Heading across the Irrawaddy River on a Mingun Day trip from Mandalay to see the archeological attractions is a must for anyone visiting the city. Here’s a complete guide to everything you need to know, plus a list of the best things to do in Mingun once you arrive.
A day trip to Mingun from Mandalay is a popular call for those wishing to see the spectacular Hsinbyume Pagoda (white pagoda) and the Mingun Pahtodawgyi (Mingun Pagoda).
However, did you know that there are even more Mingun attractions and historic sites to check out? In this guide, I’ll detail everything you need to know from booking a boat to planning all of the things to do in Mingun on a day trip!
- How to Get to Mingun
- Mingun Map
- Things to do in Mingun: Here are the Best Sites
- Where to Stay in Mandalay
- More Things to Do Near Mandalay
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
How to Get to Mingun
Before I get into the list of things to do in Mingun, here are your options for how to get here.
Mingun Tourist Fee: 5000 Kyats payable near the jetty at Mingun.
1. Mingun and Sagaing Day Tour from Mandalay
The easiest option for getting to Mingun is to book an organized tour from Mandalay. Usually, I'd prefer the independent options, but after doing a bit of research, I found this tour, which is actually great value for money.
This includes a full 9.5-hour tour of Sagaing and Mingun, including transport and a stop at all of the Mingun attractions and highlights listed on this blog.
2. Mandalay to Mingun by Boat
Another option is to just jump on the public ferry to Mingun from Mingun Jetty in Mandalay. This is what I did and it's a great way to visit all the attractions independently.
I've pinned the location for the jetty on the map below.
Remember: You need to bring your passport to book a ferry ticket. Don't forget it!
The boat from Mandalay to Mingun takes roughly 1.5 hours and is typically a very calm journey up the Irrawaddy River.
Mingun Boat Price
The cost of a Mingun boat is 5,000 Kyat ($3 USD) per person, each way. However, as of 2024, there's now an updated "extra cost" of 10,000 Kyat if you want to sit on the second floor.
Most boats on the jetty schedule will fill up with enough passengers to depart. However, in low season the boats don't leave unless they have at least six passengers.
In this case, you'll have to split 30 000 Kyat total cost to depart.
Mingun Jetty Schedule
Unfortunately, the only public boat heading for Mingun leaves at 9 am. This is not ideal if you want to take photos or avoid the heat.
This same boat will dock at Mingun and you'll need to be back onboard for the return trip at 12:30 pm, which gets back to Mandalay at around 2 pm.
I'd recommend getting there at least 20 minutes before departure. Alternatively, if you book a private tour you can organize to depart much earlier.
Private Boat to Mingun from Mandalay
If you'd prefer a private boat to Mingun, you can speak to the agents at the Mingun Jetty, who will organize one for you for 30,000 Kyat each way. I recommend trying to arrange the day before.
3. Taxi or Grab
Another option for getting to Mingun on a day trip is to pay a taxi driver or grab driver to take you to Mingun.
35,000 Kyat should cover an entire day's taxi or grab hire, just make sure to ask the driver to wait for you once you get to Mingun.
Getting a taxi is a good bet if you're not confident riding a motorbike and would prefer to get to Mingun for sunrise or stay for sunset.
4. Rent a Motorbike
For the most freedom exploring Mingun and other Mandalay attractions, renting a motorbike is a good option. Mandalay streets are much more relaxed than other large cities in South East Asia, so if you're confident, you shouldn't have too much trouble.
To rent a motorbike in Mandalay, ask your hostel or hotel staff and they should be able to point you in the right direction. For car rentals, check out RentalCars.com.
Below I've pinned all of the must-see Mingun attractions on an easy-to-use map.
Travel Hack: Click on the map above and it will load on your Google Maps app. You can save it by clicking the grey star at the top, which will add it to "Your Places" on your Google Maps account. This way, you have a handy digital app on the go with all the attractions pinned– just refer back to this article (or bookmark it) for the explanations!
Things to do in Mingun: Here are the Best Sites
Alright, with that out of the way, let's get into the list of things to do in Mingun. Most of these sites are within walking distance so you can explore Mingun by foot and at your own pace.
1. Hsinbyume Pagoda
The Hsinbyume Pagoda, also known as the Mya Thein Tan Pagoda or "White Pagoda" is one of the most unique and beautiful pagodas in Myanmar, and that's saying something.
This unique pagoda is painted completely white, and shaped in a round pattern to resemble the holy Buddhist mountain; Mount Mera.
You are free to explore Hsinbyume Pagoda without a guide, just remember to leave your shoes at the entrance.
2. Mingun Pahtodawgyi (Mingun Paya)
In my opinion, the Hsinbyume Pagoda is more beautiful than the main attraction at Mingun; the Mingun Pahtodawgyi, or Mingun Paya. However, the latter tends to receive more attention due to the fact that if it were to have been completed, it would be the largest stupa in the world.
Regardless, visiting the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda is one of the best things to do in Mingun.
The Mingun Pagoda is a ruined structure that was started by King Bodawpaya in 1790. It has been badly damaged by a huge earthquake roughly 180 years ago.
Unfortunately, only the base was completed, which stands at around 50 meters tall, a mere third of the 150-meter intended height.
You can walk up the steps and enter the face of the building, where a small tribute box can be found.
3. Lions of Stone
Another worthwhile ruin to see on a Mingun day trip is the Chinthe ruins colloquially termed "the Lions of Stone".
These huge lion sculptures were originally built to guard the Hsinbyume Pagoda. Due to erosion and earthquake damage, the Lions of Stone are now nearly unrecognizable. However, it's still possible to make out some fine carved details.
4. Mingun Bell
Another one of the best things to do in Mingun is to go check out the Mingun Bell. This 90-tonne bronze bell was the heaviest bell on earth until 2000, and is still one of the largest and heaviest uncracked, ringing bells on earth.
The weight of the bell is 55 555 in viss, a traditional Burmese measurement. This number is significant in Buddhist numerology and is written on the side of the bell.
For those visiting Mingun, you can admire it from afar, or even stand underneath it (you just wouldn't want someone to ring it whilst you're under there).
5. Pondaw Pagoda
If you want a rough idea of what the Mingun Pahtodawgyi would have looked like if it were seen to completion, then you can stop by at the Pondaw Pagoda. This small, white pagoda mimics the structure of the Pahtodawgyi.
6. Sat Taw Yar Pagoda
Another Mingun attraction and one of the things to see on a Mingun Day trip is the Sat Taw Yar Pagoda.
This is another white pagoda, complemented by beautiful golden spires.
You'll find the Sat Taw Yar pagoda just north of the Mingun docks.
Where to Stay in Mandalay
- Where I stayed: Ostello Bello Mandalay - Ostello Bello is a chain of Hostels in Myanmar that I personally love. Great prices, good vibes and always clean rooms and comfortable bunks.
- Budget Hotel - Aurora Hotel - Great value hotel in a good location, which makes it easy to explore Mandalay. Free breakfast is also a bonus here.
- Best Luxury / Value Mix: Hilton Mandalay - If you've always wanted to stay at a Hilton hotel but prices in other Asian cities have been too high, here's your chance. Luxury hotel experience for a low price!
More Things to Do Near Mandalay
I hope that this guide to the best things to do in Mingun has been useful in planning your Mandalay day trip! For more Myanmar travel guides and articles, take a pick from the list below.