Bagan is a dream and my hands down favourite place that I visited in Myanmar. You can keep your Ankor Wats, Great Walls of China and Borobadours, this place is pure magic and like nothing you will ever see again.
If only the hotel I stayed at (Winner Hotel) wasn’t so damp I could have easily stayed another week on top of the 5 days I spent exploring the Pagoda-dotted city.
Rent an eBike (don’t bother with a proper bike you’ll boil in the heat and be totally exhausted), and get stuck in some sandy pathways, chase squirrels and take lots of photos of this beautiful place and interesting people before the locals start charging for them!
- Finding a Pagoda or Temple with a view for yourself and just chilling and talking politics with a couple of Chileans, or whomever else you have met on the way.
- A random monastery we stumbled on with a secret staircase to climb for sunset which turns into darkness and stargazing (with said Chileans) whilst listening to the sound of monks off in the distance.
- Dancing at sunrise, surrounded by hot air balloons to upbeat burmese music blasting from a monastery/school/somewhere, on the sandy pathways, no-one else around, sometimes being passed by a truck chocablock full of people heading to work, or a monk on the back of a motorbike, just Burmese normality surrounding you.
That’s what is still wonderful about Bagan, although it’s full of tourists, it feels big enough at the moment for you to feel special and like it’s yours only. Even with the tourist hub of Nyaung U, normal life seems to just carry on around the temples and the tourists, locals are just getting on with it.
Morning novice monks in Old Bagan
Take your eBike out for a spin first thing in the morning and you’ll see monks getting genuine donations, a busy harbour/river bank, with no tourist boats coming in yet, not even a pier, just women carrying bags of onions on their heads and men taking showers in the river. Paradoxical to watching the sunrise on the most popular Shwesandaw Temple which is full to bursting with tourists and their megalong camera lenses.
A busy Shwesansaw sunrise