Mandalay will never win any beauty contests. Myanmar's second city is a relatively new creation, founded at the foot of Mandalay Hill in 1857 by King Mindon as his royal capital. The hill, its slopes studded with pagodas, still looms over the city. But Mandalay was bombed flat in WWII and the palace disappeared, along with much else. The palace was rebuilt in the 1990s, and since then Mandalay has undergone a haphazard construction boom that was never about aesthetics. An ever-growing number of motorbikes and cars clog the roads, too, making for a sometimes smoggy city.
But if you can shut out all the honking, Mandalay has its own charm. There are splendid markets, many monasteries, Indian temples, mosques, gold workshops and a bustling, working riverside to explore, as well as a thriving teahouse culture that offers visitors the chance to mingle with the exceptionally friendly locals.
- Experience an Almsgiving Ceremony: In Mandalay, you can see a unique picture in the morning: people will queue on the pavements, waiting for the group of monks and nuns to walk past to accept their offerings.
- If you are obsessed with the history of Mandalay, visiting ancient towns is your best option. Inwa, Sagaing, and Mingun had a splendid history in ancient times, and deserve a full exploration.
- The dry season is from November to February. It enjoys pleasant weather with little rainfall and cool temperatures.
- The hot season is usually from March to April when the weather is dominated by searing heat and there is less rainfall.
- The rainy season is from May to October. The southwest monsoon erupts in May, bringing rain showers to the area. Heavy rainfall may have an impact on tourism, such as delaying flights, making roads difficult to travel on, and spoiling some views.
star_border Best time to visit:
The best time to go to Mandalay tends to be from November to February, when temperatures hover at a comfortable 30 C (86 F) and there’s little rain. April and May are typically the hottest months, and in late May the monsoon season brings rain. If you don’t mind a few showers, September and October can be quieter, as the monsoon rains subside.