BEST THINGS TO DO IN MANDALAY!
Mandalay is the second-largest city and former royal capital in Northern Myanmar. I spent 3 days exploring Mandalay City, its ancient pagodas and beautiful waterfalls and have put together the ultimate guide of the 10 Best Things To Do In Mandalay!
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10 BEST THINGS TO DO IN MANDALAY
#1 MANDALAY HILL
A visit to the peak of Mandalay Hill is one of the best things to do in Mandalay. Located on the very northern end of town you can discover the Su Taung Pyae Pagoda that sits on the very top of Mandalay Hill.
HOW TO GET TO MANDALAY HILL
From the center of town, it takes no more than 10-minutes to drive up to Mandalay Hill.
There is a parking fee of 300 Kyat and an additional 1000 Kyat entrance fee to the Su Taung Pyae Pagoda.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT MANDALAY HILL
Ride the elevator from the parking lot to the very peak of Mandalay Hill and you’ll soon see why it is one of the best things to do in Mandalay!
At the top, you can expect to experience 360-degree views of Mandalay City and its incredible surrounding landscape of various mountain ranges and the Irrawaddy River.
The Su Taung Pyae Pagoda itself is a unique building with decorative mosaic tiles and colorful artworks throughout. I was so impressed by how much time and detail was put into the walls and shrines here on Mandalay Hill.
Must Read → 2 Week Myanmar Itinerary
Mandalay Hill – Things to do in Mandalay
#2 DEE DOKE WATERFALL
Dee Doke Waterfall is a hidden gem, located high in the mountains just outside of Mandalay City, Myanmar. Get off the beaten Myanmar route and take the time to visit Dee Doke Waterfall and the incredible blue lagoons for I guarantee it’s one of the top things to do in Mandalay!
WHERE IS DEE DOKE WATERFALL
Dee Doke Waterfall is approximately a 1 hour 15 minutes drive south-east of Mandalay City.
The scenic drive out to Dee Doke Waterfall will take you through small local villages at the foot of towering cliffs and eventually running parallel with beautiful Myitnge River.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT DEE DOKE WATERFALL
When you arrive at the gravel parking lot at Dee Doke Waterfall you will have to pay 3oo Kyat to park the scooter and there are no other entrance fees to visit the Dee Doke Waterfall.
It is an easy to moderate 20-minute hike from the car park to main falls at Dee Doke Waterfall.
You will come to an intersection along the rocky trail, one path leading down to the left and the other path up to the right. Take the path down to the left for a 2-minute hike down to the main swimming area at Dee Doke Waterfall. The other trail leads up to the blue lagoons which I will mention further down in this blog post.
The main swimming area at Dee Doke Waterfall has a number of rock pools and a small waterfall breaking through the rocks halfway up the valley.
The water is a bit fresh until the sun reaches up over the mountains at around 10 am lighting up the entire valley and providing some heat down in the rock pools.
There is also a small cafe built into the side of the mountain selling cold drinks and snack foods.
I hiked back to the intersection on the trail and then took the path that leads off to the right. It is a further 5 to 10 minute hike to the blue lagoons at the top of the valley.
I was in awe when I laid eyes on this crazy lagoon. The color of the water was fluorescent blue, getting its color from the towering limestone cliffs that surround the lagoon.
The lagoon was no more than 2 meters deep so I wouldn’t recommend doing any cliff jumping here, however, it would be rude not to go for a refreshing swim to cool off!
Full Blog Post: Dee Doke Waterfall
Dee Doke Waterfall – Things to do in Mandalay
Blue lagoons at Dee Doke – What to do in Mandalay
#3 KUTHODAW PAGODA
Kuthodaw Pagoda is an incredibly beautiful Buddhist stupa that is home to the world’s largest book and it is a must-see attraction on your list of things to do in Mandalay.
WHERE TO FIND THE KUTHODAW PAGODA
Kuthodaw Pagoda sits at the foot of Mandalay Hill on the northern end of town. You can visit Kuthodaw Pagoda right after experiencing the 360-degree viewpoint at the top of Mandalay Hill.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT KUTHODAW PAGODA
When I arrived at Kuthodaw Pagoda, I was searching around like a headless chicken for this so-called ‘world’s largest book’ but couldn’t seem to find it.
I then asked a local man to point me in the right direction and he then began to explain that there are 729 marble slabs inscribed with Burmese script inside the white stupas and together these make up the ‘world’s largest book’. The script on the marble slabs contains the teachings of Buddha.
Also at Kuthodaw Pagoda is a large gilded pagoda in the center of the grounds, surrounded by the hundreds of white stupas and offers great views upwards of Mandalay Hill.
Find All → Hotels in Mandalay
#4 SANDAMUNI PAGODA
The Sandamuni Pagoda bears a slight resemblance to the nearby Kuthodaw Pagoda because of the hundreds of white stupas and gilded pagoda on the grounds. It’s truly one of the best places to visit in Mandalay!
WHERE IS SANDAMUNI PAGODA & WHAT TO EXPECT
The Sandamuni Pagoda can also be found at the foot of Mandalay Hill and a short 2-minute walk from the Kuthodaw Pagoda.
Sandamuni is world-known for its endless white stupas (1174 shrines to be exact) each inscribed with teachings of Buddha. It is also home to Myanmar’s largest iron Buddha statue weighing approximately 20 tonnes and covered in a layer of gold.
Sandamuni also offers great views between the shrines upwards of Mandalay Hill.
Must Read → 2 Week Myanmar Itinerary
Sandamuni Pagoda – Things to do in Mandalay
#5 ROYAL MANDALAY PALACE
The Royal Mandalay Palace is housed inside of a walled fort and surrounded by a moat of water. Built in 1859, the Mandalay Palace is the last royal palace of the last Burmese monarchy.
The Royal Mandalay Palace is in the center of the citadel and it seems Mandalay City has since been built around the boundaries of the fortress.
The entrance fee to the Royal Mandalay Palace is 10,000 Kyat.
Royal Mandalay Palace – @thisistherightplace
#6 U BEIN BRIDGE
The U Bein Bridge is an old teakwood bridge that spans across the Taungthaman Lake and it is one of the best things to do in Mandalay during your visit.
WHERE IS THE U BEIN BRIDGE & WHAT TO EXPECT
The U Bein Bridge is located approximately a 30-minute drive southwest of Mandalay City center, near Amarapura village.
U Bein Bridge was built in 1850 and it is believed to be to oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. The U Bein Bridge is a tourist hotspot, especially around sunrise or sunset to witness the incredible reflections on the lake and to see the daily commute of locals and monks that use the bridge as a passageway.
I arrived at U Bein Bridge at around 6:30 in the morning to find a good spot to take photos at sunrise. There was a lot of low lying fog on this morning but the sun did show itself for about 5 to 10 minutes and I was able to get a few good shots in the short time window.
When the sun disappeared again I took some moodier shots of the monks making the commute across the U Bein Bridge.
This particular morning was one of my most memorable moments in the 3 days that I spent here, so make sure to add it to your list of things to do in Mandalay.
U Bein Bridge – What to do in Mandalay
#7 MINGUN PAHTODAWGYI
The Mingun Pahtodawgyi is an ancient ruined Buddhist temple in Mingun Village. Exploring the Mingun pagoda was one of my favorite things to do in Mandalay.
WHERE TO FIND THE MINGUN PAGODA & WHAT TO SEE
Mingun Pahtodawhyi is located north-west of Mandalay City and it is approximately a 1.5 hour drive from the center of town. I visited the Mingun pagoda right after watching the sunrise at U Bein Bridge.
Before entering the grounds of the Mingun temple there is a checkpoint on the side of the road for foreigners to pay an entrance fee of 5000 Kyat. This ticket will also allow you entry to the Mingun Bell and the Hsinbyume Pagoda (Myatheindan).
The Mingun Pahtodawgyi is essentially a big pile of bricks that is said to hold the record of the biggest pile of bricks in the world. It was intended to be a 500ft stupa but the construction of Mingun Pahtodawgyi was abandoned when the king died. Mingun Pagoda was then later hit by an earthquake, leaving cracks up the face of the stupa and one whole corner of the monument broke off and now lays in debris.
Mingun Pagoda is quite a popular point of interest in Mandalay so it can get quite busy, although if you take the time to walk around the backside of the temple you will most likely have uninterrupted awe-inspiring views of the ancient monument.
Don’t forget to stop in to see the Mingun Bell, located right next to the Mingun Pagoda. The Mingun Bell is the second largest bell in the world and it can be rung by striking the outside with a wooden baton.
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Mingun Pagoda – Things to do in Mandalay Myanmar
#8 HSINBYUME PAGODA (MYATHEINDAN)
The Hsinbyume Pagoda is a large white stupa that was built in 1816 to represent the Buddhist mythological mountain, Mount Meru. The Myatheindan Pagoda was my favorite location to shoot photos and it is one of the best things to do in Mandalay for sure!
WHERE IS HSINBYUME PAGODA & WHAT TO DO
Hsinbyume Pagoda is located north-west of Mandalay City and it is approximately a 1.5 hour drive from the center of town. It’s a short 2-minute drive from the Mingun Pagoda and the Mingun Bell, so you can potentially visit all of these 3 locations on the same day.
The Hsinbyume Pagoda is a multi-tiered stupa that can be explored on every level. Be sure to get that classic shot walking across the arches.
Hsinbyume Pagoda – Things to do in Mandalay
#9 SUNSET AT SKY BAR
Arguably the best place to watch the sunset in Mandalay is at the Sky Bar, the best rooftop bar in the city and one of the best things to do in Mandalay!
WHERE IS SKY BAR & WHAT TO EXPECT
This particular rooftop bar is attached to the Eastern Palace Hotel, located north-east of Mandalay City center. The Sky Bar has 360-degree views at the top with spectacular views of Mandalay Hill, Mandalay Palace, Irrawaddy River and distant mountain ranges.
The Sky Bar is open to the public, just notify reception when you arrive at Eastern Palace Hotel that you want to visit the rooftop bar for sunset.
Happy Hour at Sky Bar is between 5 pm and 7 pm where they offer 2 for 1 cocktails, spirits and beer.
There is nothing better than sipping on an ice-cold beer while watching the sunset over the second-largest city in Myanmar. A perfect end to a perfect day!
Sky Bar – What to do in Mandalay
Sunset beers at Sky Bar Mandalay
#10 NOVA COFFEE SHOP
If you are a coffee connoisseur like myself then you don’t want to miss out on trying some of Mandalay’s best coffee from the legends down at Nova Coffee Shop.
Nova Coffee is located in the center of Mandalay City. Hanging out at Nova Coffee Shop is about as hip as Mandalay gets.
Let the friendly staff take care of you with their excellent coffee, great food and hi-speed wi-fi. It was the best co-working space I found in Myanmar and I spent a good 6 hours in the comfort of the lounge chairs, sipping on fine coffee and working away with no disturbances.
Must Read → 2 Week Myanmar Itinerary
Nova Coffee Shop – What to do in Mandalay
WHERE TO STAY IN MANDALAY
Mandalay has dozens of accommodations to choose from so I have narrowed it down to a few of the best places to stay in Mandalay to suit the needs of luxury travelers, budget backpackers and everyone in between.
See the list of accommodations below that I personally recommend:
Luxury: Hilton Mandalay
Mid Range: Eastern Palace Hotel
Budget: Hotel Venus
FOR ALL OTHER PLACES TO STAY IN MANDALAY, SEARCH ON AGODA OR SEARCH ON BOOKING.COM
GETTING AROUND MANDALAY
#1 Rent a scooter
Renting a scooter in Mandalay is very affordable and the most efficient way to get around self-guided. I rented a scooter from Mandalay Motorbike Rental and Tours for 10,000 Kyat ($7) per day. The bikes are in great condition and the guys at the rental shop were very friendly. Alternatively, your accommodation may be able to organise a scooter rental for you.
#2 Grab taxi
Grab taxi is another mode of transport in and around Mandalay City. Download the Grab app from the App Store on your smartphone in order to use Grab taxi services.
HOW TO GET TO MANDALAY
There are a few ways of getting to Mandalay and that is either by bus, train or plane.
Whether you are on a budget or not, I recommend traveling by bus throughout Myanmar. The main bus companies (JJ Express, Elite, Ok Express) are very efficient and will get you comfortably from A to B.
The cost of bus transportation between cities in Myanmar is on average around $10 to $30.
GET YOUR BUS TICKETS:
Bagan to Mandalay / 4 hours / $10
Yangon to Mandalay / 9 hours / $25
Inle Lake to Mandalay / 6 hours / $20
GET YOUR PLANE TICKETS:
I search and book all of my flights on Skyscanner.com which is the best online flight directory to find the cheapest and most convenient flights in Myanmar.
Search All → Flights to Bagan on Skyscanner.com
BEST MYANMAR TOURS
MORE MYANMAR TRAVEL GUIDES
Myanmar Guide: 2 Week Myanmar Itinerary
Bagan Guide: 5 Things To Do In Bagan
Mandalay Guide: 10 Things To Do In Mandalay
Inle Lake Guide: 5 Things To Do In Inle Lake
Hpa An Guide: 5 Things To Do In Hpa An
LONELY PLANET – MYANMAR
One of the best books to take on your trip is the Lonely Planet Myanmar Travel Guide!
BUY NOW ON AMAZON → LONELY PLANET MYANMAR
Another option for accommodation in Mandalay is to stay at an Airbnb, which generally has some great deals!
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WHAT TO PACK FOR MANDALAY
Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables, drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.
Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.
Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!
Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.
Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.
Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions.
Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.
MY CAMERA GEAR
Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included.
Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.
GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!
Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket.
Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!
Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.
GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!
Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.
External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.
ONLINE ENGLISH TEACHING
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Before you go from this things to do in Mandalay post, don’t forget to check out My Online Shop!
I’ve got a wide range of digital products for sale and I’m sure you’ll find something that will come in handy during your travels!
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FINAL THOUGHTS OF THINGS TO DO IN MANDALAY
Thanks for reading this article and if you have any questions about Things To Do In Mandalay, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can!
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