From Wiki because I’m classy like that: “Bagan is an ancient city... From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute modern Myanmar. During the kingdom's height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2,200 temples and pagodas still survive to the present day.” OVER TWO THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED! You don’t even know how many that is until you are driving around and see them EVERYWHERE!
Foreigners need to pay a 25,000 kwat entrance fee to the city of Bagan (about $20 USD). Our taxi driver coming in from the train station stopped at the guards’ station, and we bought ours there.
We spent 3 days in Bagan, but we slept some of the first day after a long train ride. I think it was enough time, and I was tired of temples by the end (although Colin loved exploring them and probably would have done another entire day of it).
To get around to all the temples / pagodas, most people rent scooters. You can get them for $3-4 USD per day. Or you can rent them for a half day for even less. Since I’m afraid to ride them, we hired a driver for half a day to drive us around. He is not a guide and barely speaks any English at all, but the prices were about: $15 for a half day; $25 for a full day; and $25 for a half day + sunrise.
We did the sunrise + half day with him as our driver. One of the most epic things you’ll do in Bagan is watch the hot air balloons fly over all the pagodas. They take off at sunrise every day. I couldn’t tell you the name of the pagoda we watched them from, but Google said it was called Temple 863, and Maps.Me said it was called Temple 860. Here are what they looked like on the maps:
Check out these 2 videos of our balloon experience: Time Lapse of Bagan Balloons and The Reality of Watching Balloons in Bagan.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again – You definitely want to wear slip on / slip off shoes here because you need to take your shoes off before you enter every temple (and most of the time your socks too). Your feet will get filthy with bird poop, dust, and even bat guano that cover the floors of the temples. Oh well though – that’s just the price you pay for being able to see all these awesome temples!
The weather here was a bit tricky. For a sunrise or sunset, you need a good jacket (and I would have brought a scarf, a hat, socks, and gloves if I had realized how cold it was for sunrise). It gets hot when the sun is out though. Layers are your friend during the winter here.
Since there are more tourists in Bagan than in Mandalay, expect the people selling the little trinkets (or “chachkis” as Colin likes to call them) to be pushier. They’re trying to make a living from you buying their souvenirs, postcards, etc., so don’t give them a hard time. Usually, I just said no thank you, and they moved on. I think most of the women were intrigued by my purple hair and didn’t care as much about selling me something.
We stayed at Bagan Central Hotel which was pretty nice. The best part of our stay though was the breakfast. It was traditional, and huge, and DELICIOUS. We were a few blocks down from the hostel Ostello Bello (there is an Ostello Bello hostel in each major tourist destination city in Myanmar). Ostello Bello gives you free real coffee when you stay there, so I may have stayed there just for that if I had known. They also have free tours of the city.
We signed up for a sunset cruise through the Ostello Bello hostel (we could go even though we weren’t staying there because it wasn’t free). It was only $6 USD to go, and they provided free liquor and $1 USD beers if liquor wasn’t your thing. For free though, I can make it my thing haha.
Read more about Myanmar in my overview blog post here, and see our photos here!
Hi, I'm Sara Monica Patton. I love animals, traveling, and eating. Read more about me in my first blog post here.