Mandalay Pictures Guide, Myanmar
A tricycle taxi at the east entrance to Mandalay Fort/Palace, with Mandalay Hill in the distance.
Take trishaws to explore the inner city. This can be exhilarating or terrifying depending on your disposition, since they cross busy main roads without stopping and hurtle along unlit streets disregarding pot holes and each other. If the driver speaks English he can act as a tour guide as well, thus effecting a positive double whammy. Trishaws hold a maximum of two adults though a kid can sit on a parent’s lap.
Locals love to see visitors enjoying trishaws and may wave and shout hellos; not to mention that your money will NOT be going towards supporting the military junta.
Cycling is another good option for touring the city centre, with rentals available for a couple of $ a day but Manadalay is a grid city so the the endless crossroads can be tiresome.
For adventurous riders a motorcycle is an excellent way to live free, well cheap. Well-used rental bikes can be found along 25th street and petrol is available locally though they are not frequent so ensure you have a full tank before departure. Petrol is generally sold in 1 litre bottles.
For longer journeys taxis can be hired but it can be difficult to negotiate a decent price. Those waiting near hotels are naturally more expensive than ones cruising, but more likely to speak English.
Pickup trucks cruise around picking up folk just like buses and at a good price.
Sunset over Mandalay seen from Mandalay Hill. Photo by Damien HR.
The 240 metre (760ft) high Mandalay Hill is in the northeast of Mandalay. It’s an easy climb of half-hour with stops at small nats shrines, pagodas and a standing Buddha.
The main gate is guarded by two giant carved lion statues. After the climb to the top of the mountain stands the Sutaungpyei Pagoda. The viewpoint there offers a full panorama of the city and the Mandalay plain stretching to the horizon, with the old city walls and moat, various stupas, the Kuthodaw Pagoda (see below), Kyautawgyi and Sandamuni Pagodas and the Irrawaddy to the west.
Mandalay River Port
Mandalay Port on the Irrawaddy River (or Ayeyarwady River), starting point for a half-day trip to Mingun.
Getting to Mandalay
• Flights. Mandalay airport is reasonably efficient, accepting flights from a couple of international destinations (e. g. China) as well as from all over Myanmar. The airport is 45kms on a highway to the city.
• Trains. Many trains run from Yangon, taking about 15 hours during the day. There is also a pricey overnight sleeper train, the Dagon Mann Express but it’s difficult to sleep on due to noise and a rough ride.
Trains also run to Mandalay to/from Bagan, twice a day, taking 7 hours. Tickets are cheap but conditions more like cattle cars than passenger cars that westerners are used to, with little or no space for bottoms or baggage storage.
• Buses from Yangon take about 9 hours, cheap and quite comfortable so other than a pricey flight this is the best transport option. Buses to/from Lake Inle take also take 9 hours.
Minibuses are available on most routes, are a bit more comfortable, more expensive and marginally faster, shaving an hour or maybe two off the regular bus timing.
– Ferries. The last interesting public transport option is a ferry downstream from Mandalay to Bagan, taking 10 hours and expensive. Upstream travel is also available for less cost but a lot more time, maybe up to two days.