With an international airport and a population of more than 1 million people, Mandalay is one of the largest cities in Myanmar, second only to Yangon. It serves as an embarkation/debarkation port for some cruises on the Irrawaddy River, and a port stop for others.
Mandalay is a bustling city, and like much of Myanmar it's a study in contrasts, where tradition and modernity clash at every turn. You'll see street vendors cooking food over open flames in front of flashing neon signs advertising cell phones, and pharmacies that sell both Western and traditional herbal medications.
A visit to Mandalay (the former Burmese capital) will likely include time at Mandalay Palace. The original teak-wood structure was built during the mid-19th century but destroyed by fire during World War II, so what you'll see during your visit is actually a replica. You'll also probably spend time in Mandalay shopping and watching craftsmen work.