As the second largest city in Myanmar, right after Yangon, Mandalay has emerged as a blissful haven in the heart of the country. Both being the cultural and administrative centre of the upper region, the city primarily has gained lots of interest from visitors as the last capital of the third Myanmar Empire with a repository of relics and artefacts of a bygone era. With this, Mandalay has popped up on the radar at a later stage in the arts and craft industry and developed a name as the showcase for handicraft. Its traditions surrounding the intricate design work done on landmarks such as the Royal City now attracts more and more the artistic-minded due to its authentic approach of crafting and architecture and with this tour, you will see some of the finest examples available.
Pick up from your Mandalay hotel by an English speaking guide and driver as you prepare yourself to be amazed for a well-chosen path along the city’s most recognisable temples and buildings with lots of art and crafts woven in between. The Mahamuni Temple marks our first stop – a religious site where thousands of Buddha statues are on display, all of them immaculately polished and carved. The handicraft industry in Mandalay has growth from strength to strength, capturing the culture and beauty in its most authentic way. Stops will be made at the jade market, seeing masters at work in making traditional puppets, crafting bronze and marble images, or admire the detailed work of hand-woven ‘Kalaga’ (Burmese embroidered tapestries) used for home decoration and religious sites. The broad selection of local handicraft passing you by will be a plethora of colours, shapes and sounds, enough to feel the importance of Mandalay as cultural capital.
The numerous workshops and markets are left aside for the morning as we move on to the Maha Muni Pagoda, an important and well-respected monument in Mandalay. The nearby Golden Palace Monastery is a fine example of the durability of teakwood. This once gilded building has been one of best preserved wooden landmarks in the country and once served as the residence of King Mindon. Another notable attraction, known for its architecture is the Kuthodaw Pagoda, where Buddhist scriptures are carved on 729 marble tablets, billed as the ‘biggest book’ in the world. At the end of the day, we head up Mandalay Hill, the only place with panoramic views over the city. Sunsets here, depending on the weather, are said to perfectly end any excursion day in Mandalay.