How to spend two days in Mandalay – a complete guide

If you are planning to see Mandalay in two days and you’re not sure which places are worth visiting and which are not, you are in the right place. I’ve put together the perfect Mandalay 2 day itinerary, which includes all the must see places in the city. Even though 2 days might not seem enough to explore Mandalay, I can assure you that you’ll have plenty of time to see the best of it.

Mandalay things to do - itinerary

1. Is Mandalay worth visiting?

If you don’t have much time in Myanmar and you’ve already been to Yangon, you can easily skip Mandalay. I found Yangon more intriguing and exciting. There is always something happening on the streets: locals selling street food, local tailors sewing clothes, people taking a nap and so much more. Also, Yangon is home to one of the most impressive temples in Asia – the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Even though Mandalay is interesting too, I still tend to favor Yangon.

Buddhist monk at Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay

We’ve met the kindest Buddhist monk in Yangon

However, if you have more time to explore Myanmar, like we did (we traveled around the country for one month), then a stop to Mandalay is a must. In Mandalay you will find some of the most important Buddhist temples in the country and exploring them will leave you speechless.

Bottom line, if you have to choose between Yangon or Mandalay, go for Yangon. However, if you have enough time, a stop to Mandalay is great if you want to explore even more of the local culture.

2. Day 1 in Mandalay

In the first day in Mandalay, I recommend visiting Mingun and then heading to the famous U Bein Bridge. Hidden from tourists, the beautiful Taung Mingyi Pagoda is situated right near the bridge. However, you won’t find that many people there which is a great opportunity to explore this hidden gem.

  • Morning trip to Mingun

Duration (getting there + visiting): 5 hours  (9am – 2 pm)

We will start our Mandalay two day itinerary with a half day trip to Mingun. Mostly known for the unfinished Mingun Pagoda which holds the record for the biggest pile of bricks in the world, Mingun has a few other secrets.

Here you can visit one of the most beautiful and unusual temples in Myanamr – Hsinbyume Pagoda. This round shaped, white temple impresses through its architecture. The temple has 7 layers of terraces which can be explored and you can even get to the top of the pagoda to admire the views around Mingun.

Hsinbyume Pagoda - Myatheindan Pagoda - Mingun, Mandalay

Hsinbyume Pagoda

Another attraction you have to see is the Mingun Bell which is the second biggest bell in the world, weighting 90 tons.

In order to get to Mingun, you will have to be at Mingun Jetty in Mandalay before 9 am. For my full guide about how to get to Mingun and what to visit, click here.

  • Taung Mingyi Pagoda

Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

In the second part of the day, let’s head to U Bein Bridge. Right near the bridge there is a beautiful pagoda, overlooked by tourists. Most of the temples in Mandalay are full of tourists but here you’ll get the chance to explore this pagoda without bumping into hundreds of people.

I also loved Taung Mingyi Pagoda’s architecture and beautiful details. Take your time and admire it!

Taung Mingyi Pagoda near U Bein Bridge, Mandalay

  • U Bein Bridge

Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

This 1.2 kilometers long bridge, crossing over the Taungthaman Lake is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world. The bridge was built around the year 1850 and is supported by over 1,000 wooden pillars.

U Bein Bridge was named after the mayor who built it and today is used by thousands of people daily. It is particularly busy during July and August when the lake is at its highest. Apart from the locals, the U Bein Bridge also attracts many tourists. As a tourist, you can take a walk on the bridge or even better, rent a boat and admire U Bein from a different perspective. Either way, don’t forget your camera home – there are countless photo opportunities!

U Bein Bridge, Mandalay

3. Day 2 in Mandalay

The second part of my Mandalay 2 day itinerary is about exploring the city itself. Explore Mandalay’s beautiful temples and get immersed in the local culture. Even though this itinerary might seem too much for just one day, most of these attractions are situated within walking distance from one another.

Keep in mind that when visiting temples, you have to dress conservatively. For more info about how to dress in Myanmar and when visiting the temples, click here.

  • Mahamuni Buddha Temple

Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

The Mahamuni Pagoda is one of the most important religious sites in Myanmar. The Mahamuni Buddha image is highly venerated in Burma and is seen as an expression of the Buddha’s life. Although you can see the statue, you can’t get too close to it. Only men are allowed to get near it and stick gold leaves on the statue.

Mahamuni Buddha Temple, Mandalay

If you want to explore the temple a bit more, you can also see several old bronze statues which are believed to have healing powers. These Khmer statues were originally found at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and, over the time, they have been transferred to Ayutthaya and then Myanmar.

Apart from its religious importance, the Mahamuni Buddha Temple has a beautiful architecture with many details and specific statues. If you are spending two days in Mandalay, it would be a shame not to visit it.

To find out about the difference between temples, pagodas and stupas, click here.

  • Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda

Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

Also known as the Great Marble Image, the Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda is famous for a huge sculpted Buddha image. The Buddha image is sculpted from a single block of green marble and the construction of this pagoda was completed in 1878.

  • Sandamuni Pagoda

Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

The Sandamuni Temple is well known for its beautiful golden pagoda, its 1774 shrines hosting inscribed marble slabs and the biggest iron Buddha image in Myanmar. Each of the 1774 shrines – Dhamma ceti –  is housing a marble slab with Buddha’s teachings. Although you can’t walk between the shrines, they certainly offer a view you can’t easily forget.

Sandamuni Pagoda, Mandalay

  • Kuthodaw Pagoda

Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

Holding the record for the “world’s biggest book”, Kuthodaw Pagoda is located at the foot of Mandalay Hill and is one of the most important tourist attractions in Mandalay. Here you will find 730 tablets inscribed on both sides with Buddhist teachings.

Kuthodaw Pagoda, Mandalay

The temple is really beautiful and definitely worth a visit. You can walk between the small, white pagodas and enjoy the quiet surrounding you. At Kuthodaw Pagoda we’ve met a Buddhist monk who wanted to practice his English. He was really friendly and sweet and after talking with him for a while, he said that he would pray for us and our families. It was an incredible experience to be so close to a Buddhist monk and share stories with him.

  • Shwenandaw Monastery

Duration (getting there + visiting): 1 hour

Also known as the Golden Palace Monastery, the Shwenandaw Monastery was built in 1878 by King Thibaw Min. This monastery is famous for its detailed teak carvings and visiting it will definitely impress you.

Shwenandaw Monastery, Mandalay

The building was originally part of the Amarapura palace before it was moved to Mandalay where it served as part of the king’s royal apartments. While you are visiting the Shwenandaw Monastery, take a short walk and also visit the Atumashi Monastery. It will be interesting to contrast the traditional Shwenandaw Monastery with the modern structure of Atumashi Monastery.

  • Mandalay Hill

Duration (getting there + visiting): 2 hour

End your two day trip to Mandalay with one of the best views over the city. Although climbing Mandalay Hill is an adventure (you will have to climb barefoot), you will be rewarded with an incredible sunset view. The climb takes around 30 minutes and it is doable no matter your physical shape.

To read more about Mandalay Hill and how to climb it, click here.

View from Mandalay Hill

4. How to get around Mandalay

I personally loved using the Grab App all over Myanmar. It is easy to use, convenient and the prices are fair. Also, I loved that I could choose to pay cash for the rides. If you’ve been using Uber, Grab App works exactly the same.

Another alternative is to use the local taxis. You will see taxis on the side of the road or you can just wave at one when you see it passing by.

You can also use the public buses but you will need to ask the locals for help. Unfortunately, you can’t find the bus routes on Google Maps.

5. Where to stay in Mandalay

We chose to stay at Hotel Aurora and we loved it! This new hotel, in the heart of Mandalay was extremely clean and the staff was the friendliest. They helped us book our bus to Inle Lake and always welcomed us with big smiles. If you are choosing this hotel, don’t hesitate to try their rooftop restaurant – the food is just delicious. Also, did I mentioned that the prices are really affordable?

To check out the availability of Hotel Aurora, click here.

 

If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Madalay, I would say that two are enough. I hope that you’ve found my 2 day Mandalay itinerary helpful. If you have any questions, let me know in the comments section below.

May the travel bug bite you!

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