This article provides a list of must things to do in Mandalay: including visits to Mandalay Hill, Sagaing and Mingun but also other places to visit in Mandalay, Mandalay Hotels and what to do in Mandalay on a budget. View our Myanmar itinerary to plan your next travel.
Mandalay : our first stop in beautiful Myanmar, formely known as Burma.
How to get to Mandalay from Mandalay Airport
We flew Air Asia from Bangkok to Mandalay (at the time of our visit, land crossing was not yet possible for tourists, but it now is !).
If you intend to or will fly with Air Asia into Mandalay from Bangkok, the airline offers a free shuttle service into the city with two stops.
Click here for an extremely useful PDF map of Mandalay to keep on your smartphone/tablet !
Where to Stay in Mandalay: Hotels in Mandalay
Accommodations in Myanmar will probably be your biggest expense, and most likely you’ll feel like you overpaid for the room. Below is the list of hotels we researched and opted for in Mandalay:
ET Hotel Backpacker Hotel – USD $20 per night for a clean, air-conditionned room with hot water and WiFi in common area. Good location and breakfast included.
Royal Guest House was highly recommended during our research (but it was already fully booked – most of the people from our Air Asia shuttle were heading to that hotel…)
Garden Hotel – we stayed here, located close to Royal Guest House, our room was on the 5th (top) floor – no elevator.
Cost : USD $15 per night for a double room
Amenities : Two single beds in a pretty old room, clean shared bathroom with hot water, fan, there is a roof on the 5th floor if you feel too hot. Breakfast is included and free WiFi which works great in the lobby but not so much on the 5th floor. We weren’t expecting much and this worked for us as a room to sleep in.
Next to the Garden Hotel is Nylon Hotel (another backpacker option) which you may want to check out before making a decision.
Getting around Mandalay: Public and Local Transportation in Mandalay
The hotel was well located so we could do a lot of things by foot. The hotel staff helped us out a lot by indicating where and which mini van to hop on to in order to get to our destinations.
Pick-up Vans : Streets in Mandalay are easy to navigate – like in the US, it is by blocks. For example, in order to catch the van to get to U-Bein Bridge, you have to go to the corner of 84th/25th street.
You’ll see mini vans waiting around for passengers. Cost ranges from 100-300 Kyats (roughly USD $0.10-0.30) per person. Confirm that the van goes to your destination, hop in and « the scouter » will let you know when to get off.
Motorcycle Taxis : On our first day, we made the mistake of listening (for too long) to a teenager on his motorcycle trying to sell us a ride to Mandalay Hill for sunset. We had not done research as to how to get there and ended up paying 8,000Kyats (USD $8.20). It was a nice and comfortable ride, but we probably would have saved up a lot by using public transportation. A new experience to learn from.
What to do in Mandalay: Sights and Activities in Mandalay
A lot of activities in Mandalay (and Myanmar in general) consist of visiting temples. Here is a suggested three-day activity planner:
Day 1 :
Visit Mandalay and its temples
Mahamuni Pagoda – A must visit to this beautiful and spiritual temple.
Kuthodaw Monastery and the World’s largest Book – Beautiful white temples.
Mandalay Hill – a hill with temple overlooking the city of Mandalay – we went there for sunset
Day 2 :
Day trip to Sagaing to visit U-Bein Bridge, Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery, and the serene temple with a view on the Sagaing hill. Catch the mini van for 600 Kyats per person (USD $0.60) to U-Bein Bridge & Monastery from Mandalay. Then 400 Kyats to the Sagaing Hill from the U-Bein Bridge.
Day 3 :
Hop on the ferry and go to Mingun – 5,000Kyats per person (USD $5) to get to Mingun (includes return fare) and visit the the little village and its temples. Boat departs at 9 am and returns at 1pm. It takes about an hour to reach Mingun.
Stroll around Mandalay by foot in the afternoon, it is a beautiful city.
From Mandalay to Bagan by Bus
A taxi ride to the Mandalay bus station will cost around 4,000Kyats (a little over USD $4).
A mini bus ride will cost 14,000-16,000 Kyats ( over USD $14-16) for a 6-7 hours ride.
We booked with our Garden Hotel and paid USD $11 per person for a night bus departing at 9 :30 pm and arriving in Bagan at 4 :30am (this included a hotel pick-up as the bus station is far from the city center.)
How long did you stay in Mandalay and what did you do in Mandalay? Share you travel stories with us !