One of my favorite places in Myanmar is the Hsinbyume Pagoda. It is located north of Mandalay (about 10km), in a city called Mingun, in the Sagaing region.
About the Hsinbyume Pagoda
Behind every memorable place, every great monument, every great story, there is alway one thing standing – love. This pagoda was build in 1816 by the Bagydaw prince, the heir of King Bodawpaya, to show his love for his first wife – Queen Hsinbyume. Sadly, she lost her life during childbirth.
The architecture of the pagoda in Mingun is simply marvelous. It has different layers, which look like waves. People are allowed to go through these terraces, which go around the pagoda. You can also reach the top and enjoy the view from there.
Before you go, check my article “10 things to know before visiting Myanmar”and dress accordingly, otherwise you will not be allowed to enter. Put on light and bright color clothes as it tends to really hot when the sun is shining. I made the mistake in putting on a dress with straps and took a scarf with me to cover my shoulders but it was too hot anyways. You can put on a T-shirt with a long, over-the-knee skirt, sunglasses and you are good to go. As simple as that!
How to get there
If you are staying in Mandalay, there a few options on how to get to the pagoda in Mingun. You can either take a boat, call a taxi, rent a scooter or book a trip with a local agency.
If you enjoy traveling on water, then this is the perfect option for you. You can take the a boat from the Mandalay jetty to Mingun early in the morning at 9am. It operates regularly and costs only $3 per person. Make sure you have your passport with you. The trip takes around an hour and you can enjoy a great scenary.
You can always stop a tuk tuk on the streets and ask them to drive you to Mingun but you have to be aware that it will not take you 5-10 min but slightly more. The easiest way though is to ask at the reception of your hotel, if they can call a taxi for you.
Some people chose to option to drive themselves through the streets of Mandalay. There are a lot of shops, from which you can rent a scooter. One of them is Mandalay Motorbike Rental and a bike is around 15 000 Kyat, which is around 8,90EUR. But you have to take into consideration that in contrast to Bagan, the scooters that you can rent are not electric. This makes it much more unsafe. We would not recommend this option, as the streets of Mandalay are quite hectic and packed with vehicles. There are traffic lights only at the main streets, which make it really dangerous for tourists that do not speak their language. One fun fact about the traffic is that when they want to pass the vehicle in front of them, people are simply honking behind you.
Book a trip
What we did: we booked a trip with a local agency and did not have to worry about anything. The trips are quite cheap and you book them for the whole day. That means that you get to see more than just one sight. We found a brochure at our hotel from a company that is organizing one day tours. It is called “Historic Mandalay” and you can either choose one of their tour options or customize your trip as you wish. You can reach them at any time you’d like (we booked our tour at 9:30pm for the next morning 7 o’clock), so do not hesitate to call, even if it seems that it is too late.
66th Street, Between 26th and 27th Streets, Mandalay, Myanmar
Phone Nrs: 09 259086361, 09 797523384, 09 30122290, 02 34446
We completely customized our trips (yes, we end up booking them each day), as we had just limited time in Mandalay, and we paid on average $30. The price included pick-up and drop-off, an english speaking guide, a bottle of water, a soft drink and lunch at a local restaurant. The lunch was really good – you can either choose rice or noodles with chicken and vegetables. The food was nothing special but exactly what you need at that point of time.
Hsinbyume Pagoda – opening hours and fees
The pagoda in Mingun is opened daily and there is no entrace fee, per se. However, you have to buy a ticket for the Mandalay Archeological Zone. It is valid for 5 days and you can visit with it the sites included in the cultural zone. You can buy it from each site and can use it throughout the day. It costs 10000 Kyat (6EUR).
Where to stay in Mandalay
As Mandalay is one of the largest cities in Myanmar, you have tons of options in terms of hotels. We chose to book one low-budget hotel, as we were not going to stay that much inside. Here are a few options for you.
We booked Hotel Shwe Phyo, which was central, looked good and had good reviews. The hotel was fine for two nights – we had a great view at breakfast (on the rooftop), but the breakfast was not that great quality. There was no hot water and the hotel is close to a street market so the street can get quite full during the day.
Hotel Yadanarbon – The rooms are spacious, quite central but think it is safe to say that the best thing is their rooftop pool. Yes, a rooftop pool – the view from above is simply amazing.
Here are two options – one is more like the hotels that we already know and the other one has the South-Asian Glam.
Option 1 – Mercure Hotel in Mandalay – chíc hotel rooms, Asian flair, steep prices, not very central but it is close to many city attractions.
Option 2 – Hotel Red Canal – great, spacious rooms, unique setting, an outdoor pool and a small jungle to play in. Just kidding, the jungle is only an oasis of you imagination 😉
xxx The Curly Pepper