1, 2 or 3 days in Mandalay? Here you’ll find an itinerary for every option 😉
When traveling to Myanmar, many people may be unsure of which places to visit and how long to stay in each of them.
I spent one month in the country in March 2017, and visited not only the most popular destinations (Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake), but also others that are not yet on the tourists’ radar, like Mindat.
Itineraries for 1, 2 and 3 Days in Mandalay
Of all the places I have visited, I think Mandalay is one of the best places to visit in Myanmar, and therefore I have put together three different itineraries for 1, 2 and 3 days in Mandalay.
Important Tip: buying a Mandalay Archeological Zone ticket will give you access to Atumashi Kyaung, the Cultural Museum of Mandalay, Kuthodaw Paya, Maharani Paya, Mandalay Palace, Paleik Paya, Shwenandaw Kyaung, and the ancient cities of nearby Amarapura and Inwa.
Mandalay 1-day Itinerary
If you are only going to spend one day in Mandalay, I’d suggest you rent a car with driver or a motorbike and go to Amarapura for the monks’ lunch time, which is in the morning, around 10 -10:30 AM. It’s a great opportunity to learn a little more about their daily routines by talking to some of their instructors. It is also a chance to take some memorable and striking pictures of the monks lining up in their burgundy robes.
Also in Amarapura, you can visit U Bein Bridge, the longest teak wood bridge in the world at 1.2 km, and after that, you can stop by the stone carving district to see skilled craftsmen and -women working on marble slabs to sculpt lovely and delicate Buddha statues.
In the afternoon, head to the Mandalay Palace area to visit the breathtaking Shwenandaw Monastery, built in the traditional Burmese teak wood style, that once was part of the king’s royal apartments. After that, visit Kuthodaw Pagoda and Sandamuni Paya, located few meters away at the foot of Mandalay Hill.
To finish your one-day itinerary in Mandalay, the best option is to visit Mandalay Hill to watch the superb sunset and enjoy the spectacular 360-degree view of the city.
In case you aren’t that tired, just after the sunset, you can visit Kyauk Taw Ayi Pagoda, located on the foot of Mandalay Hill. It’s all lit up at night.
- If you prefer, you can book an Amarapura and Mandalay Sightseeing Tour from US$ 27 here.
- Alternatively, you can book a Mandalay Cultural Heritage Day Tour or Mandalay Private Day Tour with Viator, a Trip Advisor Company.
Mandalay 2-day Itinerary
If you’re going to spend 2 days in Mandalay, follow my 1-day itinerary for your first day. On the second day, take the 9:00 AM ferry to Mingun, and visit Mingun Pahtodawgyi. It is a colossal unfinished stupa, constructed in 1790, and would’ve been the largest stupa in the world at 150 m (490 ft) high.
After visiting Mingun Pahtodawgyi, go and see Mingun Bell, a gigantic bell that was cast to be used in the stupa. It’s the second largest bell in the world and weighs 90 tons. You can also visit the Hsinbyume Pagoda (Myatheindan Pagoda), located few meters from the bell, which has a very distinctive and striking style, different from all the other pagodas in Mandalay.
There are also some souvenirs shops and restaurants around these three attractions in Mingun, in case you still have free time.
The ferry ride is perfect for relaxing and unwinding and you will be back in Mandalay around 1:00 PM.
- You can book your half day tour to Mingun here.
In the afternoon, you can explore the city by bicycle and visit Mahamuni Buddha Temple, which houses the most revered Buddha image in Myanmar; Shwe In Bin Kyaung, one of the most beautiful monasteries in Mandalay; and a gold pounder workshop to learn how golden leafs are made.
Quick tip: My suggestion is to take a bike early in the morning, whether renting or getting it free from your hotel, and take the bicycle with you on the ferry to Mingun.
3 Days in Mandalay
On my 3-day itinerary, you will not only see more attractions, but you will also do it more leisurely, visiting some areas more than once, as you will have more time. Therefore, the first and second days will be different from the two previous itineraries. 3 days in Mandalay is the best option, in my opinion.
In the morning, explore the city by bike, visiting Mahamuni Buddha Temple and Shwe In Bin Kyaung.
In the afternoon, go to the Mandalay Palace area and visit Shwenandaw Monastery, Atumashi Kyaung (another monastery in front of Shwenandaw), and, located few meters away at the foot of Mandalay Hill, Kuthodaw Pagoda and Sandamuni Paya.
In the evening, head to Mandalay Hill to watch the sunset.
In the morning, visit the stone carving district on your way to Amarapura to see the monks at lunch time. You can also visit a silk-weaving factory close to U Bein Bridge.
In the afternoon, visit Mandalay Palace, constructed by King Mindon between 1857 and 1859 but heavily bombed and devastated during the Second World War. As a result, the huge and magnificent complex, which contains crowning wood pavilions and looks tremendously imposing from outside, is basically empty inside, with only very few furniture, mausoleums, and towers. It can leave visitors a bit disappointed, therefore.
End your day by watching the Moustache Brother’s show.
Finish your 3 days in Mandalay with a day-trip to the three ancient capitals (Inwa, Sagaing and Amarapura) and Mingun (the attraction that I mentioned above).
Inwa and Sagaing are very close to Mandalay and have interesting places to visit, such as pagodas, monasteries and historical sites.
Most of the tours start around 8 – 9:00 AM and I’d suggest visiting Mingun first, followed by Sagaing Hill and Inwa and finish by watching the sunset over U Bein Bridge in Amarapura.
- Book your Ancient Cities, Pagodas, and Sunset Tour from Mandalay with Viator.
After spending 3 days in Mandalay you will understand why I prefer this city to Yangon.
Of course, these are just suggested itineraries for 1, 2 and 3 days in Mandalay, and you can change it according to your interests, budget and time.
I believe that following those directions will make your trip to Mandalay much easier to plan and more enjoyable.
Safe travels and have fun in Mandalay.
- Where is Mandalay?
Mandalay is located 716 km (445 mi) north of Yangon on the East bank of the Irrawaddy River (check map here).
- How to get to Mandalay
You can get to Mandalay by flight, bus, car, train and even boat.
There is an international airport in Mandalay that was completely renovated in 2015. Some of the airline companies offering flights to Mandalay International Airport are: AirAsia, Thai Smile, Bangkok Airways, Myanmar Airway International, etc.
You can book your flights with Skyscanner or Momondo, which are the websites that I use and trust.
* By bus
Traveling by bus is the cheapest and easiest way to get around Myanmar. There are buses to Mandalay departing from Yangon, Bagan, and Inle Lake; and some of the companies in operation are: Famous Traveller Express and Khyne Mandalay Express.
* By train
There are also trains form Yangon and Bagan to Mandalay with Myanmar Railways (MR). There is no official website though.
* By boat
Boats arrive and depart from Gawain Jetty (at the western end of 35th Street); from downtown you can take a taxi or tuk-tuk, costing around 2000 Ks (US$ 1.5).
You can go from Mandalay to Bagan by boat and I recommend booking your boat online here.
You can book a private transfer from Mandalay to Bagan here.
- Best time to visit?
The best time to visit the Mandalay, Myanmar, is from November to February, when the days are warm and nights are cooler.
From June to September is the monsoon season and roads are in bed conditions, and from March to May the dry season.
I visited Mandalay in March 2017 and it was very hot and dry.
- Where to stay in Mandalay?
One of the best things to do in Mandalay is to stay in downtown, because it’s close to most of the attractions. Some of the Mandalay hotels that I recommend are:
* Budget: Hotel 8 , Hotel 82 and Hotel Victory Point.
* Great value/money: The Link 78 Mandalay Boutique Hotel, Bagan King and Hotel Yadanarbon Mandalay.
* Luxury: The Hotel by the Red Canal and Mandalay Hill Resort Hotel.
- Some of my Mandalay Travel Costs
* Five months travel insurance: US$ 256 with World Nomads
* Mandalay Historic Zone: 10,000 (US$ 7.3)
* Mustache Brothers show: 10,000 Ks (US$ 7.3)
* Ferry to Mingun: 5000 (US$ 3.5)
* Mingun – Sagging Archeological fee: 5000 (US$ 3.5)
* Taxi to Mandalay Hill: 2000 (US$ 1.5)