If we’re talking about the Top tourist destinations in Asia, you would probably never think of Myanmar to be on your first choice right?. Some of the most popular places to visit in Asia for travelers would be Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, Korea etc.
Bagan is Myanmar’s archaeological area, which back in 11th to the 13th century there were about 10,000 Buddhist Temples, Pagodas, and Monasteries were built by the Burmese Tribes in the region. A massive earthquake hit Bagan in July of 1975, there was a significant amount of temples thats was destroyed after the earthquake.
Today restoration efforts are being made by the government, so temples are able to survive earthquakes in the future. Bagan is slowly getting attention for its beauty from travelers from different parts of the world, so the governments effort to preserve the is definitely very important. I truly think that Bagan on its way to becoming a top travel destination and on every travelers bucket list. Here’s how you get there:
How to get to Bagan
Coming from Yangon Myanmar’s old Capital city there are three ways to get there.
It would approximately take around 8-10 hours to travel the 611km distance from Yangon to Bagan. If you don’t mind long bus trips you can book your bus tickets from different bus companies that operates through this route.
The Buses are pretty new and modern make sure you choose the bus company which has a comfortable seats, you dont need a sore back by the time you arrive to your destination. VIP Bus ticket will cost about 20USD / person which is fully air-conditioned with big seats. You’ll be traveling with some tourists and Burmese locals too, so make sure you bring some earplugs for some loud people chatting and some crazy Burmese music you might encounter throughout the bus trip.
Yes! you can also go by the local train to get to Bagan. It would take about 15 to 17 hours to get to Bagan, mind you these trains are very old and nothing like the bullet trains of Japan. Theres a possibility that you won’t be able to sleep at all! Not only are cabin beds uncomfortable, but since the trains are old it gets a bit bumpy at times and the noise is hard to ignore.
Make sure you take plenty of food and water because you will definitely need it. You will see beautiful landscapes and experience how locals travel. You’ll also be passing through some villages that are situated beside train tracks and if you’re up for this kind of adventure then the Train ride is for you!
The tickets are only available through travel agents in Yangon, so make sure to buy it before heading to the train station. Ticket cost around 35 to 50USD and have a regular schedule from 4:00 pm at Yangon Train Station and arrives at 10am the next day in Bagan.
The easiest way to travel from Yangon to is by plane. There’s plenty of local airlines that fly regularly to Bagan some of which are Myanmar Airways, Air Mandalay and Air KBZ.
Depending on the booking time, tickets are priced at 90-120USD / person. It may cost you a little bit more but it will save you time and the chaos of local trains or buses. Make sure to book you hotel in Bagan prior to arrival, most hotels will pick up theirs hotel guests at the airport for your convenience.
Welcome to Bagan
Once you get there it’s easy to get too exited exploring and see what Bagan has to offer, I suggest to rent an Electric Bike. Renting a bike is pretty cheap and handy to get around from one Temple to another. You can easily rent one from the shops by the street, which will cost you around 10USD for a whole day use.
They also provide helmets for your safety. If you decide not to use the helmets, make sure to watch how you drive. Although there’s almost no cars passing through the Temple grounds, these electric bikes can go really fast. It’s easy to get into an accident, specially if you’re not paying attention to the road because of the beautiful temples that will distract you from looking at the road. One pot hole, and you’ll surely be heading to the local hospital. Make sure to get yourself a travel insurance.
Horse carriage are also popular for tourist, just make sure your Bargaining power is on point because prices differs depending on the number of tourists in the area. Also if you’re “White” be ready for a higher price you know how it is in asia.
Probably the most fun of all would be the cattle carriage. Burmese farmers use them transport their crops. If you’re lucky enough to see these carts passing through the Temple routes you can always try to ask the owner if you can hop in.
On the way to the Temple Grounds make to sure pass through the Tree Tunnel, or at least thats how i call it. The lush tree formation which creates the illusion of a tunnel, is definitely a picture perfect spot you dont wanna miss. Very instagrammable.
Bagan being a tourist spot, the locals still use the land for agriculture during and after the monsoon season which is perfect for growing crops because of the wet condition of the soil surrounding the vast of Temple grounds. Bulb Bottle Gourd that are left to dry for seedlings and some to be used as water container souvenir that are sold in Tourists shop.
Thousands of Temples
There’s literally thousands of temples covering the whole landscapes of Bagan. I remember travelling to Cambodia and being fascinated by the number of temples in Siem Reap, but nothing prepared me to Bagan’s temples. If you’re planning to visit all of the Temples, make sure you start early in the morning or stay a few days in Bagan if you want explore all of it.
They come in different sizes too, the smallest ones are the size of a small car and the biggest ones are as tall as a five story building. For those who has fear of heights it might be not a good idea to climb the big temples. The stairs are very steep so make sure to watch your step.
For the brave hearts, the view from the top of temples will not disappoint. The panoramic view of Bagan’s landscape is spectacular in every angle. Perfect time to climb the temples is when the sun sets, make sure your camera is charged because you’ll be snapping plenty of photos for sure!!!
Before ending the tiring day of being a tourist, you will see plenty of souvenir shops near the temples. I personally prefer to support the local artists like these kids, who sells their hand drawn post cards which are very unique and definitely authentic Burmese art!!!
Bagan not being so commercialized and over populated by tourists, makes it more appealing for those who just wants to enjoy the beautiful scenery and its culture. Make sure to put it on your Bucket List, because you’ll definitely enjoy everything about Bagan, The Land of a Thousand Temples.
You can see a bunch more travel guides across asia here: https://mynomadiccompass.com/2018/09/16/bagan-travel-guide/