The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis visits the spectacular Bagan temples in Burma

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jun• 29•10

Welcome to Bagan, a WoWasis top destination in Burma, where thousands of ancient temples dot an open plain.You can spend two days here or a week, and Bagan boasts great resorts, good hotels, and an interesting museum.  Bagan is divided into two zones, the town of New Bagan, and Old Bagan, located in the Bagan Archaeological Zone.  You can explore by car and driver, carriage, or bicycle, and a highlight is climbing to the top of the temples of Mingalazedi or Bupaya to watch the sunset over the Irrawaddy River.  Tour Bagan now!


Bagan’s temples were built primarily between 1057 and 1287 ACE, until the area was taken over by Kublai Khan’s Mongolian hoards. Many temples have much to offer, and the following are among the dozens of our favorites: 

1)  Thatbyinnyu Pahto is one of the taller payas in Bagan, rising to over 60 meters.  Although you can no longer climb through its remarkable inside passages, the temple itself is impressive, and can be seen from virtually all temples in Bagan. 

2)  Sulamani Pahto, with its exceptional brickwork is also known for its beautiful glazed tiles, which even in ruin, are beautiful examples of ceramic arts.   

3)  Mingagazedi lies close to the riverbank, and offers outstanding views at sunset, both to the west (Irrawaddy River), east, where you’ll see other temples basking in the orange glow of sunset. 

4)  Ananda Phato was built in 1105, and has spectacular white walls streaked with black, topped by a golden spire.

 5)  The Shwezigon Paya, located 7km northeast of Old Bagan, is a revered place of pilgrimage, with a magnificent stupa surrounded by traditional wooden buildings. 

6)  The Shwesandaw Paya is an elegant circular stupa with staircases on four sides. An earthquake toppled the hti (finial), which can be seen in the courtyard. 

Other points of interest: 

Bagan Archaeological Museum

 This one room museum has a nice selection of Burmese antiquities.  If unopened during daylight hours, go to one of the buildings next door, and ask the caretaker to let you in.  The museum is short bicycling distance from the Bagan Hotel, near the Gawdawpalin Paya.  Open daily, except Mondays and holidays. 

Shwe Wa Thein Handcrafts Shop 

This shop has a wealth of Burmese artifacts that rivals anything you’ll find in Rangoon.  Hsun-ok (elaborate finialed bowls that hold food offerings to monks), marionettes, and old lacquerware are its specialty.  It’s located off the Bagan-Nyaung U road, up a dirt road that’s signposted, about 500 meters from the city gate. Tel: +(95) 267-032

 Myin-kaba lacquerware village 

Located two km south of Old Bagan, Myin-kaba has dozens of small lacquerware family workshops where you can see some of the best lacquerware made in Burma. 


There are many to choose from, but we at WoWasis found the service and surroundings of the Bagan Hotel to be exceptional.
Bagan Hotel
Near Museum, Old Bagan
Tel: +(95) 62-70145

Bagan also has several Resort/hotel spas.

Getting to Bagan is easy by airplane from Mandalay, Heho, and Rangoon, via Yangon Airways or Air Mandalay, landing at the Nyaung U-Bagan airport.  Veteran travelers enjoy sitting on the right-hand side of the plane going from Mandalay to Bagan to get a good view of the river, and the reverse on the return flight. 

Buses and trains connect Bagan to both Rangoon and Mandalay, but are long.  You may also travel by boat from Mandalay to Bagan.  Minimum time is 9 hours.  Consult your hotel for the latest schedules.

Take a tour! See the best of Bagan on a one-day tour.

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