A couple of days ago, I promised you a post about how wonderful Mandalay is. And no matter how sick I got in that city, I absolutely loved it. There are many highlights to see in the city itself but what I enjoyed most was seeing its surroundings.
You can find tour agencies in Mandalay offering day tours but don’t worry, you don’t have to arrange anything in advance. The easiest way to do it is to find a taxi, tell the driver what you want to see and haggle. For our trip, we paid 25.000 kyats (around 20$) and I think prices are anywhere from 20.000 kyats to 30.000 kyats. Make sure you have the whole day available. We started at 1pm, which meant that we had to rush through all the attractions.
Our first stop was Sagaing.
The city is spread out over several hills with many monasteries and temples to see. As we only had half a day, our taxi driver dropped us off at one of the highest points and left us to take a look. The temple was interesting but what made the place amazing was the view. There were so many golden pagodas around, I wish we’d had the time to see them all.
A ton of people asked to take pictures with us. My friend has blonde hair and mine isn’t that dark either, plus we were at least a head or two taller than most locals. I guess that qualified us as suitable subjects for photographs. We spent at least ten minutes outside, taking pictures with everyone before we went on.
Our next stop was Inwa. To get there, we had to take a ferry across a river. Inwa is as spread out as Sagaing and I recommend taking a horse cart.
By horse cart, we went from one temple to another. Inwa isn’t far away from Mandalay but it feels like a completely different world. Plus, the temples and pagodas are stunning. And riding the horse cart through banana tree plantations creates an atmosphere you should definitely experience!
The Jade Pagoda
Our next stop was Amarapura but if you still have time until sunset, I recommend going to the Jade Pagoda first. It is the highest pagoda made completely out of jade in the world. Some taxi drivers don’t know about it yet, since it was only finished recently, so make sure you ask your driver about it if you want to go there.
We didn’t have the time to go there on our first trip so we had to pay a taxi driver another 20.000 kyats to take us on another day. Don’t make that mistake and plan for a quick stop at the jade pagoda. It is quite interesting. I had no idea that jade came in so many different colours and it was interesting to watch the locals come here to pray and have their pictures taken.
For us, that day, our last stop was Amarapura. The main attraction is the U Bein bridge, which is one of the most beautiful places to watch a sunset.
I know the bridge is scary and there are no railings but don’t stay with all the tourists. Walk to the very end to escape the crowds and enhance your experience. We stopped for a while and talked to a monk who lives in a monastery nearby, which was very interesting. He told us that once, a tourist pushed him off the bridge and he spent months in a hospital.Poor guy!
So please, whatever you do, do not push any monks off U Bein bridge.
As you can see on the last picture, once the sun had set, darkness came quickly and we had to return to our hotel in Mandalay. I loved the day trip and I think it’s one of the best things you can do. Almost every tourists gets to Mandalay sooner or later so don’t miss it’s surroundings.
Oh, and did I mention that we didn’t ride in an ordinary taxi? We sat in the back of a pickup truck. That made it so much more fun than a normal trip by taxi.