During the 11th and 13th century, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas, monasteries and other monuments were built in the ancient city of Bagan, Myanmar – formerly known as ‘Pagan’. Bagan’s location resides in an active earthquake zone which unfortunately has resulted in the depletion of thousands of temples and pagodas; approximately 2200 still remain. Even though more than half are now in ruins, the temples of Bagan that remain are still a vastly unique and truly majestic site to see. Since the borders of Myanmar opened its doors to tourists in the last few years, Bagan has become a highly sought after tourist destination, with travelers arriving worldwide to see and experience the countries beauty and famous archaeological sites.
Transportation to Temples
- Bicycle hire
- Ebike hire
- Hire a taxi
- Horse and cart guided tour
- Hot air Balloon
There are many different transportation options, it completely depends on your own personal preference, budget and travel companions (if any). For myself, I was traveling with a friend and we decided to rent ebikes – which were a great way to see the sites freely and at our own pace. This was my first time riding an ebike, although I do have experience with motorbikes I felt very comfortable on them. This may not work for everyone so be aware of your options and own preferences. Rentals for ebikes range from $2-$4 USD/per day depending on your negotiation skills and the number of days you’ll be renting from the company. Now, if it was in my budget and hot air balloons were in season I would have definitely paid for a hot air balloon ride over the temples. Unfortunately, the price ranges from $300-$400 USD and the hot air ballooning season runs from mid-October to March/April. There are two companies: Balloons over Bagan and Oriental Ballooning. If you’d be interested in this once in a lifetime experience, book in advance since time slots do book up rather quickly.
The temples of Bagan are quite spread out and easy to get lost for the day. Many can be explored freely inside and out. Throughout the day it wasn’t uncommon for my friend and myself to find ourselves alone inside a temple which were thousands and thousands of years old with no one in site. It was remarkable! Sunrise and sunset are always a great way to start off or finish the day. Sunrise tends to be a little less busy but regardless, there will still be crowds so keep this in mind for timing.
Archaeological Site Fee
Before entering the archaeological site a one time fee of 25,000 Kyat (approx. $20 USD) is required. The ‘Bagan Archaeological Zone’ card is required to be shown upon entry and exit of the temples and is valid for up to 5 days – more than enough time to explore the area!
Accommodation in Bagan
For the social budget traveler – I chose to stay at Ostello Bello. I had a wonderful stay at this hostel! Upon arrival, I was warmly welcomed.
- Very clean
- Comfortable beds
- Friendly staff – local and travelers
- Breakfast included
- Free coffee, tea, and Burmese cigars
- Free activities: boat cruises, trivia, etc.
Many travelers arrive very early in the morning from a night bus from Yangon-Bagan. I would like to note that Ostello Bello provides beds with available showers to get some rest and cleaned up before starting your day while waiting to check in. I thought this was such a great concept. The majority of hostels/hotels check in time is always around the 2 pm mark. When you arrive at 5:30 am from a night bus where let’s face it – you didn’t have the best sleep in preparation for a full day of exploring. A couple extra hours of sleep in a proper bed and shower is all you need to get the most out of your day. Prices ranged from the dorm and private rooms available. I stayed in an 8 bed mixed dorm with an en-suite bathroom for $18 USD/per night.
I was extremely impressed with the delicious local cuisine within the area of Bagan. There are many local restaurants in Old Bagan and New Bagan. Whether you’re stopping somewhere for a refreshing freshly squeezed juice, light meal or something a bit heavier – there are plenty of options. Here are a few of my favourites!
- Be Kind to Animals the Moon: If the name doesn’t get your attention, the food certainly will. Try the mango salad and dragon fruit juice! I went back to this place several times – couldn’t get enough of it!
- 7 Sisters Restaurant: Conveniently located down the street from Ostello Bello Hostel. Great place to relax after a long day exploring temples over delicious food and cold beer.
- Star Beam: Great food, large portions, friendly staff.
All restaurants listed consisted of excellent food, polite service and wonderful places to support local business. If you have any additional questions or would like further information. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or comment below!