Mandalay was the last royal capital of Burma. The city is centered around the Royal Palace. It was originally built in 1857 and reconstructed in the 1990’s. It is a massive complex
with 4 walls with periodic guard towers in a huge square surrounding the old fortress. The 26-foot high walls are in turn surrounded by a moat. To run around the whole thing is at least 8km. I’ve only ever attempted max 1.75 sides then turned back (with the goal of working my way up to tackling the whole thing).
When you visit the palace, you have to buy a 10,000 kyat multi-destination ticket. Then you have to get off of your motorbike or bicycle to enter the walls. Once through the gate of the fortress, you can re-mount your 2-wheeled transport to go to the palace entrance. (You can also walk, but it’s usually hot and it’s a long walk from almost anywhere to the East entrance).
The palace itself is pretty nice. When you enter, there are thick gold columns painted with
green details. Some of the buildings are ornately decorated in glittering mirrors and shining gold. Others are simple wood, painted maroon. The throne hall is especially exuberant. Its décor is complete with mannequin king and queen! Even the wooden buildings are finished nicely with intricate carvings. The architecture is quite unique, with pyramid-shaped decorations, also delicately carved, on all of the roofs. At the back of the palace is a small cultural museum with some interesting relics. As I peered into all of the rooms, I was slightly disappointed to find many of them empty. It’s definitely still worth a visit though! The best part is the wooden watch tower. Stairs spiral up its outside. From the top is a great view of all of the other buildings.
The view of the outer fortress walls is especially nice at sunrise or sunset when the sun silhouettes the towers and reflects on the moats waters.