16 of the Best Temples & Monasteries to See in Myanmar

It could take a lifetime to explore all Myanmar’s temples, stupas, pagodas, and monasteries. But your 28-day tourist visa isn’t exactly going to make venturing out to them all very easy, is it? Here’s a list of the best temples to squeeze into your trip.


Photo © Will Hatton

Bagan is the largest archaeological zone in Myanmar, home to over 2,200 temples, pagodas, and ruins. Rent an e-bike for the day and explore the thousands of temples scattered across the plains, to discover your own secret, hidden gems.

For a detailed temple map of Bagans temples, save this PDF to your phone before you lose internet connectivity.

1. Lawkaoushaung Temple Instead of Shwesandaw Pagoda, Bagan

Shwesandaw Pagoda is the most popular sunrise spot, however it’s always packed with a huge crowd. If you want to experience an incredible sunrise without another tourist in sight, find the Lawkaoushaung Temple.

Sunset behind temples in Bagan. Photo credit: Will Hatton

2. Shwezigon Pagoda and Anada Temple, Bagan

Bagan’s Anada Temple is absolutely beautiful, depicting incredible architecture, stone carvings and Buddhist imagery. Located next to the river is Shwezigon Pagoda, which sports a gold plated dome glittering in the sun.

3. Sulamani Temple, Bagan

Sulamani Temple, also known as the ‘crowning jewel’, is home to well-preserved paintings and murals depicting Buddhist scenes.

Temples of Bagan. Photo credit: Will Hatton

4. Htilominlo Temple, Bagan

Bagan’s Htilominlo Temple is another popular stop, but the many shops inside the courtyard give it a pretty busy feel. It’s worth a visit though, as it’s home to more exquisite carvings.

5. Dhammayangyi Temple, Bagan

The Dhammayangyi Temple is an impressive structure, however it’s not super beautiful right now as it’s still undergoing restoration.

Outside popular temples and ruins, shopkeepers can be very pushy, so beware of tourist scams in Bagan.

6. Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon

Shwedagon Pagoda is the most impressive temple complex I’ve ever encountered. It’s a magical sight to see the shimmering gold pagoda, adorned with hundreds of precious stones.

The top of the stupa is decorated with diamonds and, legend has it, that sealed within the stupa there are more riches including a hair of the Buddha himself.

Shwedagon Pagoda. Photo credit: Will Hatton

7. Botataung Pagoda, Yangon

Botataung Pagoda also enshrines sacred Buddha hair (Buddha apparently liked to leave single hairs all over the country), and overlooks Yangon River.

This gold plated pagoda looks quite similar to the Shwedagon and it’s much quieter, so it can be a good place to snap some more chilled photos.

8. Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple, Yangon

The striking Chaukhtatgyi Buddha Temple is home to a giant 66m reclining Buddha, with intrinsic symbols imprinted on the feet.

9. Buangdawgyoke Pagoda, Yangon

Head off the beaten path in Yangon and check out Buangdawgyoke Pagoda, aka the snake temple. This fascinating temple houses around 50 massive Burmese pythons. They’re literally hiding everywhere!

10. Shwenandaw Monastery and Atumashi Monastery, Mandalay

The Shwenandaw monastery is made of finely carved teak wood, located next to the Mandalay Royal Palace. It’s on the same grounds as the Atumashi Monastery, which is bursting with intricate woodcarvings.

11. Kuthadow Pagoda, Mandalay 

The Kuthadow Pagoda is known as the world’s largest book, with 729 inscribed marble slabs with Buddhist teachings. Imagine how long that’d take to carve!

12. Bayin Nyi Monastery, Hpa An

Bayin Nyi monastery is particularly captivating as it’s built into a cave, and has it’s own natural hot spring. It’s an incredible experience staying here, waking up to a family of monkeys hanging out in trees.

13. Kothaung, Mrauk U

The temples ruins in Mrauk U are one of Myanmar’s best-kept secrets. Kothaung, also known as the temple of 90,000 Buddha images, is so underrated.

The complex has virtually no other tourists around, and has really cool stone carvings telling stories of the Buddha’s conquests against demons.

14. Shitte-thuang, Mrauk U

Shitte-thuang is another cool temple, with stone Buddha’s lining the inside walkways.

15. Htukkanthein Temple, Mrauk U

Htukkanthein Temple is quite large, and kind of reminds me of a maze...  Don’t get lost! The passageway coils around like a snake, until you reach the Buddha statue in the very centre. 

16. Myaw Yit Pagoda, Dawei

The Myaw Yit Pagoda at the end of Dawei’s peninsular is absolutely breathtaking! It’s a working temple with a population of monks still living there, and boasts incredible views of the Andaman Sea. You will likely be the only travelers there if you make it this far.

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