Mandalay Hill


How to climb Mandalay Hill and its 1,729 steps

Mountain Stats
Natural Form and History
Climbing Experience & Itinerary
Support Facilities
Safety & Accessibility
Special Tips
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Quick Answers

Q:How many steps are there to get up Mandalay Hill?
A:There are 1,729 steps on the “Two Chinthes Ascent” of Mandalay Hill, starting from two large white Chinthe (half lion half dragon) statues on the Hill’s Southern foot and ending at the Su Taung Pyae Pagoda at the summit. However, Mandalay Hill can also be summited by road and then elevator (making it relatively accessible for people with disabilities, with only 4 steps to navigate at the elevator entrance).
Q:How high is Mandalay Hill?
A:Mandalay Hill has an elevation of 241m (790 ft) above sea level, but a prominence of about 224m (734 ft), with Mandalay city being about 22m (72 ft) above sea level. The climbing height for the Two Chinthes Ascent - from the mountains southern foot - is about 149m (489 ft), with a total of 1,729 steps, but the summit is accessible by road and elevator (with just 4 steps).

Climbing Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Mountain Stats

241m (790 ft)
Climbing Height
149 m (489 ft)
  • #1 highest point in Mandalay City
Other names
  • Su Taung Pyae Pagoda

Climbing Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Natural Form and History

Natural Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Natural history

Mandalay and its Hill sits at the border between two of the major geological zones in Myanmar – the Eastern Highlands and the Central Lowlands. Mandalay Hill (and the Sagaing Hills across the river) are the most westerly, hitherto uneroded outposts of the Eastern Highlands known to have early cretaceous rocks, as well as granites, and paleozoic and mesozoic rocks.

Natural Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Climbing history

During WWII, Mandalay Hill was the location of a final hold-out of the Japanese Imperial Army when the British restored their control of the city. From this vantage, the Japanese set up a gauntlet of machine guns, which took a Gurka Battalion to dislodge. From there, the British forces lobbed artillery into the walled Mandalay Palace compound in a bid to dislodge the final Japanese troops, and destroyed the famed teak palace in the process.

Natural Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Current status

Today, Mandalay is a place of religious observance, or just a great place to observe the stunning Myanmar sunrises or sunsets. It is definitely one of the most popular attractions in Mandalay, which is not an especially popular destination for tourists.

Climbing Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Climbing Experience & Itinerary

Climbing Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Climbing Experience

Mandalay Hill is a rather leisurely and visually rich climb, best done at a saunter outside of the hotter hours of the day, and ideally taking in a sunrise or sunset. The only challenges are avoiding the mid-day heat, or slippery patches when it rains, and conforming to the standards of dress and behaviour befitting of a religious place (which is also part of the fun).

Climbing Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Trail options

Number of options

The main trail is a staircase all the way up, but you can also cheat by taking a car/motorbike and an escalator (if it isn’t broken). There are a couple of other less popular stairways to the North and West, but these are neither popular or recommended (so they won’t be covered here).

Time to complete
1 to 2 hours (return)

The main trail up Mandalay Hill is actually a staircase. It begins with a long covered staircase running up the hill’s southern flank. There are 1,729 steps, over about 1 to 1.5km. 

Two Chinthe (half lion, half dragon guardian spirits) statues guard the beginning of the Two Chinthes Ascent of Mandalay Hill
Two Chinthes (half lion, half dragon guardian spirits) guard the beginning of the Two Chinthes Ascent of Mandalay Hill

Number of days
Day 1

Arrive at the southern gate which is guarded by two giant white Chinthes (lion/dragon guardian deities that ward off evil spirits). Begin climbing the 1,729 steps under the covered stairwell, and perhaps peruse the trinkets and religious curios in the makeshift markets set up on the flanks of the stairs.


Check out some of the buildings on the way up, including halls housing standing and prophesying buddhas. One of the larger images of the buddha is pointing towards the city of Mandalay, which is depicting the time that the Buddha visited this area, and prophesied that a great city would flourish here at the foot of this hill.  and other more derelict buildings sometimes pockmarked with WWII battlescars.


Reach the summit. Just as you reach the summit, you will find a few places of note:
There is a colourful kneeling statue of a woman holding what appears to be a breast in her hand. Legend has it that she cut off her breasts to offer them to the Buddha as a rather horrific merit-making exercise (it was ultimately successful as she was reincarnated as a king).
You might also find a small hole in the ground which, as legend has it, was caused by the spearpoint of the Bagan King Kyanzittha when he used it to pole-vault from the top of Mandalay hill across the Irrawaddy river a few kilometres to the West.

View of Mandalay Hill from the moat of the old palace
Mandalay Hill

Perch yourself somewhere to enjoy a sunset which is, most likely, awesome. From the top of Mandalay hill, you will see most of Mandalay City, including the old moated citadel, the grid-patterned streets, and various other significant Buddhist sites. It sits in the Irrawaddy floodplain that stretches south over the horizon. You will also see the Irrawaddy River to the West, and the beginnings of the Shan Highlands are clearly visible to the East.

Note: The elevator back down actually closes at 6pm (18:00). So if you’re staying for sunset, then you’re committed to walking down.


The sun should be set by now, so time to walk back down and out of the temple complex and collect your shoes. A walk around the Mandalay Palace moat can be an enjoyable evening activity if you still have energy to burn in your legs.

Time to complete
1 hour (return)

If you’re not up for walking all the way up, you can take a car or motorbike up the paved road running most of the way up the top. At the carpark where the road stops, there is an adjacent escalator which will bring you most of the rest of the way up to the summit, but it is frequently out of service. A motorbike or taxi should cost you around 3,000 to 5,000 MMK up, and a bit less back.

Time to complete
1 to 2 hours (return)

There are other 2 other stairways that get you to the summit from the North (25 mins) and West (15 mins) but they’re less popular, steeper, and not as interesting. 

These might present options for trail runners, but we are yet to confirm this.

Climbing Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Support facilities

Guides and porters

Guides are not required
Porters are not required

Trail facilities

Trail head - Toilets / Bathrooms
Trail - Rest stop shelters, such as huts, pavilions, etc.
Trail - "Groomed" trail, with built steps, raised or concrete paths, etc, where needed

Food & water

Trail head - Food
Trail head - Potable water
Trail - Food
Trail - Portable water

Network connectivity

Trail head - Network signal
Trail - Network signal
Summit - Network signal

Climbing Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Safety & Accessibility


The hot season in central Myanmar is no joke. Temperatures from February to May will reach above 40 degrees celsius (~105 degrees Fahrenheit) just about every day. If you’re in Mandalay in the hot season, only attempt Mandalay Hill around dawn or dusk, which also lets you enjoy the sunrise or sunset.

Climbing safety

You’ll be required to take your shoes off for at least part of the climb. During the hot season, in the hot part of the day or just after, this can actually be quite painful to walk on unshaded areas. In the wet season, it can get quite slippery. If you’re taking the alternative stairways, the surfaces might hurt at times if you’re required to take your shoes off (to be confirmed).

Personal safety

Mandalay Hill is a safe place to be. The only real hazards are the public restrooms, which can be quite unsanitary. Also, don’t buy water bottles that have had their cap seals broken.

Permits, Fees, and Regulations

All are welcome in Mandalay Hill, but women are required to cover shoulders and knees, preferably with an ankle-length shawl or longgyi. You may be required to pay a 1,000 MMK fee for bringing a camera up the mountain. As in all Bhuddist places of worship, you will not be permitted to wear shoes. You should be able to leave them at the entrance of the holy areas, and sometimes check them into a guarded locker.

Emergency contacts

Police: 199
Ambulance: 192
Fire: 191

Note: Mandalay Hill is usually full of people, and Myanmar people are invariably willing to help others in trouble.

Getting there and away

Mandalay airport is about a 1-hour drive to the south of Mandalay Hill. Taxis from the airport can be easy, so long as you get out of the airport before they’re all taken. If you plan to get held up, such as by getting a visa on arrival, it is best to arrange a taxi in advance.

Money Matters

Other than the 1,000 MMK camera fee, payment should not be required to enjoy Mandalay hill.

Note: It is traditional for monks to request alms from the public, but solitary older monks or small packs of more assertive child monks are likely to be imposters.

Climbing Mandalay Hill Myanmar - Special Tips

Tips for amateur climbers

Mandalay Hill is not a challenging hike, and is absolutely amateur-friendly. Unless you have an injury, you are not likely to have troubles.

Special tip for climbers with a disability: When the elevators are working, the Mandalay Hill summit can be reached by wheelchair. However, there are still a 4 steps before the elevator that some will need assistance with, and the elevator closes at 6pm (this is usually just before sunset, unfortunately). Also, most of the railings will block the view when seated, so the full panorama may be difficult to glimpse if you aren’t able to stand.

Tips for advanced climbers

Advanced climbers won’t get any thrills on Mandalay Hill. If you’re after a physical challenge, try running up the road, or up one of the alternative stairways from the North of West.

Tips for women

As with most Bhuddist sites, women are required to dress with a top that covers the shoulders, and a skirt/pants that cover the knees (of course, the spaces in between shoulders and knees should be covered too)

There should be no problems for women’s personal safety. Although Mandalay Hill is a popular hangout for groups of young men, and this generally means that there is the potential for loutish behaviour, it is very unlikely to turn aggressive. 

Tips for responsible / safety-conscious climbers

Being a religious site, you should be on your best behaviour, and be respectful of people’s customs and traditions. But there are local customs you should also observe to be sure not to cause offence:  

  1. Remove shoes before entering holy places, when directed to, or when other people are doing so.
  2. Dress with shoulders and knees covered (particularly for women).
  3. Be careful not to have the soles of your feet pointed towards holy sites or people (and especially not monks or nuns).
  4. Don’t try to touch monks, even on their robes.
  5. Don’t give money or sweets to other people’s children.
  6. Don’t take people’s photos without asking.
  7. Don’t touch people’s heads (or hug or shake hands with women).
  8. Don’t disturb people in prayer or meditation.
  9. Avoid kissing or showing other public displays of affection.
  10. Although it won’t necessarily cause offence, please don’t purchase products derived from parts of wild animals.

Tips for trail runners

It is possible to run up and down Mandalay Hill on the summit access road, but this is not a trail run. You may be able to run the Northern trail too. It may be the case that you can link up the access road trail with the Northern trail, and loop back around on the road to the east, but you may need to take your runners off and slow down for at least part of this circuit. Please email us if you have a good trail plotted out.

Tips for nature lovers

Apart from the occasional bird, Mandalay hill offers little to the nature lover.

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