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Best Way to Get Around Mandalay

Best Way to Get Around Mandalay

By Wendy Updated Jul. 5, 2021

Once you've arrived in Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city, there are many attractions and sites for you to visit. Northern Myanmar's commercial and cultural hub is big and there’s a lot to see, but making your way from one point to another in and around the city can be hectic and sometimes even overwhelming.

The former royal capital of the country, while large and flat, has a grid-based street system, making it somewhat harder for travelers to get lost. The streets of Mandalay are numbered 1 to 49 from north to south, and 50 to 90 from east to west.

That said, navigating the city is certainly no stroll in the park. The downtown area includes markets, restaurants, and temples within walking distance, but if you'd like to visit sights some distance from the city center, it’s probably a good idea to use other means of transportation.

This brief guide indicates the best ways of getting around Mandalay and the city's suburbs.

Private Cars with Tour Guides

Undoubtedly the most comfortable option, renting a private car allows guests a degree of flexibility and convenience that is unmatched by other transportation options. Such cars provide the best service within the city and its surrounding areas, including Amarapura and U-Bein Bridge, Inwa (Awa), Sagaing, and Mingun.

All cars are imported, well maintained, and air-conditioned, and their drivers are reliable and courteous. Temperatures in Mandalay, depending on the time of year, can reach upwards of 35ºC or 95ºF, and this makes it a near-necessity for guests to travel in a cool, comfy car.

You can get a clearer picture of the weather in Myanmar and better plan your trip by reading the following in-depth article.

Your driver and local guide will make sure you have the best possible time while in Mandalay. Drivers speak English and are well informed, friendly, and always at your service, making this the most flexible option available.

You can spend as much - or as little - time as you want at any given attraction, and explore the city at your own pace.

Passionate about showing you around their beautiful city and eager to share their culture and lifestyle with you, drivers will be provided with your itinerary so they can plan your day and take you to all the important sites, so all you have to do is sit back and relax!

Visitors should bear in mind that the quality of infrastructure in Myanmar is low, comparing poorly with that of other countries. This makes it all the more important for guests to travel in well maintained, air-conditioned cars with reliable drivers who know the area well.

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Taxi

Taxi service is available in most big cities in Myanmar, including Mandalay. Taxis aren't necessarily cheap, and most cars are not air-conditioned, thus making traveling by taxi far from ideal, considering Mandalay's soaring temperatures throughout the year.

Motorcycle taxis are also available and can be found on most city corners throughout the day but are, once again, an extremely uncomfortable mode of transportation. Most drivers speak little to no English, and can be reckless when driving.

If you do choose either of the options outlined above, we suggest you negotiate a price with your driver beforehand so as to avoid any hassles upon completion of your journey.

Motorbikes and Bicycles

Mandalay's crowded streets and heavy traffic mean traveling by motorbike or bicycle is a stressful and dangerous way of getting from one place to another in the city. Renting a motorbike or bicycle requires visitors to navigate Mandalay's endless alleys and side roads all by themselves, in scorching weather conditions.

Most motorbike/bicycle rental agencies in the city offer guided tours of the area but these are usually very expensive. Furthermore, there have been instances of agencies providing visitors with damaged or broken vehicles, adding to the list of reasons why traveling by motorbike or bicycle is relatively unsafe.

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Trishaws

Trishaws, once the main mode of transportation around Mandalay, are somewhat rare nowadays, although one might spot a few around crowded marketplaces. Travelers should know, though, that trishaw drivers do expect to be tipped for the hard work they put in.

Buses and Pick-up Trucks

Using buses or pick-up trucks are other possibilities for getting around in Mandalay, but we don’t recommend them. The entire system is dodgy, with trucks making lengthy stops and rarely leaving until they are filled to the brim. Trust us, you don't want to be traveling like this!

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Horse Carts

Between the 14th and 19th centuries, Inwa (Ava), about 21 km south of Mandalay, was the capital of the country. It is still a site most travelers visit during their time in Mandalay. The former capital city boasts some truly splendid teak monasteries and picturesque pagodas.

Upon arrival at Inwa, guests board horse-carts to explore the beautiful countryside at a relaxed pace. Making their way down little dirt tracks, the carts pass through a banana plantation, a village, and some paddy fields before visiting the ancient ruins and main sites of Inwa.

Exploring the countryside of Inwa is a truly memorable experience, and one we can't recommend highly enough to our guests.

Boats

The main attraction at Amarapura is the one-of-a-kind U-Bein Bridge, a magnificent 1.2 km structure made of teak wood, said to be the longest and oldest bridge of its kind in the world.

The sight of people walking and sitting on the wooden bridge, watching the sunset and taking in the orange sunlight reflecting off the lake, is truly a sight to behold. The bridge remains a major part of the local community, as villagers and red-robed monks make their way across daily.

Be sure to visit this site when in Mandalay and if you're looking for an opportunity to take some truly stunning photos, make sure you rent a boat and take a trip around the lake.

If you're trying to get to Mingun, you will have to take a boat leaving from Mayan Gyan Jetty in Mandalay (at the western end of 26th Street). The boat leaves at 9 am and the journey to Mingun takes about an hour.

We highly recommend taking this boat ride as it's pleasant and provides unique insight into life along the mighty Irrawaddy River.

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Visit Myanmar with Asia Highlights

We provide tailor-made tours to Myanmar. Tours typically start or end in Yangon or Mandalay and last approximately 9 days; visiting Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.

You might like:

9-Day Myanmar Highlights Tour

14-Day Myanmar and Thailand Essence Tour

16-Day Myanmar Tour in Depth

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