Sightseeing in Amarapura and Mandalay
The last capital of royal Burma, Mandalay is still one of the largest cities in Myanmar, and a cultural and spiritual centre. Neighbouring Sagaing is home to over sixty per cent of the country’s monks, while the artisans of Mandalay continue to turn out the finest crafts in Myanmar. In the morning, head to Amarapura, also a former royal capital, and visit Mahagandayon Monastery; in the morning, monks and novices line up to receive their daily offering of alms and food from faithful Buddhists. Pause to enjoy the atmosphere of U Bein Bridge, a picturesque teak bridge which extends over one kilometre across Taungthaman Lake, and the highlight of any visit to Amarapura.
From Amarapura, turn back to Mandalay itself, stopping first at Mahamuni Paya. The Mahamuni image enshrined here is perhaps the most venerated image in Myanmar, covered in over 15 cm of gold leaf. Worshippers flock daily to the shrine at four in the morning to observe the unique face-washing ceremony. En route to the pagoda, stop to observe the laborious process of gold-leaf beating, where gold is painstakingly hammered out into tissue-thin squares. Continue to Shwenandaw Kyaung, or the Golden Teak Monastery. Built entirely of golden teak, this intricately carved wooden monastery was once part of the Mandalay Palace, used as private apartments by King Mindon and his chief queen. Afterwards visit Kyauktawgyi Paya, famous for its monumental seated Buddha, carved from a single block of marble. Continue to Kuthodaw Paya, known also as “the world’s biggest book”. Around the central stupa are miniature pavilions, each housing a slab of marble numbering altogether 729, these slabs are inscribed with the entire Tripitkata, or Buddhist scriptures. The final stop is at Shwe Kyin Old Monastery, an old monastery at the base of Mandalay Hill, which was built during the period of King Mindon.
Visit Mandalay Hill at sunset
Visit Mandalay Hill and take an easy climb up sheltered steps to experience panoramic views over the palace, Mandalay and the paya-studded countryside. The famous hermit monk, U Khanti, is credited with inspiring the construction of many of the buildings on and around the hill in the years after the founding of the city.
Overnight in Mandalay.