5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Trip to Bagan

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Hundreds of years ago Marco Polo claimed that the temples of Bagan were one of the most astonishing views on earth – a sentiment that many travelers would agree with today.

As beautiful Bagan becomes more and more popular among travelers, don’t fret – with over 2,000 temples to explore, it’s still easy to get off-the-beaten path.

Here’s how to get the most out of your trip to Bagan. 

Witness a Famous Bagan Sunrise

Watching the sunrise over the temples of Bagan is the highlight for most travelers, but there are two ways to do this. Either you choose to take the luxury method of a hot air balloon ride, or watch from the top of a temple.

If you have your heart set on ballooning, know that it’s pricey – around US $300 – and needs to be booked well in advance. Balloon rides also only occur between October–March. For those who travel outside of this period, or can’t quite afford the hefty price-tag of a balloon ride, there are plenty of temples that offer stunning vantage points.

Explore Bagan’s Temples by E-bike

Bagan is not a walkable. With three separate towns (Nyuang-U, Old Bagan, New Bagan) and over 2,000 temples in the area, it would be impossible to see anything by foot.

Renting a car with a driver, hiring a push bike, or taking a horse and carriage are all possibilities, however you’ve got a lot of ground to cover, and these rather slow options will put a limit to how far you’ll get.

E-bikes are the best way to get around and explore the area, especially if you want to get off-the-beaten-path. An e-bike can be rented for as little as US $5/day for the small size, and about US $10/day for the larger size.

By using an e-bike, you can explore the famous temples such as Ananda, Shwezigon, Dhammayangyi, and Sulamani, among other lesser-known and unmapped temples that few tourists venture out to.

Thatbninnya temple. Photo credit: Hannah Logan

Catch a Glimpse of Traditional Burmese Life

The temples may be the main attraction, but take some time to talk to the friendly locals in Bagan as well.

Visit Minnathu Village to learn about the rural Burmese life, including learning how to make thanaka. Or stop by one of the many lacquer ware shops, where you can see the process behind this artisan trade.

Making thanaka in Minnathu Village. Photo credit: Hannah Logan

Consider a Day Trip to Mount Popa

Bagan has enough to keep you busy for a few days, but if you want to see something different, head to Mount Popa, an extinct volcano about 1.5 hours from Bagan.

Hire a private car, or get there by bus, and climb 777 stairs to reach the monastery at the top. Before you start the climb, you’ll have to slip off your shoes.

Watch the Sunset Over Bagan

Sunrise may be the big ‘must-do’ when in Bagan, but the sunsets are pretty spectacular too.

As with sunrise, it’s possible to venture out to one of the many temples to watch from the top, but another option is to take a boat cruise on the Irrawaddy River. Several hotels offer the option, but there are plenty of locals that’ll approach to see if you’re interested as well.

Sunset at the temples of Bagan. Photo credit: Hannah Logan

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