Thanks to Rudyard Kipling's famous poem of the same name, Mandalay is Burma's most famous and evocative location – its name conjuring crumbling colonial buildings and eastern exoticism in the mind of the prospective traveller.
“As well as exploring the city itself, I recommend slowing down and taking the time to visit the surrounding old capitals, to take a bumpy horse cart sides to remote temples, or to take a day cruise up the Irrawaddy River to less visited areas.”
Enfys Maloney, Sales Team Leader
Thanks to Rudyard Kipling's famous poem of the same name, Mandalay is Burma's most famous and evocative location - its name conjuring crumbling colonial buildings and eastern exoticism in the mind of the prospective traveller. Whilst modern Mandalay may not be as romantic as its name suggests (largely due to extensive WWII bombing and recurrent fires), there are still pockets of the city where visitors can rediscover the atmosphere of old Burma today.
Mandalay was once the capital of the Konboung Dynasty, rulers of the second-largest Burmese Empire in history and the last dynasty to rule Burma. When the Burmese royal family eventually fell to the British in 1885, it signaled the end of a monarchy that had lasted for over a thousand years.
The capital city of Burma was moved six times during the Konbaung Dynasty, finally ending with Mandalay, which served from 1859 until 1885. The conquering British moved the capital of Burma to Yangon, but Mandalay continued to be Upper Burma's most important city throughout colonial rule. Today, Mandalay is Burma's second-largest city, and is considered by many to be the principal repository of Burmese culture and history.
The ancient Royal Palace forms the centrepiece of the town, with beautiful moats surrounding the fortress-like structure. The Royal Palace was one of many casualties when Mandalay was bombed during WWII, having been used as the Japanese as a supply depot before being burnt to the ground by Allied bombing. The only buildings to have survived were the royal mint and the watch tower; the rest of the palace you see today is a faithful reconstruction built in the 1990s.
Besides its impressive palace, Mandalay is also famous for its gold embroidery, silk and cotton hand weaving, stone carving, wood carving, tapestries, silverware, bronze casting and other traditional arts and crafts.
Nearby are several ancient cities: Amarapura, Sagaing, Ava and Mingun, each of which served as capital at one point or another under the kings of the Kongboung Dynasty. These former capitals make a great day trip from Mandalay - offering visitors the chance to glimpse the remnants of a forgotten Burma. Amarapura is an especially popular destination, home as it is to the famous and photogenic U Bein Bridge, the longest and oldest teakwood bridge in the world.
Recommended Accommodation in Mandalay
The following are our favourites from among the western-style hotels and Burmese-style inns of Mandalay.
Experiences in Mandalay
Mandalay offers a wealth of exciting experiences that will help you get beneath the surface of Burma's fascinating culture. See below for a few of our favourites
Weather in Mandalay
The Climate Guide for Mandalay is perfect for planning your holiday. Monthly weather averages give the best indication of what the weather is usually like for every month of the year including figures for temperature, rainfall and sunshine.
|Max Daytime Temperature (°C)||29||32||36||38||37||34||34||33||33||32||30||28|
|Min Night-time Temperature (°C)||13||15||20||24||26||26||26||25||25||24||20||15|
|Hours of Sunshine (Daily)||9||9||9||8||6||4||3||4||5||6||8||8|
|Hours of Daylight (Daily)||11||11||12||13||13||13||13||13||12||12||11||11|
|Heat and Humidity Discomfort||Moderate||High||Very High||Extreme||Extreme||Very High||Very High||Very High||Very High||Very High||High||Moderate|
|Days with some Rainfall||1||1||1||3||10||9||9||11||12||9||4||1|
|Monthly Rainfall (mm)||4||2||1||37||140||123||74||130||155||177||39||7|
|UV Index (Maximum)||7||9||11||11+||11+||11+||11+||11+||11+||10||8||7|
Featured trips including Mandalay
- Chiang Rai
- Pyin Oo Lwin
- Macleod Island
If you are keen to explore the remoter corners of the world, our Untouched Burma trip is for you.
19 nights: from US$4785 pp (twin share) Read more >
- Inle Lake
From pottery to temple vistas, cooking classes to bathing elephants, this is a culturally immersive hands on tour that will show you the true heart of Burma and its people.
14 nights: US$4777 Read more >