These 6 pagodas in Mandalay are must-see tourist attractions when you are in this ancient capital of Myanmar. They are all Buddhist temples/pagodas but each one is distinct from the other. You will be surprised how the locals devote their time when they are in the temple. Myanmar, I think, has the most number of Buddhist temples/pagodas in the world. Not sure about that but many of their tourists attractions are temples – and Mandalay is no exemption.
Let me introduce first these three Buddhist pagodas within the city of Mandalay.
Remember to take your shoes off when entering temples. Dress appropriately or cover you exposed skin with a sarong that you can borrow/rent at the entrance of some temples. You can also bring your own sarong if you’ve got one. Don’t worry about losing your shoes. No one will snatch them away. Be respectful when taking pictures inside the temple. There are places where “No Photography” sign is displayed. Don’t be THAT tourist! Always bring wet tissues to clean your feet after visiting.
1. Kyauk Taw Gyi Pagoda
The most prized possession here is the presence of the largest marble Buddha in Myanmar. As soon as you enter, you’ll see its imposing size and brilliant whiteness surrounded by a not-so-well-lit temple. Remember to check out the backyard where some interesting things to do and see await you.
2. Sandamuni Pagoda
This Buddhist pagoda is one you shouldn’t miss. While most temples have yellow/gold as the dominant color, Sandamuni Pagoda has whiteness all over. Here, you will be surrounded by hundreds of white stupas with tiny golden domes on top. You will be lost in a sea of 1,774 marble slabs that contain the teachings of Buddha. And of course, right at the center of it all is the golden dome that shines throughout the day – wherever the sun is.
3. Sutaungpyei Pagoda on Mandalay Hill
Right on top of Mandalay Hill is Sutaungpyei pagoda. Many devotees believe that Gautama Buddha once came here. You could either walk up there or take a mini-van in front of the ticket booth. I’d suggest riding on a mini-van and coming down on foot. The temple has an ornately tiled balcony overlooking Mandalay city that is, mostly, covered in trees. From here, I challenge you to count how many pagodas you can see. And oh, don’t forget to touch the head of twin cobras here. 😉
Pagodas in Sagaing
Sagaing is on the outskirts of Mandalay. There are so many Buddhist temples/pagodas here that are overlooking the river. When we crossed the bridge, oh my goodness, there are just too many temples to count! It’s not impossible to go there but if you can’t drive, you can always hire a tuktuk for a day trip. However, you have to know where to go – don’t depend on your driver. Tell him where you wanna go and ask him if there are other places that are on the way and are worth visiting. My driver didn’t really know how to reach some pagodas but with the help of locals along the way, we were able to find out. Our google map was on and off.
4. Mya Thein Dan White Pagoda
I think this pagoda is the most photogenic of all pagodas in Mandalay. Everything was bathed in white and it felt like I was floating on the clouds while walking around. Most guidebooks call it Hsinbyume Temple/Pagoda. Read here for my experience in this pagoda.
5. Mingun PahtoDawGyi Pagoda
Not far from Mya Thein Pagoda is a pagoda that is suspendedy time – Mingun Pahto Daw Gyi. If you want to see an unfinished pagoda to get an idea of what it looked when they built it centuries ago, this pagoda will show what it was like. If this was finished on time, this pagoda would have been the largest in the country.
6. Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya Pagoda
Soon U Pon Nya Shin Paya Pagoda is, I think, the most decorated pagoda of all pagodas in Sagaing. All corners of the temple are enriched with ornaments. This was not on my plan to visit but my tuktuk driver told me to go because it is one of the best in the area. And well, he’s right! One weird to see here is the sculpture of a frog which many devotees believe can bring luck. But what I like most here is the tiled patio that shows visitors the hundreds of temples below and all the way to the riverbank.
Where to stay in Mandalay
I stayed at Hotel Iceland. It’s a basic but nice hotel within walking distance to the town center. There are a lot of convenience shops, restaurants, and food stalls in the area. The rooms are clean and the staff members are nice. They serve breakfast on the top floor overlooking the city. You can book it via Booking, and Expedia. If you are looking for a hostel, you can find it here.