I only spent one day in Mandalay in March 2015, I think you could easily spend 2 – 3 days here at a relaxed pace.
We took a 1 hour cab from the airport to Hotel Yadanarbon, it’s cheap and cheerful and the staff are really nice. They taught me that thank you = “jesurbae” and all the locals love it when you say it to them.
On the map we saw a palace so decided to walk there. After changing some dollars into Kyatt we headed off. What we didn’t realise is that Mandalay is a large place, walking would take us hours! We came across an interesting food and goods market, it was really surreal as no one was really buying anything. There was a ton of fruit, the strawberries smelt delicious, huge branches full of bananas, and plenty of oranges.
Want a banana?
After the market we found a motorbike taxi to take us to the palace. It cost us $2 each, I felt safe about this ride as I was given a helmet! I was really happy we didn’t have to walk anymore.
To get to the palace we had to either walk or rent a bike to get down a long road, and surrounding the road was a restricted zone. It seemed like it was an army barrack, with soldiers and their families living there. We were told we weren’t allowed to take any photos until we were inside the palace.
The royal palace itself was grand but not overly impressive. I found it weird and surreal to see overgrown / dying grass surrounding the different halls. It wasn’t too busy however, which was a bonus.Palace grounds
When we left, the motorbike taxi man suggested that he and his colleague take us up to Mandalay Hill and on the way stop off at the Kuthodaw Pagoda, Shrine Nandaw Kyaung and Atu Mashi Monastery all for 5000 kyatt!
Unfortunately we were only able to go in and see Kuthodaw pagoda, which is known as the ‘world’s biggest book’ as the entire 15 books of Tripitaka are inscribed on the 729 marble slabs. I wish we could have styaed longer as it really was beautiful with the row after row of pagodas.
World’s Biggest Book
Just few of the white pagodas
We rushed off towards the Manadalay Hill to try and catch the sunset. The journey was so much fun, we had to wind up and up on the small scooter. Once at the top we had to walk through beautiful temple which was a calm shade of pink with mosaic mirrors. Being a magpie, I loved the reflections the walls and pillars were giving off, the sun was also bright and setting slowly.
Watching the sunset
Unfortunately the view of the sun from the temple wasn’t amazing as they are currently building a golf course.. Also the sun decided to set behind the clouds. So we left pretty quick and raced back to the hotel.
After a quick break we went to go have dinner at a restaurant called Super 66. It was really busy with locals and after looking at the menu I can see why! Anything you wanted was there.
We ended up ordering a schezuan pork veg dish, local fruit hot pot, spare ribs and steamed kale. I also ordered Chinese pork sausage thinking it will be like the pork sausage I have back at home but unfortunately it was a crap frankfurter.
There was no dessert on the menu but they brought out some papaya and watermelon. I was really upset to discover the papaya had been left out too long and had a metallic taste. Rank.
I settled the bill and we took a taxi to the night market. Once we arrived it was just gone 9pm and everyone was already packing up! Bit of a shame really as I would’ve liked to have seen it in full swing even though they were selling a load of crap. It was a bit of a mission finding a taxi home so we went to an awful hotel to get help. It made me appreciate Hotel Yadanarbon
Once back at the hotel we went and had a look at what was in the area, too bad that no where sold desserts but probably good for my stomach. We found a nice bar and I had a strawberry yoghurt shake. It wasn’t great but the company of the kids at the cafe was fantastic.
View from the hotel