A visit to Mandalay on the Indochina tour packages makes it possible to explore the last royal capital and second-largest city in the country. This city is home to the Mandalay Palace, which was rebuilt after significant damage was caused during WWII.
Most of Downtown Mandalay is an urban sprawl that is heavy on concrete. Because most of the city is laid out much like a grid, it is quite easy to explore the area on a bicycle or by foot. Plus, this city is a complete contrast to what is seen in Yangon for the most unique travel experience. Other features to see in the city include the hill station Pyin U Lwin.
The preferred time to travel and explore the sights of Mandalay is from November to February. The temperature range for this period is likely to stay in the region of 30° C. But, for the travellers on the Myanmar tour packages that like to avoid the busy tourist season, it is possible to travel during the off season. The rainy season runs from June to October when there is plenty of rainfall while the temperature stills remains quite high.
How to get there
There are plenty of domestic flights to Mandalay form cities like Kyaing Tong, Kalaymyo, Heho, Bagan and Yangon. On arriving at Mandalay International Airport it is a further 1 hour drive to reach the centre of Mandalay - a taxi journey to complete this trip costs in the region of $19.50. Mandalay also has a large railway station that makes regular trips to the surrounding regions.
Where to stay
The accommodation in Mandalay can range from basic to luxury big-box hotels with a few western chains. There is a common occurrence with electricity blackouts, but any decent guest house or hotel will have back up generators in place to automatically start up on a power failure. But, there is an increased risk of being left in the dark in the smaller hotels. It helps to refer to a Myanmar travel guide to fully appreciate the issues with power cuts.
The Ayarwaddy River View Hotel has a great view with its setting along the river. It is a great alternative to the large-scale hotels and gives a perfect view of the sunset from the hotel's rooftop. Most of the rooms are quite simple, but still have comfortable beds and decorated tastefully. Any of the rooms that face the city are noisy and earplugs might be practical.
A stay at the Mandalay Hill Resort is appreciated for its great location that is within a short distance of the royal palace. Even though it isn’t the most stylish resort it does have plenty of nice amenities, such as the quiet and comfortable rooms with a decent Wi-Fi service and strong air-con. The outside amenities include tennis courts, gym, swimming pool and manicured grounds. The food and buffet breakfast are of a high standard. Also, it is possible to hire a bicycle for the day to make it easier to explore the local sights.
Eat and drink
The food in Mandalay and many of the other local regions has experienced a great influence from neighbouring countries (China, India and Thailand) which is clearly noticed in the food served in the local eateries, markets and on the streets. Even if you tire of eating the local dishes, there are plenty of places that serve western food.
A visit to the 999 Shan Noodle Shop is a popular choice for both the tourists and locals with a nice serving of cheap-and-cheerful noodles. The menu is available in English with a varied range of noodles with delicious toppings and soups. Other dishes on the menu include pork skin, fried tofu and sautéed vegetables. Plus, it is also possible to buy local and inexpensive beer.
The food stalls at Mingalar Market feature dishes like rice crackers, noodle soup and Shan tofu salad. The market is only open for breakfast and lunch and makes it possible to really appreciate the local cuisine. Also, there are several other food stalls nearby selling spicy noodle soup and tea leaf salad.
A great place to shop in Mandalay on the Indochina tour packages is Jade Market that is filled with jade traders where is it possible to have the uncut pieces cut and shaped to a preferred specification. For the tourist that wishes to buy a piece of jade on their travellers, it benefits to visit the market with a reputable guide.
Soe Moe is a great destination for those interested in buying stone pieces, carved wood, bronze sculptures, or embroidered tapestries which can make wonderful gifts or souvenirs for friends or family.
Things to see and do
A visit to Mandalay Hill makes it possible to explore a 240 m hill that is covered in pagodas and spires and is found close to the palace. By climbing to the top of the 800 ft hill, it is possible to get perfect views of the local town and beyond. Climbing by foot can take about 40 minutes. But, for the easier climb to the summit, there is an escalator and an elevator make reaching the Sutaungpyei Pagoda less stressful. This is a popular destination for monks every afternoon who are usually joined by the sunset tourists, worshippers and photographers.
U Bein Bridge
The U Bein Bridge stretches for nearly 1.2 km to reach across the Taungthaman Lake and the longest teak bridge in the world. It is a great place to visit to enjoy the local spectacular sunsets. After arriving at the bridge it is possible to simply stroll across, take a boat ride on the lake, or relax and enjoy the street stalls and bars that are widely available at each end of the bridge.
A visit to Shwenandaw Kyaung on the Myanmar tour packages makes it possible to admire a fantastic teak monastery rich in detailed carvings that cover a large percentage of the exterior surface. This monastery once stood in the Royal Palace grounds, but was later moved to its present location at the foot of Mandalay Hill.
A boat trip on the Ayeyarwady River makes it possible to explore a few of the places that are easily accessed by water. The boat rides can vary in length from the short, 1 hour tour upstream to the long 11 hour trip that goes as far as Bagan, and is extremely popular with tourists.