Explore Mandalay culture and heritage with a private guide on a full-day tour that covers the city's top sites. You'll start at U Bein Bridge, visit a monastery to see the procession of monks, and join a crowd of locals for lunch at a local tea house. In the afternoon, continue to another important monastery and a pagoda that's home to a remarkable Buddhist scripture, then watch the sun set from Mandalay Hill, enjoying personalized service throughout the day.
Private tour of Mandalay highlights
See the U Bein teak bridge
Learn about local culture and Buddhist traditions
Visit a teahouse for lunch and people watching (own expense)
Travel in the comfort of a climate-controlled vehicle
Private Full Day Mandalay Heritage Tour 28 March 2017: Our guide Aung Soe Ming met us at our hotel lobby and gave us a preview of the day's tour, exactly what we had in mind. Enroute, he gave us descriptions and history of each place to be visited, walked with us as we explored the sites and shared information about the history, architecture and culture of Myanmar. A walk with the locals and months on the famous U-Bein Bridge was an enchanting experience, but, our visit to Mahar Gandar Yone Monastery was the highlight of this full day tour. We saw thousand Buddhist Monks and Novices lined up to receive their meal of the day. It was heart-warming to witness this humbling ritual. Our tour also included visits to workshops and cottage industries and spend some time at Mahamuni Buddha Temple. For lunch, we stopped at a popular tea house which serves authentic Burmese Food. Augn Soe Ming sat with us and described the various food items on the menu. We then continued out visit to Mandalay Palace,the Golden Palace and the World's Biggest Book' at Kuthodaw Pagoda, and finally enjoyed a panoramic views of the city from the top of Mandalay Hill. His style on this guided tour makes every guest relax and provides lots of time for photo ops. Aung Soe Ming and our were great, accommodating and very patient. Aung Soe Ming, thanks for showing us the incredible beauty of your country.
Our guide was top notch as was the driver, no issues or problem with them. Our lunch was tasty at the Golden Palace. We found some of the sites to be disappointing as described below.
As part of our day tour in Mandalay we had a stop at the Mandalay Palace. While the original palace was destroyed during WWII, the Myanmar government has reconstructed a facsimile of what the palace looked like. Our guide provided some interesting historical context for the palace which was useful. Most of the buildings are empty shells. The palace is on the grounds of a military base.
Shwenandaw Kyaung or Golden Palace Monastery
One of the more interesting stops on our day tour of Mandalay. The Shwenandaw Kyaung Monastery is the only surviving original building from the Mandalay palace. Made entirely of teak and carved inside and out with figures and symbols of Buddhist mythology the building is quite beautiful even with the wearing by the weather. This stop is well worth going to while in Mandalay.
As part of our Mandalay day tour we did end up at Mandalay Hill for sunset. There is a large crowd of fellow tourist waiting for the sunset as well. While you can see quite far in the distance, it was hazy and not as spectacular as many places I have been for a sunset view. We left before the sun was fully down.
Kuthodaw and Sandamuni Pagodas
As part of our day tour of Mandalay Kuthodaw and the worlds largest book written on stone tablets was included in the itinerary. The stone slabs are engraved with the text from the 15 books of the Buddhist Tripitake. Each stone page is covered by a small building with gates protecting the stone tablets from wayward tourists. Interesting historical site worth a short visit.
Mahamuni Paya One of my least favorites in Mandalay
The Buddha at Mahamuni Paya comes highly rated as a must see in Mandalay and while the temple complex has its beauty, and there are some historical objects in the complex that I enjoyed seeing like the Khmer bronzes, the tons of gold added by gold leaf to the main statue of Buddha just seems obscene and not spiritual. All of the shops and money changers as well as the way women are treated at the temple took away from the spiritual nature of such a site. I may be the only one who feels this way but I felt no spirituality at Mahamuni Paya.
U Bein Bridge over Taungthaman Lake
While coming highly recommend as a must see stop in Mandalay we found the U Bein Bridge over Taungthaman Lake to be overrated. It is a nice walk, our guide provided us with historical information, and it is fascinating to see old teak pilings still in use, most of the bridge surface, railing and some of the piles are not original teak wood and concrete is now mixed in with the original teak pilings. This is to be expected after all even teak doesnt last forever. It was more interesting to see the farmers working their fields in the lake bed we were there in the dry season and the lake had shrunk quite a bit, the ducks swimming and running to be feed, and the deep fried field mice see photo. Supposedly the sunset can be quite beautiful.
Maha Gandhayon Kyaung Monastery
This stop was on our day tour of Mandalay. Known for the feeding of the monks this is one stop on our tour that I could have done without. While it was interesting to see the kitchen where the food is cooked, I did not wait around to watch the monks get feed in some way it seems degrading to put the monks on parade. The only part of this stop I enjoyed was seeing a cat, who had been chased by temple dogs, get back at one of the dogs by swatting him with it paw.
Best tour ever in my life. Fantastic guide and driver. Super nice V6 Toyota Van. Tour guide self trained in English and pretty much the single person we could have a discussion with during our 3 week stay in Burma. Great Guide. Tour exactly as described plus more. Also stopped when we saw something interesting on the road, like a wedding or parade. Highly recomended
We went with Soe, and enjoyed his input and the time. We found his choice of western restaurant for lunch pretty bland, but he made up for it with a visit at the end to a local tea house. The car and driver were very good. It's likely we could have done the trip for maybe half the price with a local taxi driver, but Soe's English was probably better.