Travels

Myanmar The real wonder of Bagan

If there is a place in Asia where tourism begins to be incipient but scarce, where there is a landscape that stands out as one of the jewels of this small planet in which we live, surely a place like Bagan or Nyaungu will sound like few. Bagan It is one of those true wonders that many people still do not know, an area of ​​42 km2 where more than 4,000 temples Buddhists for 2 centuries. A majestic place, a place that impacts, and a place that begins to be fashionable. YesMyanmar It's changing, Bagan certainly much more. The wonder of Bagan and its entire archaeological site will possibly be one of the 7 wonders of the world, give it time, it just needs people to go to know it and that this great country is gradually opening up to the world.


Bagan

A little history

Bagan was the former capital of Pagan empire next to the banks of the river Ayeyarwady, an arid plateau in the center of the old Burma. The greatest splendor of Bagan was between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries, at which time more than 4,000 temples and pagodas were built. For this wonder we must thank King Anawrahta who was the pioneer and forerunner of this moment so sweet that the region lived. Apart, Anawrahta introduced buddhism in Burma and today it is 89% of the population who profess this religion.

The Bagan region is in an area of ​​important seismic influence, registering more than 500 earthquakes during the twentieth century. The largest of them, in 1975, reached 8 degrees on the richter scale, damaging multiple temples and leaving some as the famous Bupaya with irreparable damage.

Today Bagan is a world apart and many of its temples have disappeared or are in ruins. The poor management of Bagan's restoration, which is not very respectful, has led to the use of modern materials that break the aesthetics and color of these beautiful temples. However, this type of action has not made disappear that air of mystery and grandeur that still retains the Bagan plateau.

Our adventure through Bagan

We arrived at the wonder of Bagan from Yangon on a flight of Air Mandalay, $ 110 one way, a flight that is expensive but saves you from a very long car trip on winding roads.

The first surprise as soon as he reached Bagan, as in Mandalay or Inle Lake, was that he had to pay theentrance fee, $ 10 per person ($ 15 price 2015), one of the revolutionary taxes in the country that allows you to visit the entire complex for 4 days. After this little surprise, your first contact when leaving the airport, taxi 5,000 kyats, is to see the only paved road in the place, the rest is dirt, and is in perfect condition to be the one that goes directly to Nuevo Bagan, Old Bagan andNyaungu. From this road it is possible to see the network of roads and trails that covers the entire archaeological zone of Bagan next to largeFarmlands, people working their lands and hundreds and hundreds of small temples and pagodas, a landscape that really surprises and that already makes your teeth sharp as soon as you arrive.


Old bagan

Do not worry if you do not know in which area of ​​Bagan to sleep. If you want pay littlego to Nyaungu, if you are looking for average price New bagan and if you don't mind how much but if the quality, Old bagan. Of course, choose where you choose you will be very close to the complex and if not by taxi for less than 4,000 kyats.

The food is very cheap If you eat in restaurants for Burmese, 1000 kyats, but if you go to restaurants more adapted to tourists, prices will be around 3,000 to 10,000 kyats each course, although it is easy to dine for about 15,000 kyats for two people. Around here the food is usually excellent.

In order to move the medium par excellence is the bike, since it is the only one that can access the dirt roads next to horse-drawn cars.


Old bagan

It is convenient the first day to travel the main pagodas by bicycle or why not, in horse carriage, which is around 4,000 kyats for half a day, to change less than € 3. With this you can get an idea of ​​how big Bagan is, how the roads and its temples are.


Children in New Bagan

Bagan in 2 days and by bike

When we get to Bagan we plunge into a little stress from the number of temples that we could visit, in addition to not knowing where to sleep, we only had two or three days to see the entire site and not die trying. The truth, more than enough. It is true that when you leave the first day you realize how great it is, but more than acceptable than you think at first. In bike is easy, very easy and you don't need a great form.


Shwe San Daw Phaya

We recommend exploring the first day in a horse drawn carriage, which costs little more than the rental of two bicycles and is a great way to make a day the size of the complex and the main monuments. Already the next day he rents a bicycle and travels for free!

Two days are enough To visit Bagan. The site is large, but both by carriage and by bicycle it is possible to travel it in one morning. Be careful with the heat of noon to avoid and above all, visit the best temples at dawn as at dusk, have better light and change completely. This is perhaps because it takes at least two days to enjoy your stay in the wonder of Bagan.

One thing to keep in mind of the temples, most of them lack the original coating, so you will see only, except for the restored ones, the original brick of yesteryear or the restored one.


From the Dhamma Yan Zi Ka Pagoda

First day

Head to Old Bagan and right there for a carriage. You can usually find them at the Gate of Tarabhar, next to the Sarabha II restaurant. Whether you arrive in the morning or in the afternoon let yourself be recommended by the driver, as there are temples that will be better to visit depending on the time of day. Remember that in Bagan the heat is sometimes unbearable, very dry and there are few places to shelter.


Bulethi Pagoda, Bagan

Second day

The day of the bike! The first thing is to get up early, then the heat if you are in summer can play tricks on you. You don't need to visit all the temples of a tacada. Explore little by little and come to see dusk at temples such as Shwe San Daw Pahya, where almost all tourists gather to see the sun disappear.

For about 2,000 or 3,000 kyats you can rent one bike all day. Although the bicycles are not from another world, they come with a basket so that you can transport your things and it is not too heavy to carry the backpack.

Our tour started from New Bagan starting with Dhamma Ya Zi Ka Pagoda, currently under restoration. Behind her is the road to Bagan and there is a small temple from which you can take a picture of the entire pagoda. Throughout the tour you can see people plowing the field, desert roads and even the occasional seller of Bagan paintings hidden in a temple. By the way, don't forget about bring water, inside it is impossible to find it.

What temples and pagodas to see in Bagan

Looking at this second day you can see all these temples by bike and even rested in the hotel when the sun is tighter.

Gaw Daw Palin Phaya

This temple is right at the south gate in Old Bagan and is little crowded except for the local villagers. At the entrance there are several stalls selling water and local crafts.


Gawdawpalin Phaya, old Bagan

Guphaya ethylominlo

It has nothing less than 45m high and was built in 1218 by king Nantaungmya. Its design is staggered and it is possible to visit its interior. Around the temple there are several shops where you can buy local handicrafts, such as figures, pendants or kitchen utensils.


Htilominlo Guphaya, Bagan
Htilominlo Guphaya, Bagan

Bulethi Pagoda

It has one of the best views from the Bagan site. In addition, it is a good alternative place to see both sunrise and sunset. It is worth climbing this temple and surrounding it to admire the incredible views of the Bagan esplanade.


Bulethi Pagoda, Bagan
Htilominlo Guphaya, Bagan

Sulamani Pahto

One of the most beautiful in the complex and one of the most visited. It has two floors and is one of the biggest attractions of Bagan. It was built in 1181 creating a pyramidal effect.

Dahmmayangyi

It is currently the largest of all and is said to have been built in the 12th century to spy on the sins of King Narathu. Surrounding it impresses. If it were not because you have to take off your shoes like the rest of the temples, it would be worthwhile to surround it several times to realize the size it has.


Dhammayangyi, Bagan
Dhamma Yan Gyi Pahto

Dahmma Yan Zi Ka Pagoda

To the south of the complex, to the east of Nuevo Bagan, I have one of the best views in all of Bagan. Just behind it if you follow the dirt road you will find a small temple from where you can take one of the best photographs of all of Bagan. If you follow this path, it will take you north, Old Bagan, along a little-traveled road with many temples to explore. Don't worry, these roads have no loss, explore without fear!


Dhamma Yan Zi Ka Pagoda
Dhamma Yan Zi Ka Pagoda
From the Dhamma Yan Zi Ka Pagoda

Shwe San Daw Pahya

It is one of the classics to watch the dusk and also one of the busiest. You have to see it, but it doesn't have to be the best place to watch a sunset. There are others smaller and with the same or better views than Shwe San Daw. Better explore and decide where to see your particular dusk.

In high season you have to ask for the time, seriously, it is crazy to see so many people.


Shwe San Daw Phaya

Loka Nanda Pagoda

This spectacular pagoda is little frequented and is located west of Nuevo Bagan, next to the river Ayeyarwady. When we visited we were the only foreigners. Here dusk is really impressive, both for the reflections of the brightness of the pagoda and for the play of lights between the river and the sky.

Just below her there is a hidden lake with a very colorful wooden bridge and a small beach on the river where the locals bathe. as an anecdote in August we found the city in parties, recommended for the number of people who gather and the positions of the traders.


Lawkananda (Loka Nanda) Pagoda, New Bagan

Shopping by Bagan

In Bagan it is possible to buy all kinds of souvenirs. From hand-painted paintings to vessels, poses glasses, necklaces, bracelets and wooden statues. It is better to buy in temples with few visits and away from Old Bagan. Haggle, they always start with very high prices.

Apart from both New Bagan and Nyaungu there are markets where you can buy food like the amazing pineapple from Myanmar.


Bagan's paintings

Summary of expenses by Bagan

Let's look at the expenses of our two days by Bagan:

  • Flight Yangon - Nyaungu. $ 110
  • Rate of entry to Bagan. $ 15 per person.
  • Cab from the airport. 5,000 kyats
  • hotel in New Bagan. $ 55 / night. It is of the average price in low season and with swimming pool.
  • Foods. 3,000 kyats per day and person. In places for locals or buying fruit in markets.
  • Dinners. More copious in our case and in idyllic places by the river. 15,000 Kyats per day and person.
  • Half day with a buggy or carriage. 4,000 kyats
  • Rental of bikes. 4,000 kyats per day. The price depends on the hotel.

Some will think that Myanmar or Bagan is not so cheap, right, because it really isn't. One thing to keep in mind, facing the Lonely planet 2013 always add 30% to their rates. At no time did prices resemble. Myanmar is changing, hurry up.


New bagan

Practical data

When to go?

They say that the summer and the rainy season should be avoided, but it is true that it is the best time of the year to contemplate Bagan at least a little green. After all it is the place that rains the least in the rainy season.

The rest of the year the heat is really unbearable and even dangerous at certain times of the day.

How to get?

The best way to get to Bagan is in airplane, since it has a small airport less than 10km from Nyaungu. Companies like Air Bagan, Air Mandalay or Yangon Airways fly directly from Mandalay or Yangon. They all have more or less the same price when they belong mainly to the state. For security we recommend that you buy flights with a Skyscanner or similar, for the issue of returns and security on the web

By boat to Mandalay from Bagan

Mandalay can be reached by boat for $ 35 withMalikha River. You can book it by email and pay directly there. The jetty is at the end of Nyaungu. In my opinion I would not do it again, it is long and somewhat heavy. Departure early, 6am, and you arrive around 4:30 p.m., more than 10 am, and the views are not wonderful. To be Myanmar is really expensive and slow.


Malikha River

Where to eat / dine?

There are many places in Bagan where you can enjoy Chinese or Burmese food, we leave you the restaurants that won our palate:

  • Yeah thu. Next to the river in Old Bagan. Chinese and Burmese food.
  • Sarabha At the east gate of Old Bagan. Asian food and even some western dish.
  • Green elephant. The best thing is the place, it is really beautiful, but the food did not leave us a good taste.

By the way, don't forget to order juices or juices, for 1,000 kyats you can not miss them.


Sarabha II restaurant

Where to sleep?

We decided to stay at New bagan since there are the best quality / price hotels. They are not as expensive as those of Old Bagan, they are even much newer, and many also have a swimming pool, a good incentive for times that the sun is tighter. Since then it is worth opting for a hotel with a pool.

Two recommendations:

  • Kumudara Hotel: for $ 50 and next to several temples. A part also has its own bicycles.
  • Shwe Yee Pwint Hotel. Affordable luxury hotel in low season with pool and bike rental. The rooms have WIFI, TV and air conditioning.
  • Plus hotel recommendations in Bagan (on Booking there is a good selection)

About places or cities:

Old bagan It is the most expensive and not at the level of services is the best. We do not recommend it unless you go to a luxury hotel.

New bagan It has good hotels with better features than the Old Bagan but rarely lower than € 50. Over the years Myanmar begins to be a bit expensive ...

Whereas in Nyaungu It is the preferred place for many travelers and this is where the most economical establishments and the most lively nightlife are. It's not pretty, but there is life and there are cheap hotels.

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