The popularity of Asian river cruises continues to rise and one of the major waterways to explore in this part of the world is the Irrawaddy. Weaving its way through Myanmar (Burma), this beautiful river allows travellers to discover remote villages, vibrant cities and immerse themselves in the fantastic culture that exists all around.
One of the main stops on our Irrawaddy river cruises is the city of Mandalay. Once the capital of Burma, it is still an important economic and cultural centre in the country. So, if you find yourself with some spare time on your hands during your trip, here are some great things to do with it.
Admire The Gold Buddha At MahaMuni Pagoda
The Mahamuni Pagoda is one of the holiest sites in the whole of Burma, second only to the impressive Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. It is a place of pilgrimage and so people come from far and wide to pay their respects. The main feature is a striking Buddha statue which stands at four feet high, is thought to weigh more than 18 tons and is growing all the time.
As you admire and contemplate the importance of this statue, you will see where worshippers have added gold leaf to the bottom, increasing the size of the legs. It is one of only three statues on earth (the other two are in India) that is said to show Buddha’s true likeness and, at the time of writing, women are not allowed to enter the room where it sits.
Hike To The Top Of Mandalay Hill
If you are looking for great views over the city or you want to keep yourself active, a climb to the top of Mandalay Hill is well worth it. There is plenty to see on the way up too, as you will pass statues, carved images of Buddha and other interesting sights. A roofed walkway will keep you shaded for most of your hike and when you get to the top you can look out at the buildings below and the river which brought you to Mandalay.
Take In A Marionette Show
Marionette shows have long been part of Burmese culture, as they were used to tell stories and to educate people in the past. Even the royals would indulge in a show or two and it was customary to forget these little figures were being controlled by strings and just imagine them as real human characters. Today, the puppet shows are mainly for entertainment purposes but they still represent an interesting part of the local culture. Traditional music and dancing often feature heavily and the intricacy of the marionettes is an art form to be truly admired.
The Mandalay Marionette Theater is situated in the city centre, close to the walled city of Nann Twin. There are shows on every night and they are still enjoyable without being about to understand what is being said.
This is just the start of what Mandalay has to offer (we haven’t even mentioned the teak temple of Shwenandaw Kyaung). If you would like to see the city for yourself on one of our Myanmar river cruises, give us a call today.