Day 9 - Mandalay - Mingun - Mandalay (B,L)
OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Balloon Experience Over Mandalay – As your hot-air balloon rises against the backdrop of Mandalay Hill, the first site to greet you is 729 white pitaka pagodas housing the world’s largest book. Drifting above the vibrant city you’ll witness barefoot monks collecting alms, bustling morning markets, boats coming alive on the Irrawaddy River and U Bein Bridge in Amarapura. (Note: available only from late- October to late-March; all flights weather permitting)
After breakfast, transfer to the Mandalay jetty and board a private local boat for a 1-hr cruise on the Irrawaddy River to Mingun.
Visit the main sites of Mingun beginning with the famous Mingun Pahtodawgyi. This huge brick structure was left unfinished after an astrologer predicted the King’s would die should the temple be completed. In the 1800s, an earthquake left several large cracks in the structure. Continue your visit at the beautiful white Hsinbyume Pagoda, whose distinctive style is meant to resemble the mythical Mount Meru. Then, see the Mingun Bell which weighs 90 tons and is considered the world’s largest uncracked ringing bell.
Return to Mandalay by boat, enjoying lunch on board as you make your way back to the city.
Next, visit Mahamuni Pagoda. This pagoda is home to one of the country’s most revered Buddha images which, over the years, has been covered with gold leaf, giving it an almost ‘lumpy’ texture. Mandalay is well known for its skilled craftsmen and as you tour traditional workshops, you will learn more about the city’s cottage industries. Observe the production of wood carvings, kalaga tapestries, and gold-leaf where the techniques remained unchanged from those used centuries ago to craft items for the Royal Court.
OPTION: Make your own marionette! Join the local craftsmen at their workshop and create your own, unique puppet. A hands-on way to learn about the local culture and create a memorable, personalized souvenir! 20 USD per person
Continue your tour of Mandalay with a visit to Kuthodaw Pagoda, whose 729 marble stone slabs of Buddhist scriptures have earned it the title ‘World’s Biggest Book’. Continue to Shwenandaw Monastery, the only remaining building from the 19th century Royal Palace. This grand teak building is known for its exquisite woodcarving.
If you wish, head to the top of Mandalay Hill to watch the sunset.
Overnight in Mandalay.