This blog features 8 best spots in Bagan for Architecture appreciation, sunset experience or for an advanced selfie session with less crowd. Hope this helps.
Bagan is an ancient city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the land-locked Central Myanmar Region. As revered believers of Theravada Buddhism, the Bagan kings built over 10,000 Pagodas throughout 104 square kilometer area. Over 2,200 still survive to the present day.
Bagan is heaven for architecture junkies and photo enthusiasts.However, it is not necessary to visit all the 2,200 pagodas. Here is a shortlist of the must sees that I was able to visit, which I also find good for photo opportunities; advanced selfie man or with the whole Mark Nicdao entourage, Chos!
- Shwezigon Pagoda was among the first sites that I’ve visited, as this was only a 20 minutes walk from my hotel in Nyaung U. Shwezigon is one of the oldest and most impressive monuments of Bagan, and is still used as a main place of worship for Buddhist locals. Most noticeable is the huge gold plated pagoda glimmering in the sun. Architecture detailing is superb!
2. ANANDA PHAYA . The Ananda Temple is a cathedral-like temple popular for its grandeur and proportion. The floor plan of Ananda resembles a Greek cross. The center hall bears four Buddhas, standing about nine feet tall and made from gilded wood.
3.Thatbyinnyu temple – The tallest in Bagan. The view from the back side is great for photo op. Not much people go there. Aside from Thatbyinnyu, there are several lesser pagodas on this area.
4. Dhammayangyi Temple. The largest temple in Bagan. However, only part of it is accessible. For an unknown reason, much of the interior has been sealed behind brick walls. This structure was built by a very controversial Bagan King, who was said to have assassinated his own father to take the thrown. Sad legends are linked to this building.
5. Sulamani Temple . known as the “crowing jewel” of Old Bagan with well preserved frescos and murals. Sadly, the center tower was toppled down during the recent earthquake. Just outside Sulamani is a small hill where tourists position for a good sunset viewing.
6. Bu Paya Waterfront Temple. Best sunset views over the Irrawaddy River. 7. Lawkananda Pagoda. The popular temple in New Bagan, rarely reached by tourists. A bit distant from the popular clusters in Old Bagan. This Pagoda is packed with locals during worship days.
8. Cluster of Pagodas near Nan Myint Tower. Not much tourists explore this area as it is also off path from the Old Bagan Cluster. Photo Op is very good! Best to visit this cluster in the afternoon, and proceed to the Tower for sunset viewing and dinner.
Things to know:
A fee of 25,000 Kyat or 20 USD is mandatory to all foreign visitors. Ticket covers all sites within Bagan Archeological Zone (except for the tower) and is good for 5 days. Payment is settled before entering major temples (Ananda, Dyammayanggi etc.)
Myanmar is strict with dress code and “no shoes” policy before entering. Modest outfit is a must. You’ll be asked to rent a sarong if you are wearing shorts. It is also best to wear slip ons or prepare a pouch for your footwear, which you shall be taking off several times; including socks. The concrete foot path gets scorchingly hot. Sometimes, you have to step on bare ground with sharp pebbles.
Bagan is divided into 3 areas.
- Old Bagan – most of the temples and pagodas are located here.
- New Bagan – where most of the local communities settle. The lively side of Bagan for backpackers.
- Nyaung U – commercial district of Bagan where the bus and train station, government offices and banks are located. I opted to stay here for easy access to the market and other facilities.
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