Days 11-12 of our 12 Days in Myanmar (Burma) trip.
The final city that we visited in Myanmar, Mandalay is the second-largest city and was the last royal capital.
Day 11 – Mandalay
We awoke to a very hazy start to the day! After breakfast, we walked to Mandalay Palace. This was very exciting since we would get to see the palace that we had been reading about in The Glass Palace. To enter Mandalay Palace, you must pay the Mandalay Archaeological Zone Fee (10,000 MMK / 7 USD).
The Mandalay Archaeological Zone Ticket is good for visiting the Mandalay Palace, Shwenandaw Monastery, Sandamuni Pagoda, Kuthodaw Pagoda, Maha Atulawaiyan Monastery and Kyauktawgyi Pagoda.
They issue you a visitor pass to wear and request a passport to hold. I initially thought that they just wanted to see and record my passport. When the military officer started to put my passport into a basket, I requested it back immediately. We would have skipped the palace if this had been an impasse, but he accepted my Thai Motorcycle License as a substitute.
When we exited the Palace, we were surprised by the large basket of passports sitting on the desk. We do not use our passports as collateral.
By the time we made it to the Palace (it’s a long walk from the entrance gate!), the morning haze had burned off, and we had beautiful views. The Palace was very interesting, and we enjoyed our visit.
It is always fun to see history that you have read about come to life. Mandalay, the last royal capital of Burma, is a relatively young city that was established in February, 1857 by King Mindon. Construction of the massive palace began in June, 1857.
As we exited the palace gates and walked across the moat, we could see Mandalay Hill in the distance. That is the direction that we would be heading next!
Our first stop was at Sandamuni Pagoda. It often confused with the nearby Kuthodaw Pagoda because of the 1774 white stupas surrounding the central pagoda, each housing a single marble slab inscribed with the teachings of the Buddha.
The pagoda was commissioned by King Mindon in 1874 as a memorial to his younger half-brother, Crown Prince Kanaung, who was assassinated along with 3 princes during the 1866 Myingun Prince rebellion. It is famous for having the largest iron Buddha image in Burma, the Sandamani, after which it is named.
Next we walked the short distance to Kuthodaw Pagoda.
Surrounding the pagoda are 729 shrines each containing a single marble slab inscribed on both sides in Burmese script. Together, the 729 slabs are called “the world’s largest book”, with each stone slab representing one of its pages. Ordered by King Mindon, work on the “book” started in 1860 and took 8 years to complete.
Next was our hike up Mandalay Hill to visit Su Taung Pyi Pagoda (1000 MMK / .7 USD). You can take a taxi to the entrance and then take the escalator to the top, but we wanted exercise! It is a fun walk and the panoramic views of Mandalay are spectacular.
Once you make it to the top, you can rest while you explore Su Taung Pyi Pagoda and watch visitors and pilgrims pay homage.
By the time we walked back down the hill, it was well after lunch time. We headed toward a restaurant that we had spotted earlier across from the palace – The Square BBQ & Restaurant. It turned out to be one of the best meals that we had in Myanmar.
The day was going very quickly, and we still had one more place that we wanted to visit – U Bein Bridge, the famous teak bridge. We started trying to find a taxi as soon as we finished our meal. We were getting quoted very high prices ranging from 20,000-25,000 MMK. When we finally found one that was willing to negotiate down to 17,000 MMK / 13 USD (round-trip with a one hour stop at the bridge), we hopped in.
U Bein Bridge is 1.2 kilometers long. It was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. It is a very popular destination and a great place to people watch.
On our trip, we had many, many people want to take selfies with us – U Bien Bridge was no exception. I had realized earlier in the day that we had no pictures of them! What is good for the goose is good for the gander! At Mandalay Hill, I started asking if I could also take a picture. It made it so much more fun!
At first, I was very wary when a youngster would come up to me and hand me their expensive phone, saying “selfie.” Why hand me the phone? It was not until I insisted that a young girl take the photo herself that I understood… Her arms simply were not long enough and our heads filled the screen!
The scenery at the lake was very pretty, and we really enjoyed the visit and interacting with local tourists. As the sun began to dip, we headed back to our hotel for our last evening in Myanmar.
Before going to bed, we arranged a taxi to the airport through our hotel. The airport is far from the city, and the ride to the airport takes about 1 hour. Out flight was scheduled to depart at 2:20 PM, so we scheduled our taxi for 11:30 AM.
Day 12 – Mandalay
Out taxi was waiting for us when we came down in the morning. The ride was uneventful, and we arrived at the airport on-time. The fare was 13,000 MMK / 10 USD.
Our 12 day trip was over way too soon! We had a fantastic time in Myanmar, and I look forward to visiting again!
Mandalay Palace @ 21.992877,96.096552
Sandamuni Pagoda @ 22.003495,96.109833
Kuthodaw Paya @ 22.004642,96.112846
Su Taung Pyi Pagoda @ 22.014801,96.107495
The Square BBQ & Restaurant @ 22.001704,96.108104
U Bein Bridge @ 21.891955,96.054947
Mandalay International Airport @ 21.705649,95.970831
You can copy and paste the latitude and longitude into Google Earth, your browser, or into your GPS.
*Disclaimer- ALWAYS verify locations, transportation routes, GPS coordinates, etc. Errors are made, routes changed, sometimes we are just plain wrong. No one knows what you like more than you. If the trip is worth doing, it is worth doing right! Do your homework.