Compared with the ancient treasures surrounding the city,Mandalay is a veritable whippersnapper at just 150 years old. Founded as

The British stormed in and took over in 1885 in a one-sided conflict. Poetic though the name may be, Mandalay is a thoroughly modern city, the second largest in the country. The dusty streets sprawl east of the Ayeyarwady and south of Mandalay Hill, a stupa-studded hill looming over the flat cityscape.

It’s impossible not to be impressed by the golden Buddha of Mahamuni Paya, but the real attractions lie beyond town in the nearby ancient cities. capital of the Burmese empire in 1861, Mandalay saw the swansong of the last kings of Burma.

The town continues to boom thanks to Chinese investment and, so the story goes, from the red, green and white trades – rubies, jade and heroin. Beneath this bustling bravado, there is a more meditative side to life here, as it’s home to three in five of Myanmar’s Buddhist monks.