Mya Thein Dan White Pagoda is the most photogenic pagoda in Mandalay or in Myanmar. The locals also call it, “Hsinbyume Pagoda.” These photos will prove that and they will certainly make you jealous to the bones!
Unlike other pagodas I’ve seen in Southeast Asia that are bathed in gold, Mya Thein Dan is all covered in white.
This pagoda was built by Prince Bagyidaw in 1816 to commemorate the life of his beloved wife, Princess Hsinbyume, who died while giving birth. It has been told that 1,000 emeralds were sold to help fund its construction. Thus, the pagoda has two names: Hsinbyume (after the Princess) and Mya (emerald) Thein Dan (1,000). And why white? Oh, the princess name translates to “white elephant”.
Hsinbyume Pagoda is in Mingyun, a 40-minute ride from the city of Mandalay. It’s definitely one of the tourist attractions to see/do when visiting Mandalay.
Instead of joining a tour or renting a motorbike, I hired a tuktuk driver to take me there and some other places. I paid MMK30,000 for a whole day tour. If you want to do this, make sure to have your own list of places you want to go around/near Minyun. Don’t assume that these tuktuk drivers are also tour guides that they know about the tourist attractions in Mandalay.
Like any other touristy pagodas in Myanmar, the outside space is littered with souvenir shops.
As soon as we entered, my tuktuk driver suggested to rent a Japanese umbrella. He said it would be a good prop for photos. 😀 I trusted his judgement – so I did, but I told him to rent it for me – for a cheaper/local price. 😀
What is also interesting in this pagoda is that it is circular in form. It is definitely a unique design from other Burmese temples/pagodas.
As you can see, design looks like a mountain. That’s because it was built to look like one – after Mt. Meru, a holy mountain in Buddhism.
Other details of the pagoda were based on the descriptions of a mythical pagoda of the said holy mountain.
To reach the top of the pagoda, you have to pass through seven terraces.
These terraces represent the seven mountain ranges that pilgrims have to pass through before reaching the zenith of Mt. Meru.
Perhaps, the most common and the most photogenic pose every visitor or instagrammer want to do is walk on the terrace.
From afar, it would look like you are walking or floating on the clouds.
And when you see those shots, you have that heavenly feeling you’ve never felt in a while. 😀
I stayed at Hotel Iceland. It’s a basic but nice hotel walking distance to the town centre. 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, TripAdvisor, and Expedia. If you are looking for a hostel, you can find it here.