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Mandalay, the second largest city after Yangon, is the last royal capital until British annexation in 1885 – back then it was the cultural and commercial as well as the Buddhist education center of the country . Today Mandalay is home to more than 100 Buddhist monasteries and some 70,000 monks, it retains many cultural heritages of the past and the pagodas and temples are among the most beautiful in the country. Be sure not to miss a trip up Mandalay Hill (Mandalay got its name from here!), the best vantage point in Mandalay, which provides an amazing panoramic view of the city.

The story is told that when Gautama Buddha visited the hill he stretched out his hand to the plain below and prophesied that a great city and religious center would be founded at its base.

When in Mandalay, it is a must to visit Mandalay’s most worshiped site, the Mahamuni Paya which houses a (stolen) Buddha re-covered in gold leaf daily. The Mandalay Palace gives insight into the splendors of king Mindone’s kingdom as a culture center.

Other unmissable sights include the Kuthodaw Paya and Sandamui Paya which are both located at the foot of Manadalay Hill – the Kuthodaw Paya is site of the world’s largest book, the 29 white stupas within the complex contain the complete text of the Tripitaka, and Sandamui Paya houses the largest Buddha image.

While you are in Mandalay, take a stroll along the U Bein’s Bridge – the longest wooden bridge in the world just south of the Patadawgyi Paya at the Taungthaman Lake.

If shopping is on your list, Mandalay’s shopping is the country’s best; the new Mandalay Zaycho market is located at the city center, and options include old and new puppets and finely embroidered kalaga (tapestries).

Do enjoy a bike ride through the leafy, off the beaten track at Monk District which is home to hundreds of robed monks; the jade market and the intricate wooden monastery Shwe Bin Kyaung.

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PkTan is fascinated with this beautiful, complicated country. He love advising travellers to Myanmar and have developed this site to share all his knowledge of Myanmar with everyone.

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