Where and what is Bagan?
Bagan, also known now as 'Bagan Archeological Zone', is an ancient city located in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. It used to be the capital of the Pagan Kingdom where, in its height between the 11th and 13th centuries, thousands of Buddhist temples, monasteries and pagodas were constructed. Over 2,000 of these are still present nowadays, making Bagan Myanmar 's main attraction. It can be seen as the country's equivalent to Cambodia's Angkor Wat.
Where to stay & getting around
There are three villages around the main temple area where you can find numerous hotels. These villages are called Nyaung U, Old Bagan and New Bagan. The village of Nyaung U is the most active one and also serves as the area's main transport hub. Here you can also find the most budget-friendly hotels. You can have a look at available Hotels in Nyaung U. Old Bagan is closer but caters more to the higher-end accommodation side. New Bagan is slowly developing and is a bit more laid-back with a decent choice of midrange places to stay.
With over 2,000 temples around and with an area of 26 sq-miles, Bagan is huge! There are a few ways of exploring the area but we highly suggest to take an e-bike. You can stop and go as you like and its a quite fun (and environmentally friendly) way of exploring the temples. These will cost you around 5,000 - 10,000 Kyat a day (approx. 7 USD).
You can also explore the nearby temples with a normal bike or a horse carriage (romantic but not so comfy!). Also, you can take a private tour around with a car but we suggest to do it yourself to make the most out of your Bagan Myanmar experience.
Impressions of Bagan
Some usefull info for your visit to Bagan Myanmar
One of the greatest attractions in Bagan are the hot air balloon rides. It definitely is a great experience and is something that you will likely never forget (so we heard). Unfortunately, we did not have the chance to join one of the rides. If you decide to go, make sure you have enough money with you as it is probably one of the most expensive things you will be doing in Myanmar.
These rides will cost something between 300-400 USD per person, depending on the company you decide to take. Make sure to book your tickets in advance as this is a very popular attraction with tourists.
How much time do I need?
We suggest to spend at least 3-4 days in Bagan. We stayed 3 nights and saw many things but could have easily stayed another 2 nights. We therefore recommend a minimum stay of 4 days. Plan your days wisely and remember that the distances can be a abit far. Also consider that you won't be touring the temples the entire day as it can get extremely hot during the midday. Also, consider that you will want to wake up early at least one day to see the breathtaking sunrises. Take your time and enjoy the place.
How much does it cost?
In order to enter the Bagan Archeological Zone you will need to pay an entrance fee. This fee is around 20 USD (approx. 25,000 Kyat per person). It is valid for 5 days. There will be places where they control them so be sure to keep your tickets with you all the time.
Other relevant costs really depend on where you want to stay and what means of transport you will take around. As mentioend earlier, we suggest staying in Nyaung U (or New Bagan) and renting an e-bike to keep expenses down.
What to look out for
Please be aware that these are still religious temples and that you should dress accordingly. Despite the heat, make sure to wear shirts that cover your shoulders and pants that cover your knees. No shoes are allowed in the temples so make sure to bring some slippers along.
You will find many people praying in front of the Buddha staues. Show your respect by staying behind them and get on your knees if you want to join.
There are numerous temples in Bagan in which you can climb to the top and enjoy some great views. Many are over 1,000 years old and are not meant to be walked around on by tourists. Show some respect and only walk on areas which are meant to be walked on. Just recently the authorities have actually prohibited tourists from scaling the iconic temples.
Have a look at our top post on 10 things you should know about Myanmar and find out about what you gotta know before you go!