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Ancient temples of Bagan – the best place in Myanmar (Burma)

If someone went to Myanmar for just a couple of days and asked me for advice on what to see, I would definitely recommend going to Bagan. This is a valley with 2000 + ancient temples. It’s an amazing place, we spent three days there, got a lot of impressions, took several thousand photos and gigabytes of video.

Marco Polo also called Bagan one of the most magnificent places in the world, and we fully agree with him 🙂
Bagan (aka pagan, in English Bagan, in Burmese ပုဂ) is the capital of the eponymous Kingdom of Myanmar, where there are more than 2000 Buddhist temples (in the heyday of the city there were more than 4000). In the 11-13 centuries, there was a large city (50-200 thousand people), a cultural center of Buddhism, where pilgrims from all over Asia flocked. Monks and students studied philosophy, law, grammar, astrology, medicine, and religion here.

Interestingly, UNESCO refused to include Bagan in its heritage list, because since the 1990s, the Myanmar government has been actively investing in the restoration of temples, and some of them are not built as they were in the past.

Low trees grow between the temples, so the valley is clearly visible, and usually at least a dozen others can be seen from one temple.

Myanmar Bagan
Our trip to Bagan
We spent 3 days in Bagan and managed to visit all the interesting temples, stupas and pagodas. we went twice to watch the sunset and once to see the sunrise.

If you are in a hurry, you can set aside two days. But every day we found some new interesting temples with almost no tourists.

Bagan is such a thing, it is for research, not for riding on a pre-designed route between points. Somewhere in the bushes may be hiding a temple with wonderful curls and no tourists at all, and on the road accidentally comes across a cafe with delicious food.

Some of the temples are dilapidated small stupas, but there are quite a few well-preserved or sensibly restored beautiful pagodas, and what was a surprise to us, they are quite different!

Here is an architectural reference from the Dorling Kindersley guide:

Bagan archaeology
First, watch the video, and then there will be a lot of photos and useful information.
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For us, the temples of Bagan left a much stronger impression than the advertised Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Borobudur and Prambanan in Indonesia or Sukhothai in Thailand.

I will not rewrite the history of each temple here from the Internet, it is still impossible to remember Burmese names and names 🙂

Here are all the necessary points of Bagan on the map. You can move it, zoom in and out, and download points to your smartphone. Not all 2000 pagodas are marked there, but only the most-the most 🙂 But if you have time, take a ride on the rest.
There will be a lot of photos, because in Bagan not only the appearance of the building is cool and diverse, but also a lot of interesting interiors, frescoes, small details. All this is hidden in the carousel: who likes to look at the details – scroll 🙂

There are also incredible sunrises and sunsets in Bagan.

After the photo, there will be useful information: how to get there, what is the best way to ride in Bagan, where to eat, what Souvenirs to buy, etc.
In Bagan, beautiful sunsets and sunrises are one of the coolest experiences from a trip here. We liked it so much that we went to the sunset twice – to different stupas.

See for yourself:) there are really such colors: at dawn everything is blue, and at sunset orange.
Life hacks:

1) if you go down to the tier below, the view is not worse, and the crowd is smaller,

2) there are significantly fewer people at dawn than at sunset,

3) at dawn, it is terribly cold, dress as warm as possible and take something to put under your feet (a Board, cardboard, newspaper, book, a scarf or towel folded several times, etc.), because they require you to take off your shoes and take off your socks, and the stones are ice!

There are also boat trips at sunset on the Irrawaddy river and other options for excursions at sunset.
Frescoes, interiors and details from the temples of Bagan
Many Bagan temples have something to see inside: they have preserved ancient frescoes. But they are almost not illuminated, you need a flashlight. Who likes this-scroll through the photos in the carousel.
This monk came on a pilgrimage and lived for a week in one of the little-visited temples. Bekpekery, take note: in remote temples, you can spend the night, no one drives.

Buddhist monk in Bagan
It’s cool to sit on the temple in the morning and look at Bagan 🙂
The easiest way to travel around Myanmar is by plane. Flights take 30-70 minutes, and there are plenty of them. Previously, you had to book flights through local travel agencies, but now you can easily buy a ticket online.

The nearest airport is called Nyaung-U (IATA code: NYU). Planes fly here from Yangon, Mandalay and other cities in Burma.

Yangon-Bagan Schedule:

How to find cheap flights

To find cheap flights, I usually compare prices using several aggregators. They all have the same principle – they search for tickets on the bases of hundreds of airlines, but their bases may differ, so the price will be better in one or the other – check everything at once.

KIWI-unreal flexible search, and there is a guarantee of docking, even if you are flying low-cost airlines and the first flight was delayed!
AVIASALES – best ticket prices from Russia and Kazakhstan, convenient calendar of low prices.
TICKETS-there are good prices for tickets from Ukraine.
By the way, KIWI gives coupons of 20 euros for air tickets to new users, but they can only be obtained by email. I can send an invitation to anyone who needs it.

Calendar of low prices for air tickets:
You can get to the city by taxi from the airport. If you don’t want to contact airport taxi drivers, order a private transfer on KiwiTaxi or IntuiTravel.

The driver will meet you at the airport with a sign at any time and will take you to the address: you will not need to wait for public transport or explain in an unfamiliar language to the local taxi driver. The price is final, no need to bargain with anyone, no hidden fees for the night fare, traffic jams or Luggage. On request, the car will have a child car seat of the desired size. And there are luxury cars and minibuses for a large company.

To Bagan by bus or train
By bus or train is cheaper than flying, but the travel time from other interesting cities in Burma will be from 6 to 10 hours, and according to other tourists, these buses and trains are uncomfortable. Prices are 10-20 dollars depending on the place of departure and class of service.

It goes faster on minibuses than on large buses.

Trains can also be very late – do not plan any important connections with them.

It doesn’t hurt to take a blanket and warm clothes to the trains and buses: it’s cold at night.

For schedules and ticket prices, see 12go.asia. there are also reviews of tourists and ratings of carriers.
The bus station and railway station are located a bit on the outskirts, but some carriers include a transfer to the hotel in the ticket price.

Mandalay-Bagan Ferry
The IWT ferry ship goes to Bagan from Mandalay. We were told about it by other tourists: it is long and boring to go (9 hours in the afternoon), there are no views on the road, it costs $ 50. A flight lasts only 25 minutes and costs $ 64.

Hotels in Bagan: where to stay
There are three towns in the Bagan Archaeological Zone: New Bagan, Old Bagan, and Nyaung – U, and pagodas and stupas are scattered throughout the valley.

Old Bagan has the largest concentration of pagodas, but housing prices are higher than in New Bagan and Nyaung-u.

In New Bagan and Nyaung-u most cafes and hotels, and housing prices are lower.

Nyaung-u is the closest to the airport, but the price of a taxi is not much different. But there are fewer temples here.

In fact, it does not matter where to settle in Bagan, because everything is within 6 km of each other (the entire territory is 67 square km).

Best 4-5* hotels in Bagan:

Heritage Bagan Hotel 4* – rating 9.3

The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate is a 4* – rating 9.1

Bagan Lodge Hotel 4* – rating 9.0

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