Mandalay is the 2nd largest city and last royal capital of Burma, 445m north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River. Explore the Royal Palace (Mya Nan San Kyaw), the last Palace built by Burmese Royals, completely built from teak wood and in the center of a large citadel/fort. Visit the Kuthodaw Pagoda, a Buddhist stupa containing the world’s largest book; see Shwenandaw Monastery, a traditional 19th century wooden monastery building and historic Buddhist monastic retreat; visit the Mahamuni Buddha Temple/Pagoda, an important Buddhist pilgrimage site, housing the Mahamuni Buddha image, the most highly revered Buddha image in the country. Enjoy scenic views from Mandalay Hill at sunset.
Half Day Excursion to Mingun
Mingun, 11kms up-River from Mandalay on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy, is reachable by ferryboats (1hr up-river, 40mins down-river). It is noted for its Buddhist shrines, monasteries, meditation centers and monuments. Sail up-river in a private boat; observe river life; disembark at Mingun; visit Mingun Pahtodawgyi..the world’s largest unfinished pagoda (begun 1791AD), intentionally left unfinished at 49m Ht (if completed, it would have been the world’s largest at 150m..easily rivaling the Great Pyramid of Giza); Mya Theindan Pagoda a.k.a. Hsinbyume Pagoda, built 1816AD in memory of King Bagyidaw’s favorite wife; Mingun Bell..the world’s largest, uncracked bronze ringing bell cast in 1808AD (Wt-90tons and Ht-13ft). Take a horse-drawn carriage to Nan Myint Watch Tower (90ft/30m high); see Maha Aung Mye Bon Zan Monastery/Brick Monastery..a fine brick building with floral and stucco works; Bagaya Kyaung Monastery..constructed entirely of teakwood with intricate carvings, floral arabesques, curved figurines, animal reliefs..a replica of Wayzayanta Palace; Mingun Home for the Aged..founded by Daw Oo Zun, when she herself reached senior age in 1915..Myanmar’s first of its kind then.
Day Excursion to Monywa
Take a day trip to Monywa. Visit the famous Thanboddhay Paya pagoda with nearly 600,000 Buddha figures and the Hpo Win Daung caves with over 4,00,000 statues of Buddha. Viewing scenic spots from one thousand Bo-trees in one area, is really a memorable experience.
Excursion to Amarapura, Sagaing and Ava from Mandalay
From Mandalay, enjoy day excursions to the surrounding royal cities of Amarapura, Sagaing and Ava. Visit Amarapura, the ‘City of Immortality’ and be engrossed by the daily lives of Buddhist monks in the Mahagandhayon Monastery. In Sagaing, experience Buddhist spiritual life and see numerous Buddhist monasteries. Venture on a horse drawn carriage through the remnants of the former royal city of Ava or Inwa, an ancient imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms between 14th-19th centuries – little remains at the site except for a monastery. Back in Amarapura, enjoy an evening walk across the longest teak wood bridge in the world, the ‘U Bein Bridge’, set amidst the picturesque backdrop of the waning sun’s light.
Included activities at Amara Cruise I (Mandalay-Bagan)
Enjoy a two night/three day relaxing river cruise along the Ayeyarwaddy River on the Amara 1, a beautiful cruise ship. At 0800hrs, sail out on the from Mandalay Jetty onto Inwa (Ava) where you can visit Nan Myint Watchtower, the only remaining palace nicknamed the ‘leaning tower of Ava’; the Maha Aungmye Bonzan Monastery, built of brick and stucco; and the all-teak carved Bagaya Monastery. Sail further downstream and enjoy dinner and overnight on board. Early next morning, cruise to Yandapo for an excursion to this small rural village, renowned for the 1826 treaty signed between the British and Burmese. The village is famous for handmade terracotta pots produced in traditional ways. Sail to Mount Tantgyi and reach the top by car in the afternoon. From the pagoda here you can enjoy evening views over Bagan. After dinner and a good night’s sleep, sail out early the next morning to arrive at Bagan Jetty at 0800hrs.
Marionette Theatre in Mandalay
Looking for something artistically traditional? Then head for Mandalay Marionette Theatre, aka, Mandalay Puppet Theatre. Founded by 2 ladies in 1986, daily performances consist of a traditional worshiping of spirits, Himalaya scene – a storyteller recounts the creation of earth and universe, Alchemist (Zawgyi) and Royal Page Boy’s dance, competitive dance between a puppet and human dancer, comedians, tales of Gautama Buddha’s past life and the Ramayana.
Classical Dance Performance at Mintha Theatre
For those wanting an insight into authentic traditional Burmese culture, enjoy a classical dance performance at the Mintha Theatre, where a troupe of 7 dancers and 8 musicians will perform for you under the direction of U Ohn Maung. Be enthralled by exquisitely choreographed dances illustrating influences from the court to folk dances merged with dances of local tribals. The program changes nightly and spans more than 12 distinct dances, some dating from the days of Bagan.