Places of Interest in Myanmar
Travel Guide


Bagan, also spelled Pagan, on the banks of the Ayerwaddy River, is home to the largest area of Buddhist temples, pagodas, stupas and ruins in the world – many dating to the 11th and 12th centuries. Bagan covers an area of containing over 2000 well-preserved pagodas and temples of the 11th-13th century. The shape and construction of each building is highly significant in Buddhism with each component part taking on spiritual meaning.


Bagan became a central powerbase of the mid 9th century. King Anawratha, who unified Burma under Theravada Buddhism. It is estimated that, at one time, more than 13,000 temples and stupas once stood on this 42-sq km plain in central Myanmar, and Marco Polo once described Bagan as a "gilded city alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sounds of monks' robes".

Approximately 2,200 remain today, in various states of disrepair. Some are large and well maintained, such as the Ananda Pahto, others are small tumbledown relics in the middle of overgrown grass. All, however, are considered active sacred sites, so when visiting even the least conspicious, be sure to behave in a respectful manner.

Bagan's golden age ended in 1287 when the Kingdom and its capital city was invaded and sacked by the Mongols. Its population was reduced to a village that remained amongst the ruins of the once larger city. In 1998, this village and its inhabitants were forcibly relocated a few kilometers to the south of Bagan, forming "New Bagan." Today the city is abandoned, with the exception of a few hotels and religious centers.

Despite of his size and importance Bagan is not listed as world heritage site, because many of the temples are rebuild in a way the UNESCO calls un-historic.

Climate and location

Temperature: min 10°C - max 43°C
Latitude: 21° 10' N, Longitude: 94° 51' E.
Get in

Fly: You can fly into Bagan on Air Mandalay, Air Bagan, or Myanmar Airways, which is not recommended because of their unsafe flying record and the fact that your money goes back to the government. From Yangon, a typical ticket is $65.

Get around
  • For an unparalleled view of the Bagan plain, you can take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise through a company called Balloons Over Bagan.
  • It is also possible to rent a horse cart, along with a driver, for around USD5/day.
  • Travelling around on a rented bicycle is quite easy (you do not have to compete with much vehicular traffic on the roads) and economical (as little as US 75 cents/day). In the morning, before it gets hot, is a particularly pleasant time to do this. People rise late in Myanmar, so travelling forth at 8 AM or so really emphasizes the sense of Bagan as "abandoned." Later in the day, particularly during the warm season, it may be uncomfortable to do this. In the dry season, bicycling through the sandy paths connecting the more remote temples can be harrowing exercise, but this is still the best way to get to where you want to go cheaply.


- Ananda Temple


In Bagan, you can buy beautiful lacquerware and other handicrafts, but please do bargaining; it is really needed. There you can get copies of mural paintings in two types, one on a plain sheet of cloth and another on sand cloth. At the main market, you can buy cotton shirts and souvenir T-Shirts.


There are many places to eat in Old Bagan serving the traditional Burmese dishes, especially good old noodle soup. Some of the buffets are excellent; for about USD 1.50 you can eat to your heart's content from literally dozens of different traditional dishes, brought straight to your table.

One of the best restaurants in Bagan is Mahar Bagan (Khayee Road, Khan Laung Quarter, New Bagan). Mahar Bagan has a cheerful and friendly owner who speaks great English and seems happy to indulge customers in stories about the area. The menu consists primarily of Chinese-style dishes. The restaurant does serve up an excellent array of traditional Burmese food, but you have to drop by 4-5 hours in advance to let them know your order, as most Burmese dishes take a long time to prepare.


Thante Hotel, Nyaung U. Clusters of rooms set in bungalows all located around a central pool. Close to the market. Excellent service. Midrange prices.

Thasin Hotel. Bungalows and rooms overlooking a (rebuilt) pagoda. There is also a salon, expensive internet access, a limited library, billiards, a scenic pool, and a nice breakfast room. Mid-range prices in the summer, may be more expensive during the year.

Get out

From Bagan, you can do a day trip to visit Mt. Popa.



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Photo Gallery: Old Bagan

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