Fourth leg of our trip: Bagan, Myanmar. We planned to spend the morning after the long bus ride (See: Myanmar: Elite Express bus Yangon – Bagan) resting, then the next 1.5 days exploring the numerous temples of Bagan.
Honestly, among the places we planned to visit during this trip, Bagan is the place i anticipated visiting the most because of the 2000+ temples, pagodas and monasteries in the Bagan plains. All of the pictures I’ve seen were beautiful and I was looking forward to seeing them with my own two eyes.
Before you can start exploring Bagan, visitors have to pay US$ 15 (Ks 15,000) for the Bagan Archaelogical Zone ticket which is valid for 5 days. Although during our stay, we were never asked to present the ticket.
There are many ways to get around Bagan. You can either rent a bike (Ks. 2,000 from our hotel), an e-bike (Ks. 8,000 from the store near our hotel), a taxi, or a horsecart. We decided beforehand to tour Bagan via horsecart. After freshening up at our hotel and having lunch at La Min Thit, we walked around town looking for a horsecart driver. We found one near the supermarket who was willing to drive us around for the sunset tour (Ks. 15,000) and a whole day with sunrise (Ks. 27,000).
Again, dress code when visiting pagodas around Myanmar:
- No footwear or socks
- Length of shorts or skirts must be below the knees
- No sleeveless tops or plunging necklines
Basically, dress conservatively. The locals will not call you out on your attire, but they will give you a disapproving glance.
The typical monastery with a courtyard, 2 story temples and a large stupa.
Gaw Daw Palin Phaya
The second tallest temple in Bagan after the Thatbyinnyu Phaya. This is located in Old Bagan and a group of lacquerware sellers will approach you with sad stories about how they’re only allowed to sell one item a day to a visitor and buying from them will allow them to go home to their family earlier. We don’t know how true the story is, but We didn’t buy anything from them anyway because we don’t need those and we don’t have space in our bags.
This is located at a bend of the Irrawaddy River which provides a beautiful backdrop for the bell-shaped gilded pagoda.
Highlight of this temple is the pyramidal tower and exterior walls with niches containing more than 400 images of buddha.
Ananda Temple is hard to miss because of the blinding gold spire. The vaulted corridors inside features frescoes of Buddha. There are also four Buddhas inside facing each of the cardinal directions.
The temple has gorgeous, detailed murals along the ceilings and corridors. The plaster carvings on the terraces are still intact.
The pyramidal Dhamma-yan-gyi Pahto is the widest temple in the Bagan plain. Apparently, the reason why the top is flat is because constructions was halted after the King during that time was assassinated.
This is one of our favourite temples. We reached North Guni for the sunset viewing at close to 4:45PM. Our horsecart driver recommended this place because it’s less crowded compared to the more popular Shwe San Daw Pagoda. When we got there, the only people there was 1 other guy and a group of kids who sell postcards and foreign currency. According to them, rush to the temple after school every day to practice English talking to foreigners and selling their wares. They also like snacks, so better bring some for them since they will help show you where the passages are for easy climbing. The passages are pretty tight, though, and they will tell you upfront if you’re too big to crawl through the passages. You can climb over it, with a little effort.
Shwe San Daw Pagoda
A popular sunrise and sunset viewing spot, we watched the sunrise from the Shwe San Daw Pagoda. When we reached the Pagoda at 5:30 AM, there was already a few people seated on the top tier of the pagoda, armed with cameras ranging from mobile phones to SLR with bazooka lenses. Luckily, we were still able to secure a nice spot.
After seeing the Shwedagon Pagoda of Yangon and the Shwemawdaw Pagoda of Bago, the Shwezigon Pagoda seems to be less impressive. However, what makes it unique is the red details.
Shwe Lake Too
This is one of the few temples where you can climb to the top to see the view of Bagan plain. We’re pretty sure that they will not allow people to climb this anymore in a few years.
Hitlominlo Guphaya-Gyi has beautiful frescoes and carvings.
A rectangular ordination hall that is closed to the public. The detail on the roof is gorgeous.
Our driver does not know the name of the temple, but the level of detail of the statues are really nice.
Shwe Gu Gyi Phaya
An alternative temple to the Shwe San Daw Pagoda for a gorgeous view of the sunset, it is the most intact temple.
The tallest temple in Bagan at 61m (7-stories).
We viewed our second Bagan sunset from Tamani Oak-kyaung which is located very near our hotel. According to the monk who lives there, they rarely get visitors because the monastery is pretty much destroyed. He allowed us to climb the walls, guided by our horsecart driver. The view from here was very beautiful.
|Bagan Archaeological Fee||15,000|
|Lunch at La Min Thit||4,000|
|Horse cart – Half day with sunset (Ks 15,000 for 3 pax)||5,000|
|Dinner at hotel||1,800|
|Horse cart – Sunrise + whole day (Ks 27,000 for 3 pax)||9,000|
|Total||Ks. 39,600 ~ US$ 39.6|