An Afternoon in Mandalay

Mandalay is my closing destination during my journey in Myanmar. This city is the second largest city next to Yangon, and was said to be the last royal capital of the country. It is the economic and religious hub of the upper part of Myanmar.

There are essentially several attractions to see and activities to do in the city of Mandalay and nearby it. But since I only had an afternoon to get around, I’ve decided to trim down the list and had visited only few from the number of tourist spots that the city has.

It was past noontime when we had reached the city. Coming from Bagan, the minibus ride took 5 hours to get to our destination. The minibus dropped me to me to my hotel, the Mandalay View Inn. I wasn’t already feeling well that time but since I was left with only limited time in my last destination in Myanmar before I leave the country, I still pushed through with my plan.

Like Bagan, the city of Mandalay also requires visitor to pay a $10 fee named as a Mandalay Zone Admission Fee. This fee gives an access to the following sites: Shwenandaw Monastery, Sandamuni Paya, Kuthodaw Paya, Maha Atulawaiyan Monastery, Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda and Myanan San Kyaw Golden Palace. It was my last day in Myanmar and I was already running out of Kyats, so I’ve just decided to visit a few that I was interested to.

Sandamuni Pagoda

After I finished my lunch, I hailed a motorcycle to get me to Sandamuni Pagoda. This place is located at the foot of Mandalay Hill. It took 5 minutes ride to get to the pagoda from the hotel where I was staying, fare costs MMK 1,500.

When I got in to the area, I haven’t been asked for an entry fee or there wasn’t any really at all. I was already about to start to sightsee when I had noticed that I was still wearing the helmet that was provided to me by my driver. He had already left thus I had no choice but to carry it with me.

Sandamuni Pagoda contains the world’s largest iron Buddha image. Compared to usual golden stupas, this pagoda possesses a mass of slender whitewashed stupas. This site was constructed in the sit of King Mindon’s temporary palace while the new Mandalay Palace was still under construction. The site was built as a commemorative to Prince Kanaung on the spot where he was killed.

When I was about to leave, my motorcycle driver had appeared. Apparently, he went back for his helmet. He then asked me where’s my next destination. I’ve told him my plan. When we agreed with the price of the transport service, which is MMK 13,000, we then started to move bound to my next tourist spot from my list.

Mandalay Hill

Next is Mandalay Hill. The hill is a 230-meter hill located at the northeast of the city center. It was said that the city took its name from the hill.

There are two ways to reach the hill, walking by stairs that is said to be 1,729 steps uphill or riding a motorcycle to get to the foot of the hill pagoda. Luckily, I’ve had the latter, which only took us about 10 minutes ride uphill.

At the top of the hill is where the Sutaungpyei Pagoda is. An overpriced camera fee for visiting foreigner is being collected at the top, which I was able to avoid since I had taken my pictures unnoticeably. The pagoda offers nice views of Mandalay and the surrounding plains. The view from the top alone makes it worthwhile to visit this place.

This place is a good spot for sunset but I had another destination in my list that I’d like to visit for a picturesque sunset viewing, the U-Bein Bridge.

U Bein Bridge

U Bein Bridge is a crossing that spans the Taungthaman Lake near Amarapura. It was built in 1850. The bridge is an important pathway for the local people. Now, it has also become a tourist attraction.

This place is far from the city center of Mandalay. It took us less an hour to reach this tourist spot. Aside from the iconic bridge and scenic lake, you’ll find several souvenir shops and some restaurants here.

A must do when reaching the place is getting to a walk across the 1.2 kilometer teakwood bridge. It is believed that U Bein Bridge is the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world.

The walk across the busy bridge at sunset is the perfect time to see the lake. It’s also a nice to just sit in one of the benches and watch people. The walk across the bridge is a pleasant stroll. Seeing the sunset from the bridge is a perfect end to an afternoon of sightseeing.

It was already nearing 7:00 PM when I’ve decided to go back to the city center.

An afternoon is definitely not enough to cover the numerous tourist spots in the city of Mandalay. But I was still glad that I was able to get to at least some of the most important sites. Certainly, there are still several sites on this city that are considerably worthwhile to see.

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