A Day in Mandalay, Myanmar

Young Monk

A day in Mandalay is not enough time to enjoy what this city has to offer.

From monasteries to sunsets, from markets to gold leaf workshops, a day spent in Mandalay is truly memorable.

(Editor Update June 2018)

Where is Mandalay Myanmar

A Day in Mandalay Myanmar

Myanmar Map

Mandalay, the former ancient capital city of Myanmar is hot, dusty and flat but well worth a visit for a few days.

Mandalay was the former capital of Northern Myanmar (once known as Burma).  It is located on the Irrawaddy River.  Mandalay is the 2nd largest city in Myanmar, Yangon, the capital 716 km away is the largest.

If you are considering travelling to Myanmar we can recommend Lonely Planet Myanmar as a good research.


What Does A Day In Mandalay Look Like

A day in Mandalay

The Dusty Streets of Mandalay

Hire and Driver and a Car

We recommend you hire a car and a driver for MMK (Burmese Kyat) 40,000 = USD31 (exchange rate September, 2018) to travel outside the city centre and have an adventure for the day. Local drivers have a route planned out for you, and of course, included is a visit to some factories but it is entirely up to you what you would like to visit, discuss your itinerary with them first. We recommend that you work with a driver that is associated with your hotel or a driver that you have used in and around Mandalay.

King Galon Gold Leaf Workshop

A day in Mandalay

Making Gold Leaf

Gold Leaf is a very important industry in Myanmar.  Devotees use the gold leaf as an offering to Buddha as a means of gaining merit towards rebirth in favourable circumstances in future incarnations.  It is hot and laborious work for these young men who work with small amounts of malleable gold which is encased in small leather packets.  They beat the gold with heavy sledgehammers until the metal is as thin as paper – the timing of the pounding is calculated by a traditional clock that measures 15 minutes segments when a half coconut shell fills with water.  The gold leaf is then cut in squares and packaged for sale by the womenfolk.

Mahagandayon Monastery

A day in Mandalay

Young Monks at Mahagandayon Monastery

The visit to the Mahagandayon Monastery is timed around 10 am when the 1000+ young monks line up silently for lunch which is their last meal of the day.  The visit is on every itinerary in Mandalay so expect to see quite a lot of tourists.  The Monastery is located in Amarapura about 11 kilometres outside Mandalay.

It felt strange all these tourists watching them go in for lunch and taking hundreds of photos, but they are used to it. You can give cash donations to the monks as they walk past.

A day in Mandalay

Lunchtime for the Monks – their last meal of the day at 10 am.

A day in Mandalay


Sagaing Hill

A day in Mandalay


A visit to Sagaing Hill and its Temples and Stupas starts with a long haul up steep stairs to the top of the hill.  Once at the top you have 360-degree breathtaking views of the Irrawaddy River.  Sagaing was once the capital of Sagaing Kingdom and it is located 20 km to the South West of Mandalay on the opposite side of the Irrawaddy River.

We encountered a small snake on the steps leading up to the temples.  We would recommend sensible walking shoes and take care when you place your feet down on the steps.  As Mandalay is hot ensure you have plenty of water with you.


A day in Mandalay

Time for Prayer


Local Market at Sagaing

A day in Mandalay

Sagaing Market

Whilst at Sagaing spend some time wandering around the local market.  The locals are so friendly and the display of fruit and vegetables intoxicating with their smells.



A day in Mandalay

Market Day at Sagaing

U-Bein Bridge

A day in Mandalay

Traffic on the U Bein Bridge

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to U-Bein Bridge.  It is one of the oldest teak bridges in the world spanning 1.2 km over the Taungthaman Lake.  Back in 1860, the bridge was built by Mayor U Bein using teak planks from the former royal palace.


A day in Mandalay

Locals working the fields beside the U Bein Bridge

At sunset saffron-robed monks make the journey back to the monastery, their shadowy images in the orange light make it a photographers delight. Sunrise and sunset are the best times to visit for the best photo opportunities.

A day in Mandalay

Stop for Coconut Water on the Other Side

Unfortunately, we did not visit at sunset but we walked across the bridge, had a local coconut drink at one of the stalls located on the other side and hired a boat to take us back.


A day in Mandalay

U Bein Bridge

A day in Mandalay

Our taxi driver playing games with the locals

Our driver playing a local game with the locals whilst waiting for us.

More things to do and see in Mandalay

  1.  Mandalay Sunset Cruise
  2. Mandalay Night 3 Hour Local Street Food Tour
  3. Sunset Tour to U-Bein Bridge
  4. Full Day Ancient Capital Tour

Where to Stay in Mandalay

We stayed at the Smart Hotel in Mandalay.

Address: 167, 28th Street Between 76&77, Chan Aye Thargan Town, Mandalay

The hotel had a roof top bar where we enjoyed a cocktail or two whilst enjoying the sunset.  The accommodation was comfortable but our bedroom had no window.  The Smart Hotel was centrally located in Myanmar.  The staff were very helpful in organising a car and a driver for us for the day.

For the latest deals at the Smart Hotel click below.

A day in Mandalay

For more accommodation options:

A day in Mandalay


Where to Eat in Mandalay

One of our favourite restaurants was Marie Min Vegetarian restaurant at 27th Street, Between 74th And 75th Street.  For the latest reviews click here.

For more dining options:

A day in Mandalay


For more Myanmar Travel Options you may enjoy reading our articles:

Bagan to Myanmar – Myanmar Cruise by Riverboat

Bagan Temples by Horse and Cart

Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride over Bagan Temples

Shwedagon Temple

1 USD Train Journey Around Yangon


Getting In

Myanmar has opened up rapidly over the last few years.  There are more flights in and out of Yangon and other major cities.

For the latest airfare deals click here.

For information on private transfers from Yangon Airport to the city click here


If you enjoyed our article why not PIN it for later:

A day in Mandalay Myanmar

A day in Mandalay


  • Corinne says:

    Myanmar is on our to-do list. We want to spend as much time there as it takes. I feel like we should plan for at least 2 or 3 weeks. I can’t wait to go.

    • Hi Corinne
      Thank you for your comments. Myanmar is so much fun, you will fall in love with the people and the country. Hope you can make it sooner than later.
      Cheers Jane and Duncan

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