If you are an ancient town and historic temples lover, you need to make Bagan as your next destination. Having been known for its archeological sites, Bagan that is situated in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar, has more than 2,000 Buddhist temples that are mostly gold-plated.
Bagan was the 2nd city in Myanmar after Yangon that we (I was traveling with a friend) explored. We only spent 2 days in this city before hopping to another city.
Arriving in Bagan
The express bus that took us from Yangon to Bagan was as described on Tripadvisor forum, it was crazily freezing at night but blankets were provided.
We arrived in Bagan at 4 am, I just knew about the humid weather and wouldn’t even think about regretting for not bringing any jacket, even the light one. No guesthouse or hotel would accept late/early check-in at that hour, but you can go to the traditional cafe near Nyang-U market just for killing time until sunrise as my friend and I did.
Lucky us, the horse cart driver said he knew Aung Mingalar Hotel. I reserved a twin-bed room for US$ 48/night through Booking.com. I picked Aung Mingalar because of the location even though it was quite pricey if I compared to similar hotels. The wifi was only available at the lobby for US$ 2.
Actually i wrote “the location is on Nyang-U main road and it’s within walking distance from the bus station” in my itinerary but my brain was still sleeping that’s why the driver could trick us with taking us to the opposite direction and going around thru the scenic route just to impress us that Kyat 2,000 was worth the distance while actually we could have 5-minute walk from the bus station to reach the hotel. And when we finally found out in the morning after having the same route from the hotel, we could only laugh. At least he helped us contacting the hotel’s staff so that we could store our bags at the hotel’s lobby, otherwise we needed to wait until they were open.
Well, I thought that was okay. Because after that, we got only Kyat 37,000 for a horse cart tour package of Old and New Bagan from sunrise to sunset, it’s about 12 hours while other tourists might get doubled cost. That Kyat 2,000 was nothing compared to the double.
The horse cart tour was definitely wonderful! We could go to more than 30 pagodas/temples a day while we might get only less than 20 if we picked an e-bike. Not too ambisious to get the whole 2,200 pagodas because we planned to stay for only 2 days in Bagan.
We had to take our footwears off everytime we went inside the pagodas, I could only say “if only we wore sandals instead of shoes” for so many times. Imagine about going into 30 temples and we needed to take our shoes and socks on-off all the times? And please avoid wearing hot pants and spagetti camisole, in order to respect the sacred temples.
I was tempted to try the hot air balloon but it costed USD 300/person so I dropped the plan. Horse cart tour was absolutely the correct decision for a whole-day trip for the reasons of time and cost efficiency.
Early morning view from Shwesandaw temple
Shwezigon Phaya: the town’s main religious shrine, near our hotel
Dhammayangyi Temple: built by King Narathu in 1167, this is the largest temple in Bagan
Manuha Phaya: built by the captive king (Mon king of Thaton) in 1059 in Myinkaba that’s located near Bagan
Thatbyinnyu Phaya: tallest temple in Bagan (around 200 ft.), built by King Alaungsithu (1113-1163)
Nagayon Guphaya: built by King Kyanzittha in Myinkaba at late 11th century
Ananda Temple: built during the reign of King Kyanzittha, 1st of the four main temples remaining in Bagan
Some individual temples in Bagan
Small Temples in Bagan
Small Temples in Bagan, from morning till sunset came
From 4:30 am till the sky darkened, I didn’t even feel tired!
Half Day Trip To Mount Popa
Located just about 50 km southeast of Bagan, Mount Popa is actually a volcano 1,518 meters above sea level.
If you would like to go to Mount Popa, just get a rented jeep accross the street of Aung Mingalar Hotel like we did on the 2nd day in Bagan. We got Kyat 30,000 for a half-day tour to Mount Popa by jeep after a tough negotiation that started at Kyat 50,000. Half day is enough if you only want to visit Mount Popa.
The driver was a good tour guide, he told us about the history of Mount Popa during the ride. And he also asked us whether we would like to stop by everytime there was nice view on the way to Mount Popa.
We needed about 3 hours for a round trip to/from the summit of Mount Popa by trekking. It was worth the sights that we got at Taung Kalat.
Taung Kalat with a Buddhist monastery located at the summit of it
Taung Kalat temple
Inside Taung Kalat temple
View from the summit of Mount Popa
Me, with the little monks at Mount Popa☺
Taken on the way to Mount Popa
After the tour ended, we were dropped off at the hotel and waiting for 2 hours until the bus that took us to Mandalay arrived.
I have faith that I will come again to Bagan ☺
Upcoming post about Mandalay…