Mandalay Holidays: an Overview

It is hard to believe that bustling Mandalay was known as 'the bicycle city' just 25 years ago. Having said that, this fast-developing city is thankfully still relatively void of towering skyscrapers and American chains - for now at least - and is certainly still worth a visit.

Image of Carrie Ashton
Image of Miranda Boord

Miranda and Carrie are here to help give you the inside track.

Why we think you’ll love it

  • With its tree-shaded pagodas, variety of local workshops and proximity to the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay is a brilliant introduction to this fascinating country
  • Spend an evening here atop Mandalay Hill, looking over this pancake-flat landscape at sunset
  • Mandalay is within easy reach of Amarapura, home to the famous U-Bein Bridge - the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world - a must do at sunrise

Travelling to Mandalay: the Detail

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 for.

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.


Top picks for Mandalay

Paukan 1947 boat exterior and reflection

Paukan Cruise

Bagan

A leisurely cruise along the waterways of Myanmar (Burma) is a wonderful way to explore, and the Paukan fleet are among the best cruise operators. There are four Paukan river vessels, with between 16 and 29 cabins.

Where to stay

Hotel by the Red Canal

Hotel by the Red Canal

Mandalay

The Hotel by the Red Canal is – in our humble opinion - the best boutique hotel in Mandalay.

Where to stay

The Strand Cruise

The Strand Cruise

Mandalay

The sister to The Strand Hotel Yangon, a refurbished colonial landmark in Myanmar’s capital, The Strand Cruise adds some healthy competition to the handful of luxury vessels plying the waters of the Irrawaddy River.

Where to stay

ananda_suite_view

Sanctuary Ananda Cruise

Mandalay

Cruising down the winding rivers of Mayanmar Sanctuary Ananda is a beautiful Burmese cruise boat which takes guests on a tranquil journey, visiting some of Myanmar’s best hidden gems.

Where to stay

Belmond Orcaella

Belmond Orcaella

Bagan

Road to Mandalay may be better known, but Belmond Orcaella is the luxury hotel group’s other ship plying the waters of the Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers, and every bit as comfortable.

Where to stay

Belmond Road to Mandalay

Belmond Road to Mandalay

Bagan

Despite the factually incorrect name, this river cruiser operated by Belmond is arguably the best boat plying the waters of the Irrawaddy River.

Where to stay

Start creating your tailored trip today

Our enthusiastic experts are seasoned travellers with the inside track on the most memorable adventures.

Call us on +44 (0) 20 7978 7333

Or enquire online

Close