4 Things To Do In The Former Burmese Capital City Of Mandalay

4 Things To Do In The Former Burmese Capital City Of Mandalay
Sarah J
Sarah J 
| 3 min read

Mandalay is the second biggest city in Burma / Myanmar. A relatively new city, it was founded in the 1850s to be used as the then-Kingdom’s capital. Conquered by the British in the mid 1880s, a few places of historical interest remain in and around the city today. It is also known for being one of the country’s most spiritual cities, with around half of the country’s monks living in the Mandalay area.

A city rich in culture and spirituality, here are four great things to see and do in Mandalay:

1. Mahamuni Pagoda

4 things to do in the former burmese capital city of mandalay | mahamuni pagoda

One of the most revered sites in Burmese Buddhism, Mahamuni Pagoda attracts many pilgrims as well as tourists and locals. Although the name is commonly shortened to Mahamuni Pagoda, the temple’s full name is Maha Myat Muni Paya / Pagoda. It is home to a large Buddha statue, known as the Mahamuni. The shiny gold statue is inset with many gleaming jewels and gems; it is quite a spectacular sight! Woman must admire the statue from afar; only men are allowed to enter the chamber and get close to the sacred statue.

The temple has various buildings, each with ornate details and decorative features. There are many statues around the complex with some that are fairly old and some in the Khmer-style that were taken from Cambodia. The inner courtyard is a great place to linger for a while and watch monks gliding by in their claret-coloured robes. There is a bustling market area within the complex that sells an array of religious trinkets and amulets as well as flowers and other items to be left as offerings.

The entrance fee to the pagoda is 5,000 MMK (approximately 4 USD).

Visited this place?

2. Kuthodaw Pagoda

4 things to do in the former burmese capital city of mandalay | kuthodaw pagoda

An attractive temple complex at the bottom of Mandalay Hill, Kuthodaw is famous for being home to the biggest book in the world! Enormous marble slabs are engraved each side with the full content of Tripiṭaka, the Pali scriptures at the heart of Theravada Buddhism. The slabs can be found spread through more than 700 caves. The temple also contains numerous pristine white pagodas, topped with small golden spires, and the large golden main pagoda. The admission fee is 6,500 MMK (approximately 5 USD), unless you have already paid for an inclusive Mandalay Zone ticket.

Visited this place?

3. Workshops

4 things to do in the former burmese capital city of mandalay | workshops

Wander the streets of central Mandalay, especially close to major temples and religious sites, and you will notice people hard at work marking an assortment of items. They are often sitting right on the pavement outside stores or perched down narrow alleyways close to shops and market stalls. Large stringed puppets, known as marionettes, are popular in this part of the country, and you may spot people crafting wooden puppets or making their detailed clothes. Skilled craftspeople produce wooden, stone, and ceramic ornaments, and you might also see people weaving textiles.

Visited this place?

4. Mandalay Hill

4 things to do in the former burmese capital city of mandalay | mandalay hill

The slopes of Mandalay Hill are dotted with temples, pagodas, and monasteries, and it is a very important place for local Buddhists. Visitors can climb Mandalay Hill, calling into several of the lovely buildings on the way to the top. The peak is home to Sutaungpyei Pagoda and you can enjoy incredible views over the city and hills.

It is also possible to access the summit by road and escalator, although you would miss many of the beautiful attractions that sit close to the covered walkway.

The entrance to the hill’s main staircases (at the southern side) is marked with a silver pagoda and flanked by two large stone lions. Rather fearsome looking, these statues are known as chinthes.

Whilst it is free to climb Mandalay Hill, you may need to pay to go inside some of the temples unless you have a Mandalay Zone ticket. There is also a fee of 1,000 MMK (approximately 0.80 USD) if you want to use a camera at the top.

The Mandalay Zone ticket costs 10,000 MMK (approximately 10 USD). It includes admission to several city attractions, including the Royal Palace, Sandamuni Pagoda, Maha Atulawaiyan Monastery, Shwenandaw Monastery, Kuthodaw Pagoda, and Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda. The ticket is valid for five days.

Visited this place?

Other things to do in Mandalay

Wander around the rebuilt and renovated Royal Palace and step into reconstructed opulent throne rooms, complete with wax figures of former Kings. The large complex also houses the Palace Museum, where you can ogle a shining assortment of regalia. There are also displays dedicated to religious artefacts, traditional and military clothing, household objects, photography, and other items from the area’s past and present. It is a good place for anyone interested in Mandalay’s history and heritage.

Visit numerous temples, sign up for a cooking class, visit the theatre, get active with a spot of caving or climbing at Waterfall Hill, join a boat trip to Mingun, and take an excursion to some of the surrounding ancient cities. Amarapura is particularly popular, famous for the striking U Bein Bridge. Sagaing Hill, studded with many temples and monasteries, is another picturesque and fascinating place, and you can take a step back in time at the charming old city of Inwa (previously known as Ava).

See why so many travellers throughout the ages have fallen under the spell of magical Mandalay and spend time exploring this captivating city.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our Privacy Policy for more information on how we use your data

Originally from the UK, Sarah has been mostly based in her second home of Thailand for the past five years. As well as exploring new places, learning about different cultures, and sampling lots of...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Mandalay
Good things are meant to be shared!
Back to top
Visited any of these places? Click this button to activate our "Add a Tip" feature to share your experience.