buddhist temples and monasteries, especially on Sagaing Hill.