What to do in Mandalay? There are many places we wanted to visit in Mandalay. We have two full days. After some research and asking around, we have decided to hire a pick up truck to explore Mandalay. It is not easy to travel around you if don’t know the way. The pick up truck cost 20,000Kyat (25 USD) for whole day until after sun set. As a bonus, the truck driver bring along his nephew as our tour guide. He can speaks english quite well. Here’s what we did for our first day trip.
#1 Mahamuni Pagoda
We have had quite a lot of temples in Bagan & Yangon, so we are quite OD-ed of temples at this point. Then again, Myanmar’s rich culture revolves around Buddhism & religion. So, here goes more temples. Yay! The Mahamuni temple is free to enter but if you bring camera, there is a camera fee. The Golden Buddha is impressive, stands more that 12 feet and fully covered with thick layer of gold leaf. Only men can place a gold leaf on the Buddha. Women have to stay behind a rope. So Danny went and check it out while I waited behind the rope.
#2 Marble Street
Marble Street! as the name suggest, the entire street is occupied by marble crafting business. Thousands of WIP white marble buddha in a street is quite a view. Most of the master craftsman here are youngsters barely in their teens. The details and attention they put on those buddhas are just amazing work!
#3 Mahagandhayon Monastery
We were told that there are more than 2000 monks that lives here. Every morning, they will have breakfast together at 10:30am. It is very interesting to see part of a daily life of a monk. There are a lot of tourist (including us) visiting this place. If I were a monk here it will be really weird to see hundreds of tourist everyday staring at me, taking picture of me when I eat…
#4 Sagaing Hill
We did not know that the amount of stairs to Sagaing Hill is so long. It is definitely a good exercise. This place is not as touristy as Mandalay Hill. The view is rewarding. The weather is a little cooling. The place is quiet and clean.
#5 Inwa or Ava
From Mandalay, once you have arrived at the river bank, you need to take a boat taxi across the river to go to Ava. It cost 2,000 Kyat (USD 2.5) per person for a round trip. Once you are in Ava, there are many horse carts that would offer to take you around for 6000 Kyat (about 2-3 hours to go to all the main sites). Ava use to be a Burmese kingdoms in the 14th to 19th centuries. It has been rebuilt many times and finally it has been destroyed by a series of major earthquakes in 18 century. It is now an interesting ruin that many tourist like to visit as a day-trip from Mandalay. There are still locals staying here, making a living through plantation.
Horse riding again in Ava. Warning! Super bumpy!
Below is one of the ruin temple, a view from a peanut farm.
A Burmese architecture, a 27m Palace Watchtower from early 19th century.
Royal Pool for Princesses, also at the Ava Palace site.
The jetty back to opposite side of the river
#6 Shwe Kyet Kya Pagoda (a view of Ava Bridge)
This place is not listed in the Lonely Planet Guide Book, the taxi guy simply bring us here as we love places with view and we still have time before the sunset at U Bein Bridge in Amarapura. It is one of the loveliest spots beside the Ayeyarwaddy River, with a view of the green Sagaing hills on the opposite side and also Ava Bridge.
#7 Sunset View of U Bein Bridge in Amarapura
We arrived at around 3pm. We still have 3 hours before taking the boat to the middle of the river for sunset. The sunset is at around 6:30pm. So we walk across the Ayeyarwaddy River through U Bein Bridge, the longest teak wood bridge in the world. It is 2KM long, it take us 30 mins to cross it by foot. Do you know that after we found out that the cover of Lonely Planet South East Asia is taken at U Bein Bridge, it has become one of the reason why we want to go Myanmar.
The view on the bridge is spectacular. We walk slowly, enjoy the scene and take photos. We really had a very good time here. After we crossed the bridge, we didn’t visit the pagodas but we chill and have beer at the riverside until 5:30pm. Then we take the boat to the middle of the river and enjoy the sunset. The whole experience is amazing and surreal. The beautiful evening sky, the people, the emotion… It is worth it.. I want to remember this amazing view and experience my whole life…
Above picture: A Burmese kid is walking back from school
Above picture: Two young locals playing and walking at the edge of U Bein Bridge
Above picture: A walk on the U Bein Bridge
Above picture: U Bein Bridge from the river bank
Above picture: Having a beer at the local restaurant
Above picture: A group of children monk walking out from temple
Above picture: Duckling at U Bein Bridge