The awesome Mingun Pagoda (also known as the Pahtodawgyi ruins) is one of the most interesting things to see near Mandalay, Myanmar.
This is a giant unfinished monument from 18th century Burma that was meant to be the biggest temple in the country, and it’s pretty easy to reach from Mandalay with a short ferry ride over the Irrawaddy river.This travel guide will explain how to get there, and everything you need to know before you go!
What Is It?
The Mingun Pagoda was a temple project of the eccentric Burmese King Bodawpaya in 1790, but because of costs and superstition the building was never completed.
A legend at the time said that if the building was finished, the king and country would be destroyed. Apparently the king was scared by this, because the construction of Mingun Pagoda was completely abandoned.
An earthquake in 1839 did even more damage, creating the rubble and giant cracks in the walls that can be seen in Pahtodawgyi today.
The building is 50 meters tall, but the final pagoda was planned to be more than 150 meters tall (500 feet). If it was finished, this would have been the world’s biggest stupa (and might have held some other records too!).
If you’ve seen the famous Burmese pagodas at Old Bagan, you can imagine how magnificent this building would’ve been if it reached its full size. It would’ve been a wonder of the world.
Instead, it’s just a very impressive pile of bricks and history!
Mingun Pagoda – What To Expect
There’s a foot path that circles the Mingun Pagoda so you can admire and take pictures of the outside, and then a flight of stairs to walk up to the top for a view.
The ruined, time-worn doorways are really cool for photos. There’s one on each side of the rectangular building, and one of the doorways even has a huge crack running straight down the middle from an earthquake! It’s like an Indiana Jones set.
You can walk inside these doorways, but it only goes about one meter deep because the inside of the building is collapsed and sealed off. Just north of Pahtodawgyi is a giant 90 ton bell (the world’s biggest ringing bell), which was meant to accompany the building when it was finished.
All in all, the Mingun Pagoda is a fascinating place to visit along with the nearby bell and the Hsinbyume white pagoda!
There’s an entry fee of 5,000 Kyats (US $3.50) as of 2020, and this includes entrance to the other nearby monuments like the Hsinbyume white pagoda.
This ticket is separate from the ferry charge to get to Mingun (see below).
How To Get There
The Mingun Pagoda (Pahtodawgyi) is on the west side of the Irrawaddy River, about 10 km from Mandalay city and just a short walk from the river itself.
To get there from Mandalay, you’ll need to cross with the Mingun ferry. It’s a fun and relaxing journey that takes about 45-60 minutes. Boarding the boat may be a little sketchy for older people because you have to walk a thin plank.
You can buy Mingun ferry tickets starting at 8:15 AM and the roundtrip price is 5,000 Kyats. The ferry goes to Mingun daily at 9 AM, and back to Mandalay at 1:00 or 1:30 PM. This means you have about 2-3 hours to explore the Mingun area before the boat goes back.
If you happen to miss the scheduled boat, or just want to skip any hassle, you can charter a private boat from the same jetty for about 30,000 Kyats return price, and they’ll wait for you while you explore Mingun.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the 3-star Hotel Aurora in Mandalay city for $22 USD per night and loved it.
For this price we got a clean double room with A/C, private bathroom, and one of the best buffet breakfasts we’ve ever had at a hotel.
We ate all our meals at the hotel restaurant, and the location was perfect for exploring the temples and other tourist sights in Mandalay city.
Prices may fluctuate from time to time, so just keep an eye out for a good deal!