Many travellers start or end their trip to Myanmar with a stop in the city of Mandalay. Despite the romantic connotations of the city’s name, thanks entirely to Kipling (who actually spent only three days in the country!), Mandalay comes with the traffic and pollution problems that you'd expect in any large Southeast Asian city.
If you’re looking for a place to relax, a home from home amid the city buzz, look no further than the aptly named ‘Ma Ma Guesthouse’, run by lovely husband and wife team, Win and Su.
Why does Ma Ma Guesthouse make our Best Hostel List?
The food – At breakfast, you’ll get plenty of fresh fruit, eggs and toast, tea, coffee and juice. If you’re hanging around at lunch or in the evening you can order tasty noodles, rice, soup or Burmese mixed salads, such as Lahpet Thoke (pickled tea leaf salad) or Htamin Thoke (Rice salad). In the evening, we’d highly recommend the Burmese traditional menu – a feast of five delicious home-cooked dishes (meat and veg dishes) complete with fruit, tea and homemade sweets. You can even get a glass of red or white local Myanmar wine, produced in the Inle Lake region.
Cooking classes – The friendly owner Su, offers cooking classes, which although we didn’t get the chance to experience while we were there, heard great things about. The class costs $30 USD and lasts five hours, in which time you’ll get to visit the local market to buy fresh, local ingredients, cook (and of course, devour!) four traditional Burmese dishes, all made from hand-me-down family recipes. Su can arrange for just one person, or a larger group, depending on demand.
Comfortable, clean rooms – You’ll feel really at home in one of the 10 cosy rooms, at Ma Ma Guesthouse complete with all the amenities that you could need: free WIFI, hairdryer, fridge, free water, tea and coffee making facilities, flat-screen satellite TV, fan and AC, hot shower and free toiletries. They also offer laundry service. The rooms are spotlessly clean and housekeeping come in once a day to make your bed (if you haven't already!) and replenish your drinks stash.
Homely atmosphere – With photos of the family around, a piano, bookshelves, pretty ornaments and fresh lilies in the lounge, you really feel like you are staying in someone’s happy home. The friendly staff are on hand all day to help with your onward travel or anything that you may need to enjoy your stay in Mandalay. The atmosphere is calm and welcoming, TripAdvisor reviews call it an ‘oasis’ in the city.
Location – Situated in a quiet neighbourhood of the city centre, you are just 15 minutes from Mandalay’s Palace and other attractions and 10-minutes from Minn Thar Theatre, where you can watch Mandalay’s famous puppet shows. You can also rent a bicycle and ride 15 minutes to Mandalay Hill which offers great views all over the city. For getting in and out of Myanmar, you're just a 45-minute taxi ride from the airport, which the staff will happily arrange for you.
Did I mention the rooftop terrace from which to watch the sunset?