With over 1.2 million people, Mandalay is the second largest city and the last royal capital of Myanmar. Located on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay is considered as the economic center of upper Myanmar but also as the center of the Burmese culture. It is a 4-hour train journey from Pyin Oo Lwin. The train section from Pyin Oo Lwin to Mandalay is supposed to be great as well. I can’t tell myself. The train went off-track before Pyin Oo Lwin and was delayed by 3 hours. By the time I hopped in the train, it was already pitch-dark.
Mandalay is commonly badly rated by travelers, guides and blogs. The only sight that keeps popping up usually is the U Bein Bridge – a 1.2km bridge built in 1850 which is believed to be the oldest and once longest teakwood bridge in the world. Manalday is so much more than just a bridge! Mandalay is absolutely stunning and really worth a couple days! There are so many sights to explore both inside and outside the city that it would be pointless to list them all. To cut the story short, get a bicyle to explore inner Mandalay and a motorbike to explore the surroundings!
Mandalay is also the last city I visit in Myanmar.
Myanmar tourism economy has been booming for the past few years ; especially after the political reforms of 2011 and the election of Aung San Suu Kyi, a new political leader, in 2015. Myanmar is often regarded by travelers as an incredible country which is leading to a sort of new hyped destination in Southest Asia. I have to admit that I also felt into the trap. Despite I really enjoyed traveling Myanmar and had an amazing time here, I believe that the country might be slightly overrated.
Let’s start with all the highlights first! Food specials are really tasty! The people of Myanmar are lovely! Places such as the beautiful Bagan, the stunning Kalaw to Inle trek, the amazing adventure on the Lashio-Mandalay train journey or the captivating heritage of Mandalay are absolutely incredible! I enjoyed traveling Myanmar a lot! However, I was expecting a lot on landscapes as well. Sadly, the landscapes I have seen rank from average to mediocre. On the other end, I did not felt this kind of adventurous vibe that is the trademark of Southeast Asian countries. All in all, Myanmar is an amazing country but maybe not as much as it is usually described. Of course, this opinion is mine. Knowing that Myanmar is a massive country and that I have only seen a fraction of it, I hope I can be proven wrong!