Talk about a weekend getaway to friends and family and you’ll most likely be flooded with calls for the white sand beaches of Bali, the pulsating streets of Bangkok, or the hedonism of Hong Kong. The words “Mandalay” and “Myanmar” may do little to stoke excitement, but here are 5 reasons why Mandalay deserves your attention, now.

1: The People

If you’re a firm believer that people are what truly make a travel destination special, then you’ll absolutely love Mandalay.

This miniature melting pot fuses together the diligence of the Chinese, the graciousness of the Bamar and the diversity of innumerable other ethnic groups to create a truly exciting travel recipe.

And if you’re the type of traveler that rejoices in constant conversations with locals about why you’re visiting, then you’ll love the inquisitiveness of the Burmese as you’re stopped at every opportunity to explain your presence!

2: The Food

No weekend getaway would be complete without accommodating your taste buds, so you’ll be happy to find Mandalay a willing host in this regard.

An eclectic mix of mouthwatering curries, fragrant spices and refreshing salads, Mandalay’s cuisine reflects the wonderful variety that can be found embedded within Burmese culture.

Follow it all up with a heavily sweetened tea or coffee at one of the many teahouses across the city, and mingle with the locals as they discuss politics, life and watch sports to get a truly authentic experience.

3: The Architecture

If you’re lucky enough to descend into Mandalay via plane, then you’ll be greeted by the unforgettable view of hundreds of glistening pagodas immersed in the wilderness of this stunning city.

Exploring the temples around town is one of its true charms and provides innumerable opportunities to build up your Instagram portfolio.

Stand out picks include the Golden Palace Monastery, a work of woodcarving art that could rival most of what Angkor Wat throws up – it’s that spectacular.

Also be sure to catch a glimpse of the Kuthodaw Pagoda, aka “The World’s Largest Book” and feel the magic as you weave between the stone crevices of the Buddha’s inscriptions.

Mandalay Hill

4: The Views

Stunning sunsets take on a new meaning in Mandalay, with the view from the renowned hill picturesque enough to rival anything across Asia.

If you’re feeling adventurous, however, a half-day trip to neighboring Sagaing is the pick of the bunch. Nothing quite beats being perched on top of a mountain, surrounded by dozens of Buddhist monks and nuns as you watch the sun come down across the Ayeyarwady River. ‘Magical’ is an understatement.

5: The “Feeling”

Mandalay’s rich history of colonialism and glory, combined with its stunning landscape give it a mystique that is unparalleled in South East Asia.

And while Yangon may be the blood and veins that keeps Myanmar pumping, I’d argue that Mandalay is its soul. For this reason alone, you should sprint to Burma’s second city before imminent gentrification takes the edges off its crown jewel forever.

Ready to see the best of Mandalay? Grab a last-minute deal on hotels in Mandalay with the HotelQuickly app, and save more on your adventure.

– This is a guest post by Adam Kitchen