Cheap Flights to Mandalay
As Burma's second largest city, Mandalay is the religious and economic heart of upper Myanmar. Interestingly, a large proportion of Burma's monks live here. Two kinds of wheels prevail in this culturally diverse place, with bicycles and motorcycles filling the streets. While many might think the city is ancient, it's actually relatively new and was created by Burma's King Mingdon Min in 1857. Sadly, the original city was largely destroyed by a fire during the Second World War and the new city was created by the British. Today, it features a functional grid layout with neatly planned streets. The Royal Palace and the Kuthodaw Pagoda are among the most successful modern reconstructions.
Those who look deeper than the superficial level will find many examples of Bamar culture in the city, with monasteries, pagodas, temples and religious sites. Mandalayans are delighted with their new-found freedom since military rule ended in 2011 and the city has a happy vibe, welcoming visitors and tourists. Perhaps some of the best sights can be seen from Mandalay Hill, which offers incredible panoramic views. When it comes to celebrating, Taungbyone Nat Pwe runs from the end of July to the beginning of August and honours two famous spirits. The Mingun Nat Festival at the end of July is based on an old legend and anticipates a good harvest. Thadingyut at the beginning of October celebrates the return of Buddha from the celestial realm.
Things to do
Take time to explore Mandalay, where there is much to be enjoyed, including monasteries, temples, markets and wonderful views.
A palatial experience
In the middle of the city, Mandalay Palace is a testimony of the sheer power of King Mindon who originally built it. Featuring an enclosed citadel surrounded by a large moat, the palace is an imposing sight. It was bombed during the Second World War but has been lovingly recreated
A perfectly preserved monastery
Shwenandaw Kyaung is one of the few structures that survived within the palace walls. It's made from teak and decorated with beautifully ornate and detailed carvings, which visitors flock to admire.
Mandalay Hill provides a welcome break from the city's heat and dust and boasts superb 360-degree views of the city, the Irrawaddy River and the hills in the distance. It's particularly lovely as the sun sets.
Calendar of Events
Mandalay is rich in annual festivals, many of which have a religious or spiritual story, bringing the city to life as locals and visitors celebrate.
Taungbyone Nat Pwe. This enormous, vibrant July/August festival takes place just north of the city in honour of two spirits. There's music, food and drink leading up to the full moon of Wagaung.
Mingun Nat Festival. Paying homage to a brother and sister who drowned in a river while climbing a Teak tree, this festival takes place at the end of July.
Thadingyut. Celebrating Buddha returning from the celestial sphere, this fabulous festival takes place in October at the foot of Mandalay Hill.