Make the Climb up the Majestic Mandalay Hill
Mandalay Hill is, as its name suggests, a 240-metre hill in the northeast of the city center of Mandalay in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The city takes its name from the hill, and not the other way around. It is a well-known destination due to the numerous monasteries and pagodas in the area, the most famous of which is the Sutaungpyei Pagoda, which literally means "the wish-fulfilling pagoda".
It's no surprise, then, that making the climb alone is considered a rewarding experience and a deed worthy of merit. Two massive lion-dragon statues guard the hill's gates; from there, visitors can choose any of the four covered stairs to make their ascent in, although there is also an escalator available for the less able-bodied. Most choose to go on the climb barefooted. All routes end at a shrine containing a large standing buddha, arm outstretched and pointing towards the royal palace. Devotees may light incense and say their prayers within. The entire climb is mild and takes only 30 minutes, should you choose to forego sightseeing, shopping, or taking pictures along the way. However, all three activities are encouraged: there are several souvenir shops, mini-sights and beautiful views on the way up to the top, such as the statue of the female ogre Sanda Mukhi, who offered up her own breasts to Buddha. He was so impressed by this sacrifice that he ensured her reincarnation and thus it is said that she was reborn into King Mindon, who founded Mandalay.
The most impressive views of the city can be found at the summit. It's best to visit at sunset or close to it, as viewing the sunset from the top of the hill can be described as a religious experience. However, be prepared for the crowds of fellow tourists looking to enjoy the same view; it could be a good idea to arrive early to secure the perfect spot for taking photos. Young monks may approach you in order to practice their English, and talking with them about their experiences can provide you with more insight about life in a monastery while you help them practice the language. You may also be approached midway through the climb by guides offering their services. Take them up on their offer if you want to experience Mandalay the way a local does!
If you’re coming from the airport, getting to Mandalay Hill is located due north from here. Just get on a taxi or private vehicle and ask them to drive towards Malanday Hill, which should be located on Malanday Hill Street.