The Manfeilong Pagoda is situated on the top of a hill near Manfeilong Village, 70 kilometers (43 miles) away from Jinghong City. It was built in the year 1024 and is a famed stupa complex in Xishuangbanna. It is also known by two other names: White Pagoda and Bamboo Shoot Pagoda. These descriptive names are derived from the fact that the pagoda is, of course, white while its overall shape resembles a bamboo shoot. The pagoda is dedicated to Hinayana Buddhism (a small, conservative branch of Buddhism).
The Manfeilong Pagoda was built between 1636 and 1695 in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is a famous piece of Hinayana architecture in Xishuangbanna. Built on a brick and stone structure, the group of constructions comprise nine pagodas of varying sizes. All of them have a white body and a golden spire, like a jade bamboo shoot breaking through soil. The pagodas are, therefore, also reputed as the Bamboo Shoot Pagodas. The pagoda is built on a one-meter-high, octagonal Sumeru base with a perimeter of 42.6 meters. A niche is carved in each of its eight angles, with a Buddha statue inside. A main pagoda at 16.29 meters in height is located in the center with eight smaller pagodas at 9.1 meters surrounding it to form an octagon. All nine pagodas, round and solid, are shaped like calabashes. The pagodas, which are painted white, are decorated with various exquisite patterns and color drawings. A trumpet-shaped cone spire covered with gold leaves sits on the lotus-flower seat on top. Such unique representative works of stone pagodas are rarely seen in China.
It is said that the Manfeilong Pagoda was one of the first three pagodas in Xishuangbanna after Buddhism spread to the area. Among the three pagodas, it is the only one consisting of a group of pagodas. According to legend, one of the stones paved on the ground with a human footprint belongs to Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism.
The Manfeilong Pagoda is decorated with beautiful sculpture, relief and colored paintings in the style of the Dai ethnic minority. During the Water-splashing Festival (usually on April 13-15), the villagers from the Manfeilong Village gather at the pagoda and chase one another, splashing water as part of a welcome to the new year in Dai calendar.