Bagan is the Holy Grail when it comes to seeing temples and pagodas in Myanmar, the two most precious sites might be in Pagan and Mandalay but here in Bagan there is at least one holy site in every direction you look. You could get lost for days just walking from site to site and you wouldn’t feel as though you had wasted a minute of it.
The only risk is getting gold Buddha fatigue but there is more than enough beauty here to distract you. Bagan is a large region of different temples and it is up to you to choose where you want to base yourself to visit them all. When visiting holy sites make sure to take your shoes off and to at least cover your knees and shoulders: this applies to both men and women.
Bagan is known as the Bagan Archaeological Zone and it is comprised of a few smaller towns and a lot of temples. You will have to pay $20 to get into the area (a pass for the zone).
You will most likely want to go to Nyaung U, and you can do this by taking a plane from Yangon or Mandalay which will take about three hours and will cost you roughly $100 or you can spend the day and take the train or bus for between $10 and $50 depending on the level of comfort you require.
Where to visit
There is an enormous number of temples here so only the must-see temples will be listed, but try to go and explore a few on your own. Signs aren’t often in English so it will be a surprise what you find.
Where to eat
Golden Lion is located near the Mandalay Hill and is a good spot to grab some Chinese food at a slightly pricier starting point: which is good news because it’s one of the only restaurants around here.
Night Food Market on 76th Street offers a huge array of Chinese and Burmese food for good prices, not all of it is fantastic but it’s an interesting experience and none of the food is of a poor standard.
Where to stay
Dreamland Guest House on 37th Street Maha Myain which is an interesting guest house with a distinctly artistic setting and fantastic hosts. At $10 for a dorm bed and $25 for a private room it’s not a bad value either.
Peacock Lodge on 60th street is mid-range at $35, but is very clean and quiet while still being centrally located.
Royal Power Hotel on 80th Street has all the trappings you could want including Wi-Fi and a breakfast buffet. It is a little pricey at $45 a night but it is a good option for a comfortable stay.
Where to Visit
Ananda might be a contender for Myanmar’s holiest site and is certainly Bagan’s. In its center you will find four Buddhas that represent the four figures who have managed to attain Nirvana. Tread carefully and explore fully.
Dhamma Yangyi Temple
This is an enormous temple that is strangely built with parts that are yet to be finished. It is said to have a ghostly presence.
This temple is located in Nyaun U and is an extremely impressive golden temple with four enormous Buddha statues inside. Avoid buying your souvenirs here though.
This is the tallest pagoda of the lot at 216-foot- high and is harder to miss than it is to see. It is definitely worth seeing the inside as well.
Where to eat
Eating is best done in either Old Bagan or in Nyaung Oo, and there is quite a large range to choose from.
Aroma Restaurant on Yar Khin Tar Road is an Indian restaurant with decent food but the reason people come is for the excellent location. The prices are reasonable as well.
Mahar Baga on Khayee Road serves mostly Chinese and Burmese food at good prices and has excellent service and fair prices.
Star Bistro is near Ananda Temple and serves delicious Burmese style food fused together with staples of the West. Worth checking out whether you want a break from the usual fair or just to have some tasty Burmese food.
Where to stay
Ostello Bello Hostel on Hkan Latt Quarter in New Bagan is the only hostel in the area, but it’s okay considering the lack of competition. Rooms aren’t that cheap at $19 a night for a dorm but this is Bagan.
Thiri Marlar Hotel on Ingyin Street in New Bagan, this is a well equipped, pleasant and clean hotel that is worth the $50 for a double. It comes with all the amenities you could want and friendly staff.
Eden Motel near Nyaung Oo market in Nyaung U has dorms available at $10 and double rooms for $28. It is a clean and well serviced motel and is worth a stay if you are looking for something that is budgeted and convenient to stay at.