To help you make the most out of your time in Mandalay, here’s our selection of temples and sites you shouldn’t miss. Most are within walking distance of each other — like the ones at the foot of Mandalay Hill — and the farthest ones are only a quick taxi or bicycle ride away.

 

Mandalay Palace


⏱️ You’ll need at least 2 hours to see the Palace complex.

Ticket fee

If you’re planning to visit more than just the Mandalay Palace, you can purchase the Mandalay Archaeological Zone Combo Ticket for €6.15 (10,000K). It’s valid for one week.

It’s not clear what monuments this ticket gives you access to. And even though it should be stamped at the entrance of every monument you visit, our tickets were only checked at the entrance of the Royal Palace and the Shwenandaw Monastery. 

The Palace Complex

Located near Mandalay Hill, the Palace is inside a walled fort and surrounded by a 20-meter wide moat. Visitors can only use the entrance on the east side through a gate guarded by armed men. 

These days the palace complex consists of several wooden buildings rebuilt in 1990 after it’s destruction during World War II. Nevertheless, most buildings remain closed to the public, and the few ones opened are poorly lit, completely empty and a bit smelly.

 

Mandalay, Myanmar

 

Even though it’s an important part of the country’s history, we found the complex to be uninspired and dull. However, we felt like the view from to the top of the watchtower compensated for all other visit restrictions.

 

Mandalay Palace Complex





Mandalay Hill

Entrance fee

It’s supposed to be free, but if you’re a foreigner you’ll be charged 1000 MMK (€0.63) for a permit to take photos.

Climbing the hill on foot (not an easy task)

Right at the beginning is a sign asking you to climb the stairs barefoot — do so.

Along the way, you’ll find several stalls: some selling knick-knacks, some selling snacks. You’ll see small temples with buddha images, viewpoints overlooking the city, and stairways that never seem to end.

 

Stalls at Mandalay Hill

Buddha at Mandalay Hill

 

After 20 minutes we guarantee that you’ll regret your decision, as the 240 meters climb of stairs will feel like hiking through the Kilimanjaro. Yet, if you’re lucky to do it on a mild day, you can reach the top in 30-40 minutes. 

What’s up there

At the top of the hill is the Sutaungpyei Pagoda, where you can rest and observe the many locals practicing the Buddhist ritual of pouring water over the Buddha statues.

 

 

But the real reward for the struggle of climbing the hill is the stunning panoramic view that stretches for miles. The big Irrawaddy River reflecting the sun, the city melding with the trees and the green with the gold of temples and stupas.

 

Mandalay View

Alternative transport to get to the top (easy task)

If you’re short on time — or simply pass the quad workout from climbing all those stairs — share a motorbike taxi for 1000 MMK (€ 0.63), or 5250 MMK (€ 3.07) to go alone. It’ll leave you at the top entrance.

 

Temples at the foot of Mandalay Hill

The surrounding area of Mandalay Hill is also rich in Buddhist sites and monuments. Here are the 5 temples we recommend (our tickets weren’t checked at any of these):

Atumashi Monastery a.k.a. Atulawaiyan

 

Atumashi Monastery Mandalay

Atumashi Monastery in Mandalay

 

Shwenandaw Monastery

An all-wood monastery decorated with low reliefs of animal figures, floral ornaments, and Buddhist stories. This temple was brought from Amarapura and rebuilt here.

Shwenandaw temple
shwenandaw kyaung wooden temple

Kuthodaw Paya

A beautiful temple referred to as “the world’s largest book” where the pages of Tripitaka (the guiding principles of Theravada Buddhism) are engraved in marble blocks. The blocks are protected by 729 small white altars, organized around the large central golden stupa.
A must-visit.

 

Kuthodaw Pagoda Stupa

Kuthodaw Pagoda white altars

 

Sandamuni Paya

The Sandamuni temple bears a resemblance to Kuthodaw, but it’s known for housing the largest iron Buddha image in Burma. 

 

Golden buddha inside Sandamuni Paya

 

Kyauktawgyi Buddha Temple

At the south entrance to Mandalay Hill is the Kyauktawgyi Buddha Temple. There’s a statue of the seated Buddha carved into a single block of pale green marble, extracted 19 km from Mandalay and brought here by the force of men.

 

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda

Kyauktawgyi Pagoda

 





Must-see temples around town

Maha Myat Muni Paya

One of the most visited temples in the southwest of Mandalay, known for its 4-meter gold-covered Buddha statue, believed to be 2000 years old and covered by a 15 cm layer of gold. The Buddha’s face is polished daily at 4:00 pm.

For about 1600 MMK (€ 0.98) you can add one gold leaf to the statue. But only men are allowed to do it.

 

 

Shwe In Bin Kyaung Temple

In the south of Mandalay, you’ll find the far less popular (but equally beautiful) temple of Shwe In Bin Kyaung. The temple stands out for its beautiful wood carvings and teak structure.

 

Shwe In Bin Kyaung, Mandalay

 

Note:

All temples mentioned above can be visited with the Mandalay Archaeological Zone Combo Ticket.