Myanmar is famous for its ancient temples especially those found in Bagan. I’ve seen them and they are absolutely breathtaking. But for me, nothing tops the Mingun Paya or Mingun Pagoda.
The Mingun Pagoda was built in 1790. It should have been the world’s biggest stupa but when King Bodawpaya passed away in 1819, only the bottom third of the temple was completed.
How To Go There
If you’re in Mandalay, you can take a trishaw or walk (depending on your location) to the Mayan Chan Jetty then ride a riverboat to the town of Mingun in the Sagaing Region.
The boat leaves for Mingun at 9am and returns to Mandalay at 1pm. Each person has to pay a fee of 5,000 Kyat or around $5 for a two-way ride through the Ayeyarwady River. The upstream ride takes about an hour but going back can take 45 minutes only.
The Pagoda Fee
According to Lonely Planet Myanmar / Burma, tourists can avoid paying the $3 fee for the pagoda. This is possible as long as you do not climb the temple. If you insist on climbing, then you have to pay. But if you don’t want to pay anything, you can still enjoy Mingun Pagoda’s beauty by simply walking around the monument.
I did not pay anything except for the boatride but I still managed to get awesome views of the pagoda from the back area.
Legendary photographer Steve McCurry took this photo of the Pagoda way back in the 1980s. This is my photo:
Ok it’s not as perfect as Steve’s 🙂 Nevertheless, the temple is GORGEOUS.
Once you’re in Mingun, you’ll be given about 2 to 3 hours to see the temple and explore other sites such as the world’s largest uncracked bell and the astounding Hsinbyume Paya. So take your time when you’re there. Don’t follow the other tourists and just explore the area on your own. I even got to relax under a tree eating local chips and drinking local cola while watching a bunch of school kids play football.
Obligatory temple shot: