In July 2012 I traveled to Myanmar with fellow travel blogger The Most Alive. It was a very interesting trip to a country, which was hardly accessible for travelers and tourists for so many years.
Before the mass tourism would come, Ash and I decided to give it a try and visit the country.
One of our stops was Bagan. Known for its landscape we landed from Yangoon with Yangoon Airways with 9 hours delay on a hot Wednesday afternoon. It was good to feel dry heat again after having lived a year in Bangkok where humidity is king.
Bagan what? Old, New, different?
We checked into our lovely little guesthouse called Royal Bagan Guesthouse and walked around town. The guesthouse was located in New Bagan. The area in Bagan is divided into three different towns. You will find New Bagan in the south, Old Bagan about 3 km’s north of New Bagan and in the north, about 3 km’s to the east of old Bagan you will find Nyaung Oo, which seems to be the newest town in the area and is also located to the little airport.
What to do in Bagan
Bagan is known for its landscape of Pagodas. While you descent you will already see hundreds and thousands of Pagodas as far as the eye can see. Obviously, that is also why you are going there and so far this is also the only thing you can do: Watch Temples, Payas and Pagodas.
The easiest way to go and check them out is by bike. Most guesthouses and hotels are renting them out and it’s the easiest way to get around.
One day is enough to see the biggest temples and some of the small ones and see the sunset. If you have a lot of time in Myanmar and don’t want to rush things stay for two days.
If you decide to rent a bike and bike around the country I’d recommend to bike from one part of town to the next and do a whole round: New Bagan-> Old Bagan -> Nyaung Oo -> New Bagan. This will keep you busy for the day and you will sleep very well at night!
How to get to Bagan
There are a couple of ways to get to Bagan. The easiest and often the fastest (unless your plane brakes down and maintenance takes 9 hours) is flying. There are several airlines that offer direct service from Yangon. Flights vary between $99 – $115 one way.
There are several bus operators that connect Yangon with Bagan and also retour. They don’t have websites and schedules can vary. Best option would be to ask tour operators when in Yangon.
Most buses are overnight buses and leave around 6 PM and arrive in Bagan at 5-6 AM. The fare is between 15 000 – 18 000 kyat ($16-19) one way.
Most of the time a water is included in the fare. Make sure that you are wearing warm clothes. The buses are moving freezers.
You can travel from Yangon to Bagan by car but it is only allowed with a guide provided by the government. Traveling in Myanmar is still very restricted and the government only opened a couple of cities for tourism.