Travel Bites: Bagan, Myanmar

Sunrise

Bagan is the untouched soil of Mandalay Region, Myanmar. From its thousand mesmerizing Pagodas and Temples to its magical sunrise and sunset, this ancient city from the 9th century shaped and became the soul of the modern Myanmar.

Bagan is located in The Central Myanmar, Southwest of Mandalay. This city is my main destination in the country.

Let me share to you how I went to this now UNESCO Heritage site.

Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal

From Yangon, I took JJ Bus. (Remember the van from my Yangon trip blog? I used that van to Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal from Sule Pagoda.) According to JJ Bus website, the travel time will take approximately 10 hours. I booked the last trip online which is 10:00pm to 8:00am, this bus company is one of the best and reliable! Book your trip online or you’ll regret not getting a seat.

The Busses are well equipped, it has reclining seats, they provide light snacks and blanket.

Thinking about your phone and camera batteries? Don’t worry you can charge on board.

If you are a light sleeper like me, bring your own eye cover and ear plugs.

During the trip I noticed that we had 3 stops on our way to Bagan and just 1 stop on our way back to Yangon. But if you want to go to the toilet, you can always request to the bus driver.

Bagan Shwe Pyi Bus Station

I arrived in my destination 2 hours early. Bagan can be very chilly in the morning. Better bring your jacket. You can use it early in the morning specially if you’ll visit some places during sunrises.

Welcome to Bagan!

Some taxi drivers in Bagan can take advantage of you. Make sure to find people with you who’s in need of taxi, especially those who are staying in the same hotel or location. From Bus Terminal to New Bagan, taxi can be around 8,000 to 10,000 Kyats. Know the currency especially the Kyats. Double check the money you are giving.

They don’t really check the ticket, but bring it all the time just in case.

Don’t be shocked if there is a “check point” along the way and you need to pay 20 USD or 25,000 Kyats. That’s your ‘ticket’ to Bagan itself. This place is a UNESCO Heritage Site like the Angkor Wat in Seam Reap, Cambodia and Underground River in Palawan, Philippines. The money (well I hope) will go to the preservation of the place.

Hotel Yadanarbon in New Bagan

This is my lovely accommodation. The hotel is well located, it’s near the bus terminal and some popular sights in New Bagan. The hotel receptionists and staff are very good too! I love the breakfast, the swimming pool and the cultural presentations every dinner time. Warning: This hotel can be noisy at times, you can hear the sounds of the other guests next room.

As a tourist you can choose how you will explore this beautiful city. If you are like one of those rich tourists, you can hire private cars which most of hotels provide. But if you are a typical back packer BIG SLASH money saver tourist like me, better rent your own bike!

My mighty bike!

There are 3 types of bikes in Bagan. The normal motorcycle, electric bike and pedal bike – I used a pedal bike. The amount of these 2 wheels vehicles depends on the timing and day you will rent them. I suggest, rent outside your hotel! (unless they have better deals, why not) For sure you can get a cheaper rental fees. You can hire motorcycles/ebike for 3,000 Kyats for whole day! (Not from sunrise tho) and pedal bike from 1,500 to 2,000 Kyats for whole day.

Want to know where you can get Thanaka? The Traditional Myanmar Sunblock? You can get it anywhere in Bagan, I got mine in my hotel and even in the bike rental stand. Everyone wears it, it’s a symbol of beauty in Myanmar.

What should I wear? Like in any other religious site, it is always better to wear bellow the knee shorts and with sleeves shirts. Bagan can be very warm during the mid day and if you are wearing short shorts and sleeveless make sure you have longyi with you to cover your legs or shawl to cover your shoulders.

There are specific ways how to use the longyi, locals are very willing to help! If you are skeptics on how to wear it, better ask a local’s help.

I guess I need to make another article for this.

Food! Food! Food! If you are a vegetarian like me, it’s not a problem. Myanmar has Vegetarian options even Vegan! I went to this restaurant called 2 Moons. It’s fantastic!

I’ve been to Thailand several times and it’s very affordable there like the Philippines, that’s why I love it. I will tell you a secret… I find it cheaper in Myanmar! Even tho it’s cheap, you can still bargain.

Because of the recent 5.2 Earthquake in the region in early February, some Pagodas and Temples are closed for visiting and climbing. Catching both sunrise and sunset in Bagan is a must, always ask the locals and your hotel about the best locations to visit to see the sceneries. Please don’t just climb pagodas and Temples, these are holy places.

Map of Bagan! Better know which Temple or Pagoda to visit. Priorities!

Here are some of the Temples and Pagodas that I visited in Bagan.

Shwesandaw Pagoda

Ananda Temple

Dhammayazaka Pagoda begins this Pagoda there’s a small Pagoda that has a staircase. You can climb to check the sunrise and sunset!

Dhammayan Gyi Temple

Lawkananda Pagoda, one the best spots to watch the sunset! This Pagoda is erected in the bank of Ayeyarwaddy River. (The Pagoda is covered because of the on going renovations)

Ayeyarwaddy River

Dear Readers, feel free to ask questions! I will do my best to answer your inquiries. Thank you

PS. There is something wrong with my video editor/maker. Promise that I will make ‘Bagan video compilation’ once everything is working. 

UPDATE: I used my Iphone to edit the video! How amazing!

Mark Louie Maycong