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Ancient Cities Around

MANDALAY

A combination of Modern with Ancient City

· Asia

Ancient Cities Around MANDALAY

Another metropolitan city just like Yangon. But surprisingly, I did not really hear good things about Mandalay before traveling there. However, I thought of giving it a try myself and to tell you the truth I was not happy with the actual city itself but the ancient cities which surrounded Mandalay were something that left me speechless. And so I am writing this blog post about the three ancient cities you should visit around Mandalay.

I went to Mandalay by bus from Nyaung Shwe which took my whole day. Again this bus dropped me at the junction and then another bus took me the interior of the city. After getting down in the city, I booked a grab motor taxi which dropped me at my hostel.

VIP Bus from Nyaun Shwe to Mandalay
VIP Bus from Nyaung shwe to Mandalay

Mandalay also has an international airport; so you can also fly directly to Mandalay from your destination or other inter-country destinations. Since there are not many airlines flying to Mandalay, it is a low competition because of which fares are always high.

Mandalay has private taxis and motor taxis but they do not run on meter and have their own fare which is frustrating at times. Because you will never know whether you are paying the correct price or not. Uber and Grab does not provide taxi service in Mandalay. But, Grab does provide the motor taxi service in the city. In that case, if you are carrying a cargo bag you need to book your transportation in advance.

I stayed at The Vibe Hostel in Mandalay which came out to be a wrong choice for me and I would not really suggest you stay here. It all looks very pretty from the outside but the experience was no good. I booked 6 bed female dormitory which looked like wasn't used for ages and was full of mosquitos. I changed the room and booked an upgraded one for private room breaking my budget and costing me double the actual room. The private room was fine but hostel did not have any option for single person tours and the staff was also not helpful.

Thankfully I had done my research very well and came across one of the best drivers in the town who could bring me around Mandalay. Following are the details, you can contact him directly over the phone or Facebook and he replies within few minutes.

1. Fatty Ko:- 00959403727817

2. Nyi Nyi:- 00959440152186

The whole tour starts right from sunrise and drops you back at your desired place after sunset. Since I had already witnessed sunrise and was too tired by the bus journey, I decided to skip the sunrise and start the tour at a normal time around 8:00 AM. Mandalay also has a zone entrance fee which costs you 10,000 MMK per person and allows you to enter the ancient cities and other monuments acknowledged by the government.

Best Places In and Around Mandalay

1. Maha Lokamarazein Kuthodaw Pagoda

Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar
Kuthodaw Pagoda Miniature, Mandalay
Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay, Myanmar

- Although I was focusing on visiting only the ancient cities around Mandalay, this was one pagoda in Mandalay which I badly wanted to visit.

- Firstly, let me just shorten the name for you as Kuthodaw Pagoda. It considered being The World's Biggest Book.

- The pagoda's complex comprises of various smaller pagodas which houses inscribed marble stone slabs of the Buddhist Canon.

- When you reach there, you also get to meet local girls whom you will see grinding sandalwood to get the paste which is then put on the face to protect the skin from the direct sun. It is also called as the Thanakha and is only applied by girls.

Timing:- 08:00 AM to 08:00 PM

Visit Duration:- 15 Minutes

Ticket Cost:- 7,000 MMk

2. Mandalay Palace

Exterior of Mandalay Palace, Mandalay
Exterior of Mandalay Palace, Mandalay, Myanmar

- After being o so many palaces in the World and being on a short stay in Mandalay, I did not go inside the palace to explore its beauty.

- My driver parked the car outside, from I could get some best photos and still admire the beauty of the palace from outside.

- The outer wall of the palace is so high that you cannot see actual palace building from outside.

Timing:- 07:30 AM to 04:30 PM

Visit Duration:- 1 Hour

Ticket Cost:- Free

3. Mahamuni Buddha

Mahamuni Buddha Temple, Mandalay
Mahamuni History Museum, Mandalay
Mahamuni Buddha Live Telecast on TV, Mandalay

- This is one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in Mandalay, located in the southern part of the south.

- Being the biggest pilgrimage site in Mandalay, it is always crowded by local people and tourists alike.

- The huge Buddha statue is seated in the interior room while its live video recording is always shown on the tv screen outside the main room.

- The complex also consists of the Mahamuni History Museum which shows a picturesque journey of the statue since the ancient time.

Timing:- 06:00 AM to 08:00 PM

Visit Duration:- 30 Minutes

Ticket Cost:- 5,000 MMK

4. Amarapura Ancient City

- The meaning of the name Amarapura itself is the "City of Immortality" which is a former capital of Myanmar which is located on the southern side of Mandalay.

- Now it is considered to be the part of the city itself because of the way city has spread itself.

A. U Bein Bridge

Sunset from U Bein Bridge
U Bein Bridge, Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar
Posing at U Bein bridge, Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar
Sunset at U bein Bridge, Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar

- This was the very first picture a friend of mine showed me when we actually thought of planning our vacation to Myanmar.

- The beautiful bridge is 1.2 km long and stretches from one side of the city to the other.

- Walking on the bridge is a fine experience but the views over the bridge at different times is something that attracts all the tourists.

- The start of the bridge is flooded with various shops of clothes, footwear, and eatables.

Timing:- Anytime

Visit Duration:- 15 Minutes

Ticket Cost:- Free

B. Mahagandaryon Monastery

Monks going for their meal at Monastery, Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar
Monks going for their meal at Monastery, Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar
Monks having their meal at Monastery, Amarapura, Mandalay, Myanmar

- Visiting this monastery was quite a unique experience. As every person who takes you around for the tour makes sure to bring you at this monastery at 10:15 AM to catch up with the monk's lunchtime.

- It has been an age-old tradition for monks to eat only what is donated to them and that too at particular hours of the day.

- Being so close to the U Bein Bridge, watching these monks gathering for their lunch and having their lunch is now one of the popular tourist activities.

- Tourists also donate some eatables to these monks which are aged from 4 years to as old as they can be.

- But thinking of those monks, I wondered, wouldn't it be frustrating for them being seen by so many tourists every day while having their meal.

Timing:- 10:15 AM for lunchtime

Visit Duration:- 15 Minutes

Ticket Cost:- Free

5. Sagaing Ancient City

- Another ancient city which has played a major role in the history of Myanmar again being one of the former capitals which are located in the south-west part of Mandalay.

- Sagaing is located on the banks of the Irrawaddy river and is famous for its various Buddhist temples and monasteries.

A. U Min Thonze

Statues of Buddhas inside U Min Thonze, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
U Min Thonze, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
Sagaing Hill View from the top, Sagaing, Mandalay
Sagaing Hill View from the top, Sagaing, Mandalay

- A very famous pagoda from Sagaing which literally translates to "30 Caves". The temple is located on the Sagaing hill.

- The car drops you in the parking, from where you need to climb at least 50 steps to reach the main temple.

- It houses beautiful and different structures of beautiful Buddha images and gives you some stunning views of the Sagaing hill.

Timing:- Sunrise to Sunset

Visit Duration:- 30 Minutes

Ticket Cost:- Free

B. Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda

Buddha Image inside Soon O Ponya Shin Pagoda, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar

- Yet another pagoda in Sagaing which is located on the other side of the Sagaing hill.

- This pagoda houses a huge Buddha statue and is also decorated and looks like rich in its overall appearance.

- The surrounding of the temple complex also provides views over the hill.

Timing:- Sunrise to Sunset

Visit Duration:- 30 Minutes

Ticket Cost:- Free

C. Monastic Education School

- On the way down from the hill, my driver stopped me in front of the school and asked me to go and visit.

- When I went inside, it was to my surprise where I got to see nuns. The younger girls who were wearing pink robes.

- It was their lunchtime and the kids were having fun during their school time.

Nuns at Monastic Education School, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
Classroom of Monastic Education School, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
Kids at Monastic Education School, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
Monastic Education School, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar

D. Mingun Region

- Mingun is a small town located in Sagaing city. And is famous for its various attractions.

Hsinphyumaye Pagoda, Mingun, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
Hsinphyumaye Pagoda, Mingun, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
Hsinphyumaye Pagoda, Mingun, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
  • Hsinphyumaye Pagoda - I must admit that this was the most beautiful pagoda I had visited in Myanmar. The fantabulous white structure doesn't allow you to leave the place and you cannot keep yourself from clicking tons of photographs. 
Mingun Bell, Mingun Area, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
  • Mingun Bell -  This huge bell is considered to be the second largest bell in the world which weighs around 90,000 kilograms. It is still in working position but does not have an interior ringer.
Pathodawgyi, Mingun Area, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
Pathodawgyi, Mingun Area, Sagaing, Mandalay, Myanmar
  • Mingun Pathodawgyi - This is an incomplete temple and looks like a huge wall standing. It does have a small room with Buddha statues at the end of the stairs. However, on the other side of the wall has another set of the staircase which lets you take a good view of the surrounding.

6. Inwa Ancient City

riding the horse cart at Inwa, Mandalay
Boat ride to go to Inwa city

- This was the third ancient city on my list, located on the banks of Awa river.

- After your car drops you in the parking, you need to take a boat ride to go on the other side of the city. Once on the other side, you can either walk which is not really advisable otherwise can hire a horse cart which can take maximum 3 people in 1 horsecart which can bring you to the city.

- The city and the surrounding were beautiful but because of the stinking smell of the horse poo, I started feeling dizzy and left before the stipulated time.

In all, I was happy I stopped by Mandalay and enjoyed the city, unlike others who did not really like it much.

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