Mandalay, built by King Mindon, still evokes images of a romantic, bygone era with its royal palace and impressive moat sitting at the foot of a high, pagoda-topped hill. It is also a busting, economic center for business. Located on the banks of the Ayerwaddy River, Mandalay lies within easy striking distance of former colonial hill stations, ancient cities and other cultural attractions.
One of the city’s notable attractions include Kuthodaw Pagoda, where Buddhist scriptures are carved on 729 marble tablets, billed as the “biggest book” in the world. One particularly beautiful legacy of King Mindon is the all-teak pavilion he lived in just before his death, The Golden Palace (Shwe Kyaung). The king’s reign is considered by many to be a golden age of Myanmar culture.
South of Mandalay is Amarapura, which was the royal capital in the 18th century. Today, it is home to the beautiful U Bein Bridge, a long picturesque construction that crosses the Taung Thaman Lake and for the site of Maha Gandayon Monastery, where 1000 monks learn scriptures. Amarapura is also famous for quality textiles.
To the West of Mandalay is Sagaing, an important location for Buddhist study. Many meditation retreats are available in this town.
To the East of Mandalay is Pyin Oo Lwin. It was originally a hill station for the British to escape the heat of lower Burma. The colonial influence is still visible today, in the buildings and wide avenues. The Botanical Gardens are the main attraction of this town.