Mingun Myanmar Guide – A Half Day Boat Trip From Mandalay

Mingun Myanmar Guide – A Half Day Boat Trip From Mandalay

The ancient city of Mingun is a little explored gem near to Mandalay in Myanmar. Being on the road to Mandalay creates such a romantic image. Ancient gold pagodas, horse drawn carts, the sun setting over the Irrawaddy River. Yet Mandalay couldn’t be further away from this ideal. It’s congested, dirty, chaotic and on the face of it has very little to appeal. 

To experience the best of Mandalay you need to get outside the madness of the city and pay a visit to Mingun. Here I’ll tell you all that it has to offer and why you should visit!

Mingun Paya Myanmar
If ever completed, this would have been the world’s largest stupa


Just 12km east of Mandalay city centre, Mingun is a compact village with three real big hitter sights to see.

Mingun Paya

The first is the Mingun Paya, also known as Mingun Pahtodawgyi. Whilst some may refer to it as “the world’s largest pile of bricks”, there’s a lot more to this awesome sight. Construction started in 1790 at the behest of King Bodawpaya. If completed, it would have been the largest stupa in the world. No mean feat! What actually happened is King Bodawpaya died in 1819 and  work on Mingun Pay ceased. I guess when the boss dies, the workers decided it was time to down their tools!

There’s also rumours an astrologer claimed the King would die if work on Mingun Paya was ever completed. With the King no longer breathing before work was completed, this seems fascicle. But it’s nice to believe fairy tale!

Mingun Paya Ruins
The crumbling ruins of Mingun Paya

What remains of Mingun Paya are quite literally…remains. The lower terrace is approximately 460ft, with a further 240 feet cube on top. One can only imagine how splendid the finished Paya would have looked. In the present day there are huge cracks down the sides, which are the after effects of an earthquake in 1838. It only adds to the faded grandeur of it all.

Stand back, get a good view and take it all in. It’s not possible to climb the roof of Mingun Paya any more as the gate at the top of the stairs is now chained up due to safety concerns. You can still climb up quite far to see glorious views of the Irrawaddy River and Sagaing Township below.

View of the Irrawaddy River
A view over Mingun to the Irrawaddy River

Chinthe Ruins

Opposite the entrance to Mingun Paya are the biggest butts you will ever see in your life. Outside any pagoda in Myanmar there is a pair of Chinthe, which are half-dragon, half-lion guardians. This pair are bigger than houses, but sadly only their backsides remain. The heads having fallen to rubble year ago. Greeting visitors at the Irraddawy River bank, the Chinthe would have been an overbearing and daunting introduction to Mingun.

Giant Chinthe statue
The biggest butt in the world

Mingun Bell

Not only did King Bodawpaya want to build the biggest stupa in the world; he also desired the world’s biggest bell! Hanging a couple of minutes walk from Mingun Paya, the Mingun Bell looks smaller than you’d imagine. It weighs a colossal 90 tonnes though, so the chances of you shaking it to ring are slim. However, you can pick up a club and smack it with all your might. Much to the annoyance of anyone around, or those who have climbed inside it. Yes, you really can climb inside the Mingun Bell!

World's second biggest bell in Mingun
Is it really the world’s second biggest bell?

If you’re wondering where the world’s biggest bell rests, it’s apparently in Russia. Or it might actually be China. The jury seems out on making a decision.

World's Second Biggest Bell in Mingun Myanmar
Climb inside Mingun Bell, but cover your ears!

Hsinbyume Paya

Not the biggest, not the boldest and not the record holder of anything. Hsinbyume Paya still looks incredibly impressive. It’s a giant all white temple with seven levels of waves reaching to the top (which you can climb). These represent the different the mountain ranges which surround Mount Meru. This (of course) being the mountain at the centre of the known Buddhist world. 

Hsinbyume Paya Mingun
Hsinbyume Paya Mingun

As with anything a bit different, Hsinbyume Paya is Instagram heaven for both travellers and locals alike. If you insist on draping yourself longingly over the white wash terraces, go around the back. People don’t tend to look around corners for better photo spots and there you’ll have Hsinbyume Paya to yourself. Around the front you’ll be surround by the selfie stick crew.

Hsinbyume Paya
The whitewashed Hsinbyume Paya

Getting to Mingun

Your accommodation will be able to arrange a taxi to take you to Mingun. It will cost around 30-35,000 Kyat ($20 – $24 USD) in total for the car and driver. The journey takes almost an hour as the car has to go around the Irrawaddy River and cross the Ayeyawady Bridge.

If you’re looking to save money, a boat to Mingun leaves the Mandalay Mingun jetty at 9AM and returns to the city and 1PM. The journey takes approximately an hour. These four hours are more than enough time to explore Mingun independently.

Boats on the Irrawaddy River
The boats which take you across the Irrawaddy River to Mingun

Essential Items for Your Trip to Mingun in Myanmar

It’s always useful to have a guide that helps you plan your travels. The Lonely Planet Guide to Myanmar (Burma) is ideal. Also available as Kindle.

The Rough Guide to Myanmar (Burma) is also an exceptional travel planner. Also available as Kindle.

I have taken one of these across the world. This power strip is essential for international travel. It charges multiple items at once and takes any kind of international plug. Perfect if you’re in a hostel dorm with limited plug sockets or have a lot of tech to charge.

You’ll need sun cream to fight against Myanmar’s scorching sun. I recommend an eco friendly reef sun cream. This means if you also use it to go swimming, you won’t be harming the underwater environment and animals. You won’t get burned either!

Save the environment and stay hydrated with a bottle that filters your water. This is ideal for travelling overseas where people don’t have the luxury of potable tap water. It will mean you don’t get sick or use a lot of non-recyclable plastic.

Get the best value accommodation in Mandalay here:



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