Mandalay in March; the temperature is hot, the air is dry and dusty, the streets are busy with cars and scooters and the people are incredibly smiley and friendly.
There are many places to see in Mandalay and the surrounding areas such as Mingun and the ancient cities (Sagaing, Inwa and Amara Pura) and your trip here will be made easier if you can ride a motorcycle or scooter as there are many cheap hire stores around the city ranging from (12,000 Kyat-15,000 Kyat/ £7-£9 per day)
If you’re like me and have never ridden a scooter/motorcycle it may be best to team up with people who can and share the hire and fuel cost which is what I did. This option is quite the adventure and I highly recommend it.
Failing that, it is also possible to get a group of people together and hire a private taxi who will drive you to where you want to go and wait around for you. The more people you have the cheaper this option will be, (Average cost 15,000- 25,000)
And the cheapest, most adventurous and slightly uncomfortable option is to ask the local bus (pickup truck) if it’s going in your direction and jump on.
N.B: There are also people who will offer you a ride in their taxi car or motorcycle for a price but I wouldn’t recommend doing this.
Things to do:
There is a 10,000 ticket that will cover you for four of the temples and the palace in the Mandalay zone but don’t buy the ticket straight away as most places won’t even ask to see it. Only buy the ticket if you really have to. Mandalay Palace and Inwa will definitely ask to see one or make you buy one.
U Bein Bridge,
Shwe Inbin Monastery,
Inwa (mae nu oak kyaung),
Maha Muni Buddha Image (gold leaf buddha),
Kuthodaw Pagoda and the largest book
Sanda Muni Paya
U Min Thonze Caves
Sitagu International Buddhist Academy
Maha Gandaryon Monastery
Mandalay was an enjoyable city to explore but after a while it got pretty tiresome. The places that you want to see are quite far away from the center and the heat makes walking around quite difficult.
The local people here are some of the friendliest I have met on this planet. They are smiley, they say hello and are always trying to help. The men walk around in Longyi which is a cylinder cloth that they step into and tie around their waste and women wear a similar one but tie it differently. The women also wear yellow paste on their faces as a sign of beauty and as protection from the sun. You will also see small children of both genders wearing the paste too.
I unfortunately managed to get quite sick here in Mandalay and suffered greatly for 30 hours followed by a 5 day recovery period. Hiring a private taxi for my last day of exploration was necessary to see the remaining temples on my list as I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.
N.B: It is important to practice caution in Myanmar with food and water. The general rule being, that if the food is not piping hot, do not eat it and only drink bottled water (even if you’re told that the water from the tap in the hostel/hotel is filtered)
But the highlight of this trip as always was meeting some incredibly wonderful people at the hostel: the French, Swiss, Canadians and the Welsh. Without their great humour, generosity and friendliness my trip to Mandalay would have been completely different.