Mandalay was old Burma’s last royal capital, with King Mindon founding the city around the vast grounds of the Royal Palace. The King also commissioned many outstanding monuments around the Palace. Pick up a Mandalay Archaeological Zone combo ticket for 10,000 kyats ($8) to get you access to the 7 Wonders of Mandalay. All sites are in the city centre of Mandalay – some are in walking distance of each other, others you can just hail down a cheap motorbike taxi.
#1 Mandalay Palace & Fort
Like Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Mandalay Palace & Fort complex was more than just royal living quarters – it was a walled city within Mandalay. Little of the original palace survives today but a faithful reconstruction process began in 1989. On the grounds are royal mausoleums, a royal mint, clock tower and watchtower from which there are wonderful views.
#2 Mandalay Hill
The best views of Mandalay are from the top of Mandalay Hill. From here you can see the old city walls and moat, stupas, temples and pagodas, the commercial centre, the Irrawaddy River and mountains on the horizon. Mandalay Hill stands at 240m high so it’s a long stair climb or you can take a taxi & escalator.
#3 Mahamuni Paya
According to ancient history, only five likenesses of the Buddha were created in his lifetime – 1 of them is here in Myanmar at Mahamuni Paya. This statue of the Buddha is cast in bronze & weighs 6.5 tons. It is seated on a throne upon a 6-ft high pedestal & measures 3.8m in height. Mahamuni Paya is a major pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists.
#4 Kuthodaw Paya
Roam around lost in the pages of Kuthodaw Paya, the World’s Largest Book. Each of the 729 marble slabs at Kuthodaw Paya is inscribed with a page of the Buddhist canon “Tipitala”. They are housed in an individual stupa, surrounding a central 57m high golden stupa. It is said that, reading for 8hrs a day, it would take 450 days to complete reading of the entire “book”.
#5 Sandamuni Paya
Sandamuni Paya is a similar site to Kuthodaw Paya. It is comprised of 1773 marble slabs of Buddhist script – more than Kuthodaw but its inscriptions are commentaries on the “Tripitaka”, not the official text itself, so it doesn’t hold the title of World’s Largest Book. Still, set amongst palm trees, Sandamuni Paya is an outstanding place to visit.
#6 Shwenandaw Kyaung
Shwenandaw Kyaung was originally part of the royal palace where King Mindon lived, and is the only major original building that remains. The elaborate details of the woodcarvings, symbolising Buddhist myths, possess incredible depth and character. It’s a true masterpiece in Burmese teak wood architecture.
#7 Atumashi Kyaung
Atumashi Kyaung is known for its yellow, ochre and white five-tiered wedding cake structure. Inside there is a large hall with a Buddha statue. The monastery was originally built from teak wood, before being heavily damaged in an 1890 fire.
Sheena and Erik, the brain behind DIY Travel HQ, have been on the road for 10 years, visiting over 70 countries in Oceania, Asia, Europe, Africa, North America & South America. The focus on Helping you Travel Longer for Less. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook
Have you visited Mandalay? What are the places that you have visited in Mandalay that you feel should make into the list of 7 wonders?