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Things To Do In Mandalay & Complete Mandalay Travel Guide

Things To Do In Mandalay & Complete Mandalay Travel Guide

Traveling to Myanmar? Most tourists don’t realize how many things to do in Mandalay there are and that they should spend at least two nights in Mandalay.

On our recent trip to Myanmar, we had a direct flight from Chiang Mai to Mandalay and spent 2 nights in Mandalay before traveling to Bagan. We didn’t expect much in Mandalay but were pleasantly surprised and glad we included Mandalay on our Myanmar itinerary. We’ve put together this Mandalay travel guide and a list of what to do in Mandalay to help plan your trip.

Mandalay Travel Guide

Myanmar eVisa Online

Before you travel to Myanmar check the visa regulations for your nationality. We are American citizens and had to apply for a Myanmar visa online prior to travel. We applied for the Myanmar eVisa online and were approved within 3 days.

Best Mandalay Hotels

There are hotels for every budget in Mandalay. There are some gorgeous romantic ones for those on a honeymoon in Myanmar. We suggest staying at a Mandalay hotel that is located right in the city and close to restaurants.

  • Luxury Mandalay Hotel $100+ Mandalay Hill Resort 5 star resort located just outside the moat within walking distance several Mandalay attractions.
  • Midrange Mandalay Hotel $50-$100 The Link 78 Mandalay Boutique Hotel 4 star hotel in the center of Mandalay with modern rooms.
  • Budget Mandalay Hotel  Under $50 Hotel A1 #10 hotel on TripAdvisor is where we stayed located right in the center of Mandalay, great value

We stayed at the Hotel A1 for $31 a night which had everything we needed. It was located within walking distance to the best restaurants in Mandalay. Our room was basic but clean with AC and hot water – all that we really needed. We were only in our room for 7 hours a day as we were so busy exploring all the things to do in Mandalay.

*When looking for the best price and biggest selection of hotels in Mandalay check prices on, we’ve found they are the best option and have a great cancelation policy.*

ATM Machines In Mandalay

Getting money in Mandalay is no problem, there are ATM machines throughout the city. There were 3 working ATM machines at the Mandalay airport, this is where we withdrew money. There was also an ATM right across the street from our hotel, Hotel A1. Every ATM machine had a maximum withdrawal limit of 300,000k which is around $220 USD.

In previous years there were no ATM’s and tourists had to bring new USD and exchange money in Myanmar. This is no longer needed however, we suggest bringing some cash in $USD just in case you are in a rural area without a working ATM.

$1 USD =  1,360 Myanmar Kyat (k)

Related Article: Myanmar Travel Tips

Two monks in red robes walk the U Bein Bridge at Sunrise - Things to do in Mandalay Myanmar

Getting Around Mandalay

If you are staying at Central Mandalay Hotel, you can easily get to most places. There are very few traffic signs, and most intersections are uncontrolled, so be careful when walking. Taxis from most hotels to a restaurant or the ferry station are 6,000k one way or 10,000k round trip. We had our hotel call us a taxi to go to dinner, and the taxi driver literally waited in the car outside for 2 hours. If you are taking the boat to Bagan from Mandalay arrange your taxi the night before.

Tourists can rent motorbikes or bicycles in Mandalay, but we wouldn’t advise this due to the chaotic traffic. We hired a private driver for a full day so we could visit all the things to do in Mandalay. See below for our private driver details and prices.

Best Restaurants in Mandalay

There is a wide range of restaurants in Mandalay that have something for everyone. We originally asked our hotel for restaurant recommendations, and they recommended a few Burmese restaurants. They recommended Shan Ma Ma, which is the #3 on TripAdvisor, and it was packed. However, upon inspection, we noticed all the food was pre-cooked and sitting in pots for who knows how long. We know that this has the potential for food poisoning, so we opted for higher-end made-to-order restaurants.

Related Article: Street Food Safety Guide

We ate at the following restaurants during our time in Mandalay and would recommend them all. They all were tasty and we didn’t get sick. It’s worth spending a few extra dollars a meal in Myanmar, no one wants to get sick on vacation.

  • Bistro on 82nd #1 restaurant on TripAdvisor our first night in Mandalay we had dinner here as it was only a few blocks from our hotel and it was highly rated. It is pricey by Myanmar standards but it was really good. They have a small European menu with some pasta, salads, steaks, chicken, and fish dishes. We highly recommend wiener schnitzel.
  • NOVA Coffee #1 cafe on TripAdvisor on our full-day tour of Mandalay we had our driver stop at NOVA coffee for lunch. We were in need of a coffee after waking up at 5 am. They are great coffees and smoothies as well as a big menu.
  • Indian Tadka Mandalay #11 restaurant on TripAdvisor when in doubt go to an Indian restaurant. You can never go wrong with Indian food, and after reading the reviews, we were sold. We took a taxi from our hotel here for our last dinner in Mandalay. We highly recommend the chicken tiki masala and garlic naan the flavors were spot on.

Getting To and From Mandalay

After our time in Mandalay, we headed to Bagan and then to Inle Lake. We’ve put together the following guides on how to get from Mandalay to other Myanmar destinations.

Mandalay is a great starting or ending point when traveling to Myanmar. The international airport has several international destinations.

Mandalay Airport Taxi

Taxis at the Mandalay airport are reasonably priced and they have a set rate from the airport to Mandalay hotels.

  • 4,000k – Shared Taxi
  • 12,000k – Private Taxi
  • 15,000k – Private Taxi with air conditioning.

There were several taxi kiosks, and they all spoke English. We just told them our hotel name, Hotel A1, and they knew it. The drive was an hour from the airport, which is located 40 kilometers outside of the city. If you don’t have local currency, you can pay for the Mandalay airport taxi in USD. It was $10 for a private taxi, but we opted to pay in Kyat.

Remember, if drones are not allowed in Myanmar, they will be confiscated at the airport but returned when you leave (if you leave from the same airport). If you travel with a drone, like we do, you might want to look for places to store it before traveling to Myanmar. Traveling with a drone is amazing, so make sure to read my drone guide to find the perfect drone for you.

Things To Do In Mandalay

We hired a private driver in Mandalay for the day to bring us to all the below things to do in Mandalay. They are listed below in the order we visited them.

Calm Sunrise over the U Bein Bridge in Mandalay Myanmar - Things to do in Mandalay

Reflections of the U Bein Bridge in the still waters at sunrise

U Bein Bridge

Start your day exploring all the things to do in Mandalay bright and early at the U Bein Bridge for sunrise. The U Bein Bridge is the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world that was built back in 1849. The bridge is 1.2 km/ 0.75 miles long and used by the local people to cross Taungthaman Lake.

The bridge has made every tourist’s list of things to do in Mandalay, and that is why we urge you to come early in the morning. When we were at the U Bein Bridge for sunrise, there were maybe 15 other tourists, but if you come for sunset at U Bein Bridget, there will be hundreds of tourists. If you can’t make it to sunrise, we suggest booking this private sunset U-Bein bridge tour to ensure you get an epic spot to watch the sunset in Mandalay.

Photo of the red brick Mingun Pahtodawgyi temple in Mingun near Mandalay - Things to do in Mandalay

Mingun Pahtodawgyi

Located in Mingun, 11 kilometers/7 miles up the Ayeyarwady River, is the Mingun Pahtodawgyi. The temple is most famous for the cracks running through it caused by an earthquake in 1839. The Mingun temple was never completed due to an astrologer claiming that if the temple was completed the king would die, the people believed this theory and the temple was never completed. Had the stupa been completed it would have been the largest in the world standing at 490 feet.

We suggest booking your private driver so you don’t have to negotiate with taxis in Mandalay. Our driver brought us to Mingun Pahtodawgyi and all the Mandalay attractions in this article.

The front of the Mingun Bell - Oneof the world's largest wrking bells - Things to do in Mandalay Myanmar

Mingun Bell

The Mingun Bell was made to go with the Mingun Pagoda, but since the Pagoda was never finished, it wasn’t put in place. The Mingun Bell weighs 90 tons and is 13 feet tall. Until the year 2000, it was the world’s largest ringing bell, but it has now been eclipsed by another in China. It’s worth a quick stop to jump out and give it a ring.

The white hsinbyume pagoda in Mingun near Mandalay is a to thing to see

Hsinbyume Pagoda

Hsinbyume Pagoda is a gorgeous white temple within walking distance to Mingun Pahtodawgyi. This intricate temple in Mingun is not nearly as busy as Mingun Pahtodawgyi. If you are lucky, you can get a picture of the monks walking down the white steps to the pagoda. It is also often called Sat Taw Yar Pagoda or Mya Theindan Pagoda.

Many gold cover Buddha statues in the 30 caves Pagoda in Mandalay Myanmar - Top Attractions

Buddha statues line the walls of the 30 Caves Pagoda outside the city of Mandalay, Myanmar

Umin Thonse Pagoda – 30 Caves Pagoda

The Umin Thonse is often referred to as the 30 Caves Pagoda because there are 30 cave entrances to enter the pagoda. The Pagoda is located on Sagaing Hills which has an amazing view looking out over to Mandalay and the river. Inside the pagoda, there are 45 Buddha images in a crescent-shaped colonnade.

Inwa Ancient City

Visit Inwa or Ava as it was previously known, Myanmar’s most famous old capital. Inwa was the capital city between 1365 to 1842 and was abandoned in 1839 after an earthquake that leveled the city. The city was never rebuilt and the King decided to rebuild a new palace and move the government to Amarapura.

Inwa is a top attraction in Mandalay for tourists where you can still see remains of the capital city. To reach Inwa, you’ll have to take a quick ferry for 1,000k. Once on Inwa, there will be horse carts to show you around. Please note the drivers were VERY pushy and we decided to walk where we witnessed several of the horses getting beaten by their drivers. We would advise not supporting the horse drivers.

Sunset over the Moat in Mandalay Myanmar - Things to do in Mandalay

Mandalay Palace

You won’t miss the Mandalay Palace, its primary symbol of Mandalay. The Mandalay Palace is located in the middle of the moat in the heart of Mandalay. The Mandalay Palace (Mya Nan San Kyaw Palace) was the royal palace of the last two kings of the Burmese monarchy, built in 1857. In 1885, the royal family was captured, and the palace no longer was a royal residence. During World War II, parts of the palace were destroyed, and in the 1990s, a replica of the palace was built.

If you are staying at a central Mandalay hotel, you can most likely walk here or take a taxi. The entrance to the Mandalay Palace is only on 19th Street.

Shwenandaw Monastery

The  Shwenandaw Monastery is a gorgeous wooden monastery carved from teak wood. It’s also referred to as the Golden Palace Monastery. The monastery was originally part of the Royal Palace in Amarpura but when the capital city moved to Mandalay so did the monastery. It was literally taken down and rebuilt in 1857 where the King actually lived in it. After his death, it was turned into a monastery.

Sandamuni Pagoda

The highlight at Sandamuni Pagoda is the largest iron Buddha cast in 1802. The huge golden pagoda with tons of white stupas surrounding it make for a great photo. A visit to the pagoda is worth it as it is near several of the other things to do in Mandalay on our list.

Small white pagodas that hold the world's largest book - Top things to see in Mandalay Myanmar

Kuthodaw Pagoda – The World’s Largest Book

Known as the world’s largest book, Kuthodaw Pawa has 729 stupas, each containing a marble slab with text from the Tipitaka (Buddist scriptures) inscribed. If you spent 8 hours a day reading, it would take over a year to read all of them, hence why it is called the world’s largest book.

The view from the top of Mandalay Hill is a top thing to do in Mandalay

Mandalay Hill

Head to the top of Mandalay Hill for an epic panoramic view of the Mandalay. We highly suggest staying for sunset. You can climb the stairs to the top of Mandalay Hill or have a taxi bring you to the top, where there is an escalator to the pagoda. At the top of the hill is Sutaungpyei Pagoda.

Mandalay Tours

Local Fisherman throws his net near the U Bein Bridge in Mandalay Myanmar - Things to do

Local Fisherman throws his net near the U Bein Bridge in Mandalay Myanmar

There are several companies that offer tours that will hit all the best things to do in Mandalay in one day. If you are only staying in Mandalay for two nights we highly suggest booking in advance so that you aren’t scrambling to book a tour on your only free day for sightseeing in Mandalay. The following tours are bookable online on a TripAdvisor company.

Mandalay Private Driver

We opted to hire a private driver for the day to create our own custom tour and hit all the things to do in Mandalay. We found our driver Ko Fatty by googling the best driver in Mandalay, which brought me to his Facebook page.

We sent him a message, and within an hour, he messaged back. We let him know where we wanted to go and agreed on a price. He picked us up at 5:45 am so we could get to sunrise at U Bein Bridge and dropped us off at 6 pm after watching the sunset at Mandalay Palace. We paid 55,000k for what he called a five city tour. We highly recommend Ko Fatty. Send him a message or email and he’ll give a reasonable price, tell him Hannah and Adam from GettingStamped sent you.

Ko Fatty Mandalay Private Driver

We hope we convinced you to spend a few nights in Mandalay and that there are a lot of things to do in Mandalay. 

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Friday 21st of December 2018

Thank you very much for the tips! We are going to Mandalay in February! Your helped us a lot!!!

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Sunday 23rd of December 2018

February is a great time to visit Mandalay. Have a great trip to Myanmar.

Alessia Martino

Monday 26th of November 2018

What would you advice to see if one was to split this in two days?

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Sunday 2nd of December 2018

I would def suggest hiring a driver for the day and making up your own itinerary based on what is at the top of your list. We think 2 nights in Mandalay is just the right amount of time.


Friday 19th of October 2018

I contacted Ko Fatty and he offered a tour only in Mandalay for $45. I’d assume no other cities in your list.

Hannah Lukaszewicz

Wednesday 24th of October 2018

Good to hear Ko Fatty got back to you. How was your day trip in Mandalay with him?


Wednesday 9th of May 2018

As I understand, you did all the attraction on the list, including Mandalay hill for the sunset? I have the following itinerary and wanted to ask you if it is doable in 1 day (10 hours)

Hotel - Amarapura/U-bein - Inwa - Sagaing & 30 caves temple - Mingun Pahtodawgyi and Bell - Hsinbyume Pagoda - Mandalay Palace - Shwenandaw Monestary - Kuthodaw Pagoda - Mandalay Hill for sunset - Hotel.


Thursday 10th of May 2018

Yes, this is all doable in a single if you have a private driver, use the link above to hire a driver in advance. We actually did all of this in a day as well because we were tight on time too. Make sure to start before the sunrise and make it to the Ubein bridge for sunrise. If you start early it is possible to see all of these things in Mandalay in one day. Have a great trip!