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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mandalay is located in Burma
Location of Mandalay, Burma
Coordinates: 21°58′30″N 96°5′0″E / 21.975°N 96.083333°E / 21.975; 96.083333Coordinates: 21°58′30″N 96°5′0″E / 21.975°N 96.083333°E / 21.975; 96.083333
Country Burma
Admin. division Mandalay Division
District Mandalay District
 - Chairman of Mandalay City Development Committee, Mayor Brigadier General Phone Zaw Han
 - City 43.6 sq mi (113 km2)
Population (2007)[1][2]
 - City 961,000
 - Metro 1.3 million
 - Ethnic groups Bamar, Burmese Chinese, Shan
 - Religions Buddhism, Christianity, Islam
Time zone MST (UTC+6:30)
Area code(s) 2 (mobile: 69, 90)[3]

Mandalay (Burmese: မန္တလေးမြို့; MLCTS: manta.le: mrui.; pronounced [màndəlé mjo̰] in Burmese, /ˌmændəˈleɪ/ or /ˈmændəleɪ/ in English) is the second-largest city and the last royal capital of Burma. Located 445 miles (716 km) north of Yangon on the east bank of the Irrawaddy River, the city has a population of nearly one million,[1] and is the capital of Mandalay Division.

Mandalay is the economic hub of Upper Burma and considered the center of Burmese culture. A continuing influx of Chinese immigrants, mostly from Yunnan Province, in the past twenty years, has reshaped the city's ethnic makeup and increased its economic dynamism.[4][5] Despite Naypyidaw's recent rise, Mandalay remains Upper Burma's main commercial, educational and health center.



The city gets its name from the nearby Mandalay Hill. The name is likely a derivative of a Pali word although the exact word of origin remains unclear. The root word has been speculated as: "Mandala" (meaning, circular plains),[2] "Mandare" (believed to mean "auspicious land"),[6] or "Mandara" (a mountain from Hindu mythology).[7]

When it was founded in 1857, the royal city was officially named Yadanabon, the Burmese version of its Pali name Ratanapura which means "The City of Gems". It was also called Lay Kyun Aung Myei (Victorious Land over the Four Islands) and the royal palace, Mya Nan San Kyaw (The Famed Royal Emerald Palace).


Plan of Mandalay Palace

Early history

Like most former (and present) capitals of Burma, Mandalay was founded on the wishes of the ruler of the day. On 13 February 1857, King Mindon founded a new royal capital at the foot of Mandalay Hill, ostensibly to fulfill a prophecy on the founding of a metropolis of Buddhism in that exact place on the occasion of the 2,400th jubilee of Buddhism.[8]

The new capital city site was 25.5 square miles (66 km²) in area, surrounded by four rivers. The plan called for a 144-square block grid patterned citadel, anchored by a 16 square block royal palace compound at the center by Mandalay Hill.[9] The 1020-acre (413-hectare) citadel was surrounded by four 6,666-foot (2,032 m) long walls and a moat 210 feet (64 m) wide, 15 feet (4.57 m) deep. Along the wall were turrets for watchmen with gold-tipped spires at intervals of 555 feet (169 m).[10] The walls had three gates on each side, and five bridges to cross the moat.[9] In addition, the king also commissioned the Kuthodaw Pagoda, the Pahtan-haw Shwe Thein higher ordination hall, the Thudhamma Zayats or public houses for preaching the Doctrine, and the library for the Buddhist scriptures. In June 1857, the former royal palace of Amarapura was dismantled and moved by elephants to the new location at the foot of Mandalay Hill although construction of the palace compound was officially completed only two years later, on Monday, 23 May 1859.[8]

For the next 26 years, Mandalay was to be the last royal capital of the last independent Burmese kingdom before its final annexation by the British. Mandalay ceased to be the capital on 28 November 1885 when the conquering British sent King Thibaw and his queen Supayalat to exile, ending the Third Anglo-Burmese War.

The Thudhamma Zayats built during the reign of King Mindon

Colonial Mandalay (1885–1948)

While Mandalay would continue to be the chief city of Upper Burma during the British colonial rule, the commercial and political importance had irreversibly shifted to Yangon. The British take on the development of Mandalay (and Burma) was mainly through commercial lens. While rail transport reached Mandalay in 1889,[11] less than four years after the annexation, the first college in Mandalay, Mandalay College, was not established until 40 years later, in 1925.[12] As for respecting Burmese sensitivities, not only did the British loot the palace, some of the which are still on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum,[13] but they also renamed the palace compound Fort Dufferin and used it to billet troops.

Throughout the colonial years, Mandalay was the center of Burmese culture and Buddhist learning, and as the last royal capital, was regarded by the Burmese as a primary symbol of sovereignty and identity. Between the two World Wars, the city was Upper Burma's focal point in a series of nationwide protests against the British rule. The British rule brought in many immigrants from India to the city. In 1904–05, a plague caused about a third of the population to flee the city.[2] Many again fled the city during World War II when the city was under Japanese occupation from May 1942 to March 1945. The city suffered heavy damage. The palace citadel, turned into a supply depot by the Japanese, was burnt to the ground by allied bombing; only the royal mint and the watch tower survived. (A faithful replica of the palace was rebuilt in the 1990s.)

Contemporary Mandalay (1948–present)

After the country's independence from Britain in 1948, Mandalay continued to be the main cultural, educational and economic hub of Upper Burma. Until the early 1990s, most students from Upper Burma went to Mandalay for university education. Until 1991, Mandalay University, the University of Medicine, Mandalay and the Defence Services Academy were the only three universities in Upper Burma. Only a few other cities had "Degree Colleges" affiliated with Mandalay University that offered a limited number of subjects. Today, the city attracts a fraction of students as the military government requires students to attend their local universities in order to reduce concentration of students in one place.

In November 1959, Mandalay celebrated its centennial with a festival at the foot of Mandalay Hill. Special commemorative stamps were issued.[14]

During Gen. Ne Win's isolationist rule (1962–1988), the city's infrastructure, never great even during the British rule, deteriorated even more. By the early 1980s, the second largest city of Burma resembled a big town with low-rise buildings and dusty streets filled mostly with bicycles. In the 1980s, the city was hit by two major fires. In May 1981, a fire razed more than 6,000 houses and public buildings, leaving more than 36,000 homeless. On 24 March 1984, another fire destroyed 2,700 buildings and made 23,000 people homeless.[15][16] Fires continue to plague the city. A major fire destroyed Mandalay's second largest market, Yadanabon Market, in February 2008, and another major fire in February 2009 destroyed 320 homes and left over 1600 people homeless.[17][18]

A Chinese-owned hotel in downtown

The 1980s fires augured a significant change in the city's physical character and ethnic makeup. Huge swaths of land left vacant by the fires were later purchased mostly by the ethnic Chinese, many of whom were recent immigrants from Yunnan.[19] The Chinese influx accelerated after the current military government came to power in 1988. With the Burmese government turning a blind eye, many Chinese immigrants from Yunnan (and also from Sichuan) poured into Upper Burma in the 1990s and many openly ended up in Mandalay.[5] In the 1990s alone, about 250,000 to 300,000 Yunnanese are estimated to have migrated to Mandalay.[20] Today, the Chinese are believed to make up about 30%–40% of the city's population,[20] and are a major factor in the city's doubling of population from about half a million in 1980 to about a million in 2008. Chinese festivals are now firmly embedded in the city’s cultural calendar.[19]

The enterprising Chinese are largely responsible for the economic revitalization of the downtown, now rebuilt with apartment blocks, hotels and shopping malls, and returning the city to its role as the trading hub connecting Lower Burma, Upper Burma, China and India. The Chinese dominance in the city center has pushed out the rest to the suburbs. The urban sprawl now encompasses Amarapura, the very city King Mindon left some 150 years ago. Mandalay celebrated its 150th birthday on 15 May 2009, precisely at 4:31:36 am.[2]

Despite the rise of Naypyidaw, the country's capital since 2006, Mandalay remains Upper Burma's main commercial, educational and health center.


Mandalay metropolitan area seen from satellite


Mandalay is located in the central dry zone of Burma by the Irrawaddy river at 21.98° North, 96.08° East, 64 meters (210 feet) above sea level. Its standard time zone is UTC/GMT +6:30 hours. Mandalay lies along the Sagaing Fault, a tectonic plate boundary between the India and Sunda plates. (The biggest earthquake in its history, with a magnitude of 7, occurred in 1956.[21] The devastation however was greatest in nearby Sagaing, and it came to be known as the Great Sagaing Quake.)


Mandalay experiences a tropical savanna climate (Köppen climate classification Aw).

Weather data for Mandalay
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29
Average low °C (°F) 13
Precipitation mm (inches) 5.1
Source: [22] 2009-06-04


Mandalay Hill, at 790 ft (240 m), is home to many of Mandalay's religious sites.
Kuthodaw Pagoda - Some of the 729 stupas known as the world's largest book
Atumashi Monastery has been rebuilt as a faithful replica of the original destroyed by a fire.

Around the city

  • Mandalay Hill: The hill has for long been a holy mount. Legend has it that the Buddha, on his visit, had prophesied that a great city would be founded at its foot. Mandalay Hill, 230 metres in elevation, commands a magnificent view of the city and surrounding countryside. The construction of a motor road to reach the hill-top has already been finished.
  • Mandalay Palace: The whole magnificent palace complex was destroyed by a fire during World War II. However, the finely built palace walls, the city gates with their crowning wooden pavilions and the surrounding moat still represent an impressive scene of the Mandalay Palace, "Mya-nan-san-kyaw Shwenandaw", which has been rebuilt using forced labour. A model of the Mandalay Palace, Nanmyint-saung and Cultural Museum are located inside the Palace grounds.
  • Shwenandaw Monastery: Famous for its intricate wood-carvings, this monastery is a fragile reminder of the old Mandalay Palace. Actually, it was a part of the old palace later moved to its current site by King Thibaw in 1880.
  • Maha Muni Pagoda: The Image is said to have been cast in the life-time of the Gautama Buddha and that the Buddha embraced it 7 times thereby bringing it to life. Consequently, devout Buddhists hold it to be alive and refer to it as the Maha Muni Sacred Living Image. Revered as the holiest pagoda in Mandalay, It was built by King Bodawpaya in 1784. The image in a sitting posture is 12 feet and 7 inches (3.8 m) high. As the image was brought from Rakhine State it was also called the Great Rakhine Buddha. The early morning ritual of washing the Face of Buddha Image draws a large crowd of devotees everyday. The Great Image is also considered as the greatest, next to the Shwedagon Pagoda, in Burma. A visit to Mandalay is incomplete without a visit to Maha Muni Pagoda.
  • Kuthodaw Pagoda (The World's Biggest Book): Built by King Mindon in 1857, this pagoda modeled on the Shwezigon Pagoda at Nyaung U, is surrounded by 729 upright stone slabs on which are inscribed the entire Buddhist Scriptures as edited and approved by the Fifth Buddhist Synod. It is popularly known as "the World's Biggest Book" for its stone scriptures.
  • Kyauktawgyi Pagoda: Near the southern approach to Mandalay Hill stands the Kyauktawgyi Buddha Image built by King Mindon in 1853–78. The Image was carved out of a huge single block of marble. Statues of 80 Arahants (the Great Disciples of the Buddha) are assembled around the Image, 20 on each side. The carving of the Image was completed in 1865.
  • Buddha's Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda: One of the Buddha's Sacred Replica Tooth Relics was enshrined in the Mandalay Swedaw Pagoda on Maha Dhammayanthi Hill in Amarapura Township. The pagoda was built with cash donations contributed by the peoples of Burma and Buddhist donors from around the world under the supervision of the Burmese military government. The authorities and donors hoisted Buddha's Replica Tooth Relic Pagoda Mandalay's Shwe Htidaw (sacred golden umbrella), Hngetmyatnadaw (sacred bird perch vane) and Seinhpudaw (sacred diamond bud) on 13 December, 1996.
  • Atumashi Kyaung: The " Atumashi Kyaung ", which literally means the inimitable monastery, is also one of the well known sights. The original structure was destroyed by a fire in 1890 though the masonry plinth survived. It was indeed an inimitable one in its heyday. The reconstruction project was started by the government on 2 May, 1995 and completed in June, 1996.
  • Yadanabon Zoological Gardens: A small zoo between the Mandalay Palace and Mandalay Hill. It has over 300 species and is notably the only zoo to have Burmese Roofed Turtles.


The Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC) is the city government. The Mandalay District consists of seven townships.


Mandalay's strategic location in Central Burma makes it an important hub for transport of people and goods. The city is connected to other parts of the country and to China and India by multiple modes of transportation.


Mandalay International Airport

Mandalay International Airport is the largest and most modern airport in Burma. Built at a cost of US$150 million in 2000, the airport is highly underutilized; it serves mostly domestic flights with the exception of flights to Kunming. The airport has come to represent the military regime's propensity for bad planning and penchant for white elephant projects.[23]


The Ayeyarwady River remains an important arterial route for transporting goods such as farm produce including rice, beans and pulses, cooking oil, pottery, bamboo and teak.


Central Railway Station on 78th & 30th

Mandalay Central Railway Station is the terminus of Myanmar Railways's main rail line from Yangon and the starting point of branch lines to Pyin U Lwin (Maymyo), Lashio, Monywa, Pakokku, Kalay, Gangaw, and to the north, Shwebo, Kawlin, Naba, Kanbalu, Mohnyin, Hopin, Mogaung and Myitkyina.

Mandalay does not have an intra-city metro rail system.


Mandalay literally is at the center of Burma's road network. The highway network includes roads towards:[24]

Most stretches of these so-called highways are no more than one lane roads in extremely poor condition.

A busy street junction

Buses and cars

As the government allows only a few thousands of vehicles to be imported each year, motor transportation in Burma is highly expensive for most of its citizens.[26] Most people rely on bicycles, motorcycles and/or private and public buses to get around. The most popular car in Mandalay is the 1982/83 Nissan Sunny pickup truck. Because of its utility as a private bus or taxi, the two-and-a-half-decade old model still had strong demand and heady prices to match—from K10 million to K14 million (US$8,000 to US$11,000) in mid-2008.[27] To get around severe import limits, people of Mandalay have turned to illegally imported and hence unregistered (called "without" in Burmese English) motorcycles and cars despite the government's periodic confiscation sprees. (The number of domestically made cars remains negligible. Mandalay's small car makers produced i.e. assembled only about 3000 cars in 2007.)[28]

In March 2008, Mandalay had nearly 81,000 registered motor vehicles[29] plus an unknown number of unregistered vehicles. Although the number of cars in a city of one million is low, traffic in Mandalay is highly chaotic as thousands of bicycles and (unregistered) motorbikes freely roam around all the lanes of the streets. Unlike in Yangon where motorbikes, trishaws and bikes are prohibited from entering downtown and busy areas, in Mandalay it is anything goes. That many traffic lights in Mandalay do not work only adds to the chaos.


Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1950 167
1960 250 49.7%
1970 374 49.6%
1980 499 33.4%
1990 636 27.5%
2000 810 27.4%
2007 961 18.6%
2010 1,034 7.6%
2020 1,308 26.5%
2025 1,446 10.6%
in thousands[1]

A 2007 estimate by the UN puts Mandalay's population at nearly 1 million. The city's population is projected to reach nearly 1.5 million by 2025.[1] While Mandalay has traditionally been the bastion of Bamar (Burman) culture and populace, the massive influx of ethnic Chinese in the last 20 years has effectively pushed the Bamar out of the city center.[4][5] The foreign-born Chinese can easily obtain Burmese citizenship cards on the black market.[5] Ludu Daw Amar of Mandalay, the revered writer and journalist who died in April 2008, had said it felt like "an undeclared colony of Yunnan".[30] Today, the number of Chinese, perhaps 30% to 40% of the city, is believed to nearly rival that of the Bamar. A sizable community of South Asians also resides in Mandalay.

Burmese is still the principal language of the city although Mandarin Chinese is increasingly heard in the city's commerce centers such as Chinatown and Zegyo Market. English is a distant third language, spoken only by the urban elite.


Buddha relics from Kanishka's stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan, now in Mandalay. Teresa Merrigan, 2005

Mandalay is Burma's cultural and religious center of Buddhism, having numerous monasteries and more than 700 pagodas. At the foot of Mandalay Hill sits the world's official "Buddhist Bible", also known as the world’s largest book, in Kuthodaw Pagoda. There are 729 slabs of stone that together are inscribed with the entire Buddhist canon, each housed in its own white stupa. The buildings inside the old Mandalay city walls, surrounded by a moat,which is repaired in recent times using prison labour, comprise the Mandalay Palace, mostly destroyed during World War II. İt is now replaced by a replica, Mandalay Prison and a military garrison, the headquarters of the Central Military Command.


Much of the media in Mandalay — like elsewhere in Burma — comes from Yangon. The city's non-satellite TV programming comes from Yangon-based state-run TV Myanmar and military-run Myawaddy, both of which provide Burmese language news and entertainment. Since December 2006, MRTV-4, formerly a paid channel, has also been available in Mandalay.[31] Mandalay has two radio stations. Naypyidaw-based Myanmar Radio National Service is the national radio service and broadcasts mostly in Burmese (and in English during specific times.) Semi-state-run Mandalay City FM (87.9FM) is the Mandalay metropolitan area's pop culture oriented station.[32]

The military government, which controls all daily newspapers in Burma, uses Mandalay to publish and distribute its three national newspapers, the Burmese language Myanmar Alin and Kyemon and the English language New Light of Myanmar.[33] The state-run Yadanabon is published in Mandalay and serves the Upper Burma market.[34] [The Mandalay Daily newspaper] [35]is published by Mandalay City Development Committee since 1997 November 30.


Mandalay's sporting facilities are quite poor by international standards but are still the best in Upper Burma. The 17,000 seat Bahtoo Stadium is largest in Upper Burma and hosts mainly local and regional football and track-and-field tournaments. Since May 2009, professional football has arrived in Mandalay, with Yadanabon FC representing the city in the newly formed Myanmar National League, the country's first professional football league.[36]


Chinese blankets for the Mandalay winter

Mandalay is the major trading and communications center for northern and central Burma. Much of Burmese external trade to China and India goes through Mandalay.

Among the leading traditional industries are silk weaving, tapestry, jade cutting and polishing, stone and wood carving, making marble and bronze Buddha images, temple ornaments and paraphernalia, the working of gold leaves and of silver, the manufacture of matches, brewing and distilling.

Ethnic Chinese have increasingly dominated Mandalay's economy since the imposition of sanctions by the United States and the European Union in the 1990s.


Mandalay University

Mandalay has the best educational facilities and institutions, after Yangon, in Burma where state spending on education is among the lowest in the world.[37] Students in poor districts routinely drop out in middle school as schools have to rely on forced "donations" and various fees from parents for nearly everything – school maintenance to teachers' salaries.[38] Many wealthy Mandalay parents enroll their children in the city's English language private schools for primary and secondary education and Chinese and Singaporean universities for university education. Some wealthy ethnic Chinese families also send their children to "cram schools" where students study for entrance exams into Chinese universities from 6am to 8am, then to government high schools from 9am to 3pm, and finally preparation classes for Singapore GCE O levels from 4pm to 9pm.[39]

For the rest of the students who cannot afford to go abroad for studies, Mandalay offers Upper Burma's best institutions of higher education. The city's University of Medicine, Mandalay, University of Dental Medicine, Mandalay, Mandalay Technological University and University of Computer Studies, Mandalay are among the nation's most selective universities. The vast majority of university students in Mandalay attend liberal arts universities: Mandalay University, the oldest university in Upper Burma, and Yadanabon University.

Health care

The general state of health care in Burma is poor. The military government spends anywhere from 0.5% to 3% of the country's GDP on health care, consistently ranking among the lowest in the world.[40][41] In 2005, the public health care system of Mandalay Division with over 7.6 million people consisted of slightly over 1000 doctors and about 2000 nurses working in 44 hospitals and 44 health clinics. Over 30 of the so-called hospitals had less than 100 beds.[24] Although health care is nominally free, in reality, patients have to pay for medicine and treatment, even in public clinics and hospitals. Public hospitals lack many of the basic facilities and equipment.

Nonetheless Mandalay remains the main health care center for Upper Burma[42] as almost all of large public hospitals and private hospitals are in Mandalay. The city has ten public hospitals and one hospital specializing in traditional Burmese medicine. For a semblance of adequate health care, the well-to-do from Upper Burma go to private hospitals and clinics in Mandalay. For more advanced treatments, they have to go to Yangon or abroad. The wealthy Burmese routinely go abroad (usually Bangkok or Singapore) for treatment.[43]

Sister cities

Mandalay in popular culture



  1. ^ a b c d "United Nations World Urbanization Prospects, 2007 revision". The United Nations Population Division. Retrieved 2009-01-24.  
  2. ^ a b c d Zon Pann Pwint, Minh Zaw and Khin Su Wai (May 18–24, 2009). "Mandalay marks 150th birthday". The Myanmar Times.  
  3. ^ "Myanmar Area Codes".  
  4. ^ a b "China's Ambitions in Myanmar". IISS Strategic Comments. July 2000.  
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  6. ^ "History of Mandalay". Golden City of Asia, Official Mandalay City Site. Retrieved 2009-11-24.  
  7. ^ Issac Taylor (1898). Names and Their Histories: A Handbook of Historical Geography and Topographical Nomenclature (2nd ed.). Rivingtons. p. 186.  
  8. ^ a b "Mandalay Palace" (PDF). Directorate of Archaeological Survey, Burma. 1963. Retrieved 2006-08-22.  
  9. ^ a b Kyaw Thein (1996). The Management of Secondary Cities in Southeast Asia. Case Study: Mandalay. UN-Habitat. ISBN 9211313139, 9789211313130.  
  10. ^ Vincent Clarence Scott O'Connor (1907). Mandalay: And Other Cities of the Past in Burma. Hutchinson & Co.. p. 6–9.  
  11. ^ Herbert Thirkell White (1913). A Civil Servant in Burma. London: E. Arnold.  
  12. ^ Ko Yin Aung (1999-12-23). "Prospects of Education in Myanmar". The New Light of Myanmar.  
  13. ^ Bird, George W (1897). Wanderings in Burma. London: F J Bright & Son. pp. 254.;cc=sea;sid=f7c73dc350626ca80c0cf1c8ff80315f;rgn=full%20text;idno=sea282;view=image;seq=360.  
  14. ^ "Mandalay Centenary Stamps". eBay. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  15. ^ "23,000 Homeless in Burma Fire". New York Times via Reuters. 26 March 1984. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  16. ^ "Myanmar Fire Mar 1984 UNDRO Information Reports 1 - 2". ReliefWeb. 27 March 1984. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  17. ^ "Huge fire rages major market in Myanmar second largest city". China View via Xinhua. 2008-02-25. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  18. ^ Ne Nwe Moe Aung and Sithu Naing (2009-03-02). Dry weather brings upsurge in outbreaks of fire in Myanmar. The Myanmar Times.  
  19. ^ a b Min Lwin (April, 2009). The Chinese Road to Mandalay. The Irrawaddy.  
  20. ^ a b Poon Kim Shee (2002). "The Political Economy of China-Myanmar Relations: Strategic and Economic Dimensions". Ritsumeikan Annual Review of International Studies (Ritsumeikan University).  
  21. ^ Christophe Vigny et al.. "Present-day crustal deformation around Sagaing fault, Myanmar" (PDF). Journal of Geophysical Research, vol 108, 19 November, 2003. pp. 2–4. Retrieved 2009-01-25.  
  22. ^ "Mandalay historic weather averages in Burma". Intellicast. Retrieved 4 June 2009.  
  23. ^ Maung Maung Oo (2001-11-26). "Junta’s New White Elephant Project is Paying Off". Irrawaddy.  
  24. ^ a b Thiha Aung (2005-02-13). "Mandalay Division marching to new golden land of unity and amity". New Light of Myanmar.  
  25. ^ a b c "Asian Highway in Myanmar" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-01-12.  
  26. ^ "Burmese Economy Is an Obstacle to Aid". New York Times. 2008-05-29.  
  27. ^ Phyo Wai Kyaw (2008-06-02). Sunny pick-ups turn back the clock on Mandalay’s roads. Myanmar Times.  
  28. ^ Phyo Wai Kyaw (2007-07-30). Domestic autos take over Mandalay streets. Myanmar Times.  
  29. ^ Shwe Yinn Mar Oo (2008-06-02). "Motor vehicles in Myanmar". Myanmar Times.  
  30. ^ "Ludu Daw Amar: Speaking Truth to Power by Min Zin". Irrawaddy, October 2002. Retrieved 2009-01-12.  
  31. ^ "Myanmar to launch 2nd FM radio station in northern city". People's Daily Online via Xinhua. 2008-03-20.  
  32. ^ Kyaw Zin Htun and Soe Than Linn (2008-03-24). Mandalay gets FM station. Myanmar Times.  
  33. ^ "Mandalay Media". Myanmar's Net. Retrieved 2008-12-24.  
  34. ^ "Naypyidaw to Launch New Daily". Irrawaddy . 2008-12-23.  
  35. ^ Template:City news
  36. ^ Han Oo Khin (March 9–15, 2009). "New era for football". The Myanmar Times.  
  37. ^ "HRDU Yearbook 2006 Chapter 9: Rights to Education and Health". Human Rights Documentation Unit. Retrieved 2008-09-14.  
  38. ^ Yee May Aung (2008-09-10). "Educationalists concerned by Burmese literacy rate". DVB.  
  39. ^ Sandra Davie (2008-10-13). "'I see no future for my two sons in Myanmar.'". Straits Times.  
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External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Mandalay [1] is the second largest city (after Yangon), and a former capital of Myanmar. The city is the economic and religious hub of upper Myanmar. The city is centred around the Royal Palace, and has wide lanes filled with bicycles and motorcycles. Mandalay is known for its millionaires, its monks (half of the country's monks reside in Mandalay and surrounding areas), and its cultural diversity.



Mandalay, the very name evokes the splendors of the Burma of old! But, most people will be surprised to learn that Mandalay is not an old city, not even a medieval one, but rather a new city that was created by King Mingdon Min of Burma in 1857 as the new capital of the kingdom of Ava. Only two Burmese kings ruled from there, King Mingdon and King Thibaw, before the British conquest of Upper Burma in 1885. History records it as a city of splendor between 1858 and 1885 but most of the magnificence is gone, destroyed by the fire that consumes wooden structures, by the cavalier attitudes of its colonial rulers, and by intensive bombing by the allies during the reconquest of Burma in the Second World War. The city, neatly planned with its lettered roads and numbered streets, is a British creation. The once magnificent Royal Palace and the great Atumashi (incomparable) pagoda, King Mingdon Min's finest creations, are modern reconstructions supervised by the ruling Military junta with the help of forced labor. Today, Mandalay lies at the end of the Lashio Road and it is, by Burmese standards, relatively prosperous as a center for trade with China and as a center for the growing trade with India.


Mandalay is ethnically diverse, with the Bamar (Burmans) forming a slight majority. In recent years, there has been a major influx of Chinese from Mainland China, and the Chinese (both recent migrants and colonial-era immigrants) form 30 to 40% of the population. Their influence is seen in the China-style glass buildings throughout the city. Other prevalent ethnic groups include the Shan, who are ethnically and linguistically related to the Thais and Laotians, and the Karen (Kayin). There is a sizable ethnic Indian population, including Nepalis and Sikhs.


Mandalay has a semi-tropical climate. Winter (which is dry and cold) lasts from November to February, and summer lasts from March to May. Because Mandalay is in the central dry zone, it receives far less rain than the more tropical south.

Get in

By plane

Mandalay International Airport, a gleaming modern facility, serves the area with flights to most places in Myanmar and some international flights. Air Mandalay used to provide a service, twice a week, flying from Chiang Mai, Thailand, however, it was suspended in 2008 and, whilst rumors persist, the service has not yet returned. There are also 3 flights weekly to and from Kunming on MU2029 for about RMB2000 one way. The airport is far from the city, 45km on a modern highway (with a few hiccups). Expect to pay US$8 to downtown Mandalay, US$6 from downtown Mandalay, and US$30 to/from Pyin U Lwin.

By train

From Yangon There are several trains daily from Yangon. While the tracks are old and, in some cases, the carriages may be old, the fifteen hour journey is quite pleasant. Note that in Fall of 2006 all trains were rescheduled to travel during the day (so that trains do not cross Pyinmana in the dark) but at least one train (the privately managed Dagon Mann Express) now runs overnight. Fares range from about US$15 (ordinary class/hard seat) to US$50 (Air Conditioned Sleeper on the Dagon Mann Express).

From Lashio, Hsipaw, and Pwin U Lwin There are two trains daily from Pyin U Lwin (US$4/$2) and one from Lashio via Hsipaw and Pwin U Lwin (US$9/3 from Hsipaw). These trains are slow, crowded, but fascinating. The Pyin U Lwin - Hsipaw section includes the famous Gokteik Viaduct, a feat of Raj ingenuity (and American construction!).

From Myitkyina This twenty-four hour journey is on old rolling stock and even older tracks so expect it to be bumpy!

By bus

From Yangon There is a night bus with air-con (6PM departure, 10400k, 12-15 hours) running into Mandalay. Almost certainly the cheapest option for getting between the two main cities in Myanmar.

From Inle Lake, Kalaw or Mid-Eastern Towns There are buses available along this route, either a day minibus (5AM departure, 9000k, 9 hours) or a night bus with air-con (6PM departure). The minibus in the day takes a slightly shorter route than the larger (and some say more comfortable) full-sized night bus. Expect windy and bumpy roads, stops for picking up and putting down passengers, and, if you are lucky, a search of the bus by un-uniformed and just-bribed police officers.

From the Highway Bus Station you can either take a taxi or pick-up into town. Taxis are overly expensive (quoting prices as high as 2000k per person or 6000k for the car), and often bargain in a mob fashion (except they all offer the same price and try and gang-up on you). A far cheaper option is to simply walk out of the bus station yards to the West, and find one of the pick-ups which just ran a load of people to the station from town (500k per person) - they are normally more than happy to help and there is no commission issues to worry about.

Get around

Taxis are relatively inexpensive and are excellent for travelling around Mandalay.

Many sights are centred around Mandalay Hill, which makes foot-walking feasible in that area.

The best and cheapest way to see the city is by bicycle, as traffic isn't as heavy as in other Asian cities.

  • Maha Myat Muni Paya (Burmese: ma-ha myah mu-ni pei-ya) [2] is Myanmar's second holiest pilgrimage site. It is a 4-metre high Buddha statue, made of gold and decorated with precious jewels. The image was brought from Rakhine State, southeast of Mandalay.
  • Shwe Kyi Myin Paya (Burmese: shui ji myin pei-ya) was built in the 1st century, by Prince Min Shin Saw.
  • Sandamuni Paya (Burmese: san-da-mu-ni pei-ya), located at the foot of Mandalay Hill, is similar to Kuthodaw Paya, an adjacent site. Sandamuni contains the world's largest iron Buddha image.
  • Kuthodaw Paya (Burmese: ku-tho-dau pei-ya) is site of the world's largest book, located at the foot of Mandalay Hill. Built by King Mingdon in the 1800s, 729 white stupas within the complex contain the complete text of the Tripitaka, Theravada Buddhism's most sacred text. A very friendly half-German half-Burmese guide called Cherry, normally in the tea-house next door, can provide an informative and interesting tour.
  • Mandalay Hill (Burmese: man-da-lei thaonh) is a 230-metre hill located near Mandalay. Along its path are several monasteries and temples. At its top are famous pagodas and temples.
  • Royal Palace (Burmese: man-da-lei nan-dau) is a walled city within Mandalay. It was built in 1861 by King Mindon, to fulfill a prophecy. The palace, although destroyed in WWI, was renovated, and was renovated recently. It was renovated using forced labour, and locals may advise you not to visit the place. The palace contains several pavilions and chambers. Those who enter from the "foreigners-only gate" should expect to fill out an extensive and probing form. However, to avoid such a form, use the "locals-only gate" (myao-pao) and pay bribes to the army officials there.


Mandalay Hill In the old days you had to climb Mandalay Hill on foot, a long and grueling journey. Nowadays visitors can take a pick-up for a handfull of kyats and hang on to their dear lives (downhill is even scarier). The pick-ups leave every twenty minutes and bring you to the foot of the hill pagoda, where an entry fee of US$3 is collected and footwear is prohibited. The pagode offers nice views of Mandalay and the surrounding plains.

  • Zegyo Market (Burmese: zei-gyo) is a collection of bazaar street markets located near the city centre.


Mandalay, both due to its history as a former capital of Myanmar, and its position as a major trading centre between Myanmar and it's neighbours in China, India and Bangladesh has a notable array of specialties both from various regions within Myanmar as well as from other countries. Cuisine from the Shan State (usually including fermented pastes, vegetables, and meats) is popular in Mandalay which has a notable Shan minority. Muslim Chinese noodles, pronounced pan-THEI-kao-sweh (flat thin noodles mixed with an array of spices, chili, and chicken), are also famous in Mandalay and the surrounding hills. Regardless of where you eat, try and leave space for Htou moun(to-moh), a traditional Burmese dessert sold only in Mandalay. Beware, it contains a lot of oil and is extremely sweet.

  • Mann Restaurant, 83rd Street (Between 25th & 26th Streets). A Chinese restaurant, frequented by locals, but not so much by foreigners. Has a number of basic Chinese meals, at around 2000k a plate. Easily recognised from the street by the abundant yellow and black advertising for a local whisky brand. (They do sell beer and alcohol here too, Myanmar Beer at 1500k a bottle compared to 2000k in Yangon.)  edit
  • Too Too Myanmar Cuisine, 28th Street (Between 74th & 75th Streets). Supposedly has the best Burmese food in whole Mandalay.  edit


Mandalay has several tourist-friendly accommodations. Many hotels face the Royal Palace.


Most budget guesthouses are located around 25th Street, between 81st and 84th Streets. There are many more than those listed here, so if you find somewhere nice (or nasty), share it here.

  • Peacock Lodge, 5 61st St., Mandalay. Terrific homestay B&B, with very friendly family staff. A little bit out of the center, also has a bike rental. US$20.  edit
  • Royal Guesthouse, No. 41 25th Street (Between 82nd & 83rd Streets, Southern side.), 0265697. checkout: 12 Midday. A traveler favourite (and Lonely Planet "Our Pick"). This place does fill up pretty quickly, so if you want to be sure - place a reservation before arriving in Mandalay. Cheaper rooms have fan and shared bathroom - more expensive have aircon. That being said, aircon is on the government grid and so will go down during (common) blackouts. Friendly staff, and close to the Royal Palace. Bike rental (1500k per day, negotiable) available across the road. US$7 plus.  edit
  • Mandalay Hill Resort, No.9, Kwin (416.B), 10th Street, [3]. An 8-storey hotel located at the foot of Mandalay Hill.  edit
  • Sedona Mandalay, No. 1, Junction of 26th & 66th Streets, [4]. A Singaporean-owned hotel built blending traditional Burmese and modern architecture that faces the Royal Palace and Mandalay Hill  edit
  • Zegyo Hotel, 84th Street (Between 27th and 28th Streets, next to Zegyo market). Great location, clean rooms.  edit

Stay safe

Mandalay is a haven for drug kingpins and is a main trading centre of illicit drugs. In 2005, an explosion occurred at Zegyo Market. That being said, Mandalay is generally a very safe city.

  • Amarapura (Pyi) - famous for its ancient sights, and for U Bein bridge, the world's longest teak bridge.
  • Maymyo (Pyin U Lwin) - former British hill station in a lush alpine forest. The small town contains a variety of colonial relics, and is most famous for its botanical gardens (modelled on England's Kew Gardens). Also known for the Defence Services Academy, the top-ranked military academy in Myanmar.
  • Mingun - best known for the Mingun Bell (one of the largest bells in the world), is a boat ride away.
  • Sagaing (to the east) - has many Buddhist temples and monasteries, especially on Sagaing Hill.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Rudyard Kipling
From Departmental Ditties and Barrack-Room Ballads (1890).

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea,
There's a Burma girl a-settin', and I know she thinks o' me;
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say:
"Come you back, you British soldier; come you back to Mandalay!"
                    Come you back to Mandalay,
                    Where the old Flotilla lay:
                    Can't you 'ear their paddles chunkin' from Rangoon to Mandalay?
                    On the road to Mandalay,
                    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
                    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

'Er petticoat was yaller an' 'er little cap was green,
An' 'er name was Supi-yaw-lat — jes' the same as Theebaw's Queen,
An' I seed her first a-smokin' of a whackin' white cheroot,
An' a-wastin' Christian kisses on an 'eathen idol's foot:
                    Bloomin' idol made o'mud —
                    Wot they called the Great Gawd Budd
                    Plucky lot she cared for idols when I kissed 'er where she stud!
                    On the road to Mandalay . . .

When the mist was on the rice-fields an' the sun was droppin' slow,
She'd git 'er little banjo an' she'd sing "Kulla-lo-lo!"
With 'er arm upon my shoulder an' 'er cheek agin' my cheek
We useter watch the steamers an' the hathis pilin' teak.
                    Elephints a-pilin' teak
                    In the sludgy, squdgy creek,
                    Where the silence 'ung that 'eavy you was 'arf afraid to speak!
                    On the road to Mandalay . . .

But that's all shove be'ind me — long ago an' fur away,
An' there ain't no 'busses runnin' from the Bank to Mandalay;
An' I'm learnin' 'ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells:
"If you've 'eard the East a-callin', you won't never 'eed naught else."
                    No! you won't 'eed nothin' else
                    But them spicy garlic smells,
                    An' the sunshine an' the palm-trees an' the tinkly temple-bells;
                    On the road to Mandalay . . .

I am sick o' wastin' leather on these gritty pavin'-stones,
An' the blasted Henglish drizzle wakes the fever in my bones;
Tho' I walks with fifty 'ousemaids outer Chelsea to the Strand,
An' they talks a lot o' lovin', but wot do they understand?
                    Beefy face an' grubby 'and —
                    Law! wot do they understand?
                    I've a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land!
                    On the road to Mandalay . . .

Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst;
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be —
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, looking lazy at the sea;
                    On the road to Mandalay,
                    Where the old Flotilla lay,
                    With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay!
                    On the road to Mandalay,
                    Where the flyin'-fishes play,
                    An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay!

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1936, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 70 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MANDALAY, formerly the capital of independent Burma, now the headquarters of the Mandalay division and district, as well as the chief town in Upper Burma, stands on the left bank of the Irrawaddy, in 21 0 59' N. and 96° 8' E. Its height above mean sea-level is 315 ft. Mandalay was built in1856-1857by King Mindon. It is now divided into the municipal area and the cantonment. The town covers an area of 6 m. from north to south and 3 from east to = west, and has well-metalled roads lined with avenues of trees and regularly lighted and watered. The cantonment consists of the area inside the old city walls, and is now called Fort Dufferin. In the centre stands the palace, a group of wooden buildings, many of them highly carved and gilt, resting on a brick platform 900 ft. by 500 ft., and 6 ft. high. The greater part of it is now utilized for military and other offices. The garrison consists of a brigade belonging to the Burma command of the Indian army. There are many fine pagodas and monastic buildings in the town. The population in 1901 was 183,816, showing a decrease of 3% in the decade. The population is very mixed. Besides Burmese there are Zerbadis (the offspring of a Mahommedan with a Burman wife), Mahommedans, Hindus, Jews, Chinese, Shans and Manipuris (called Kathe), Kachins and Palaungs. Trains run from Mandalay to Rangoon, Myit-kyina, and up the Mandalay-Kunlong railway. The steamers of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company also ply in all directions. There are twenty bazaars, the chief of which, the Zegyo, was burnt in 1897, and again in 1906, but rebuilt.

The Mandalay District has an area of 211 7 sq. m. and a population (1901) of 366,507, giving a density of 177 inhabitants to the square mile. About 600 sq. m. along the Irrawaddy river are flat land, nearly all cultivated. In the north and east there are some 1500 sq m. of high hills and table-lands, forming geographically a portion of the Shan table-land. Here the fall to the plains averages 3000 to 4000 ft. in a distance of 10 m. This part of the district is well wooded and watered. The Maymyo subdivision has very fine plateaus of 3000 to 3600 ft. in height. The highest peaks are between 4000 and 5000 ft. above sealevel. The Irrawaddy, the Myit-nge and the Madaya are the chief rivers. The last two come from the Shan States, and are navigable for between 20 and 30 m. There are many canals, most of which have fallen greatly into disrepair, and the Aungbinle, Nanda and Shwepyi lakes also supply water for cultivation. A systematic irrigation scheme has been undertaken by the government. The Sagyin hills near Madaya are noted for their alabaster; rubies are also found in small quantities. There are 335 sq. m. of forest reserves in the district, but there is little teak. The climate is dry and healthy. During May and June and till August strong winds prevail. The thermometer rises to about 107° in the shade in the hot weather, and the minimum in the month of December is about 55°. The rainfall is light, the average being under 30 in.

The DIVISION includes the districts of Mandalay, Bhamo, Myitkyina, Katha and Ruby Mines, with a total area of 29,373 sq. m., and a population (Igor) of 777,338, giving an average density of 30 inhabitants to the square mile. (J. G. Sc.)

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