Mandalay is not super easy to like – walking downtown there doesn’t seem to be that much to do, and the busy roads are not in great condition. But you do find interesting things around, like the odd street market with nice food stalls.
I was unlucky with the weather in Mandalay as it was cloudy and a bit rainy (very cold for locals at 22 degrees). So I skipped Mandalay Hill as I wouldn’t get much of a view and instead explored the pagodas at the foot of the hill, including Kothodaw pagoda that has a claim to fame as being ‘the largest book in the world’.
I don’t think Mandalay is a necessary stop in a trip to Myanmar, but as I walked around the city grew on me. The area to the east of Mandalay Palace has less traffic and so is nicer to explore on foot.
For dinner I went to the popular Mingalabar, a restaurant serving delicious food with the most insanely large portions (a small feast for one including drinks and tip for 9,500MMK).
I stayed at Diamonds Inn, a really nice hotel ($25 per night including breakfast) that was centrally located and perfect for a break after a hot day exploring.
I went for a foot massage at Innwa and it was great. The service was excellent and it cost only 7,000MMK (about £4!).