Mandalay was the last royal capital of Burma and the city is
home to Kuthodaw Pagoda, 'the world's biggest book', Mahamuni
Pagoda - home to the famous 9 tonne 'lumpy Buddha' - and Shwenandaw
Monastery, an exquisite teak carved building remaining from the
19th Century Royal Palace. Exploring these with a guide is a great
introduction to the country's culture and deep history.
Famous for its local crafts and artistic scene, explore the
numerous workshops here including wood carving, kalaga tapestries
and gold leaf bashing, and spend an evening enjoying a local
comedy, often conveyed with puppets. A word of warning for the
shopaholic - this is a destination well worth taking a spare bag
From Mandalay, take a boat trip up the Irrawaddy to Mingun,
surrounded by golden stupa- studded hillsides. One of the biggest
draws to this little village is the famous 'unfinished' 18th
century stupa; what would've been the world's biggest stupa was
never completed by order of the king, after an astrologer claimed
that he would die if it was finished.
If time allows, take a cruise from Mandalay down to Bagan,
witnessing daily rural life along the river - remote villages,
bullock carts, pot-making and ancient temples - a great chance to
experience a different side of Burma.