Planning a trip to step foot to Myanmar for the first time? Charming Mandalay is the perfect starting point – here are the top 5 must-dos to include in your itinerary.
Morning: Take a Walk Along U Bein Bridge
The iconic bridge is one of the world’s oldest and longest and it’s a great place to gaze at the sunrise and sunset. In the morning, you can get a glimpse of the locals going about their daily lives – Buddhist monks and nuns passing through, a street dog trotting by, brisk walkers and the occasional jogger.
Afternoon: Cook Like The Locals
Cooking classes offered by several guesthouses and independently run travel operators makes a fun and delicious way of connecting with the locals. Learn how to prepare the Burmese signature dish, tea leaf salad or laphet thoke – the pickled tea leaf is combined with ingredients such as roasted peanuts, fried ginger and fish sauce, and makes an addictive snack or starter.
Evening: Climb Mandalay Hill
For the thrill seekers, you can opt for the half-hour on foot climb to the top of Mandalay Hill or you can even hire a car to drive you as far up as the foot of the Su Taung Pyai Pagoda. As with any religious site in Myanmar, you’ll need to remove shoes and socks before entering, so you’ll have to climb the rest of the way barefoot. The view at the top makes any small discomfort getting there worth it.
Night: Catch a Puppet Performance
For a dose of the arts, head to the Mandalay Marionettes Theatre, where one of the country’s most experienced puppeteers still performs almost every night! Staying true to the heritage of marionette puppetry, the intimate show weaves traditional music and dance into the puppet show.
Away from Mandalay: Mingun Town
Plan a relaxing half-day trip to Mingun, a small town northwest of Mandalay that is easily accessible by ferry. Take in the sight of Mingun Pahtodawgyi stupa ruins. Finally, no trip is complete until you visit the striking Hsinbyume Pagoda.
Where to Stay?
Hilton Mandalay is centrally located with lovely views of Mandalay Hill and the Royal Palace. Enjoy expertly cooked local dishes at Café Mandalay and lounge by the pool. Guests can even rent bicycles for free for a leisurely cycle along the moat next to the Royal Palace.
Text by Imran Sukri • Photos by Hilton Mandalay