What to do in 2 days in Mandalay, Myanmar

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2 days in Mandalay - U Bein Bridge
Monks walking on the U-Bein Bridge

Mandalay is often overlooked by travelers: Those who say that there is nothing to see in this city are terribly wrong. 2 days in Mandalay were not enough to see everything that the city offers. It’s the cultural capital and probably the religious center of the country. That means that you will find pagodas and monastery all around, each of them with its own peculiar features: No way you will get tired of these sensational monuments! If you’re into discovering hidden spots then keep on reading.

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Streets of Mandalay

Mandalay is quite big and the monuments are spread all over so it might be a wise idea to rent bikes in order to see it properly. The roads are not as crowded as in other Asian cities that we have visited so far. The first thing that catches your attention is the regularity in which the city was built. Plus all the streets have a number in them which makes things really easy and simple. However, it didn’t stop us from getting lost in the beginning since the Offline Maps app pulled a prank on us. As always!

2 days in Mandalay: Where to start

We like to take our time and spend a valuable time at the monuments. We never rush and always find a few minutes to check what the tourist guide has to say about a particular sight. If you decide to follow our itinerary you might not see everything. However, you will for sure enjoy the hidden beauty of Mandalay and its surroundings.

Day 1 – Morning

You can start your tour at the Eindawya Pagoda and enjoy the total absence of other tourists. We were the only foreigners, and the locals greeted us with smiles and “Mingalabar“, the Burmese way to say “Hello”. The Pagoda is gorgeous, golden and huge.

The next place can be the Shwe In Bin Kyaung Monastery. Apart from the stunning teak building in the middle built by a pair of Chinese jade traders, you can also observe the Buddhist monks performing their daily tasks. Go up to the second floor, where you can find magnificent teak carvings that will take your breath away.

The Mahamuni Pagoda can be your last stop before the lunch break. Just like in other sacred places in Myanmar you have to take off your shoes before entering. We parked our bikes outside and went to check a nearby complex of temples. We left our shoes outside and after walking for around 15 minutes we got to the beautiful golden statue of Buddha with a lot of worshipers around. Women are only allowed to see the Buddha from the outside. Men can get close and stick a golden leaf to the surface of the statue. The problem was that we had no idea how to get back to the place we’d left our bikes! Moreover we were barefoot. The place is a maze and it took us around twenty minutes to figure out which way we’d come from. Maybe try not to make the same mistake :).

Day 1 – Afternoon

In the afternoon you can head to the Mandalay hill to watch the sunset. There are a few impressive pagodas right under the hill, for example Kuthodaw Paya – also called the world’s biggest book. It is not literally a book: There are 729 shrines, and each shrines contains a slab, and each contains an inscription in Burmese. The shrines are incredibly white, and it’s a pleasure to walk around them barefoot.

To climb the hill it’s better to leave the bikes somewhere and walk or take a taxi. The road can get pretty steep at a certain point, and with the typical Burmese hot weather, reaching the top can be hard. Once on the hill’s top, you can take a lift to get to the Sutaungpyei Pagoda. The view is really stunning and you can see the whole city dressed in a yellowish light.

Day 2 – Morning

If you are adventurous, the next day you can take a scooter instead of bikes. As always, check your travel insurance before renting anything: It’s better to be fully covered, just in case! It is a little challenging to get out of Mandalay but the locals won’t stress you out too much for slowness. To explore the surroundings of Mandalay the first place on your route could be the Snake Pagoda (Hmwe Paya). When we visited it was almost empty. Apart from a few curious locals the only living creatures were the snakes and dogs taking a nap on a hot sunny day. In the past, the monks made a few attempts to send the snakes away but they kept coming back. They assumed the animals were supposed to be a part of the temple and therefore became sacred.

Afterwards, continue in the direction of the village Inwa with the huge Shwedigon Pagoda nearby. You will come across several incredible temples that are not even on the map. Most of them are abandoned and in decay and a few look like a smaller version of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It is impossible not to stop and take a closer look. You will spot many of them just on your way to Inwa. A few are even more beautiful than the pagoda itself! 2 days in Mandalay are probably not enough to see them all.

Day 2 – Afternoon

The cherry on top was the visit of the famous U-Bein bridge. We also think it is a great place to end your 2 days in Mandalay. It is the oldest and longest teak bridge in the world. As the hour of sunset gets close the bridge quickly fills with people. We met several monks willing to exchange a few words in English. Buy coconut water and enjoy the sunset over the river.

Our stay in Mandalay was truly memorable. Many people say that there is not much to see there but we disagree, especially after the discovery of breathtaking hidden temples. We are sure that 2 days in Mandalay are perfect to see most of the important sights but let us warn you: You might wanna stay more! 😀

Tip for accomodation: Hotel Nova

Once in a while it’s great to enjoy a little luxury and get pampered for a few days. Our stay at the Hotel Nova contributed to the great time we had in Mandalay. From friendly and helpful staff to spacious rooms furnished in a really elegant way, the hotel can offer nice moments of relax to its guests. We appreciated huge and tasty dinners composed of several different dishes and a traditional Burmese puppet theater. In the morning you can have breakfast in the form of an enormous buffet. The hotel also offers different types of services such as laundry or bike rent. Check their Facebook page, in case you want to contact them.

Have you already visited Mandalay and saw other places worth visiting? Let us know in the comments and share this post with your friends!

If you wonder how to spend 2 weeks in this unbelievably beautiful country, check out our article.

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