Bagan. What can we say about Bagan? It’s magical and enchanting and down right impressive. We think one of the reasons we consider Myanmar so magical is because of Bagan which is why we put together a list of 3 things you must do in Bagan, Myanmar.
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About Bagan, Myanmar
First, let’s give you a little background on Bagan to help better ground you for when you go.
Bagan is an ancient city that housed, at one point, over 10,000 Buddhist temples and is currently home to the largest population of pagodas in the world.
During the 9th – 13th centuries, Bagan unified and established what we know today as the Burmese culture (thanks, Bagan!).
As time tends to do, a lot of the temples have been destroyed by wars and natural disasters leaving only 2,200 remaining pagodas.
When you arrive in Bagan, you’re taken back by the sprawling plains that seem to be littered for miles with brick pagodas. It really is something to see and even more spectacular as the sun rises and sets.
Entering Bagan, Myanmar: The Cost
First things first, getting in.
To get into the city of Bagan, all roads pass by a check point which all tourists are required to pay a 25,000 kyat entrance fee. That is about $18 USD (as of Feb 2017).
What’s the fee for? The fee is for tourists to gain access to the “Archeological Zone” aka all the town & pagodas. The fee is suppose to go to the upkeep and preservation of the pagodas.
PLEASE, before heading to Bagan, check into the most current entry fee.
You can run into issues of scamming. Locals will try and get a few extra dollars out of you if they can.
Sure, it may be minor change to you but to them it’s a lot. Just be aware on the current fee to avoid any scamming issues.
How To Get Around Bagan, Myanmar?
Wondering how you’re going going to get around Bagan all day? Hire a car? Hop on a bus? Walk? Absolutely not.
Rent an ebike and zoom off! Ebikes (electronic bikes) are the only motorized bike/scooter that tourist are allowed to rent. Gas scooters are not rented to tourists.
The ebikes cost a few US dollars a day to rent. Haggling for a better price is recommend!
TIP: Make sure your bike has a full charge before you take off. Believe us, it is a pain in the a$$ to push a dead ebike all the way back to your accommodation 🙂
What To Do In Bagan, Myanmar
Honestly, there are three things you do in Bagan. Yes, only three and they are an important three!
- Watch the sunrise.
- Tour the endless Pagoda’s that scatter the plains
- Then, watch the sunset
Pretty simple and straightforward, right?
Which Pagodas and Temples Should I See in Bagan, Myanmar?
So now, we know what you’re thinking, “2,200 pagoda’s?? How in the hell am I going to see them all? Which ones are the best?”
We had the same thoughts so just calm down, we’ll get through this. We created an entire separate post to help you navigate your dilemma.
Check out our complete list of pagoda’s and temples we recommend you seeing in Bagan.
Options For Watching The Sunrise In Bagan, Myanmar
Probably one of the most important decisions you have while visiting Bagan is where to see that BEAUTIFUL hot air balloon sunrise…no pressure 🙂
Now, I know a lot of people are not early risers but if there was ever a time to get your butt up, it would be in Bagan!
The sunrises, are jaw dropping. Goosebumps all over your body type of sunrise. Seeing the sunrise over the plains of Bagan, while hot air balloons soar across the sky is something we will never forget.
You have two options for viewing the sunrise the cheap way or the expensive way.
- The Cheap Option: Hop on your eBike and select a pagoda of your choice to watch the sunrise.
- The Pricey Option: Nook a hot air ballon ride with a tour operator in town. Be aware that this can cost upwards of $300-$400 USDs.
Since we were on a budget we opted for the cheap option and were so satisfied! Obviously, it would be pretty awesome soaring over the plains looking at the pagoda’s below. Whichever option you decide, just make sure you see the sun rise.
Where Should I Watch The Sunrise in Bagan?
Head to the lesser visited Pagoda, Law Ka Ou Shaung to see the sunrise.
Law Ka Ou Shaung will be significantly less crowded then where everyone tends to go, which is Shwesandaw Pagoda or Pyathetgyi Pagoda.
Avoid Shwesandaw Pagoda and Pyathetgyi Pagoda for sunrise if you can. They are CRAZY packed with tourists which means, you wont get that sunrise picture you want.
Seriously, seeing the morning dew and fog settle as the hot air balloons rise doesn’t feel like what you’re seeing is real. A mystical fantasy even.
Don’t be a dufus and miss the sunrise. That’s your only MUST DO for Bagan. The the rest is simple, enjoy your time in the Burmese sun 🙂
Where Should I Watch The Sunset In Bagan?
North Guni Temple or Bulethi is a great place to see the sunset.
Head out an an hour and half to an hour before the sun sets in order to secure a spot.
Believe us, you’re gonna want that time. Sunset is just as crazy as sunrise.
Bulethi is probably more popular than North Guni Temple for sunset. The picture above is from North Guni Temple.
As you can see, the view is spectacular. What a day you will have. Seeing that sunrise and then hours later, see it set. Life will be good for you, friends!
Additional Advice for Bagan, Myanmar
If you are still overwhelmed by all the pagodas there are too see, we really recommend you take a day tour of Bagan’s pagodas and temples.
At first, book one day and then decide if you would like another day. Or, consider whatever you don’t see on the tour, you can see by yourself the next day.
Our tip is to look at Ostello Bello. Ostello Bello is the hostel we stayed at and they offered free tours. All you needed is an ebike to attend.
We took the tour and we loved it! Plus, we got so much more detail and history with having a tour guide that we would have gotten if we were by ourselves.
The local tour guide went into detail about each pagoda we visited and made you really appreciate what you were looking at.
SIDE NOTE: when visiting the pagodas, dress appropriately. Just because the Pagodas are crumbling and old, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show them respect. No shoes, cover your knees and shoulders.
Really and truly, Bagan is just …. is just….well, we don’t have the words right now. It’s just something everyone needs to experience. Plain and simple.
For The Budget Conscious: Located in Old Bagan, Ostello Bello offers both private and dormitory rooms and free pasta. Yes, free pasta! The location is amazing, the beds are comfy and the vibe is perfect.
For The Luxury Inclined: Luxury in Old Bagan can be found at Bagan Thande Hotel. From their refreshing pool to beautiful grounds, Bagan Thande Hotel is a perfect oasis in Bagan.
For Something In Between: Look Myanmar is warm. welcoming and oh so friendly bed and breakfast. The location is great, well taken care of and walking distance to other shops and restaurants.
For more places to stay in Bagan, Myanmar, you can check out the latest places and prices here.
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)