Been In Asia blog

Things to do in Mandalay – climb the Mandalay Hill

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Date: September 29th 2016
Traveller: Carla Rijnders
In the Northern part of Myanmar, you can find Mandalay, situated along the Ayeyarwady River. Mandalay is the second largest city in Myanmar, and it was the capital of the last independent Burmese Kingdom, which in 1886 was conquered by British Colonial forces. The city was named after the Mandalay Hill situated in the north of the city. A hill that has forever been a holy mount; it is believed that Lord Buddha himself prophesied that a great city, a metropolis of Buddhism, would be founded at its foot. King Mindon fulfilled this prophecy when it founded the city in 1857.

Visiting Mandalay Hill is one of the things you can’t miss when you’re in this city. The rest of Mandalay is flat, so from the top of this hill, you will have an incredible 360-degree view over the city, the Ayeyarwady River and its surroundings. It’s the perfect place to watch a sunrise, but especially the sunsets are amazing here when the last rays of sunshine of the day hit the gold and green Sutaungpyei Pagoda on top of the mountain. This is also the moment that monks will meet up with foreigners to practise their language skills.

There are several ways to get to the top of Mandalay Hill, there are stairways and escalators or you can have yourself dropped off close to the top by a car or bus. However, most people climb the 1,729 steps to the top of this mountain, because it’s the most interesting (and most tiring) route to take, as the mountain is a host to several monasteries and convents.

Walking up the hill, which needs to be done barefoot, will take you about 45 minutes if you keep on walking and don’t stop on your way to the top. All in all, it’s a gentle climb, however, try to avoid doing this during the middle of the day, as it can become pretty hot!
The start of the walk is impressive already, as you have to walk past two giant white chintes (best described as a half-lion and half-dragon creatures). Along the way to the top, there are several stations where you can stop and enjoy the amazing view over the city with it’s old Royal Palace and Fortress, as well as the Ayeyarwady River and on a good day you will be able to see the Shan Hills in the distance.
On the top of the hill you will not only be rewarded by the magnificent panorama of the city, but also by the Sutaungpyei Pagoda and the Standing Buddha – which is known as the prophesying Buddha as it portrays Gautama Buddha predicting the establishment of Mandalay, with his right hand pointing toward Mandalay in the plains below.

On top of the Mandalay Hill, you have a great vantage point for the area around the former city, and we think it’s the perfect way to start exploring the city of Mandalay. For this reason, it is part of our city tour, in which you not only visit the Mandalay Hill but many other sites such as the Golden Buddha at Mahamuni Pagoda, the ancient wooden monastery Shweinpin, see how thin gold leaf is being created and much more. Make sure to join us on your next trip to Mandalay! 

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