Imperial Mandalay City Day Tour

A monk studying in Mandalay
A monk studying in Mandalay

Mandalay was founded in 1857 by King Mindon, replacing Amarapura as the new royal capital of the Konbaung dynasty. It was Burma’s final royal capital before the kingdom’s annexation by the British Empire in 1885. The city suffered extensive destruction during the Japanese conquest of Burma in the Second World War. After Yangon, Mandalay is Myanmar’s second-largest city and is today the economic centre of Upper Myanmar and considered the centre of Burmese culture.

A Tour of Imperial Mandalay City Showcasing 19th-Century Architecture and Cultural Marvels

A personal photo shoot is a great way to capture holiday moments
A portrait at Kuthotaw Pagoda in Mandalay

Our experienced local guides bring you to the most significant sites of Mandalay, the last royal capital city of Myanmar. From the astonishing panoramic view from Mandalay Hill at sunrise, to the unforgettable Kuthodaw and Mahamuni temples, artisinal family workshops, and the teak Royal Palace of Mandalay, this tour uncovers the most iconic sites of Mandalay. Round out the day with an amazing sunset at U Bein Bridge or Sagaing Hill and your Imperial Mandalay day tour is complete!

Imperial Mandalay Day Tour Highlights

Kuthodaw Pagoda
Built in 1857 on the order of King Mindon on the occasion of the Fifth Great Synod in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. The 729 stupas surrounding a central golden shrine contain sacred Buddhist scriptures, sometimes referred to as “the world’s largest book”.

Sandamuni Pagoda
Commemorates the assassination of the king’s younger brother and two princes during an uprising. The royal court was located next to Sandamuni before the completion of Mandalay Palace. The layout is not dissimilar to Kuthodaw, but the stupas are smaller and closer together so that visitors cannot wander between them.

Atumashi Kyaung
The large sitting Buddha in its center was made from the king’s lacquered clothing and the third eye on his forehead was a massive diamond. The diamond vanished when the British conquered Mandalay in the 1880s and the original teak structure burnt down in a subsequent fire, leaving only the stumps of the massive pillars, the grand staircase, and some outer walls behind. In the 1990s the building was reconstructed in concrete.

Portrait at Shwenandaw Kyaung wooden monastery in Mandalay
Portrait at Shwenandaw Kyaung wooden monastery in Mandalay

Shwenandaw Kyaung (Golden Palace Monastery)
The building received its name from the fact that it was part of the king’s apartment both at the Amarapura and the Mandalay court. It was moved a second time to its current location in 1878 and rededicated as a monastery. The Golden Palace has withstood earthquakes and fires and is one of the few remaining original 19th-century buildings. It is today a dark teak structure but if you look closely you can still see golden and red paint on the ornate wood carvings.

Royal Palace
Apart from the massive outer walls, a watchtower, and a few smaller buildings, the Royal Palace in Mandalay was built entirely from teak and almost completely destroyed during World War II. Reconstruction efforts started in the 1990s and are ongoing, but the existing structures allow the visitor to get an idea of what the royal court once looked like.

Shwe In Bin Kyaung (Shweinbin Monastery), another teak monastery. 

Mahamuni Pagoda
Mahamuni Buddha Temple (Maha Muni Paya) is home to the holiest Buddha image in Mandalay. The sitting Buddha is said to have been brought to life 2,500 years ago by Siddhārtha Gautama, the first Buddha and is therefore also called Mahamuni Sacred Living Image. The sculpture measures almost 4m in height and is covered in gold leaf by devotees from all over Myanmar who come here to pay homage.

Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda (“Great Marble Image”) – Giant Buddha statue carved from a single block of green marble, completed in 1878. 

U Bein Bridge
The magnificent U Bein Bridge near Amarapura spans over a kilometer and is the oldest and once the longest teakwood bridge in the world. Wood for the bridge was reclaimed from the former royal palace in Inwa when the capital was moved to Amarapura. The bridge continues to be an important passageway for local people today. The best time to visit is from July-August when water levels are at their peak, and from September to December when colorful skies light up at sunrise and sunset. U Bein Bridge is a guest favourite on our Mandalay sightseeing and photography tours. 

Mandalay Workshops

As the cultural and artistic center of Myanmar, Mandalay offers a unique opportunity to visit extraordinary family workshops. Depending on the itinerary you choose, your Imperial Mandalay Day Tour can visit these workshops:

  • slipper making
  • gold leaf beating
  • bronze casting
  • Buddha stone carving
  • paper toy making
  • wood carving
  • alms-bowls making

Itinerary Options

Option 1

  • 5:00 AM Hotel Pick up
  • Mandalay Hill (Sunrise)
  • Breakfast Time
  • Kuthodaw Pagoda
  • Shwenandaw Kyaung (Golden Palace Monastery)
  • Gold leaf beating workshop
  • Lunch Time
  • Shwe In Bin Kyaung Monastery
  • Kin Wun Min Gyi Monastery
  • Slipper making workshop
  • Wood Carving workshop
  • U Bein Bridge Sunset
  • Return to your hotel

Option 2

  • 5:00 AM Hotel Pick up
  • Mandalay Moat Sunrise 
  • Thuye Market – Train Station 
  • Breakfast at local restaurant or teashop
  • Yaw Min Gyi Brick Monastery 
  • Mandalay Royal Palace
  • Lunch Break 
  • Khay Mar Thi Wun Ruined Monastery 
  • Aka Pa Wun Monastery 
  • Stone Carving Workshop
  • Mahamuni Pagoda 
  • Bronze Casting Workshop
  • Riverside Sunset 
  • Return to your hotel

Duration: 12+ hours

Mandalay Private Tour Pricing:

$149USD per person, based on 2 guests

Mandalay Small Group Tour Pricing:

$119USD per person, min 4 guests

Price includes:

  • Air-conditioned private taxi and driver
  • Experienced English-speaking licensed tour guide
  • Entry fees
  • Chilled water all day

Price excludes:

  • Lunch

More Mandalay Day Tours

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Mandalay and Mingun Day Tour

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