Mandalay Region

Here you’ll find travel reports about Mandalay Region. Discover travel destinations in Myanmar of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

119 travelers at this place:

  • Day3

    They do say that travel is as much about the journey as the destination, well today was. We got picked up by the bus at just after 10.00am, the bus was bigger that a minibus but smaller than a coach, one of those ones that has about 20 seats with a row of double seats one side and a row of single seats the other. We had booked in advance and had seats allocated so even though we were one of the last pick ups we still had seats together. On the way out of Mandalay and amidst much tooting of the horn we picked up another couple of local passengers and then, about 45 minutes after we were picked up set out on the main road. Despite a couple of stops to see if we could squeeze more passengers in we were making good progress until after about 40 minutes we pulled off the main road and started down what I would call a minor road, that was only just two lanes wide in places, and we stayed on this kind of road for the rest of the journey, picking up and dropping off people as we went, until we arrived in Bagan about 3.00pm.
    It did mean though that we got to go through lots of small villages and settlements, seeing more of rural Myanmar than we otherwise might have. One of the really interesting things is that there are still a lot of buildings I would describe as traditional in use and being built. Of course there are quite a few buildings using modern materials as well but they are not as prevalent as you might expect.
    I also found out that drivers over here love using their horns: as a warning - a general warning, a warning that they are behind you, a warning to get out of the way, a warning that they are coming through any way, a warning at a blind bend or hill especially when they are overtaking; to see if anyone wants picking up, to say hello to someone they recognise, to say goodbye, to say thank you or *****, sometimes even just for the hell of it.
    Anyway I didn’t think the bus journey was too bad, especially for about £5 or 220Baht each, I’m not sure Tanya agrees with me though and I’m not sure at this time how we will be returning to Mandalay.
    As for Bagan, we haven’t really seen enough to form an opinion yet but the hotel is lovely, we have a rather splendid room, there is a pool, a gym and a spa. We have already been for a swim and have sorted out an electric bike for exploring on tomorrow and a couple of trips for the day after and the hotel are trying to find us a boat trip to go back to Mandalay. The food looks good here so we might eat at the restaurant tonight and get an early night as we have an early start tomorrow to try and beat the worst of the forecast 40 degree heat.
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  • Day1


    May 21 in Myanmar

    We arrived this afternoon at a nice new airport, where we were met by a driver and after Tanya had sorted out a SIM card for her phone and we had exchanged a $100 note for a stack of local notes about an inch thick we set off for the ride to town.
    The new airport is some way out of town (about 30km according to the guide books) but the drive gave us a chance to have a look at the countryside. Truth be told there wasn’t all that much to notice but it did give me some time to notice a few other odd things, like the fact that all the vehicles are right hand drive, same as the UK and Thailand but they drive on the right, which makes no sense at all from a road safety perspective. Could it have been changed very recently, possibly but unlikely however you could always look it up if you’re that interested (and then let me know😎) Also I saw a number of speed limit signs with a 48kph limit on them - a very literal change from 30mph considering that most people and places just go for 50. And Myanmar has an odd time zone which is half an hour behind Thailand. I have the feeling there may be more odd things before this trip is over.
    Anyway, in due course we arrived at the hotel, which is very nice and had a special sign out for Tanya, welcoming her as a VIP - there really will be no living with her now - and checked in. Lovely large room, the only downside is it is a low floor and fronts on to a main road but we’ll see how we get on tonight. Before we say anything. On the plus side there are free cocktails between 1930 & 2030 at the roof top bar - they may live to regret this once Tanya gets there! Once we’d sorted ourselves out we went for a little wander to have a look round the local area. Hardly anyone walks here and we soon found out why, the pavements are in a pretty dreadful state and serve mainly as parking areas and covers for what looks and smells a bit like an open drainage system, although it may be different in other parts of the city as we didn’t go too far. We did find a couple of modern looking malls but it was clear that mall shopping has not caught on here yet and they were pretty empty affairs.
    So first impressions are that are that there is investment and modernisation on the way but hasn’t fully arrived yet, which for us is great as so often now one place can start to look very much like another and it’s nice to visit somewhere that hasn’t gone too far down that road yet. In any case we have only explored a tiny part of the city and things might look very different a couple of blocks away, I’ll let you know.
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  • Day2

    The Royal Palace

    May 22 in Myanmar

    Last night we stayed in and had some food at the hotel, we had only planned to have some cocktails during their free cocktail hour but you know how things are, you’re sipping on a cocktail, see some food come out and think mmm I might have to have something after all. Well with the free cocktails there was no choice just a Whisky Sour or nothing, it was ok but not what we would have chosen and the food was just ok as well although Tanya’s local Myanmar beer was very nice. But the most bizarre thing during the evening was that as we were sat there they started setting up for and then putting on a traditional puppet show, no one had told us about this, it just happened, all a bit strange really.
    This morning we woke up to the sound of rain outside and the traffic splashing it’s way through it, so we didn’t race to get up and had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. The hotel restaurant has no windows so it wasn’t until we were going back to our room that we noticed the rain had stopped, yay time to make plans.
    Top of our list of places to visit in Mandalay was The Royal Palace so we quickly checked it out then hailed (via Tanya’s phone) a Grab Tuktuk. The Palace sits in the middle of a square plot that is approximately 2km along each side with a rather wide moat running all the way around it, the rest of site is taken up with military buildings / areas and is off limits. Foreigners / tourists are only allowed to enter via the East Gate and having paid the entrance fee one of the group (me) has to surrender their passport or ID and be given a yellow foreign visitor card on a lanyard. Once you get through the gate there is a straight road to the palace, probably about 600 - 700m long with a gaggle of ladies trying to convince yo that you need to hire a cycle or get a motorbike taxi to take you there. Much to Tanya’s disgust I declined and we walked, passing loads of check points and entry forbidden signs on the side roads as we went. I think you have to remember that Myanmar had been under military control for a long time until quite recently but a smile and a nod worked well and everyone seemed friendly.
    The original palace was constructed between 1857 and 1859 but after periods of occupation by the British and then the Japanese was destroyed by allied bombing during World War 2 with only the Royal Mint and the watchtower surviving. What’s there now is a replica that was built in the 1990’s and if you look closely there are clues to this like the corrugated roofs and concrete pillars instead of wood. The good news is that despite all of this its still very impressive and well worth a visit, you can even climb to the top of the watchtower if you want and you get a fantastic view, it’s 121 steps should you fancy it. It was really hot today (about 37 in the shade) and was really humid as well with all of the earlier rain so Tanya opted out and sending me to the top to get the photos and even though I was sweating like I’d just been for a run by the time I got back down it was worth the effort.
    I reckon we must have spent a couple of hours looking round the palace and grounds before heading back to the hotel to cool down. Then a bit later on and with the help of Mr Google Tanya found a really nice coffee shop for a little bit of lunch and liquid refreshment of the non alcoholic type.
    I’ve booked the 10.00 bus to take us to Bagan tomorrow - no boats available unfortunately as it’s the rainy season, not because of water levels or anything just that the rainy season is low season out here and there aren’t enough tourists to make it worth while. There is a government run public ferry that is still running but everything I’ve seen so far says to avoid this option if you can,so we’re taking the advice. The one benefit of this is that we get picked up and dropped of at our hotels and will have time for breakfast rather than the 0630 start with the boat, swings and roundabouts I guess, although even with the early start the boat trip would have been nice.
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  • Day4


    May 24 in Myanmar

    We were up bright and early again this morning to make sure that we had a chance to grab some breakfast before jumping on our electric bikes and setting out to explore. The bikes were very similar to our scooters at home but with no engine noise and a slightly different way of accelerating.
    Well what can I say, Bagan the town is nothing to write home about but the pagodas and temples, wow! One of the locals told us there were about 3,000 of them in total and looking at the photos I can well believe it (although there’s nowhere near 3,000😎), everything from quite small ones to grand majestic ones almost everywhere you looked all with really easy access. We literally rode right up to and around most of the ones we visited, although you’re not allowed to climb them any more, all except one and you have to take shoes and socks off to go inside some and even in the grounds of others.
    We started out trying to keep a track of the names of those we visited but not all had name boards and some weren’t named on the map so we gave up on that after a while and just tried to make sure we visited the main sites along with some of the others that are everywhere. I think we did quite well considering it was about 40 degrees in the shade and so hot that by about 1030 most of the temple grounds were too hot to walk around barefoot without burning the soles of your feet. We even had a few ouchey moments walking between where we had to leave our flip flops and the entrance to some of the temples and we could have definitely done with an icy foot bath by the end of the day.
    We had some adventures as we went round as well what with having a few tank slappers (or wobbly moments to you non bikers) as we rode through the sand, having to walk barefoot through bat poo in some of the larger temples and disturbing the odd snake as we rode past. But I have to say that all the locals we have met have been really friendly, there was a chap who took us to a temple and took me, via a very narrow, steep set of steps and a couple of narrow passageways to the top so I could see across the plains a bit better. I’m not sure that we were supposed to be up there but he said it was okay and this was the one last Temple you could climb. All he asked in return was the opportunity to show us his sand paintings and he wasn’t even put out when we didn’t buy any as we had already bought some earlier. There was also a very nice chatty lady who was okay with not being able to sell us anything but still wanted a chat and helped Tanya sort a problem with her hat, which kept blowing off.
    But there was so much to see it feels like we’ve barely scratched the surface of what Bagan has to offer and could have definitely done with a few days more here, but most of the guides advised that you could squeeze a visit in in one day but two was better so we went with that, huh, what do they know! For me this place is up there with Angkor Wat and in some ways better because it hasn’t been fully discovered by the tourist mass market yet. Although I don’t think it’ll be too long before it is so I’d advise anyone thinking about visiting to get a move on before the hordes descend, it’s not the easiest place to get to but we will certainly be visiting again before too long.
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  • Day5


    Yesterday in Myanmar

    We managed a bit more of a leisurely start this morning, only 0730, and had time for a bit of breakfast before we were collected by our car to take us on the roughly 50km drive to Popa.
    For those who have never heard of Popa, and I hadn’t before we started looking at coming here, it is a monastery in the mountains that sits at the top of a volcanic plug, it has pretty much vertical sides all the way round and there is a staircase that winds round the outside to get to the top. A small village has grown up around the base of it, no doubt initially to look after the needs of the monks but now probably as much for the tourists as the monks. Visually it is quite spectacular. It’s also a welcome few degrees cooler than Bagan.
    There are a couple of different entrances you can use to start your ascent, our driver directed us towards one that was flanked by a couple of painted stone elephants but was still less obvious than the main one, which most people use and where the majority of the lower down monkeys hang out. There are quite a lot of monkeys and they are quite bold, running up to people and grabbing stuff, one tried to grab my bottle of water but soon realised that was a mistake. Now with there being quite a lot of monkeys there is quite a lot of monkey poo, much of which seemed to be on the steps and the flat bits between the steps. But there are guys whose job it is to clean up so apart from the smell it wasn’t too bad. That is until after just a short way when it was time for the socks and shoes to come off and go in a locker (to prevent the monkeys stealing them) and for us to continue in bare feet. If I were to say that Tanya was not happy at having to walk in / around the monkey poo that would be an understatement, but we pushed on.
    Now about those steps, I was sure that I’d read one of the quotes that there were about 260, give or take a few, depending on which route you took and I had told Tanya as much. Well it was quickly apparent to me that there were quite a few more than that, 812 to be precise - I counted them on the way down. I don’t think Tanya would have made the ascent if she’d known that, I think I would have been dispatched to take photos and she would have retired to the nearest coffee shop or bar. But I didn’t tell her and she made it, I think she was quite glad she did.
    Needless to say we didn’t race to the top and every time we stopped we seemed to get approached by local people asking us to have a photo taken with them. It’s happened at other locations while we’ve been in Myanmar, we don’t mind but it does seem a bit strange that you might end up posing for someone else’s holiday photos. It’s mainly ladies that have asked us so I did suggest to Tanya that perhaps it was my photo they really wanted but they asked her as well because they didn’t want her to feel left out, I can’t put what she said in reply as persons under the age of 18 might be reading but I could perhaps summarise it as, “don’t be silly!!!”.
    The view from the top was well worth the climb and the descent was a whole lot easier than the ascent, then it was back in the car for the journey back to the hotel. We got back around 1230 giving Tanya plenty of time to scrub the monkey poo off of her feet and have a couple of beers before we went for a bit of late lunch.
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  • Day246

    Mensch ärgere dich nicht

    March 22 in Myanmar

    Mt Popa, ein Tempel auf der Spitze eines Vulkans. Das wäre mein heutiges Tagesprogramm gewesen. Wäre. Hätte das Sammeltaxi nicht vergessen mich abzuholen. Ärgerlich! Und darüber geärgert habe ich mich tatsächlich, da ich heute mit dem Nachtbus schon weiter nach Kalaw fahre.

    Mit diesem Ärger im Bauch bin ich dann erstmal in einen Tempel gefahren und hab mir das Gefühl in einer Meditation mal genauer angesehen. Ein rumbeln im Magen und ein Pochen bis hinauf in die Halsschlagader. Aber am schönsten ist es, wenn sich dieses Gefühl auflöst und wandelt. So kann es jeder, mit ein wenig Selbstbeobachtung, schaffen dieses negative, destruktive Gefühl wieder in Freude umzuwandeln.

    Und mit dieser positiven Einstellung habe ich eine tolle Sonnenuntergang-Bootsfahrt genossen und mindestens einen so schönen Tag verbracht, wie geplant.
    Schön, wie das Leben jeden Tag ein Lehrer sein kann 😊
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  • Day252

    Knoblauch bringt Glück....

    March 28 in Myanmar

    ....nunja, das war jedenfalls früher das Motto von mir und meinen Mädels & nachdem ich heute morgen mit einer ordentlichen Knoblauchfahne aufgewacht bin, vertrau ich da mal weiterhin drauf 😉

    Gestern haben wir einen Kochkurs gemacht. Morgens ging es dafür zunächst auf den Markt. Super Sache, wenn man nicht nur viel sieht, sondern darüber hinaus auch alles erklärt bekommt. Dinge, die ich immer für Suppenbasis gehalten habe, stellen sich so als natürliches Shampoo heraus & gegrillte Ratten am Stiel hätte ich selbst auch nicht gefunden (Bild 2).

    Zum Abendessen haben wir uns dann wieder getroffen. Die Küche besteht aus mehreren Eimern glühender Kohle & wir bereiten zusammen verschiedene Currys, Salate (Tealeaf Salat), Suppe und Appetizer zu.

    Yummy!!! Kurz vorm Platzen & mit einem massiven Foodbaby im Bauch war es jeden Cent wert. Ich hoffe ich bekomme das Nachkochen zuhause auch mal hin.
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  • Day260

    Zwischenstopp in Mandalay

    April 5 in Myanmar

    Jetzt sitz ich schon wieder im Bus und begebe mich auf meine 24h Fahrt nach Mrauk U. Zum Glück reagiere ich mit extremer Müdigkeit auf Reisetabletten und so werd ich wohl, trotz der Enge im Bus, recht gut schlafen können 😉.

    In Mandalay hab ich in der Wartezeit noch schnell die bekannte U-Bein-Brücke besichtigt. Das ist ein Fußgängerübergang über dem Taungthaman-See. Die 1,2 Kilometer lange Brücke wurde um 1850 erbaut und gilt als älteste und längste Teakholz-Brücke der Welt.

    Trotz der Bekanntheit bin ich der einzige Tourist weit und breit und natürlich mal wieder auf zahlreichen Familienfotos verewigt 😅.
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  • Day244

    1, 2, 3, 4 .... 3.500 Tempel

    March 20 in Myanmar

    BAGAN 😍

    Tausende, uralte Tempel sind auf einer großen Fläche verteilt. Lokale Restaurants, mit wirklich guter Küche, sind überall zu finden ohne, dass es die Kulisse zerstört und die Touristen fahren, fast lautlos, mit ihren elektrischen Scootern durch die Gegend.

    Möchte man die Touristen meiden, so sucht man sich einfach einen kleineren Tempel aus. Und so konnte ich heute sogar fast eine Stunde ungestört in einem uralten Tempel meditieren.

    Zum Sonnenuntergang bin ich dem Tipp einer Einheimischen gefolgt und habe einen tollen Tempel gefunden, auf dessen Dach man sogar krakseln durfte.

    ❤❤❤ I LOVE YOU MYANMAR ❤❤❤
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  • Day259

    Mein Hostel hat gratis Räder. Da spar ich gerne das Geld für den Scooterverleih und trete selbst in die Pedale. So hab ich heute bestimmt meine 40 km gemacht & schön bergig war es obendrein. Aber wenigstens hat es sich gelohnt. Zuerst ging es zum Anisakan Wasserfall. Dieser verlangt allerdings einen 2 km steilen Ab- & danach auch wieder Aufstieg. Das lassen sich manche Touristen nicht bieten & gönnen sich nen Träger 🙈.

    Dannach ging es weiter in den riesengroßen und wirklich schönen botanischen Garten der Stadt. Da es auch hier nicht besonders viele Touris gibt, musste ich dann regelmäßig für ein Foto herhalten.

    Kaputt und Müde, erwarte ich jetzt den Muskelkater.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Mandalay Region, Région de Mandalay

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