Nestled in a small town called Mingun which is very close to Mandalay, the Hsinbyume Pagoda, also known as Mya thein dan Pagoda or sometimes The White Temple, is one temple you absolutely must visit when in Myanmar – even if you only have one day in Mandalay!
With its stunning and unique architectural design, as well as historical significance, the dazzling white Hsinbyume Pagoda is without a doubt one of the most Instagrammable places in Myanmar.
Even if you’ve seen countless temples in Bagan and the rest of Myanmar, the gorgeous white Hsinbyume Pagoda is different to all of the other pagodas you will visit in this country. It is truly breathtaking.
Hsinbyume Pagoda Opening Times and Entry Fee
Hsinbyume Pagoda is open to visitors from sunrise to sunset. It’s best to visit either first thing in the morning, before 9.30am, or late afternoon once the crowds have gone.
When you enter, you’ll be required to pay 5,000kyat (£2.50) for the ticket for the Mingun Archaeological Zone. This includes several sights in Mingun, such as Hsinbyume Pagoda and the nearby Mingun Pagoda which is also definitely worth visiting!
How to Get To Hsinbyume Pagoda [Mya Thein Tan Pagoda]
A trip to Mingun to see Hsinbyume Pagoda makes for a nice morning or afternoon trip from Mandalay.
You can drive here (taxi or tuk-tuk/mototaxi) or take the tourist boat across the Irrawaddy River – both journeys take around an hour.
The boat costs 5,000kyat (£2.50) return and leaves Mandalay Myan Gyan jetty (Mingun Jetty) at 9am and returning at 12.30. There’s also another boat that leaves Mandalay at 1pm if you prefer visiting Mingun in the afternoon. Hsinbyume Pagoda is within walking distance of the jetty.
There are only these two boats, so if the timings are not convenient for you, you’ll need to take a taxi or mototaxi there.
If you choose to drive here, make sure your driver waits for you there as you won’t be able to find any taxis there to bring you back to Mandalay once you are finished! This is the option I chose, as I didn’t want to visit when all the boatload of tourists would be there.
However, I do hear the boat ride is fun and you get to see lots of daily local life – plus it’s a lot cheaper than getting a taxi!
Best Time to Visit Hsinbyume Pagoda
To experience Hsinbyume Pagoda in its full glory and without the crowds, visit during the early morning or late afternoon. These times offer a more tranquil experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the spiritual ambiance of the site.
The soft sunlight at these hours will also accentuate the pagoda’s white exterior, creating a magical atmosphere.
When I visited in the late afternoon, there really weren’t many tourists there when I arrived, so it was really easy to get photos without other people in.
Why Is Hsinbyume Pagoda [Mya Thein Tan Pagoda] Special?
Hsinbyume Pagoda is renowned for its distinctive design, with many people believing it resembles the mythical Mount Meru – believed in Buddhist and Hindu mythology to be the centre of the universe.
The seven wavy concentric whitewashed terraces of the pagoda represent the seven mountain ranges that surround Mount Meru.
The design is really impressive, as well as being a significant spiritual place for the local people. Hsinbyume Pagoda is famous not only for its architectural elegance but also for its historical significance.
What Is The History Of Mya Thein Tan Pagoda [Hsinbyume Pagoda]?
Built in 1816 by Bagyidaw, the grandson of King Bodawpaya, the pagoda is dedicated to his wife, Princess Hsinbyume, who tragically passed away during childbirth. Hsinbyume actually means White Elephant Queen.
The reason for the pagoda’s other name – Mya Thein Tan Pagoda, is because 100,000 emeralds crystals were used to fund the construction of Hsinbyume Pagoda. Mye means emerald, and Thien Tan means 100,000.
How To Take Photos At Hsinbyume Pagoda
The brilliant white Hsinbyume Pagoda, a very unique temple, is different from all other temples in Mandalay with 7 wavy terraces surrounding the pagoda. It is fascinating to see and you can have lots of fun creating photos here.
The intricate details of the terraces, the ornate architecture, and the serene surroundings provide so many opportunities to get unique and stunning photographs.
As the temple is so big, even if there are lots of people here, it’s still a lot easier to get your photo here compared to other temples in Myanmar!
Walk up the tiers of the pagoda for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, as well as make sure to get photographs of Hsinbyume Pagoda against the blue sky.
Make sure to also stroll around the concentric white wavy terraces, and look out for the little hidden statues of mythological creatures! You can try hopping across the wavy structures for some photos – it is definitely harder than it looks!!
Also climb to the top, where you’ll see a pagoda inspired by Chulamanee pagoda, which is the pagoda which is located on top of Mount Meru. From here you’ll also be able to see stunning views of Mingun and the river from above.
What To Wear At Hsinbyume Pagoda [Mya Thein Tan Pagoda]
Remember to dress modestly when visiting Hsinbyume Pagoda, as a sign of respect for its religious, spiritual and cultural significance.
This is a peaceful and serene place so be respectful and keep noise to a minimum.
What Else To Do In Mingun
Mingun Pahtodawgyi (Mingun Pagoda): Visit the unfinished Mingun Pahtodawgyi, a massive stupa that was intended to be the world’s largest but was left incomplete. It was built in 1790 by King Bodawpaya in 1790, and after the king passed away it remained unfinished.
There is a popular belief that once the temple gets finished, Myanmar would cease to exist any more – therefore the project was deliberately not completed!
Mingun Bell: After exploring Hsinbyume Pagoda, make sure to visit the nearby Mingun Bell – one of the world’s largest ringing bells weighing 90 tonns! It was supposed to be for the Mingun Pagoda, but the pagoda never got finished.
There are also a few restaurants here in Mingun if you want to enjoy some food here before heading back to Mandalay!
If you’re looking for other unique temples in Mandalay to check out, definitely visit Kuthodaw Pagoda and Sandamuni Pagoda. And for a change of scenery definitely make sure to visit U Bein Bridge in Mandalay at sunrise!
Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!