Contempt for pedicabs may be in New Yorkers’ DNA, but a tour on the ubiquitous Mandalay version known as a trishaw is no Times Square gimmick. Flag one anywhere in the city by holding your palm down and waving your fingers toward you (an upward palm indicates you’re looking to start a fight), then negotiate a fee for the length of time you’d like the ride to last ($2 to $5 an hour is standard). Your driver will then pedal you from one historical landmark in the formerly royal capital to the next—all at a pace that’s ripe for photo snapping. (Though Mandalay, Yangon, and other heavily touristed Burmese cities are considered safe for travelers, it’s wise to stay abreast of the political climate by checking local news outlets like elevenmyanmar.com.) Explore the golden Mahamuni Pagoda (South Mandalay at 82nd St.), where a twelve-foot Buddha holds court; see raw jadeite being carved and polished into gemstones at the Jade Market ($1 entry; South Mandalay at 86th St.); and then hike 690-foot Mandalay Hill. A platform at the top offers sweeping views of the temple-freckled metropolis, as well as an opportunity to converse with monks looking to practice their English. For a meal that doubles as a cultural experience, head to Mya Nandar (Strand Rd. bet. 26th and 35th Sts.; 95-2-66110), opened last year on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River. The restaurant puts on string-puppet shows and traditional dance performances while serving dishes like gourd tempura, pork with sour mango, and mutton curry. When you’ve had your fill, tell the trishaw driver to drop you back at the Hotel By the Red Canal (from $140; hotelredcanal.com), where rooms are done up with teak furniture, rattan chairs, and mother-of-pearl fixtures.
The thrill-o-meter: Minor buzz.