BAGAN TRAVEL TIPS: Best things to do in Bagan
Use these Bagan travel tips and guide to organize your perfect vacation. If you’re planning a trip to Myanmar, you must include the city of Bagan, also known as “the sea of temples”. Discover the best things to do, when to visit, and all the essential travel tips.
Why visit Bagan?
With temples still standing from as far back as the 11th century AD, walking around feels like you’re in a fairy tale. Across twelve centuries, 55 kings ruled, who believed building a temple in Bagan, or any other religious structure, would bring good fortune to him and his people.
Dirty paths lead you through temples as well as Buddhist golden pagodas. Throughout the center, the Irrawaddy river flows, surrounded by distant mountains.
There are so many pagodas and temples densely packed into this 26 square-mile area. Standing amongst them can feel overwhelming as the thousands of buildings stretch as far as the eye can see. Luckily this Bagan travel tips and guide will help you chose the best things to do during your stay.
Best time to visit Bagan
The low season is between June and September. It will probably rain most days, yet temperatures remain high. This is the best season to organize a trip to Bagan on a budget. The hottest months are April and May with temperatures surpassing 40 degrees Celsius during the day.
Therefore, the best time to visit Bagan is from October until the end of March. You’ll unlikely see a single drop of rain, and the average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius is ideal for exploring the temples of Bagan. However, this is also the tourist peak season, meaning everything will be more expensive.
Essential Bagan Travel tips
LANGUAGE: The main language spoken is Burmese. Because tourists have only recently been able to explore the country, not many people speak English.
MONEY/ATM: Get some Burmese Kyat before you go. A peculiar fact about Myanmar is that official banks and money exchanges only accept brand new dollar bills. They won’t change old notes. You can find questionable establishments that will accept used notes but you will get a considerably worst exchange rate. ATMs are NOT widely available.
ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES: Find a universal travel adaptor before you leave. Plugs and sockets are all types C, D, F, and G.
VISA: You have to buy an archaeological visa on top of your regular tourist visa. It lasts for 3 to 5 days and costs around $18. There are checkpoints on the way to Bagan where you can pay in cash, dollars, or kyat. more information
Best things to do in Bagan
Hard to believe but Bagan has more to offer than just temples and Pagodas. Here is a list of the best things to do in Bagan during your visit.
Take a horse cart or bike around the temples
This area is simply too large to see everything by foot. However, to explore at a slightly quicker pace and from a different eye level, find a horse and cart to show you around.
Alternatively, you can rent an Ebike. These are extremely cheap, widely available, environmentally friendly and they don’t require a driving license! You might get lost once or twice – it will only make it more fun.
Take a hot air balloon ride
If you’re interested in an extraordinary sight, a hot air balloon rising 2,000 feet above the Bagan temples won’t disappoint. There are different companies that offer this experience in high season. They’re fairly costly, with tickets starting at $300. If that’s in your budget then you’re bound to have an unforgettable experience.
Browse the local markets
The Mani Sithu market in Nyaung-U is worth a visit for the experience alone. Here, locals sell alive animals, dried fish, freshly-butchered meats, and dried products. Enjoy the multisensory experience of exotic smells, sounds, and colors.
Taste local food
The food in Bagan is an exquisite combination of traditional Burmese dishes with a splash of western influence, due to the huge influx of tourists in recent years. Most of the high quality and good value restaurants are at Nyaung-U. Seafood is caught from the Irrawaddy river and locally grown vegetables are always used. For more information about Burmese food read Myanmar travel guide and tips
Visit a lacquerware workshop
These items are hand-decorated in beautiful original patterns. They’re specific to the area and can be found in workshops, temples, and monasteries. The locals shape the bamboo, coat it with lacquer, store in a dry cellar then decorate it with a needle. Pieces take up to a year to finish, and the colors brighten over time, which makes them so valuable to collectors. For more information visit Bagan House lacquerware workshop
Day trip to Mount Popa
A sacred monastery on top of an extinct volcano, this Buddhist temple is like no other. It’s an easy day trip from Bagan and there are plenty of companies that will help you organize the adventure. Despite the fact that Mount Popa is only 50 kilometers from Bagan, the roads are not in good conditions, therefore you may want to calculate more time than usual. The climb to the top is relatively easy, just over 700 steps to do barefoot.
Remember when you visit, Buddhist procedures must be followed by everyone, which means you must remove your shoes before entering a temple and wear only modest clothing – no exceptions! If you found these Bagan travel tips helpful please let me know in the comments below.