Bagan

Bagan (or Pagan) is an ancient city that was the capital of the first Burmese empire. It is located in the dry central plains of the country, on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy (or Ayeyarwaddy) River. As the heart of Burma during ancient times, Bagan serves as home to temples and buildings built from the 11th century to the 13th century. There are more than 2,000 pagodas and temples to be found, most of which were built by the ancient kings and leaders of Burma. Among all the cities in Myanmar, Bagan is the most ideal destination for tourists to visit regardless of the time of the year. Unlike cities in the lower part of Myanmar, Bagan does not experience a rainy season and it is the perfect climate of Bagan that enables tourists to discover and explore the ancient city with ease all year round. 

Travellers to Bagan will not have to worry about not having any interesting places to visit. In fact, the only problem they may encounter is deciding on which destination to go to first. As the capital of the first Myanmar Empire, Bagan is home to many archaeological sites. There are many temples, pagodas and monuments to be found throughout the area and visitors can embark on a spiritual and historical journey by going from one temple to another as all the buildings are beautifully and uniquely designed. However, there is more to Bagan than temples and religious monuments. Bagan is also home to Myanmar's archaeological museum, as well as the highly revered Mount Popa.
Ananda Temple 
This temple is one of the few remaining examples of Mon architecture; it was damaged during a 1975 earthquake but has been successfully restored. The Ananda Temple is recognized as the best preserved and most revered of Bagan temples. Location: South-east of Tharabar Gate in Old Bagan.
Bagan Archaeological Museum A
This Bagan attraction was officially opened in 1998. Tourists who want to explore the history of Old Bagan can visit the museum to see objects used during the Bagan period. The first floor houses the showrooms for visual arts and coiffures of court ladies, while the second floor has display rooms with religious themes. Opening Hours: 09:30-15:00 daily except Mondays and public holidays. Location: Northern part of Bagan, in the Old Bagan region.
Bu Pagoda (Bu Paya) 
The name of this Bagan attraction already gives a perfect description of the place: Bu Paya means ‘a gourd-shaped pagoda.’ According to legend, Pyusawhti rid the area of 'bu,' which was a gourd-like climbing plant that infested the riverbanks. As a reward, he became the heir to the throne of Bagan and its third king. Location: On the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River.
Dhammayangyi Temple 
The Dhammayangyi Temple is one of the four major Bagan monuments and ranks alongside Shwezigon Pagoda, Ananda Temple and Thatbyinnyu Temple in importance. Its grandiose architectural plan is similar to Ananda Temple and was built by King Narathu, also known as Kalagya Min, 'the king killed by Indians.’ Location: East of Shinbinthalaung and Shwesandaw in the region of Old Bagan.
Gawdawpalin Temple 
The Gawdawpalin Temple is one of the biggest shrines in Bagan, and the most imposing because of the Buddha images to be found on the ground floor. The building of the two-storey temple was commenced by King Narapatisithu but it was his son who completed the construction. The name of the temple means 'the throne which has worshipped.' Location: North of Meemalaung Kyaung in Old Bagan.

Bagan (or Pagan) is an ancient city that was the capital of the first Burmese empire. It is located in the dry central plains of the country, on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy (or Ayeyarwaddy) River. As the heart of Burma during ancient times, Bagan serves as home to temples and buildings built from the 11th century to the 13th century. There are more than 2,000 pagodas and temples to be found, most of which were built by the ancient kings and leaders of Burma. Among all the cities in Myanmar, Bagan is the most ideal destination for tourists to visit regardless of the time of the year. Unlike cities in the lower part of Myanmar, Bagan does not experience a rainy season and it is the perfect climate of Bagan that enables tourists to discover and explore the ancient city with ease all year round. 

ATTRACTIONS

Travellers to Bagan will not have to worry about not having any interesting places to visit. In fact, the only problem they may encounter is deciding on which destination to go to first. As the capital of the first Myanmar Empire, Bagan is home to many archaeological sites. There are many temples, pagodas and monuments to be found throughout the area and visitors can embark on a spiritual and historical journey by going from one temple to another as all the buildings are beautifully and uniquely designed. However, there is more to Bagan than temples and religious monuments. Bagan is also home to Myanmar's archaeological museum, as well as the highly revered Mount Popa.
Ananda Temple 
This temple is one of the few remaining examples of Mon architecture; it was damaged during a 1975 earthquake but has been successfully restored. The Ananda Temple is recognized as the best preserved and most revered of Bagan temples. Location: South-east of Tharabar Gate in Old Bagan.
Bagan Archaeological Museum A
This Bagan attraction was officially opened in 1998. Tourists who want to explore the history of Old Bagan can visit the museum to see objects used during the Bagan period. The first floor houses the showrooms for visual arts and coiffures of court ladies, while the second floor has display rooms with religious themes. Opening Hours: 09:30-15:00 daily except Mondays and public holidays. Location: Northern part of Bagan, in the Old Bagan region.
Bu Pagoda (Bu Paya) 
The name of this Bagan attraction already gives a perfect description of the place: Bu Paya means ‘a gourd-shaped pagoda.’ According to legend, Pyusawhti rid the area of 'bu,' which was a gourd-like climbing plant that infested the riverbanks. As a reward, he became the heir to the throne of Bagan and its third king. Location: On the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River.
Dhammayangyi Temple 
The Dhammayangyi Temple is one of the four major Bagan monuments and ranks alongside Shwezigon Pagoda, Ananda Temple and Thatbyinnyu Temple in importance. Its grandiose architectural plan is similar to Ananda Temple and was built by King Narathu, also known as Kalagya Min, 'the king killed by Indians.’ Location: East of Shinbinthalaung and Shwesandaw in the region of Old Bagan.
Gawdawpalin Temple 
The Gawdawpalin Temple is one of the biggest shrines in Bagan, and the most imposing because of the Buddha images to be found on the ground floor. The building of the two-storey temple was commenced by King Narapatisithu but it was his son who completed the construction. The name of the temple means 'the throne which has worshipped.' Location: North of Meemalaung Kyaung in Old Bagan.
Htilominlo Temple 
Like the Shwezigon Pagoda, the Htilominlo Temple can be found in the Nyaung U and Wetkyi-In region of Bagan. The 46-metre, three-storey temple was built in 1218, during the reign of King Nantaungmya. It is said that the name is a misreading of the Pali term for 'Blessings of the Three Worlds.' Location: South of Bagan Nyaung-U Main Road.
Mount Popa 
A visit to Bagan would not be complete without a trip to Mount Popa. Considered as one of the most popular pilgrimage spots in Myanmar, Mount Popa is an extinct volcano where the Popa Taungkalat Monastery is found. Popa used to be called the ‘Mountain of Spirits,’ and is still recognized as a dwelling of 'nats,' or spirits of ancient ancestors. Location: 50 kilometres from Bagan, Popa region, Kyaukpadaung Township. 
Shwegugyi Temple 
Built by Alaungsithu in 1311, this temple is an early example of a transition in architectural styles, which resulted in airy, lighter buildings. The temple is also notable for its fine stucco carvings and for the stone slabs in the inner walls. 
Shwezigon Pagoda 
The Shwezigon Pagoda is considered as Bagan's most significant shrine. It is said that the structure was built to enshrine one of the four replicas of the Buddha’s tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka. The construction was started by King Anawrahta, but the project was not completed until the rule of King Kyanzittha. Location: Northwest of Kyanzittha Umin near the banks of Irrawaddy River, in the regions of Nyaung U and Wetkyi-In.
Sulamani Temple 
Found in the Minnanthu region in the centre of Bagan, the Sulmani Temple is a sight to behold. Just like the Htilominlo Temple, the Sulmani Temple displays a more sophisticated style however the Sulmani has better internal lighting than Htilominlo. The name 'Sulmani' means 'Crowning Jewel' or 'Small Ruby.' Location: About a mile east of Bagan, in the region of Minnanthu.
Thatbyinnyu Temple
This 61-metre tall temple is the highest in Bagan. The towering structure gets its name from the Omniscience of the Buddha, as ‘thatbyinnyu’ means omniscience in the Myanmar language. Built in the 12th century by King Alaungsithu, it is one of the earliest examples of two-storey temples. Location: East of Gawdawpalin Temple, in the regions of Nyaung U and Wetkyi-In.

THINGS TO KNOW

In the country of Myanmar, the main tourist destination is Bagan. It may not be the current capital of the country, but it was the capital of the first Myanmar Empire and this is the reason it is one of the richest archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. The splendor of ancient Bagan, as well as its prime location on the eastern bank of the Irrawaddy River has drawn many visitors throughout the years. While other Myanmar cities also have pagodas and temples, Bagan sets itself apart with its ancient architecture and ruins. These alone are worth the trip to Bagan. In addition, there are stone scripts, votive tablets, wall and mural paintings, as well as stucco carvings to be found in Bagan. It is possible to see all these in Bagan at any time of the year. The ancient city does not experience a rainy season, so it is hot and humid all the time. The many forms of transportation also make it possible for visitors to enjoy Bagan in many ways.

Weather and Climate

Throughout most of the year, Bagan experiences a dry climate. It does not have a rainy season, unlike other cities in Myanmar. The average temperature is around 28 degrees, with the exception of summer. From April to September, the temperature rises to 32 degrees.

Because Bagan enjoys hot and humid weather, visitors should wear light clothing and cool fabrics like cotton. Visitors need not worry about carrying rain gear or heavy jackets to stay warm. Sensible walking shoes are a must and are to be removed when visiting temples and pagodas. The heat may make people want to wear shorts, short skirts and other revealing clothing, but doing so is deemed inappropriate when visiting sacred grounds. Hats and caps are also recommended when travelling within the ancient city.

Bagan Transportation

Getting to Bagan

Getting to Bagan is a breeze. The flight time from Yangon to Bagan is only an hour and ten minutes. Those who wish to go on a boat can either take a cruise (for longer trips) or ride a small boat (which often passes through the Irrawaddy River). Trains from Yangon and Mandalay stop at the Tharzi junction, a station accessible to Bagan by a three-hour drive. As for buses, there are regular coaches from Yangon and Mandalay that head to Bagan.

Getting Around Bagan

Exploring the area Bagan is easy because of several transportation choices: Taxis are the most common way to get around but for a different kind of experience try a horse-pulled cart. Sightseeing in Bagan is wonderful, but doing so while riding in a cart is a whole different experience altogether. Those who are interested in horse carts should ask the hotel to make arrangements about renting one. Visitors who want to roam the city by themselves can also rent bicycles.

Bagan Travel Tips

Before going to Bagan, there are several things first-time visitors should know. They are the following:

  • All visitors arriving in Bagan are required to pay the Bagan Archaeological Zone Entrance Fee of USD$10.
  • Donations can be given in pagodas and temples, but tipping is discouraged.
  • Cameras and video recorders can be brought inside the temples and pagodas, but there are charges.
  • Visitors are advised to drink only boiled water or water out of sealed bottles.
  • Tourists on medication must bring enough medicine for the trip. Medicine against diarrhoea will also come in handy.
  • Because of the heat in Bagan, sunblock is a necessity for tourists.
  • Visitors should dress modestly, as any kind of revealing clothing is frowned upon by the people of Myanmar.
  • Tourists should never eat raw vegetables and salads. Fruits should be peeled before eating.
  • Visitors should avoid eating from street stalls.
  • The wearing of socks or shoes on sacred religious grounds is not permitted. Even when visiting somebody's house, footwear should be removed before entering.
  • While in a pagoda or temple, tourists should tuck their feet away when they sit. The pointing of the feet toward a Buddha image, monk or elder is offensive.
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