Ever since we started contemplating a visit to Myanmar, Bagan has been at the top of our list of places to see and it didn’t disappoint, it was beyond awesome. Majority of the temples at Bagan were built between the 11th and 13th centuries, so there were some amazing sites to see.
We stayed in New Bagan in a small guesthouse down a little side street and it was nice and quiet. We had a few options available to us for visiting all the sites in Bagan, we could either go by horse cart, electric bike, mountain bike, or taxi. We decided on the electric bikes and what a great choice that turned out to be. We had so much fun on them (me more than Gordon) and we were able to see so much because they actually can go pretty fast. Also we were able to get away from the crowds and visit less popular sites that we could actually climb and just sit and enjoy the view all to ourselves. The electric bikes were really reasonable, they cost 6,000 Kyats each which is about $7 Canadian for the whole day. The electric bikes are not that great in sand though and there is quite a bit of sand on the backroads, I had a couple of ‘incidents’ with mine – getting stuck and one slight roll over.
The first day we covered most of the sites along the road to Old Bagan and a few that were off on some side roads. Unfortunately some of the sites didn’t have a formal name and only had a number assigned to them, so we didn’t really know the history on those but we still enjoyed them. These were some of the places we visited that day:
Sein Nyat Pagoda, our first stop of the day.
Temples with ‘no name’.
The old murals in some of the temples were still visible and we could just imagine what they would have been like 1000 years ago.
Views from the top of one of the ‘no name’ temples.
Shwe San Daw Pagoda, we spoke to some nice Monks who were also visiting the site, they were from Mandalay and it was very special for them to finally be able to visit Bagan. There were some beautiful views from the top of this Pagoda and it’s a very busy spot at sunset.
Law Ka Htake Pan, this Pagoda had some of the nicest preserved murals.
Ananda Phaya Temple, this is considered the most beautiful temple in Bagan and it really was awesome.
We took a little lunch break at this cool restaurant in Old Bagan, it’s all vegetarian food and it was so delicious, the atmosphere there was great.
Htilominlo Guphaya-Gyi, a beautiful temple to visit along with a little shopping afterwards. Many temples have vendors set up outside so we bought a little souvenir here and made the shop lady very happy (she guided us to the rooftop of a neighbouring building and when we went to tip her she said she didn’t want any free money). We were the first sale of the day at her little shop which they consider to be very lucky for business and when we handed her the money, she tapped everything in her shop saying “lucky, lucky, lucky”
Near the end of the day we made our way back to Shwe San Daw Pagoda for a lovely sunset.
We saw these temples on our way back to New Bagan, I didn’t particularly like riding my electric bike in the dark (I was run off the road a couple of times) so there was only one sunset outing for us.
Our second day in Bagan was a very long and busy day. We started off getting up at 5:15 in the morning because we had to drive our bikes a half hour or so to reach one of the temples for the sunrise. The sunrise views were my absolute favourite and it was definitely worth dragging ourselves out of bed. We loved watching the balloons float over the temples.
Dhamma Ya Zi Ka Pagoda.
View from the top of one of the ‘no name’ Pagodas, we spent a lot of time up there because we had the place to ourselves, we just soaked it all in.
Dhamma-Yan-Gyi Pahto, the largest temple in Bagan.
Sulamani Guphaya, this temple had very beautiful murals inside.
Riding around we found another ‘temple with no name’ that we climbed and took a rest at the top to enjoy the incredible views over Bagan.
Tham Bula Phaya.
Iza Gawna Pagoda, this one was far but it was worth the ride.
That night for supper we tried a little local place that only made Myanmar Curry and it was really good.
Our last day in Bagan we kind of took it easy, we visited some temples close to Old Bagan that we had missed on the first day.
Mahabodhi Temple, this was a very different style then the rest of the temples in Bagan.
Gaw Daw Palin Phaya, this temple had many vendors outside selling all kinds of things. We also met some nice Nuns that wanted pictures of us and one in particular really wanted me to take a photo of her in the flower garden.
One thing we noticed, when you take a picture of a local in Myanmar, they will very seldom smile for the photo but once you are done taking the picture then they are all smiles. I was trying to get some of them to say cheese but no takers.
We know how hard it can be to find a good laundry place (one where you will get ALL your clothes back) while traveling, so when we find a good one we’ll mention it. This was a very good laundry place in New Bagan, it is family owned and operated and their prices were great (half of what the guesthouse wanted to charge). It’s located right next door to Northern Breeze Guesthouse in New Bagan and it’s called Hello Laundry.
Bagan is worth the trip tenfold and we really loved our time here. We would suggest going sooner rather than later as tourism is really starting to ramp up in Myanmar and things will change quickly here. We’re not sure how they will handle more visitors in the future, the current infrastructure is already struggling with it.
Where we stayed: Northern Breeze Guesthouse
Good eats: The Moon in Old Bagan , Ma Mae Nain in New Bagan