Bagan, Myanmar is well known for the countless temples (actually around 4000!) that stretch as far as the eye can see in the plains.
This fascinating scenery is truly unforgettable and well worth a few days getaway from Hong Kong.
You can reach Bagan via Yangon (Rangoon) flying with Hong Kong express and KBZ airways.
You can also combine your trip with a stay in Mandalay, where you can discover the three former Royal capitals of Myanmar. Learn more about Mandalay in my other post of the Hong Kong getaways series.
Here is an example of itinerary for your Bagan exploration:
Head to Nyaung U market in the morning to discover the local food and a great atmosphere.
Vegetables, fruits, meat and fish are all displayed on colourful stalls under a bamboo roof. An amazing way to awaken your senses and discover one fascinating facet of Myanmar’s life.
Rare paintings covering the ceiling and the walls.
Temple where you can find nice local handicrats such as sand paintings and handwoven scarves made by long neck women.
It is known to be the finest temple of Bagan.
Almost completely renovated, it is one of the rare pagodas where no more bricks can be seen, giving back to the monument its original look covered with carvings and varnished tiles representing scenes of jataka (stories of the previous lives of Buddha).
Nanpaya- palace temple
This temple is housing beautiful sandstone carvings.
As a craft lover, you will be amazed by the work of these artisans. Creating lacquer objects is such a long process! From the bamboo and horse hair structure, which needs to be polished, many layers (up to 15) of lacquer are applied with at least one week needed for drying between each layer.
Then comes the carving and colouring process. Only one colour can be applied at a time.
The full process can take as long as one year for the bigger pieces!
Gu Byauk Gyi temple
In this temple you can find some astonishing & well preserved mural paintings with many colours.
Climb up the few storeys of this temple to be rewarded by a magical view of all Bagan from its terraces.
Gu ni sister temple
It is a great alternative to the crowded Shwesandaw for the sunset and sunrise viewing.
Wake up early to watch the mythical sunrise over Bagan. The fog over the plain wrapping the temples in the sunrise lights creates a mystical atmosphere that I had never experienced except watching the sunrise in Angkor Wat, Cambodia. The magic of the moment is even greater when you start seeing the small bubbles of the “Balloons over Bagan” invading the sky.
Take the opportunity of this early time to visit the old Bagan area and temples. An electric bike or motorbike is s great way to discover the small pagodas using the sandy little paths making no noise at all and therefore not disturbing the quietness of these places.
Pahto Thatbyinnyu temple
The highest temple in Bagan is built with 3 terraces of decreasing size.
Make a break to enjoy a nice breakfast along the river in one of the river view hotels.
Finish your stay in Bagan with a sunset cruise on the Ayeyarwady (Irrawady) river for 2 to 3 hours.
After a little cruise, your boat driver will bring you to Kyauk Gu Ohnmin. The particularity of this temple is to house the start of a tunnel which was meant to reach the lake Inle!
About 1km lower along the river, you can discover a few more pagodas as long as you meet the key’s guardian who is never very far, don’t worry.
A few mural paintings can be seen in Thetkyamuni temple. But the best is to take the stairs for a wonderful view of the temples and the river from the pahto Kondawgyi. This temple from the XIII century is worth visiting for its well preserved mural paintings and ceiling.
I hope you enjoyed this short guide of Bagan.
If you would like to know more about Myanmar, discover the first part of my trip in the beautiful area of Mandalay.