How To Explore The Temples In Bagan, Myanmar

Everything You Need To Know About Exploring The Temples In Bagan

A highlight of visiting Myanmar is exploring the temples in Bagan. The hundred of pagodas which are dotted around the Bagan area make it a photographers paradise. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets paint the sky the most beautiful shades contrasted against the many pagoda silhouettes. Though, there are so many temples in Bagan and they are all quite spread out. That’s why I created this ultimate guide to exploring the temples in Bagan.

tasha amy looking at the views over bagan

How Much Is The Bagan Entry Fee?

The cost to enter the Bagan Archaeological Zone is $20.00.

Do You Need A Bagan Entry Ticket?

Though, during my entire time of exploring the temples, I was never once asked to present my pass. I have read other stories of people not purchasing a ticket and getting away with it. Though, on our drive into Bagan the taxi driver stopped at a ticket counter, so we didn’t really have a choice to purchase the Bagan ticket or not.

underneath temples in bagan

How To Travel Between Temples In Bagan

There are three main options for getting around the temples in Bagan bicycle, horse cart or e-bike.

Bicycle Between Temples In Bagan

Riding a bicycle in Bagan is probably the second most popular option. Bicycles are cheap to rent for a couple dollars and nearly everyone can ride one making the idea of hiring appealing.

Though, please consider the heat. Temperatures in Bagan can get up quite high and shade can be hard to come by. Even though there are over two thousand temples they are still considerable distances apart, so by the time you arrive you will likely be a sweaty mess. Also, many of the paths between the temples are just sand making it extremely difficult to peddle.

local life in bagan

Hot Air Balloon Over The Temples In Bagan

One of those bucket list items is witnessing the magnificence of the temples of Bagan from above in a hot air balloon. If this is something you are interested in there are plenty of companies which do this, but be aware they usually only operate from October to April each year. I did not get the opportunity to do this myself, so for more information definitely check out World Travel Bug’s Bagan Travel Guide.

EBike Between Temples In Bagan

It is illegal for foreigners to drive in Myanmar preventing tourists from using motorbikes which are the common form of transportation in other South East Asian countries. This created a demand for the ebike when exploring the temples in Bagan. They are essentially a scooter, though with a battery rather than a motor.

I highly recommend hiring one of these. The ebikes are easy to drive, handle the sandy roads fairly well (still be careful) and will be the quickest option allowing you to see as many as the pagodas and temples as desired. Just remember to check the battery levels every now and then.

riding ebikes around bagan

Horse Cart Between Temples In Bagan

I researched taking a horse cart quite a lot as it seemed like the fairytale way to explore this magical place. Though, due to the temperatures the horses can get quite exhausted and it’s hard to tell if they are being looked after properly.

The cost for the day is between $15-$20 and you are providing a local with a job. Though, I was too worried about the well being of the horses and decided against this option.

horse rides in bagan

How Many Days Does It Take To See The Temples In Bagan?

I recommend staying around 2 or 3 days in Bagan. The first day check out the more popular temples. Find out which are the best to view the sunrises and sunsets from and experience those. Once you have your bearings a bit more go out and explore the lesser known gems, chat with the families that look after the temples and get off the beaten path.

Either way you decide to do it, there are over 2000 pagodas in the Bagan Archaeological area and therefore no individual one is overly crowded with tourist. If there are too many people around for your enjoyment, head five minutes more down the road and you’ll likely find a quiet temple.

tasha amy watching sunrise in bagan myanmar

Photographing The Temples In Bagan

Sunrises In Bagan

Check the forecast and find out what exact time the sunrises that morning. You will want to go find some sort of transport about forty minutes- one hour beforehand. This way you will find the perfect spot high up on the temple and hopefully not too many people blocking your view.

For sunrises, I recommend visiting one of the temples along the sand paths rather than those which have a proper road as large tourist buses cannot access it.

zoom shot of the temples in bagan with hot air balloons

Sunsets In Bagan

Sunsets in Bagan and equally as magical as the sunrises where the sky will change to all sorts of shades. The clouds will start to stand out against the darkening backdrop and birds will be flying home for the night

Make sure you arrive at least forty minutes before sunset otherwise you might have trouble finding a good spot.

For both sunrise and sunset my favorite lens to use is my 55m-200m. It allowed me to zoom in on the distant temples with the sun in the background, as well as picking up a lot of detail.

sun setting over bagan

Best Temples In Bagan


This is a very popular sunrise spot with a great view of the distant pagodas as well as the hot air balloons over top. Just off the main road it is fairly easy to access. It became my favorite sunrise spot and it may get a little crowded so come early to get a good seat up high.

bright sunrise in bagan


Quite far down the dirt track is Pay-Tha-Da-Paya and I would visit this temple every day during my visit. The paths within the temple open up to beautiful arches. Like any multiple level pagoda, the stair case is a bit of a squish, though the views are worth it. Visit here straight after sunrise and watch the hot air balloons land.

tasha amy watching the views over the temples


Being the largest and widest temple in the Bagan Archaeological area it really towers over the landscape. Rumor has it this temple is also haunted and it is also home to many bats which intensifies the visit.

the sun setting in bagan


If you’re after ancient ruins give Shwezigon a miss. Located in the Nyuang-U area it is easy to get to and a pleasant change if you are wanting to mix things up for an hour. The large golden pagoda towers over the temple grounds. There is lots to look at here, intricate designs and beautiful colors.

souvenirs around bagan


This temple is quite grand and you will be greeted by a large archway before entering the grounds, very photogenic. Many vendors have stalls inside, each trying to convenience you to purchase something as you walk along. The best view from this temple is outside, in my opinion, with the bicycles, e-bikes and horse drawn carriages below.

exploring around the pagodas in bagan


This is another beautiful temple with vendors selling all sorts of goodies just outside the complex. While we visited the archway to the temple was lined in red carpet. This deep red contrasting against the orange bricks looked amazing. This temple is a little out of the way so was never overcrowded when I visited. Unfortunately we were not allowed inside.

orange doorways around bagan

Best Way To Finish A Day Exploring Temples In Bagan

To finish off the perfect day exploring the temples in Bagan head out to my favorite restaurant one of the many amazing restaurants. I recommend Weatherspoons which is well priced for the budget traveler. It is the perfect place to get your hit of Western or Burmese food.

lemon juice and peanuts in bagan
grilled vegetables and chicken in bagan

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21 thoughts on “How To Explore The Temples In Bagan, Myanmar

  1. Avatar for Sorin
    Sorin says:

    Pay-Tha-Da-Paya is a great temple to be visit in Bagan and it’a a bit off the beaten track which is good as it does not attract to many tourists and you can have it only for yourself! Since there are more than 2000 temples in Bagan it’s a bit difficult to have a favourite one

    • Avatar for Tasha Amy
      Tasha Amy says:

      Hi Lisa! No you dont need to pay multiple entrance fees. When you first arrive in Bagan you will be taken to a place where you purchase your ‘Bagan Archeological ticket” this grants you access to all temples and you need to have it on you at all times. From memory it costs $20.00. As soon as we jumped into a taxi from the bus station we where taken straight to the building to buy our ticket on the way to the hotel, no need to preplan as there is a very high chance you will be randomly taken there as well.

  2. Avatar for Jasmine Chen
    Jasmine Chen says:

    Love your photos, Tasha! I’m planning to visit SE Asia in January and I’m definitely adding these suggestions to my list. Although I can’t really ride a bike… so not sure I’m gonna handle an e-bike hahaa.

    • Avatar for Tash
      Tash says:

      Thanks girl! I am sure you will get the hang of the e-bikes, its like riding a scooter, just its electric. A couple that I explored the temples with had never ridden one before and at the end of the day they were pros! Have faith, you’ll be fine :)

  3. Avatar for Jess Mizzi
    Jess Mizzi says:

    I loved Bagan when I visited Myanmar earlier this year. I think it is almost impossible to take a bad sunrise/sunset photo!

  4. Avatar for Céline CLudik
    Céline CLudik says:

    Love your pictures :-) ! I would probably hire a bike to get around the vast chunk of main temples ! The cycle option seems to give more freedom to stop when you wanted, hang out with the locals at the snack stalls in between, and ride to any hidden little nooks and crannies as and when you found them.

  5. Avatar for Casey Colesworthy
    Casey Colesworthy says:

    Such great tips! Thanks for sharing! Your photos are beautiful! Some day I’ll make it here, and I’ll use this post as a reference for sure!

  6. Avatar for Mina Kotlárova Sousa
    Mina Kotlárova Sousa says:

    Love your photos. Myanmar is definitely on my bucket list and now I can’t wait to start planning…

  7. Avatar for Snow to Seas
    Snow to Seas says:

    Such a great post and overview about exploring the temples in Bagan! The experience looks absolutely magical. I would love to go! I actually saw my first e-bike recently (they’re not very common where I live), but I’ve been wanting to try one since then.

    • Avatar for Tash
      Tash says:

      You should plan to go! Its such an amazing place to visit or at least try ride an e-bike, they’re great fun.

  8. Avatar for Michelle de Klerk
    Michelle de Klerk says:

    I love that you have the option to explore this beautiful place with an e-bike! Hubby and I tried e-bikes out for the first time the other day just driving around where we live, but haven’t ever thought to look for it when travelling. They certainly are wonderful, even for unfit couples like us!

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