Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bagan - an amazing place

We just returned from a long weekend in Bagan in our first trip outside Yangon to discover Myanmar.

Bagan is the place of the many ancient pagodas and stupas located on the Irrawaddy River, for more info see wikitravel.

We were a group of four and we chose to fly from Yangon to Nyaung U (Bagan): 1h10 min flight, 210 USD/person. Flights are in general very expensive in Myanmar despite the many companies which fly inside the country. There is also the bus option, much cheaper, in modern buses which leave Yangon twice a day but the trip takes around 10 hours, quite tiring. Well, the train takes 17 hours, so do not consider this option unless you stop on your way.

Not being the high season (which starts in November and ends in March) the hotel prices are quite good but still expensive compared with other countries in Asia. We booked on (the Asian version of

I would not say Bagan has a rainy season compared with the rain in Yangon. In the three days there were two light and short rains. For the rest of the time sunshine and 35C.

If you are young the preferred mode of transportation to visit the many pagodas and stupas would be the e-bike, which, in my opinion, is a scooter with pedals . The pedals you will never use as the "bike" is quite heavy. You can hire these bikes by reserving them with your hotel - a bit more expensive - or you can walk or cycle the normal bikes (free for the guests in most of the hotels) and get to the closest shop which rents the e-bikes. The next day they will bring the e-bikes to your hotel and they will pick them up in the evening. The rental for one full day was 6.000 Kyatts.

There are also other options: horse cart or rented car.

Taxis are more expensive than in Yangon and, of course, fewer. Be prepared to pay between 5.000 to 7.000 kyatts from airport to your hotel depending where your hotel is situated, and this in low season.

I would say that three full days are enough to visit the sights. You may visit the famous pagodas, take a boat trip on the river to admire the sunset, take a balloon flight (only in high season-very expensive but must be very beautiful!), or visit a laquerware workshop.

For the lunch or dinner I would recommend the Sunset Garden Restaurant in New Bagan, on the riverside. Below a link to a recent article from Myanmar Times about the restaurant:

In the morning just look on the map which you get in the airport or hotel and start riding your bike and stop on the road to visit the pagodas which you like. It is a very special place, with lots of old pagodas (11th-12th century), dusty side roads, few tourists, curious locals and lots of Buddhas. Amazing! We liked very much the old white or red stone of the pagodas and in some of them we climbed lots of stairs to the top from where you are able to admire the amazing surroundings.

The big pagodas are having vendors and Bagan is famous for the laquerware products and sand paintings. We bought both: laquerware from the Bagan House workshop to make sure we buy good quality and sand paintings from the vendors in the pagodas. We also had two guides in two of the pagodas. They were young locals, still studying who guided tourists in the free days. They were not insisting in guiding us and we found their explanations very useful.

Again, the people are amazing, curious, smiling, beautiful and simple. I even had the chance to photograph a few children monks.

 The beautiful Ananda Temple:

Some temples have preserved beautiful paintings:

After three full days we are back in Yangon and looking forward to the new week as I will start my Burmese language classes!!!

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