The 13 best places to visit in Mandalay

Built in 2011, reaching a height of 23 metres (75 ft) tall is a statue that has come to be known as the Skinny Buddha. Representing the point in the Buddhas life when he left the palace to live in the wilderness, refusing food and nearly starving to death, the Skinny Buddha is one of the more unusual representations of Buddha in Myanmar.

13. Skinny Buddha


Built in 1818 AD by Queen Me Nu is the Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery, a fine and well preserved example of Burmese monastery architecture from the Konbaung Dynasty. During that period it was more common for monasteries to be built from wood, all of which have been destroyed or badly weathered over the centuries. Because it was made of stone, Me Nu's Brick Monastery in the style of the wooden monasteries of the time is one of the few examples to have survived to modern day.

12. Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery


Built in 1312 AD, sitting high atop the Nga-pha Hill, one of the many hilltops in Mandalay is the Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda, one of the oldest and most richly decorated pagodas in Myanmar. Climbing the 240 metre (787 ft) staircase, visitors will be met with sprawling patios covered in opulent tiles around the gold covered stupa, offering a magnificent view over the surrounding Mandalay hills. Inside, among the jade covered walls and ceiling is the giant Guatama Buddha, it dominating the main prayer hall.

11. Soon U Ponya Shin Pagoda


Completed in 1878 AD by King Thibaw Min is the Schwenandaw Monastery, meaning Golden Palace Monastery. Originally part of the royal palace in Amarapura, the building was heavily gilded with gold and adorned with glass mosaics, though is today more known for its teak carvings of Buddhist myths which cover the walls and roof. Dismantled and relocated to Mandalay brick by brick, the monastery is the single remaining major original structure of the original royal palace.

10. Shwenandaw Temple


Built in 1847 AD by King Pagan Min is the Eindawya Pagoda, meaning Royal House Pagoda. Entirely covered in gold leaf, this shimmering ancient Burmese pagoda reaches a height of 35 metres (114 ft) making it one of the largest and most opulent in Mandalay.

9. Eindawya Pagoda


Construction began in 1790 AD on what was to be a huge project by the then King Bodawpaya, the temple of Mingun Pahtodawgyi. Intentionally left unfinished due to a prophecy that stated the king would die on the date of completion, it is today a massive incomplete monument that is regarded to be the physical manifestation of King Bodawpaya's well known eccentricities.

8. Mingun Pahtodawgyi


Built in 1857 AD as part of King Mindon's founding of the new royal capital is the Mandalay Palace, the last royal palace of the last Burmese Monarchy. Constructed in a traditional Burmese palace design, the entire complex sits within the walled compound of the citadel. The complex ceased to be a royal residence when troops during the Third Anglo Burmese War raided the citadel and captured the royal family. Though the ruling British turned the compound into a fort, the palace was seen by the Burmese as the primary symbol of sovereignty and national identity. Though much of the compound was destroyed by bombing in World War II, with much of what stands today rebuilt in the 1990's, it remains the primary symbol of Mandalay.

7. Mandalay Palace


Leading southwest from the city centre is the Mahamuni Temple or Pagoda, a complex of structures that include the Mahamuni Buddha Temple, revered for housing one of the finest Buddha statues in the world. Ancient tradition refers to only five likenesses of the Buddha that were made during his lifetime, two were in India, two were in paradise and the fifth is the Mahamuni Buddha image in Myanmar. Originally from Arakan, the image is cast in bronze, weighs 6.5 tons and reaches a height of 3.8 metres (12.5 ft), covered in diamonds, rubies, sapphires and gold. A place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, it is one of the religions most sacred sites.

6. Mahamuni Buddha Temple


Built in 1857 AD by King Mindon Ming as part of the traditional foundations of the new royal city is the Kuthodaw Pagoda, a Buddhist stupa that contains the worlds largest book. Sitting at the foot of Mandalay Hill, it stands 57 metres (188 ft) high and was modelled after the Schwezigon Pagoda near Bagan. In the grounds of the pagoda are 729 stone tablets inscribed with Buddhist texts, containing the Buddhist canon in the Burmese language. Each stone tablet has its own roof and a precious gem atop it, and is in every practical sense the largest book on Earth.

5. Kuthodaw Pagoda


Built in 1849 AD when the capital of the Ava Kingdom moved to Amarapura, spanning the Taung Tha Man Lake with a length of 1,209 metres (3,967 ft) is the U Bein Bridge, the oldest and longest teak wood bridge ever built. Though relatively simple in design, the important passageway for locals has become one of the most iconic sights in Myanmar.

4. U Bein Bridge


Built in 1816 AD to the northwest of the city centre on the west side of the Irrawaddy River is the Mya Thein Tan Pagoda, sometimes known as the Hsinbyume Pagoda. Hugely different from other Burmese Pagodas, it's based on the descriptions of the mythical Salamanu pagoda that is said to sit atop the Buddhist mythological mountain, Mount Meru.

3. Mya Thein Tan Pagoda


Completed in 2015 to the south of the city centre is the Werawsana Pagoda, the only pagoda in the world made entirely from the semi precious gemstone, Jade. Standing at 75 metres (246 ft) high, adorned with over 30,000 jade Buddha statues, over 2,000 tons of quality jade stones were used in the pagodas construction.

2. Werawsana Jade Pagoda


To the north east of the city is the 240 metre (790 ft) Mandalay Hill, the hill from which the city took its name. It has been a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists for nearly two centuries and is well known for its abundance of pagodas and monasteries. The climb to the top can be attempted from any side of the hill using covered walkways, taking visitors to the Sutaungpyei Pagoda, literally meaning Wishful Thinking. From its terrace it offers the finest view over Mandalay Plain and the old city.

Pictured is the Sutaungpyei Pagoda.

1. Mandalay Hill

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