04/09/2017

How to plan a day trip to Mingun from Mandalay | Myanmar


Pahtodawgyi Pagoda MandalayWhen researching what to do in Mandalay a place was mentioned a lot. I researched it some more and the pictures alone were enough to add the ancient capital (one of four surrounding Mandalay) to my must visit list.

My next point of call was figuring out how to get there, it's outside of the main city along the Ayeyarwaddy river. It took me a while to find all the information I needed. A lot of websites were offering me a tour or a combined tour which was something I didn't want to do. I like to try and do things myself if possible to make the day cheaper. Seeing as I struggled to find information I thought I'd put together a blog post about my day in Mingun including all the information you need to know for your own visit! 


HOW TO GET THERE 

There are a few options on transport but the main one and the one I chose is getting the ferry from the Mingun Jetty in Mandalay. The ferry leaves at 9am and returns at 12.30pm. This means you have to make sure you're on time. While the ferry is mostly for tourists it is not a private boat so will not wait for you if you're late. 

Ferry to Mingun from Mandalay
I think the ferry was a little late itself but that's not surprising when you're in South East Asia. We got a taxi from our hotel to the jetty. The taxi ended up being a pick up truck, we sat in the back with a few blankets for extra comfort. While I was expecting an actual car I enjoyed the ride to the jetty, especially as we got to go through the more local area of Mandalay and see the locals doing their morning routine.

We got there early as we'd allowed longer than needed to get there just incase there was traffic like there was when we were visiting sites around Myanmar the previous day. Better to be prepared!

The ticket office is a little shack where a man sits you down and writes some information such as your nationality. He then hands you your ticket and tells you to sit down until the ferry gets there. There's only two benches though and they soon get filled up as more tourists arrive. The ferry ticket costs 5,000 Kyats (around £2.85) which I think is very reasonable! 

The ferry takes just under an hour to arrive. The boat is slightly make shift with deck chairs laid out on the top deck. Most of the seats are under cover which is good to avoid both the sun and rain. There's plenty of boats passing by along the river and as you get closer you begin to see the  outline of the Pahtodawghi pagoda in the distance. The boat wasn't too rough but I took a travel sickness tablet just incase. 

Other options:

You can hire a motorbike and make your way there by land. We weren't confident enough to ride bikes so didn't choose this option. I'm unsure exactly how long this would take but may be a better option if you wish to stop off on your journey or are planning on seeing other things such as Inwa during your day trip. 

You could also get a taxi but I imagine this would be a pricy option and you'd miss out on sailing along the Irrawaddy river.

ARRIVAL

We got the entrance ticket to the temples on the boat, they gave us a sticker as we got off the ferry and that was our ticket. The ticket, like the ferry one, cost 5,000 Kyat. As you get off the ferry there are carts that can take you to the pagodas. I think they were around 6,000 kyat for up to three people. While this really isn't that much money we decided to walk between the temples, partly because the carts were really slow and partly because we felt sorry for the Ox pulling the cart. 

We chose to walk up to the first temple it really wasn't far. I think it would of actually taken longer to use a cart as they were very slow. You walk along the riverside and up some very slightly inclined steps, passing several stalls selling the usual touristy things. Once you're passed these you'll be directly in front of the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda

Arriving into Mingun





THE PAHTODAWGYI PAGODA 

This will most likely be your first point of call on your visit to Mingun. There are three main things to see: The Pahtodawgyi Pagoda, the Mingun Bell and the Hsinbyume Pagoda. I'll go into more detail about the other two later in the post.

As soon as you approach the Pagoda you become overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. And this wasn't even meant to be all of it! It's unfinished making it the largest pile of bricks in history. A pretty impressive pile of bricks and all!

Pahtodawgyi Pagoda sign
Front of Pahtodawgyi Pagoda

There are four sides to the pagoda. If you go towards the first one (which is the one you'll see as you get off the ferry) you'll find a small room with shrines in. Like most temples you must remove your shoes before entering not only the room but also the grounds of the temple.

Be warned the floor gets HOT. And I mean burning the soles of your feet, running for the nearest bit of shade as quickly as possible hot. I hopped up the stairs (quite literally) peered in then made my way to the nearest bit of shade and admired the Pagoda from there. 

You used to be able to walk up to the top of the Pagoda. The stairs are still there to walk up but there's a gate stopping you from going any further once you reach the top of them. I chose not to bother going up them as I'd read that it was most likely closed off. 

We spent a lot of time walking around the Pagoda and taking pictures. I personally found the back of the Pagoda the most impressive, while the front as the lovely white arch this side has a massive crack from an earthquake.

Cracks in the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda Mingun






THE MINGUN BELL AND HSINBYUME PAGODA

After spending way too much time at the first pagoda what we thought would be a plenty of time turned into a rush to see everything else before the ferry left at 12.30. 

The Hsinbyume Pagoda is about a 10 -15 minute walk from the first pagoda. As you walk there you'll pass plenty of stalls selling both souvenirs and snacks. While the Hsinbyume Pagoda is a lot smaller than the Pahtodawgyi Pagoda it's just as impressive. The whole pagoda is white and absolutely stunning. Again you must take your shoes off before you enter and brave the hot floor but it's worth it.

Our time constraints meant we couldn't explore this one as thoroughly as the first but we still had time to get some pictures before we headed back to the ferry. My advice is to not spend too long at the first Pagoda. Which sounds like and is common sense but once you're there it's easy to forget the time as you wander around and explore. 

We had even less time to see the bell so quickly stopped and had a look before continuing on to the ferry hence the lack of pictures of the bell! 

Hsinbyume Pagoda Mingun
Hsinbyume Pagoda Mandalay

Hsinbyume Pagoda upclose






FOOD AND DRINK 

There aren't really restaurants as such but there are plenty of small huts serving snacks and food. There's also stalls selling sweetcorn. Drinks are easy to find most stalls sell them, ask for a straw!


CONCLUSION

Overall a day trip to Mingun is definitely worth it. It can be done so cheaply. In fact, you could spend less than £10 if you bought your own drinks and snacks and only paid for the ferry and entrance. Maybe even less.


Tips:

  • If you really want to avoid the crowds pa for a private boat and get there before the passenger boat arrives
  • Wear shoes that are easy to remove
  • Spread your time out wisely so you don't have to rush any of the temples
  • Bring lots of water, it gets hot
  • Cover up as you're visiting temples 

_______________________

Have you visited Myanmar? Where was your favourite place? 

Sophie 



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