The Temples of Bagan: Our Travel Tips and Experiences

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Bagan, perhaps the most visited place in Myanmar, should not be missed on any trip through this country in our opinion. In the steppe-like landscape, towers over 2.01 Pagodas in the sky. The sights of them – especially at sunrise and sunset – are one of our most magical experiences of all our travels so far.

The temples of Bagan are for us a total work of art – hence our tip: Don’t search for one view, but leave the multitude of Temple affect you for several days. At the very end of the article you will not only find a few important tips for visiting the temples, but also a map on which we have drawn all the pagodas mentioned.

Update 2019: In the meantime, it is forbidden to enter all pagodas in Bagan. We updated this article with current information (October ) added, because the experience on site has unfortunately changed a lot with the ban in recent years.

1. The most beautiful pagodas for sunrise in Bagan Of course, pagoda hopping is already popular during the day. In Chapter 3 of this blog article we will tell you which pagodas you should definitely visit during the day. But the real challenge is to find the right pagoda for the sunrise. Everyone wants to discover it: The deserted pagoda with the fantastic view.

Believe us: it was during our visit (2017) more difficult than expected . And now it is unfortunately only possible illegally. Nevertheless, we will tell you which pagodas in Bagan we took our sunrise photos.

Bulethi Pagoda During our stay, the popular sunrise pagoda “Shwesandaw” was closed, so many people switched to the nearby Bulethi Pagoda – including us. The view from the Bulethi Pagoda is really amazing and you can even see the hot air balloons rising into the air – albeit from quite a distance.

The climbing the temple of Bagan is now forbidden (as of October – more info in chapter 7 of this article). The Bulethi Pagoda was allowed during our visit (1200) but officially be climbed. During our visit there were about People who looked forward to the sunrise with us on the pagoda. That sounds quite a lot, but fortunately the people spread out quite well and even those who came very late were able to get a place.

For this sunrise we have the free shuttle from our Hotel used, so we were there shortly after 5 a.m. and had to endure almost an hour in the cold. On the day of our visit, however, it would not have been a problem to come later.

Pagoda with no name for sunrise The next day we went with the scooter on our own way in search of a pagoda for the sunrise. Problem: When it’s dark and you’re not exactly familiar with the area, you initially have no idea where to look. We therefore looked at the rough area for “our” sunrise pagoda on the map in advance.

In the end, we found what we were looking for faster than we thought. The view was very similar to that of Bulethi Pagoda with the difference that here only about 15 other people sat with us on the pagoda. (In the beginning we were almost alone, but the lighter it gets, the more likely it is that other travelers will see which pagodas people are already sitting on.)

2. The most beautiful pagodas for the sunset in Bagan In addition to the sunrise, the sunset in Bagan is the absolute highlight of the day. We didn’t miss a single sunset and can only warmly recommend it to you. Finding a pagoda for sunset was a little easier than for sunrise, since it was light and we could look out more easily.

Here too, unfortunately, you now have the problem that you don’t officially have any you can visit the pagoda! We will tell you a legal alternative at the end of the article.

Pagoda without a name for the sunset We discovered this rather small and inconspicuous pagoda quite by accident. We knew there was a great view from the famous Shwesandaw Pagoda and wanted to find one with a similar view but with less traffic.

In the end we found what we were looking for not too far away. Access to the upper platform of this nameless pagoda is a bit of an adventure as the passageway with the stairs inside the pagoda is really very narrow. Since the pagoda is relatively low, you are not quite as high, but we had the pagoda almost to ourselves and that was really something special.

Ta Wet Hpaya Pagoda A little insider tip during our visit was the Ta Wet Hpaya Pagoda. We found them thanks to a young souvenir seller who took us there. We weren’t the only visitors (with us there were about 30 other local people), nevertheless, the Compared to the well-known pagodas, the pagoda is rarely frequented.

We thought it was great that you could enjoy an unbelievable view of Bagan from this temple. Unfortunately, you are not that close to other pagodas here. (As you can see, no two pagodas are the same and each one has its advantages and disadvantages).

Since the Ta Wet Hpaya Pagoda is a bit hidden off the main roads . , it’s not that easy to find. We have marked the location for you on the map at the end of the article. Hopefully that should make it possible to find them. But also here the important note: Officially you are no longer allowed to enter it!

Shwesandaw Pagoda The Shwesandaw was for a long time undoubtedly the most famous pagoda to experience the sunset in Bagan. The view from the Shwesandaw Pagoda is really something special. So it’s not surprising that you were surrounded by a crowd at sunset. We were there for the first and only time 5 years ago and even then the pagoda was comparatively well visited.

Update 2019: You are now not allowed to climb any pagoda, not even the Shwesandaw Pagoda.

3. Sightseeing in Bagan: The most beautiful pagodas The most important temples one day Be sure to get up early. If you’re lucky with the weather, these sunrise moments are truly magical and unforgettable. You can read about where we experienced our sunrises in Bagan further up in this article.

Treat yourself to a delicious breakfast and a bit of relaxation afterwards, so that you can start your temple day well-rested. In this chapter we will tell you a temple route that can easily be completed in one day. By the way: We will tell you how best to get around Bagan further down in this blog article.

Shwezigon Pagoda Shwezigon Pagoda is considered to be the most important pagoda in Bagan. It is located near Nyaung U. Expect to be surrounded by a lot of people there – no wonder, because Shwezigon Pagoda is really impressive. Due to its gold leaf covered stupa it reminds us a bit of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. However, the Shwezigon Pagoda is only just 50 meters high already much smaller and less pompous.

Htilominlo Temple From the Shwezigon Pagoda you now follow the main road towards Old Bagan. After a not too long drive you will reach the Htilominlo Temple. The Htilominlo Temple is not one of those temples that totally blew our minds, but precisely because it is along the main road, we find the stop more than worthwhile.

Particularly liked it us the view of the Htilominlo Temple from a nearby flat-roofed pagoda. A young souvenir seller drew our attention to this view and brought us to the viewpoint. We were skeptical at first, but in this case we were glad we trusted her. (We wanted to buy one or the other souvenir anyway, so it was a good idea.) You can find the said flat-roof pagoda if you leave the Htilominlo Temple through the west exit.

Update 2019: We have read that the flat roof pagoda is no longer open either.

Ananda Temple If you now follow the main road in the direction of Old Bagan, you will reach the Ananda Temple just before the city gates. The Ananda Temple (also called Ananda Phaya) is one of the absolute must-see temples in Bagan.

Even from the outside the white temples with the golden stupa quite out of the crowd of temples. No other temple in Bagan resembles Ananda Temple and that makes it totally fascinating and unique. In addition, the temple was very beautifully renovated . Inside the Ananda Temple, as in many Buddhist temples in Myanmar, there are four huge standing Buddhas facing the four cardinal points.

At the end of a perfect day of sightseeing in Bagan should absolutely have another temple for the sunset. Where you can watch the sunset, we tell you earlier in this article. If you still have some time available, take a look at the Shwegugyi Temple, for example, which you can also climb. You can find more about this and other temples worth seeing in Bagan in the next chapter.

More beautiful pagodas in Bagan for more time Do you have more than one day for temple hopping? Excellent! Because there are so many beautiful pagodas to discover in Bagan. We ourselves were out and about for three days from morning to night, but even after a week we wouldn’t have gotten bored.

Dhammayazika Pagoda Of the lesser known pagodas, the Dhammayazika Pagoda got us Especially good. Since it is rather off the beaten track, there were hardly any other people on site apart from us. So we could explore the pagoda in peace.

Thatbyinnyu Temple Thatbyinnyu Temple is with 60 meters the highest, but certainly not the most beautiful or best preserved building in Bag on. Nevertheless, a visit is worthwhile and there is a reason: From a nearby pagoda (approx. 60 meters west, south of Shwegugyi Temple) you have a really nice view of Thatbyinnyu Temple. However, we fear that you are no longer allowed to enter this pagoda.

Shwegugyi- Temple We personally liked the Shwegugyi Temple because you can really see it from above enjoys a beautiful view of the surrounding temple landscape of Bagan . The view in all four directions is really mesmerizing. If we had spent a few more days in Bagan, we would definitely have come to watch the sunrise or sunset.

Update 2019: We dare to doubt whether you are still allowed to climb the Shwegugyi Temple.

Bupaya Pagoda The Burmese word “Bupaya” means “Gourd Pagoda”. And when you stand in front of the Bupaya Pagoda, you can understand why: its shape is reminiscent of a pumpkin. The pagoda is located right on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Unfortunately, the original temple is no longer standing here, because it was 1975 destroyed in an earthquake. Still, the Bupaya Pagoda is definitely worth a visit, mainly because it is so different from the rest of the temples in Bagan.

Gawdawpalin Temple Gawdawpalin Temple is located in Old Bagan not far from Bupaya Pagoda, so we put it on the way ” taken”. The temple is very nice and pretty to look at. However, we didn’t think it was one of the big highlights.

4. Restaurant tips for Bagan In general, the range of restaurants in Bagan is very much tailored to tourists. To be honest, it didn’t bother us because we always ate well in Bagan. By the way, very, very many well-known tourist restaurants are located near Nyaung U at Thiripyitsaya 4. A little warning: From Italian to Indian to Thai, everything is included.

The Moon 2 This vegetarian restaurant was our favorite in Bagan. Sure, it’s totally geared towards tourists, but the food was really excellent. By the way, there are two locations with the same menu. We liked that restaurant in New Bagan better, as we found it neater and more idyllic there. It tasted very good in both restaurants. The prices are absolutely fine: for both of us, including drinks, we have approx. 12.000 Kyat paid, so a little more than 7 euros.

Weather Spoon Weather Spoon is a restaurant favorite among backpackers and young travelers. We happened upon it so we gave it a try as well. We really can’t say anything negative – except that you have to wait a relatively long time for your food. We liked it very much and the prices (approx. 12.000 Kyat = 7 euros for 2) are also absolutely fine.

5. Our hotel tip for Bagan We can highly recommend ours Accommodation in Bagan, the Myanmar Han Hotel. With one requirement: you have to like riding a scooter or don’t mind being dependent on a shuttle. Because the hotel is approx. 15 Minutes drive from the center of Nyaung U.

Apart from this small disadvantage, the Myanmar Han Hotel is absolutely to be recommended. In the rooms (we had booked the cheapest category) you feel very comfortable and the bathroom is also nice. We thought it was great that there was a pool where you could relax perfectly from the strenuous temple sightseeing. We had the breakfast à la carte, it was really very good (by Myanmar standards). A buffet was served on the remaining days (probably due to the small number of hotel guests). To be honest, we found it a bit boring. But we simply asked for our beloved muesli and the (very, very friendly) staff immediately served us one.

In general, the staff at the Myanmar Han Hotel a dream. We have seldom encountered friendlier hotel staff in Myanmar. Our night bus arrived at 4am and we were prepared to wait until mid-morning to check in. But nothing there: we were shown to our room in a friendly manner, so to speak, in the middle of the night. We have really never experienced anything like this – wow!

We have per night in the Myanmar Han Hotel 37 Euros paid for a double room. This made the hotel one of those with the best price-performance ratio in the whole of Myanmar.

Here you can book the hotel directly: Myanmar Han Hotel

6. Transportation in Bagan E-Scooter The distances in Bagan are by no means manageable on foot. Bagan is “unfortunately” much too spacious for that. The number one means of transport for us in Bagan is undoubtedly the rented scooter. Currently (as of December ) Tourists can only rent e-scooters.

E-scooters are very similar to conventional scooters, but are less powerful and of course very quiet. The cost for a day varies depending on the landlord. We could rent our scooter right at the hotel for just 5.000 rent kyat per day . The advantage: the scooter was recharged every time we came back.

Which also brings us to the next point: the electricity of an e-scooter does not last indefinitely. Depending on how new or how fully charged the scooter is, experience has shown that it can roar through Bagan for around 6 hours. So say goodbye to the idea that you rent the scooter in the morning and then return it after sunset. Not only once did we have doubts about whether we would even be able to make the way back (and once it was really, really close).

Another important note about the road conditions: The main roads are asphalted and Despite some potholes relatively easy to drive on. In general, we found the volume of traffic to be absolutely fine and easily manageable for reasonably experienced drivers. If you move away from the main roads, you will actually always end up on a gravel or sand track at some point. But even that is hardly a problem.

Bike Much more strenuous, but also doable, is to visit Bagan by bike. However, you must be aware that it can get very, very hot and the sun often beats down relentlessly. In addition, the temples are sometimes relatively far apart. In our opinion, renting a bike makes sense especially if you want to see temples that are relatively close together. Experience has shown that cyclists are in the minority in Bagan, as driving in the heat and the distances is just very exhausting.

Private driver If you don’t want to drive a scooter or bike yourself, you can easily hire a private driver including a car. The prices for this are of course a lot higher, but it is quite comfortable. With a bit of luck, you will also get an experienced guide who can provide you with a lot of background knowledge about the individual temples.

Horse-drawn carriage In Bagan there is still the possibility to visit the temples by horse-drawn carriage. To be honest, we personally don’t think much of it and therefore don’t want to recommend it. Especially where there are so many other ways of getting around, it really doesn’t have to be that the animals have to suffer so much in the heat.

7. A Few Practical Tips for Visiting the Temples of Bagan + Update First of all, it is important to mention that as a tourist you need to buy a entrance ticket once you enter the area of ​​temples (“Bagan Archaeological Zone”) for the first time. This currently costs (as of October 2019) .000 Kyat. The ticket is valid for a total of 5 days and you should always carry it with you, because it is checked and stamped at some larger temples.

Be sure to take clothes with you for your visit to the temples of Bagan, the knees and shoulders are covered. A pair of wide, long trousers and a T-shirt is ideal. Some temples have sarongs for hire, but that’s not the rule.

Also remember that you have to take off your shoes at every temple must. We swear by open shoes that you can slip on quickly. And yes, your feet are guaranteed to be very dirty after a temple day. But don’t worry: you get used to it.

Very important: Drone flying has been forbidden for years! We would definitely stick to this ban.

Important information on climbing the pagodas In March 2016 in Bagan entering very many (not all) pagodas was officially forbidden. This ban has been extended over the years and now affects all pagodas. Currently (October 2019) it is officially forbidden to climb pagodas in Bagan.

We ourselves were in 2017 the last time there when you were still officially allowed to enter some pagodas. Therefore, in this article you will also find photos that you will probably no longer be able to take today.

The ban is still being ignored by some people. For example, there are still locals who will take you to the top of smaller temples. In return, they expect you to buy one of their paintings. Of course, you always have to weigh up for yourself whether you want to risk access on a case-by-case basis. In any case, if you get caught, you risk high fines.

A legal alternative is the Nan Myint Tower. Admission costs 5 US dollars. No question: The flair of this vantage point is of course not quite as charming, but you really have a panoramic view here.

8th. More Myanmar Travel Reports Our route for Myanmar Our travel guide for Myanmar: Tips for a trip to Myanmar Yangon Bago Golden Rock Hpa-An Inle Lake Mandalay Ngapali Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains affiliate links. If you book something through the link, we get a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. Thank you so much!

Have you been to Bagan? What were your experiences? We look forward to your comments and further tips!