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Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar as well its last royal capital. Founded in 1857 as the royal capital of Yadanabon, Mandalay is a relatively young city that takes its current name from the nearby Mandalay Hill. Despite its age, the city is packed with impressive temples, monasteries, and examples of local life that have earned Mandalay its title as a cultural center of the country. Take time to explore bustling markets, breathtaking Burmese architecture, and the rich heritage of Myanmar as you experience Mandalay and its abundant things to do.
Mandalay Hill - Mandalay Hill, from which the city derives its name, stands 790 feet (240 m) over the city center and is known as a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists. The hill is said to have been climbed by the Buddha centuries ago. The Sutaungpyei Pagoda stands at its summit and offers 360-degree views of the city. Many stupas and shrines, such as the Kuthodaw Pagoda and Sandamuni Pagoda dot the hillside.
Mandalay Palace - The Mandalay Palace, called Mya Nan San Kyaw in Burmese, was first built in the 1850s as the las royal palace of the Burmese monarchy. Though the citadel was burned down during World War II, leaving only the original royal mint and watch tower standing, the palace has since been rebuilt. Wander through rooms like the great audience hall, lion throne room, and glass palace, all of which exemplify traditional Burmese architecture.
Mingun - The town of Mingun lies north of Mandalay on the Ayeyarwady River. Its most famous attraction is the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, an incomplete monument stupa started in 1790 by King Bodawpaya. Along with the stupa, see its enormous bronze Mingun Bell, which weighs nearly 200,000 pounds (90,700 kg) and stands 12 feet (3.7 m) tall. Mingun is also home to the Hsinphyumae Pagoda, a stunningly white pagoda modeled after the Buddhist mythological mountain of Mount Meru.
Though a relatively young city, Mandalay is packed with beautiful temples, monasteries, and landmarks. Climb Mandalay Hill to see the Kuthodaw Pagoda, home to the world's largest book—729 stone slabs inscribed with the entire Tipitaka. Visit the historic monastery of Shwenandaw Kyaung, which is famous for its intricate teak carvings of Buddhist myths. The pilgrimage site of Mahamuni Buddhist Temple, home to the incredible Manahumi Buddha image, is also worth a visit for its religious relics and splendid architecture. The U Bein Bridge, which spans the Taungthaman Lake, is one of the oldest and longest teakwood bridges in the world and offers spectacular views of the city skyline and the sunset.
As well as a religious hub of the country, Mandalay serves as the cultural center of Myanmar. Traditional marionette theater, which was once a royal pastime and is now enjoyed by the public, tells the stories of historic legends and Buddhist myths through incredibly detailed, handmade puppets dressed in lavish costumes. Get the opportunity to see classic Myanmar dance at the Mintha Theater, where talented dancers put on a captivating show of court and folk dances. The city is also famous for the Moustache Brothers, a subversive comedy troupe that pokes fun at the ruling powers through a-nyeint pwe, a type of Burmese art that combines dance, song, and comedy routines. Visit Mandalay during the Kyauktawgyi Pagoda Festival, a 4-day long Buddhist festival during which a lively market is set up on the pagoda temple grounds, to immerse yourself in the culture of the city.
Explore the sights of the city and delve into the royal history of Mandalay at the Mandalay Palace or Amarapura, a township that was once the capital of Myanmar during the Konbaung period. For relaxation away from the city bustle, journey out to Sagaing, a town famous for its Buddhist monasteries that line its hills. Famous for its Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, Sagaing is a popular daytrip destination where you can meditate and refresh yourself. Back in Mandalay itself, throw yourself into local culture by weaving through the many stalls of Zegyo Market, the largest in the city, or by tasting your way down 27th street, known for its tempting food stalls.