Mandalay, the old royal capital of Burma and an important centre for Burmese culture, sits on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in north Burma. It is located around 450 miles north of the current capital and largest city of Burma, Yangon.
Mandalay is a beautiful city with many glittering temples and pagodas. As a city in a predominantly Buddhist country, there are several monasteries and monks lining the streets in their rich red robes are a regular sight.
The city is dominated by Mandalay Hill, an important pilgrimage site and the location of many of the area’s temples. The rewards for climbing the 240 metres to the top are sweeping views of the city and surrounding region. Sunset is a popular time to visit, when the city takes on a magical and serene atmosphere.
Mandalay Palace, constructed in the mid 19th century, is the royal residence of the last Burmese kings and a well loved symbol of the city.The grounds include the distinctive watch tower, the beautiful Glass Palace and the intricately decorated Supreme Court building, as well as an impressive moat and pleasant gardens.
Monasteries include the Atumashi Monastery, a reconstructed monastery in traditional masonry and wood construction. Near Mandalay Hill are several pagodas, including the gilded golden Kuthodaw Pagoda and the attractive white and gold Kyauktawgyi Pagoda.
There are many festivals held in the city throughout the year. In February, the Mahamuni Pagoda Festival is held at the pagoda of the same name, with celebrations including sticky rice contests and incense offerings. Chinese New Year is also around this time. In April, the Thingyan Festival marks the start of the Burmese New Year, with water fights, dancing and drumming. In August, The Taung Byone Nat Festival is a five day event with spirit dances and various re-enactments, while the Shwe-Kyun-bin Ceremony is a three day boat festival on the Irrawaddy River. In October and November there are light festivals.
There are many options for accommodation in Mandalay, from budget hostels through to high end hotels such as the Mandalay Hill Resort and the Sedona Hotel.