Mandalay’s surrounding sites

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
57 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
Myanmar (Burma)
Length of time
1-2 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 130
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
244th/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 70% SUMMARY RATING: Worth doing


Mandalay itself isn’t that attractive as its basically a classically rapidly sprawling Asian city, with all of the noise, concrete and mess that tends to go with this.  Also, surprisingly, the Mandalay Palace which you’d think would be the central attraction is also a bit dull.  But, the areas around Mandalay make it very much worth checking out
I’ve listed below some more general tips,  but in particular be sure to check out:
  • Mandalay Hill – when walking around Mandalay, it can feel a bit like one sprawling road after another and the sides of the Palace are LONG  so take a while to look around.  Instead, if near the Palace, head up Mandalay Hill for great views over the whole city and Palace, and some smaller temples and pagodas on the way up the nice covered stairway
  • Mingun Paya – take a short boat ride up river to this rather unusual site.  It’s unusual in the sense that 1. It was, at the time, supposed to be the world’s largest stupa.  Only “supposed to be”, because the King who sanctioned its construction died with only 1/3rd completed. 2. Now it is basically the world’s largest pile of bricks.  3. It has large crack down its side from an earthquake in 1838.  4. Right next to it is the Mingun Bell which at 90 tonnes has been at various times in history the world’s largest bell.  Not enough for you?  Its a nice boat trip
  • U-Bein Bridge -the world’s longest teak bridge and a route used regularly by the nearby locals and monks.  The cool thing is that the water level varied dramatically through the year so, in wet season you see various buildings largely underwater, whereas in dry season you see the buildings from a strangely high bridge
  • The Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery within the former royal capital of Inwa.  The monastery itself is a stunning yellow, but its also fun to get a horse cart / cycle around the overall site


#1 Looking over the sprawl of Mandalay and its vast Palace from the top of Mandalay Hill

#2 Taking a boat ride over to see Mingun Paya, the largest pile of bricks in the world . . . but a very impressive pile

#3 Walking with some of the local monks over U-Bein Bridge, the world's longest teak bridge

#4 Taking a horse cart around the former capital of Inwa

#5 Walking up the covered stairway of Mandalay Hill as you pass by various small temples and pagodas

#6 Seeing the slap-stick comedy show of the Moustache Brothers, 2 of which were jailed for 7 years hard labour for telling jokes about Burma's generals

#7 Checking out the yellow and very photogenic Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery

#8 Watching the Gold-Pounders at work in the Gold-Pounders' District

#9 Seeing the Mingun Bell, once the world's largest

General Travel Tips

  • Be sure to visit the an evening with the famed Moustache Brothers show, performed by 3 brothers, 2 of which did 7 years hard labour for telling jokes about Burma’s now ruling junta generals.  The evening is super slap stick, but you’ll have a laugh and get a chance to learn something about a different side of Burma
  • Watching the gold-pounders work to make the gold-leaf sheets is worth briefly checking out to learn about the history of the profession in Gold-Pounders’ District
  • I’d recommend staying at Peacock Lodge near the Palace.  Its a nice neighbourhood and the owners will very much look after you (I had terrible food poisoning from a meal somewhere in Mandalay the day before, probably the worst I’ve ever felt, and they looked after me like I was part of the family)
  • Geting around – for seeing Mingun Paya, U-Bein Bridge and Inwa, its easiest just to hire a motorbike taxi or normal taxi.  The hotel can easily help you out with this
  • Be careful for dogs in the evening
  • See if you can combine your trip to Mandalay within a 2 weeks itinerary for the highlights of Burma, and you can see the link for the itinerary and general tips on the adventure

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone