Fascinating and fun as it can be, the city of Mandalay is for the most part not the exotic and traditional destination of imagination: much of the city was destroyed during the second world war and is therefore relatively modern and built on a grid plan.
Mandalay is a great base from which to explore the ruins of the nearby ancient capitals of Inwa (Ava) and Sagaing, and the pagodas and monasteries that surround them. You will also find similar sights, as well as the unique and beautiful teak-built Un Bein Bridge, in Amarapura, as well as the remains of what was set to be the largest stupa in the world rest on the banks of the Irrawaddy River at Mingun.
Mandalay and its surrounds can be very dusty and hot during the hot season; it is often during the rainy season that you will find the clearest views and most pleasant temperatures. The ruling classes in British Burma headed to the scenic colonial hill station of Pyin Oo Lwin (Maymyo) to cool off.