Hi guys! We are Alber and Viole from @youwhotravel. Thanks for stopping by our travel guide on the best things to do in Bagan, Myanmar. We are a Spanish couple from a small city called Albacete which is south of Madrid.
We are both teachers who met while studying at university. After finishing our degree, we moved to the UK where we lived for eight years in the city of Cambridge. Since meeting, one common thing we shared was a passion for travelling. From the beginning we have taken many trips together.
We love visiting new places, learning about different cultures and getting to know people from all walks of life. Every time we come back from a trip, the day after we are thinking about new destinations and planning our next trip. The desire to have trips ahead of us grew stronger and stronger until we decided to leave everything and travel around the world.
Leaving our jobs, house and life behind in Cambridge in October, 2018 kicked off our travels around the world. We had no return tickets! We started our amazing world trip in Asia and Oceania. It was honestly one of the best decisions we have ever made. We would do it again in a heartbeat.
Our world trip lasted for nine months and we visited 12 different countries including the beautiful Myanmar. We started sharing our travels on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and continue sharing our adventures including the road trips we are doing now in our self-converted campervan.
An Incredible Journey to Myanmar
Myanmar was on our bucket list for many years for many reasons before we visited. It has a fascinating culture, friendly and smiling people, beautiful nature and it has still kept its authenticity. Myanmar is not a super touristic country in comparison to other countries in Southeast Asia.
Myanmar was the sixth country we visited on our world trip. We stayed there for one month but we would have liked to have stayed longer to visit more places. Our itinerary was: Mandalay, Mingun, Bagan, Pyay, Yangon (formerly known as Rangoon) and trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake.
Falling in Love with Bagan
We spent six days in Bagan. Our plan was to stay for three/four days but we loved it so much that we extended our visit. When we arrived, we rented an electric scooter for our stay. We explored all of Bagan – its temples, discovered the surroundings and tried to know more about local life.
Everyday we woke up to see the sunrise in the beautiful temples of Bagan. From the very first moment, we felt that Bagan was a magical place. We loved exploring the temples and pagodas that you can find here. Obviously, we couldn’t see everything because there are more than 2000 temples.
Getting lost down the dirt roads with our electric scooter and finding new temples and pagodas around each corner was such a fun experience. We can’t recommend this destination enough – you simply have to visit!
Top 5 Things To Do in Bagan
Bagan is known as the temple town of Myanmar and is one of the main stops on the tourist trail of Southeast Asia. The temples are amazing but there is so much more to this destination than meets the eye – from lovely locals, to bustling markets, to lacquerware factories – there is always something to do in Bagan. Below are some of our favourite experiences.
- Rent an Electric Motorbike: The best way to get lost in the paths of Old Bagan as you visit the temples and pagodas you find on the way. It’s always a fun time hooning around on electric scooters/motorbikes.
- Discover the Best Temples of Bagan: Don’t miss the chance to visit the most impressive temples of Bagan. Each temple has its own charm but these are the most famous ones: Ananda Temple, Gawdawpalin Temple, Nat Taung Kyaung Monastery, Dhammayan Gyi Temple, Pyathetgyi Pagoda, Thatbyinnyu Phaya and Shwegu Gyi Phaya Temple.
- Watch the Sunrise at a Temple: Heading up to the top of a temple or pagoda (only those where it is permitted to go up) is a fantastic way to watch the sunrise over the surrounding temples from high above the ground. Take your camera with you and capture the majesty of sunrise.
- Explore the Mani Sithu Market: The Mani Sithu Market is the main local market in Bagan. You can find everything from fresh seafood to traditional medicines here. It’s not a super touristy place which makes it a fantastic opportunity to see more of the local side of Bagan. Mani Sithu Market is located close to the Golden Shwezigon Pagoda.
- Visit a Lacquerware Factory: Lacquerware has a long tradition in Myanmar dating back to the 13th century. The industry has mainly been in Bagan and can still be found in the town today with a variety of different factories and shops making and selling the handicraft.
Authentic Culture of Myanmar
The local people of Myanmar are so generous and are always smiling. Burmese people have kept their authenticity and traditions intact even after opening up to tourism. This makes Myanmar such a unique place.
We have seen other countries lose this authenticity due to mass tourism but Myanmar still has it (and hopefully will never lose it). We fell in love with the culture of Myanmar. There are over 130 different ethnic groups in Myanmar so this makes it a very interesting culture to experience.
Diverse Food Scene of Bagan
In Bagan, you can find restaurants with all types of food – Burmese, Italian, American, etc. We went to different restaurants and loved eating Burmese Soup at the local food trucks. Remember: if there are people eating at a place with food being sold, it means that there is movement of products and the food is fresh. Always check this before sitting down at a restaurant.
We loved the food at Bibo Restaurant, La Terrazza, The Moon Be Kind to Animals, and Sanon Training Restaurant in Bagan. They are all fantastic places for a meal – whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Best Places to Stay in Bagan
We recommend staying in an area called Nyaung-U as it’s full of hotels and restaurants. There are so many great options in this area. And it’s also close to Old Bagan. It takes only 5-10 minutes to get there on a scooter.
Our hotel was the beautiful Bagan Vertex Hotel that we recommend to everyone visiting Bagan. When we went, the hotel had just opened so the price of a double room with a bathroom and breakfast was very decent.
Need to Know Before you Go
- Rent an electric scooter/motorbike to get around in Bagan. It usually costs 5 Euros per day which is totally worth it for the experience.
- Make sure you experience both the sunrise and sunset in Bagan, but especially the sunrise. There are some temples/pagodas where it is permitted to see the sunrise and sunset. These temples/pagodas change every now and then, so you can ask at your hotel for more info.
- Download the app maps.me. This app is very detailed and they have information on many temples that you don’t find on other maps.
- It gets very hot in the dry season (February – May). So, try to get up early and enjoy the cooler hours. Make sure you have water with you!
- Don’t forget to bring a torch or headlamp. You may use it after sunset while you are still exploring the smaller temples and pagodas.
- Dress appropriately for your various temple and pagoda visits. Try to have your shoulders and legs covered whenever possible.
- Wear socks. In most of the temples and pagodas, you will need to take your shoes off. You will not need to walk on bare feet by wearing socks.
Thanks for reading everyone. We hope this guide on Bagan inspires you to visit one of the most enchanting cities in Southeast Asia: Bagan!