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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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