Mandalay is the royal capital of Burma as well as the country’s cultural heart. Tourists come from all over the world to experience music, puppet shows and dance. You will discover exceptional silver and fine gold crafts, marble and wood carvings, ancient tapestries and silk thread weavings. 

The cultural centre is walled-off with a moat, but the luxurious grounds offer a golf course and enormous army camp. Backpackers walk around the city, explore the huge citadel, culture and local food shops. The specialty of the area is the amazing fried food selection. 

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One of the biggest tourist attractions is Mandalay Hill. The hill is 240 metres high. This provides a sensational view of the entire city including a magnificent sunset. If you are not interested in a walk, there is an elevator that will take you right to the top. 

Kuthodaw Phaya is the home of the biggest book in the world. The temple is at the base of Mandalay Hill, There are 729 caves with stone encryptions. The marble slabs are double-sided with the complete collections of Theravada Buddhism scriptures. You will need to understand the Pali language to read them.

Ostello Bello Mandalay

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from $9 / 8-dorm 4.4/5 Map

The highlights include:

  • A terrace with hammocks, barbeque and vegetable gardens.
  • Free breakfast anytime you rise with fresh fruits, yogurt, cereals, choco cream, milk, fried noodles and rice, muesli, eggs, fruit jams, bread, honey and butter.
  • A free welcome drink including a glass of wine, cappuccino, a pint of beer, soft drinks, coffee and juices. 
  • Free cultural activities including live music, tastings, flea markets and expositions. 

This hostel is in the heart of the city so you can walk to the best attractions. There is the shopping district with the Piazza Duomo, incredible vintage shops and a sensational nightlife at Navigli and Colonne di San Lorenzo. The hostel hosts unique events including the aperitivo tradition each night and the weekend brunch. 

One of the only streets to survive the war is Via Medici. There are still ancient Roman walls running beneath the streets of the city. Hostelworld declared Ostello Bello the best Italian Hostal.

Ned Kelly Hotel & Irish Pub

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from $12 / 4-dorm 4.2/5 Map

The highlights include:

  • A business center with internet access
  • Rooftop terrace and bar
  • Airport transportation
  • Free breakfast

Ned Kelly was an Irish/ Australian immigrant who became a cultural icon. He is the inspiration for the affordable and simple comfort offered here. The rooftop pub is an excellent place to meet locals, expats and travelers. This popular bar is a great way to cheer for your team on the biggest television in Mandalay. 

You can choose a single, triple or quad with either shared facilities or private en-suites. All of the beds feature mattresses with high-end linens. Top-grade fittings have been installed in every bathroom. This is an inexpensive way to stay in Mandalay and enjoy the sights.

Ace Star BnB Backpacker Hostel

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from $6 / 10-dorm 4.2/5 Map

The highlights of the hostel include: 

  • Beauty salon
  • Packed lunches
  • Board games and puzzles
  • Currency exchange

The hostel is less than a mile away from Sri Ganesh Temple and the Cultural Museum and Library. You can rent a room with a sitting area and all rooms offer a hairdryer and free toiletries. Visit the three ancient cities of Innwa, Sagaing and Pmarapura. Take a day trip to Prin Oo Lwin, the flower town pr enjoy the sunset on the U Bein Bridge. 

If you are an early riser, you can see the Buddha face washing ceremony at 4:00 a.m. and visit the largest pagoda in the city for the Jade Market. Explore the Ahtumashi, Sadamun and Kyauktawgy pagodas or go cave hunting at the Shwe Ba Cabe or Po Win cave. You can learn about the local rural life just by walking through Mandalay. A walk to the Three-step waterfall will provide a breathtaking view. 

You will discover amazing food at the Chinatown Night market and the Mandalay moat is sensational in the evening. You can even see a Burmese puppet show.

Mansion Hostel Mandalay

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from $9 / 6-dorm  /5 Map

The highlights include:

  • Movie and pizza nights
  • Outdoor pool
  • Piano lounge
  • Postal service
  • Gift shop

This hostel was once a stately mansion. The owner was a comedian from the 20th century. The hostel is three miles from the LA Memorial Coliseum and the football games and the La Brea Tar Pits are just six miles away. You can choose from a single-sex or mixed dorm room sleeping between four and ten. The rooms are beautifully decorated with en suite or private bathrooms. 

The hostel was renovated in 2018 to ensure comfortable rooms and a nice stay. The hostel offers a barbeque area, a gym, terrace, sun loungers and complimentary breakfast.

Four Rivers B&B Mandalay

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from $6 / 20-dorm 4.1/5 Map

The highlights include:

  • DVDs, book and music for the children
  • A business center with internet access
  • Bicycle rental
  • Free Breakfast
  • Rooftop terrace

Every guest will enjoy their own seating area, terrace, airconditioning, room service, a desk and newspapers. The rooms are clean, the beds comfortable and the staff friendly. You can enjoy the attractions including Sri Ganesh Temple, Ma Soe Yein Nu Kyaung Monastery, Jade Market, Mahamuni Buddha Temple and Mahar Thatkyarthiha Pagoda. 

If you enjoy shopping, spend an afternoon at the Zegyo Market and Yadanarpon Diamond Plaza. The local landmarks are lovely including the Shwe Kyi Myin Paya and Mahamuni Pagoda. According to the reviews, the owners often stay in the same building as the guests. This gives the hostel the feeling of a family.

Kaung Hostel

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from $7 / 8-dorm 4.2/5 Map

The highlights include: 

  • Game and arcade room
  • Dry cleaning service
  • Banking and ATM services
  • Library

All of the rooms have a television with satellite channels and a seating area. Some rooms even offer a lovely balcony. You can choose a budget triple room, four-bed female dorm, four-bed mixed dorm or an eight-bed mixed dorm. The rooms are soundproof with sitting areas and shared bathrooms. You will be close to Sri Ganesh Temple, Mahar Thatkyarthiha Pagoda and the Cultural Museum & Library. 

You can walk to the Nylon Icecream Bar to enjoy sensational Burmese dishes or go shopping at Man Mynammar Plaza or the Zegyo Market. You will be in the center of the city so you can easily explore the Mandalay Palace and Shwe Kyi Myin Paya. You can meet the other guests in the common room while enjoying the refrigerator and microwave.

About Mandalay

Mandalay is the second biggest city in Myanmar. The city is filled with spectacular waterfalls, gorgeous pagodas, friendly locals and amazing food. You should spend a minimum of three days exploring this fantastic city. 

Walkthrough the Shwenandaw Monastery also referred to as the Golden Palace Monastery. The monastery was originally built during the 19th century but has been dissembled and moved twice. The wood carving decorations are both intricate and fascinating. The monastery was once a part of the royal palace in Amarpur. 

Mingun is a little town right across the Irrawaddy River. One of the archeological sites is the Mingun Pahtodawgyi. King Bodawpaya started the construction in 1790. The site was so enormous and the construction so expensive, the advisors to the king made up a prophecy that once the pagoda was completed, the king would perish. The prophecy worked as intended and the construction slowed down before completely stopping. 

The structure still standing is fifty meters in height. This is just a third of the intended height of the pagoda. In 1839, an earthquake caused numerous cracks in the structure of the building. The site is impressive and definitely worth a visit while you are in the area. 

Mandalay has a history of amazing puppet shows. You can purchase puppets throughout the country. The Mandalay Marrionettes Theater is the last location left where you can watch a traditional puppet show. The show lasts for an hour including live music and puppet dances. After the show, you can say hello to the oldest puppet master in the city. At eighty years of age, he still practices puppetry.