Where to Stay in BaganAccommodation in Bagan
Guidebook to the accommodation and visits of the temples of Bagan!
Constructed between the ninth and thirteenth century, Bagan is an archeological paradise with over 2,200 different shaped and sized shrines on a 40 sq. m. level of dust! Bagan, formerly Pagan, the capitol of the first Myanmar Empire, is one of the wealthiest archeological locations in Southeast Asia competing with the famed Angkor complex in Cambodia.
While the Angkor sanctuaries can welcome more than a million people a year and can sometimes be very overcrowded, the sanctuaries, palagodas and convents in the area can be much more "wild" and uncharted due to the size of Bagan and the relatively small number of people. So where else but Bagan can you climb a 1,000-year-old sanctuary to see the sun set?
Only a few obstacles prevent visitors from ascending the temple, no signposts "please don't touch" and once you have payed the entry fees (25,000 Kyat for a 5-day pass), you can move along the sand tracks wherever you want and climb wherever you can. Entering a temple is a thing of the past.
Nevertheless, it really happened in Bagan, and when the setting is approaching, you will see visitors anxious to find the best place to see the sundown over this singular area. The temple are interesting from the floor, but only when you have some altitude do you realize what all the turbulence around Bagan really is.
Certain monasteries have what are known as "sunset points", such as Sweshadone and Shwegu Gyi Phaya. But by far the most fascinating thing (at least for me) was to find a place for yourself from which you can see the greatest night ly show in the world of night! But there are rumours that it will soon be forbidden to climb sanctuaries, as these antique relics could possibly be damaged.
In order to give the tourist an increased look at the area, the authorities are planning to construct artificial hills in certain places in the middle of the temple, as well as a tied up helical ballon (whatever that is!). While we cannot but accept that the ban on rock-limbing ( "at least at some of the more fragile temples") is the only way for Myanmar as the number of visitors increases, we know that this unparalleled tourist event will be gone forever.... We are so happy that we had the opportunity to have it.
Most of the scholars believe that Bagan was established in the ninth c. by the Mranma (Burmese). Between 1044 and 1287 Bagan was the rich capitol of the pagan empire and during this period more than 10,000 churches and 3,000 convents were constructed. The city became a center for spiritual and intercultural study with Pali as the primary and Theravada Buddhism as the primary religions.
The pagan empire collapsed in 1287 after several Mongolian incursions and in 1297 the kingdom of Myinsaing took over Upper Burma and Bagan stopped being the capitol. Situated in an area with an energetic seismic activity, the Bagan Temple has experienced and survive many shocks over the years. After a severe 1975 quake (8 on the Richter scale), the military government carried out a dubious renovation in the 1980s and 1990s to make Bagan a major touristic area.
There are some who believe that the renovation, which was not in harmony with the initial architectonic style and contemporary material, was the cause why Bagan has not been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since then. Bagan was struck again by an eartquake in 2016 and 400 sanctuaries were severely affected. Currently you will see that many of the Temple are clad with trellises of wood and we have not yet seen the latest conservation work.
There are three major areas of Bagan: In old Bagan you can find most monasteries, as well as some of the more pricey places to eat and drink. This is your best choice if you want to stay as near as possible to the major sanctuaries and not far from the historic site.
However, most accommodations in the official Old Bagan are extremly pricey. Nanda Garden lies on the banks of the Nyaung U temple and the Old Bagan crossroad. WI-Fi isn't great, but you're not in Bagan to run your e-mails, are you?
It seems that New Bagan was constructed to relocate the people of Old Bagan to make room for the touristic developments in the area. It is where the bulk of less expensive backpackers can be found and has a few spotted temple around, but not as much ambience as Old Bagan. North Breeze Hotel has the lowest priced bed in Bagan, for $10 US.
The Ostello Bello Bagan Swimming Pool comes next with dormitories ranging from $12. 50 US dollars to (bizarelly) $106 US dollars. Ostello Bello Bagan has no swimming pools, but more rooms for rent. You will find transportation (airport and coach station) and a wide choice of accommodations, from mid-range to luxurious, with some great offers in the hotel, especially in the low seasons.
On the Nyaung U to New Bagan Strait, there are also a number of major upscale resorts. The Royal Bagan Hotel has a façade of such dubious tastes that you would be excused from the place at first glance. Whereever you are in Bagan, you can move around with ease, even by bike, as the streets are shallow and not too heavily used.
Overnight at the beautiful Myanmar Han Hotel in Nyuang U, about 20 minutes by motorcycle from Old Bagan. Click here for more accommodations in Bagan! Exploration by bike: 1,000 Kyat / day - Hiring a bike is one of the simplest ways to visit the temple, both the popular ones and others that have only a single name and are not listed on the card.
The majority of these are linked by sand tracks, which provide some training (and balance) for your calf. Bikes can usually be rented from your hotel/guesthouse or from Nyaung U or New Bagan for about 1,000 Kie. 5,000 kyats / day - Ebikes are essentially electrical motorcycles, and since aliens are not permitted to drive through the temple on a gasoline motorcycle, these bikes are the right way in Bagan.
They' re simple to travel and can travel up to 50km, so they're great if you stay a little further out, or if you want to see as many churches as possible in a short while. A $300 USD+ aerial tour at sundown - For an overview of all 2,200 Bagan sanctuaries, you can enjoy a unique aerial tour.
10,000 Kyat / Tag - Some folks rent an genuine horse-drawn carriage with rider for 10,000 / tag to drive them through the temple, which make a surreal,'from this century' one! Hints and information for Bagan visitors: It costs 25,000 Kyat (about $18 USD) for a passport to visit the temple in peace for five nights.
You will find the counter on the Nyaung U to New Bagan roads and your tickets will be inspected at most major sanctuaries, but not the smaller ones. Don't miss the dawn or sundown! The scenery of Bagan can be seen at dawn and sundown. Sit on a solitary sanctuary and observe the best of the natural environment in one of the most unbelievable scenery in the underworld.
Do you know how to scale the sanctuaries? While we were sitting on such a solitary sanctuary in Bagan a few days ago and watched the sun set, we saw a police officer who went straight to the sanctuary and took a picture of our cups! Later on, after some research on the web, we found out that it is not forbidden to go rock climbin' in churches, but that it will be soon.
Burmese take their religion seriously, as this piece about a Russian tourist imprisoned in the temple for having worn her boots shows. An unbelievable fact about Bagan's temple is that natives still reside between the remains. Native hosts receive a humble scholarship from'patrons' from Yangon and elsewhere to look after certain Buddhist monasteries.
Guides to Bagan's main temples: The Westminster Abbey of Burma was recently restored after the 2016 quake. It has a powerful Hindu design and a massive Buddha on each side of the sanctuary, pointing north, south, east and west.
This is one of the largest and most frequented Buddhist monasteries in Bagan, so you can look forward to more people and more vendors. His Majesty's Majesty, you can't enter this sanctuary. The gigantic golden sanctuary is situated in the Nyaung U town, with several small shops and markets. It is said to contain the reliquary bones and the teeth of Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha.
There is a giant doorway protected by two stony limes leading to the sanctuary, and you'll have to go through stores with some convincing sellers to get to the door. Bagan has the biggest sanctuary, which some believe is being persecuted. Tales come from the mysteriously walled inner corridors and rooms of the shrine, of which nobody knows to this date what is inside.
King Narathu (who constructed the temple) is thought to have done this to atonement for his rather dramatic sin, which was to suffocate his own fathers and brothers and kill his Indian princess for the clandestine practice of Hinduism. There are some who believe, although I cannot possibly say, that his relations are dead in the inner sanctuary of the Shrine.
Because of its poor Karmas, Dhammayangyi is the only major shrine in Bagan without a renovated tower at the top. Rumors say that the tower crashed again and again during the restoring of the wicked ghosts inside the church, so that it was finally simply not used. Favourite place to observe the sun rise or set, this sanctuary has a precipitous staircase (with a handrail) leading from the floor to an elevated one.
Since this is one of the few larger Buddhist monasteries that can be climbed, it can become very full and there are many merchants. When you want to choose to chill without a hundred click ed camera, you better find a calmer climbing place. It is made of 46 meters high and three storeys high red bricks and has small passages with ancient wall paintings and woodcarvings.
It is still permitted to enter this place, which many folks do at dawn or dusk, and when the light goes down, the place is illuminated wonderfully against the moon. There is a great little sidewalk cafeteria right next to the Mi Ba Myut Tar sanctuary, where we were offered some of Myanmar's best and least expensive dishes we had in Bagan!
This is the highest sanctuary in Bagan, 60 meters high, but don't think of going up to the top, as it is forbidden here. There is a hallway where you can run around, but not as many corridors as in some other shrines and not much to do once you have run around the perimeter.
To get an imposing panoramic look at Thatbyinnyu and Bagan, go to near Shwegugyi which you can reach from a small stair on the right of the door. It is becoming more and more famous at dawn and dusk, but it is not (yet) one of the most important sunsets.
As one of the oldest memorials in Bagan, this sanctuary provides a totally different adventure than the other sanctuaries. Situated on the bank of the huge Ayerwaddy stream, this gold pavilion provides a beautiful view of the stream and looks more like a contemporary cult site than a fracturing old one. Sellers around the sanctuary are selling crushed shrimp and verdant teas and you can also take cruises on the riverbank from here.
In all honesty, for me the most interesting ones were the ones that weren't on any of the maps and that we only found after we explored the sandy roads on our bike. Every nutritious evening we went to a different sanctuary for the setting of the sun and tried to find one off the well-trodden path and without any human being, so that we would not interfere with the magic setting of a traveler.
Discovering the small, fractured stairs, the thrill of the views we would find above was unrivalled compared to hiking on one of the larger,'designated' sunsets. While a visit to the Old Bagan Hills is without doubt the major tourist attractions, this brief mountain tour provides a nice respite from the tour.
From Nyaung U, the walk starts near the Myamar Han Hospital. Actually, it was the Myanmar Han proprietor, Yangon-born Kyi, who recently opened the way to the mound opposite his motel and placed darts along the trail to show the visitor the way. This relatively simple one-hour walk is best enjoyed at dawn or dusk and provides unbelievable vistas over Bagan and the Ayerwaddy River.
At the moment the walk to Bagan is totally unfamiliar to the tourist! Yangon offers Bagan Airways or Yangon Air services that depart from Nyaung U airport near Yangon. Now where? From Bagan, many backpacker travellers travel to Kalaw or Inle Lake to enjoy the scenery and visit another of the country's main tourist sites.