Touring Around Mandalay

by - February 14, 2020

Prior to this trip, I didn’t really know anything about Mandalay as well as Inle Lake. I just know that I need to visit this country just to see the Bagan hot air balloons. And when I booked our tickets via Air Asia, this is when I only knew there is really a lot of good stuff Myanmar has to offer too. I mean why is this country not as popular as Thailand and Vietnam when there are also a lot of temples, palace, and an amazing view?

Just like any other Indochina counties, Myanmar also has its own palace that was once the place where kings and queens stayed. In this case, Mandalay has its own too. Bangkok has its Grand Palace, Mandalay has its Mandalay Royal Palace. Even though it is as not grand as the grand palace, it sure is somehow at par at how big it is. 

So to start the morning, after having our breakfast, I remember walking and looking for a money changer around the vicinity because we are already running out of Burmese kyat (read as chat) Money changers are somewhat very picky in the money they accept. Any small stamp would lessen its value and we don’t want that. Also, if I haven’t said this before, they don’t change Philippine peso so it is best to bring US dollars. For this whole trip, I think my maximum budget would be 300 dollars but I have an excess of 100 US dollars just in case of an emergency. 300 USD is already too much given that some of my expenses were also shouldered by my father. hehe. Perks of traveling with your parents. We have a hard time looking for the money changer place because Waze/google maps are not cooperating very well.

So, when we had our money changed, we agreed to walk our way to Mandalay Palace. The hotel I booked was near the palace and therefore we can just walk our way there. By the way, Mandalay is kind of more modern than Bagan but if I’ll compare it here in PH, it’s modernity is like the ones we still have in our provinces/rural areas. 

While walking to Mandalay Hill, we passed by motorcycle drivers where they offered a whole day trip for I forgot how much. Long story short, we availed their services because we think it would be easier for us to roam around the area and this is also one of their primary transportation so a tourist gotta experience being a local like that. But we didn’t hire them for the whole day, just half-day. They're just gonna bring us to the palace itself and will bring us back to the hotel before lunchtime because we have to check out at the hotel first before we continue our trip. hehe. 

By the way, they are like the habal habal we have here in Manila. They do also have different kinds of grab there. They have grab car where the cars are really old and dirty. The drivers are not required to open the AC. They also have Grab Thone-Bane which is the one that stuck with me the most because it’s the tricycle we have in Marikina. haha! 

Anyway, after renting the services of the 2 locals, we wore our helmets and off we go to Mandalay Palace. 

Mandalay Palace

Just like many palaces and old cities I went to, if it’s not enclosed in a wall, it is surrounded by a body of water and there’s a bridge connecting it to the main road. Some of the walls are in need of major renovation and there are no more furniture inside. Just plain buildings. There’s an area which is like a mini-museum where you could read the history of the palace. This is also the last royal palace in the Burmese Monarchy. It’s really nice to see centuries-old buildings and wonder how people were able to maintain and restore it for people to see. Before entering, we were asked for our IDs, in our case our passport. The entrance costs 10000 kyats which can also be used to visit other pagodas.

After seeing every corner of the palace, we went back to the hotel, packed our bags, and checked out. We are headed to Inle Lake that night so we already packed our bags. Girl, just by writing this down, I can't imagine how tired I must be at the time. I cannot imagine having a trip like that! haha. 

After checking out, we first left our bags at the hotel first so we can still roam Mandalay without having big bags. We first ate our lunch at Presidential Cafe which by the way is one of the best meals I had in Myanmar. Thumbs up for the soup, I was filled. haha!

Our next stop was Kuthodaw Pagoda. We booked a grab thone-bane. Very helpful!

Kuthodaw Pagoda

Kuthodaw Pagoda probably is one of the most visited and famous pagodas in Mandalay because of its color. Plain white. Every Instagrammer's spot. LOL. Kuthodaw Pagoda is known to have the biggest book where each page are scripted in a big stupa. I remember having to always have to take off my footwear. In this case, the vicinity is somehow tiled but there are marks of betel nuts in the tiles. 

Shwenandaw Monastery

Due to Buddhist beliefs, girls are not allowed to enter the monastery but we can take a peek inside. What struck me the most in this monastery is that aside from it is made of wood, the intricate wood carvings of the walls are superb! Atumashi Temple can be seen from Shwenandaw Monastery.

Atumashi Kyaung

We were really intrigued by this monastery so after seeing it from afar from Kuthodaw Pagoda, we went straight and walk our way to this Monastery. The external design is unique but upon going inside, it is just one big room with gold pillars. Nothing much more to see inside. 

Andddd.. that’s it. If you will search google “Must see places in Mandalay”, you will certainly see many more but unfortunately, time cannot permit it for us. I, for one, wanted to see U Bein bridge but it seems like it is far from where we were. So after Atumashi, we decided to call it a day and ate our dinner. We liked our lunch so much at president cafe that we decided to eat there again for dinner before heading to the bus terminal going to Inle Lake. 

Masayang Paglalakbay!

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