Mandalay is a relatively young city, having been built mainly in the 19th century when it became the last of the Burmese royal capitals. Your first visit will be to the Mahamuni Pagoda, which houses the most revered Buddha image in the city. The seated image (below left) is cast in bronze but has been covered in a thick layer of gold leaf over the years by thousands of devout Buddhists (en route to the pagoda you will stop off to observe the laborious process of gold-leaf beating, where gold is painstakingly hammered out into tissue-thin squares). Continue to the Kuthodaw Pagoda, known also as the world’s biggest book, a collection of more than 700 marble slabs inscribed with Buddhist teachings, followed by a short visit to the Shwenandaw Kyaung (the Golden Teak Monastery), noted for its exquisite wood carvings (below right). Take a stroll around Zegyo market, where you can find Burmese products such as silk and slippers, before heading for the top of Mandalay Hill for great views of the surrounding countryside, Irrawaddy River and city centre.