Indulge Myanmar: Best message in Mandalay
Mandalay’s former royal capital is these days a buzzing trade city that can feel chaotic at times. The sites are spread out so during a visit you may spend more time than normal in cars and on foot. We suggest the following ways to splash out or indulge in Myanmar’s ‘second city’.
Best message in Mandalay #1: DO
Massage- What better way to escape the buzz of the city and rejuvenate tired muscles than with a massage? Mandalay has dozens of small massage shops but few offer the level of service required discerning customers. By far the best option in town is the spa at Mandalay Hill Resort hotel. From the second you enter the teak spa villa your mind and body relax, with its tranquil music and soothing lemongrass aroma. Treatments start at 25 USD for a foot massage and 45 USD for a body massage. On the cheaper end of the scale, Amaravati spa offers high-quality services by Thai-trained masseurs. Foot massages cost around 8 USD per hour and, although are done in an open-plan room, the setting is quiet. Body massages start at 15 USD per hour and are done in private rooms.
Cinema- If the heat of Mandalay is too much, the cinema is a perfect place to retreat. The cinemas at the top of Diamond Plaza and Mingalar Mandalay shopping malls offer a selection of western and Asian movies, comfortable seats and strong air conditioning- sit back, relax and escape the ‘real world’ for a couple of hours. There are also 3-D screens for select movies and at just 2-5 USD per movie, its a great bargain!
Cruise- Whether for a few hours or a few days, cruising on the Irrawaddy River is an unforgettable experience. From Mandalay it is possible to hire a private boat for the one-hour trip to Mingun. From there the boat can continue down to Ava for further sightseeing or return to Mandalay. A catered lunch or dinner on-board adds an extra touch of luxury.
Best message in Mandalay #2: DINE & DRINK
Bistro @ 82- Stepping in to Bistro @ 82, you may think for a minute that you have entered a European cafe. The white interior with minimal but tasteful decoration and eclectic music selection set the tone for a great meal. The menu is short but diverse, focusing on Asian-infused western dishes such as grilled baramundi with crispy tea-leaf salad crust. Bistro @ 82 is also home to Mandalay’s best wine list although it does come with a hefty price tag.
Lot 64- Lot 64 attracts Mandalay’s wealthy 30-somethings who come for the great cocktails and shisha pipes. Although the bar list is nothing to note by western standards it is certainly better stocked than most places in Myanmar, especially for whiskey. The bartenders are well-trained, albeit a bit slow at times, and the bar snacks menu makes for a nice starter. It won’t break the bank at around 4 USD a cocktail, but it is a nice setting especially if you are keen to see how the younger Burmese relax at the end of a working week.
Daung Lann Gyi- Whist not ‘high end’, Daung Lann Gyi is the place to go if you want to indulge in a meal of various Burmese dishes. Start with one of their dozens of salads, continue with a curry and soup combination and finish with one of their delicious coconut-based sweets. Wash it all down with a fresh fruit juice. For the ultimate ‘indulgence’ try their namesake daunglann gyi – a traditional meal of a dozen or more small dishes.
Best message in Mandalay #3: SHOP
Moe Gem’s & Jewelry – Located near Mandalay’s Ba Htoo football stadium not far from the city’s moat, Ma Moe’s is the place to buy gems. As a certified gemologist, Ma Moe offers honest advise on the stones which can be bought loose or set.
Jade Market- Aimed at wholesalers, those who know their jade can score great deals on the precious green stone. Open in the mornings only, buyers should come early for the best selection and closely examine each piece before making a purchase.