A Complete and Detailed Guide to Traveling to Bagan, Myanmar!
Bagan is one of the ancient cities in Myanmar. Bagan was once home to more than 10,000 Buddhist buildings built during the reign of the Pagan Kingdom from the 9-13th century. However, currently there are only 2,200 stupas and pagodas that still stand. And this area is called the Bagan Archeology Zone. If you want to visit Myanmar, don’t forget to book a hotel in Novotel Yangon Max.
Today Many tourists want to vacation in Myanmar and stay at Novotel Yangon Max to compare this Bagan architecture with the Angkor architecture in Cambodia. These two places do indeed hold countless Buddhist monuments. But that’s all the same. Angkor stands in the rainforest region while Bagan stands in a fairly arid region like the desert. The Angkor Tower resembles a corncob, tall and slender while Bagan looks like pineapple and ice cream, wider and rounder. The Angkor Temple is more majestic and more ornate while Bagan is smaller and simpler. Although small, Bagan temple is very contained. Bagan is considered the largest and most populous Buddhist ruins in the world.
Myanmar is dominated by Buddhists and the whole Bagan site is considered sacred, so there are rules in place that you must obey. The following things must be considered when you enter Bagan area:
Close your knees and shoulders. No problem wearing a shirt. Short pants may also cover the knee.
Take off your shoes and socks when you enter the temple.
The locals are not very confrontational so they usually do not protest directly to tourists even though their behavior is offensive. However, that is no reason not to respect their culture. Always follow the rules especially when entering temples and monasteries. The locals are very friendly and helpful. Even when they don’t understand English, they only smile and direct you to someone who can speak English. Therefore, let’s show them respect.
The official currency in Bagan is Kyat, often abbreviated as MMK or Ks.
The best time to visit Bagan
The best time to visit Bagan is November to January because these months the air is quite cool. Not too hot, clear skies and many hot air balloon companies or hot air balloons operate. However, this is also a busy season, so please share the site with other tourist gangs.
Bagan is located in the region considered to be the driest region in Myanmar. Here it is generally hot all year round, but March-April temperatures can be brutal, sometimes equal to around 43 degrees Celsius. Therefore, avoid visiting Bagan this month if you don’t want to be dehydrated.
August and September are months to be avoided as well. These months are the height of the rainy season. June, July and October are also the rainy seasons, but the rainfall is not too high.
If you want to ride a hot air balloon, one of the favorite attractions in Bagan, then visit between mid-October and mid-March.
How to get to Bagan?
Nyaung U Airport is the closest air gate to Bagan, but it is not directly connected to any city overseas. The airline serves flights to and from Yangon, Mandalay, and several other domestic destinations. There are currently many foreign flights to Bagan. The fastest flight is from Soekarno-Hatta Airport to Mandalay Airport which takes about 7 hours with one stopover. Many tourists visit Bagan by taking the route to Yangon Airport first.
The place to stay in Bagan
There are three areas where you can live: Old Bagan, New Bagan, and Nyaung U.
Nyaung U is a place where most budget-conscious travelers stay because of the large number of inexpensive lodging and dining options. This area is quite pleasant and close to the locals. Markets are also in the area.
New Bagan is a place where middle-class hotels and hostels are located. Not much to see here, to be honest.
Old Bagan seems like the best place to spend the night but this area is the place where the most expensive hotels and resorts are located. If you have a limited budget then this area is not for you,
How to get around in Bagan
Tourists often explore Bagan by rental bicycle.
There are many ways to explore Bagan and explore ancient sites.
By bicycle. Still the cheapest way to get around. Make sure you choose a bike with good condition. 1000-2000 MMK (1-2 USD).
With e-bike. More efficient and not too expensive either. 5000-7000 MMK (4-6 USD).
By car / taxi. air-conditioned! 20,000-60,000 MMK (20-50 USD).
By horse-drawn carriage. Horse carts are available mostly for sunrise. This trip is dusty, bumpy, and can be very tiring, but it is an interesting way to explore this site, at least. Cost: 20,000 MMK (17 USD).
With a hot air balloon. The most magical way to see Bagan is from the sky. Fares vary depending on which advertising agency you ordered and how many passengers per balloon: 320-330 USD per person for 12-16 passenger balloons, and 380-390 USD per head for an 8-passenger balloon.