The views from Mandalay Hill won’t really sweep you off your feet if you’re expecting a jungle of skyscrapers. Instead, you will be able to see towering golden stupas littering across the city plains. Believe me, you won’t be able to count them all. There are just too many of them – from the plains to hills, to cliffs, and to the mountains.
Also, one of the obvious things that you notice is the greenery below. Mandalay, though an old city, is still covered mostly in greenery. It’s like a city in the middle of the jungle.
The city streets, and in bustling downtown, you’d still be able to see trees everywhere. Hopefully, it stays that way.
How to Reach Mandalay Hill
There are three ways to reach there. You can either take a small public “bus”, hire a Grab motorbike or climb through the steps. The small public “bus” is at the main road entrance to Mandalay Hill. You can’t miss the people barking for passengers to get into the bus. It won’t leave unless it’s fully-packed. To make your trip to the top easier, hire a Grab motorbike. It’s cheap and reliable, too. If you are up for a hike, take the stairs. Find the two gigantic white Chinthe (half-dragon, half-lion) statues where the steps are. If you don’t find them, ask anyone around you. They will certainly show you the way if they understood what you were asking for. 😀
Remember, there are 1,729 steps to the summit. If you think it’s exhausting, you better take them on your way down.
What to See Up There
Well, as expected, there are temples/pagodas up there. The most known one is the Sutaungpyei which means “wish-fulfilling.”
It is said that it was on this hill that Buddha foretold that a great religious city will rise from its base.
It was mid-afternoon when I arrived and the crowd was at its thickest.
I had to sit somewhere for 30 minutes, waiting for the crowd to dwindle. But, I was wrong. It got thicker. So, I decided to explore the areas away from the main place of worship.
As usual, there are a few scary statues of ogres.
And no matter how many pagodas I’ve been to in Myanmar, they never fail to amaze me.
Its architectural designs, patterns, and other detailed ornaments always attract me.
Oh yes, donation boxes are everywhere, too! And as expected, they’re put right in front of Buddha statues.
But, there’s one statue that is being celebrated here – that of the twin serpents! Legend has it that two snakes used to frequent the pagoda to pay their reverence to the Buddha.
Pilgrims feed the two cobras with money and pray while touching their heads.
The Sunset from Mandalay Hill
It was a mistake to be here in mid-afternoon. I couldn’t wait for the sunset because I was done in an hour and a half here. I understood then why the place got crowded – because most of them wanted to see the sunset from here. As for the sunset, I had other things planned out. I went to Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda at the base of the hill.
Cheap Hotel in Mandalay
I stayed at Hotel Iceland. It’s a basic but nice hotel walking distance to the town center. There are a lot of convenience shops, restaurants, and food stalls in the area. The rooms are clean and the staff members are nice. They serve breakfast on the top floor overlooking the city. You can book it via Booking, , and Expedia. If you are looking for a hostel, you can find it here.