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Despite the romance in its name, many folk just pass through Mandalay, stopping off to see the Mahamuni Paya temple with its ancient, and 13foot tall Buddha, on their way.
But it's certainly worth stopping for a while to look behind the modern zones and see the strange collection of mosques, temples churches and pagodas, and the countless monasteries lining the riverside.
Many of the best places to stay in Mandalay are tucked away behind drab concrete towers, but don't be afraid to look behind them, and you'll find all sorts of wonders. Including the old moat and city walls, the reconstructed palace, the jade market, Kyauktawgyi Paya and its 26foot tall Buddha and the wonderful carved panels of the monastery of Shwenandaw Kyaung.
- The Hotel by the Red Canal is a 26 room boutique hotel tucked away down a backstreet, just 15minutes drive from Mandalay Hill and the city centre. The main building is reminiscent of a Burmese monastery and there's a cavern-like underground spa. But it's also got all the mod. cons. and more, like iPod docs and flat-screen TVs and black marble bathrooms.
Best Hotels in Mandalay
Hotel by the Red Canal 26 rooms from $144Mandalay (Aung Myae Tha Zan Township)
A tropical oasis in the heart of the city of Mandalay. Indulgent, secluded and packed full of charm.Sights nearby - A 15 minute drive to Mandalay Hill, the city centre and Zeygo Market. Minutes from Mandalay PalaceSpa - Ayurvedic, holistic and natural body treatments availableLocal markets - Good for local colour.Swimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor