Bagan is the most beautiful place in Myanmar and one of our favorite Southeast Asia tourist spots. There are more than 2000 Buddhist temples around Bagan. We will tell you our favorite things to do in Bagan in our Bagan travel guide. Don’t miss the sunrise for starting your day.
Go inside a temple barefoot and climb to the top where you will enjoy an amazing sunrise. Go around with a bicycle or E bike during the day around their temples. Try to meet locals while you are cycling around the temples, having tea with them. They will be happy to talk to you.
Enjoy a great Burmese meal. At the end of the day, you should go for the sunset. Do the same, go to the top of the temple barefoot and be ready to take pictures. If you stay for a few days in Bagan you can relax in a pool or having tea after the sunrise and before the sunset since the weather is really warm in Bagan.
Bagan Travel Guide
Best time to visit Bagan
When you are visiting Myanmar, you should know about the weather. The weather is really hot in Myanmar. There are two seasons in Myanmar for the weather, dry and wet season. Dry season is from October to May, being November and December the coldest months in Myanmar. And wet season from May to early October, being May and June the hottest months in Myanmar. It means the best time to visit Bagan is from October to February when the weather is nicer and not rainy.
If you are planning to do activities like Hot Air Balloon are only available from November to 10th of April.
How to get to Bagan
Getting to Bagan by Plane
If you are getting to Bagan. The most comfortable way to get to Bagan is by plane. Also it’s the most expensive way. There are daily flights from Inle Lake, Yangon and Mandalay to Bagan getting to Nyaung U Airport. Prices are around $70-120 USD.
The airport is close to Nyaung U and taxis will cost around 10000 Kyats to get to Old Bagan and New Bagan. Little bit less if you are heading to Nyaung U town where msot of the budget accommodation is.
Read here how to get from Mandalay to Bagan!
Getting to Bagan by Bus
If you are getting to Bagan by bus. There are nights buses getting to Bagan from Yangon, Mandalay and Inle Lake. Prices are around $10-20 USD you can book them online.
If you wish more comfort you can hire a private driver for around $70 USD and you will be able to move direct from your hotel in Yangon, Mandalay or Inle Lake to your hotel in Bagan. It’s perfect if you are traveling with a few people or you are bringing a lot of luggage.
Getting to Bagan by Train
If you are getting to Bagan by train. You can get to Bagan by train from Yangon and Inle Lake but it takes so long. We don’t really recommend this option unless you have plenty of time when visiting Bagan.
Read here how to get from Bagan to Inle Lake.
Getting to Bagan by Boat
If you are getting to Bagan by boat. You can get to Bagan from Mandalay by boat cruising the Irrawaddy River. The boats are leaving Mandalay early morning and getting to Bagan around sunset time. The boats are running only in peak season from October to April. The travel time is around 10 hours. Prices are going around $30-40 USD depending of the boat, company and comfort that you want to have with breakfast and lunch included.
Getting to Bagan from the Bus Station
If you are getting to Bagan from bus station. The Bus Station in Bagan is 20 minutes taxi ride to Old Bagan and little bit less to New Bagan and Nyaung U. Prices to go there by taxi are 9500 Kyats from Old Bagan. 8500 Kyats from New Bagan and 6000 Kyats if you are staying in Nyaung U where are the most of the hostels and cheap accommodation in Bagan. Prices of the taxis are fixed there is a sign where you can check them. So drivers will not try to increase the price.
On the way back Bagan Bus station if you want to get the night bus. There is a small bus driving you to the bus stop from hotel and hostels in Bagan. It’s included in your bus ticket both of them VIP or local bus!
Entrance Fee in Bagan
The entrance fee for Bagan temples is 25000 Kyats! How to pay the entrance fee in Bagan?
The taxi will stop to pay the entrance fee in the check point. Make sure you have cash USD, euros and even better Kyats. The price of the entrace fee is 25 000 Kyats. If you pay in USD or euros it will be 2-3 extra for the exchange rate. The entrance ticket is valid for 3 days. In our case from 1st of May and expiring 5th of May. So we guess you can stay 4-5 days. Instead going by taxi if you go by shuttle bus will also stop for you paying the entrance fee. Check the ticket above!
Transportation Around Bagan
First before talking about transportation around Bagan. You have to get a map. You will find them in your accommodation for free. If not you can manage using Google maps or other Aps. Bagan is big to move around and it’s better you are following a route so you will not waste your time getting lost.
If you are wondering about transportation in Bagan as you can see in the picture above there are many options. The most common is the E Bike which costs around $4-6 USD. The bicycle can cost around $2 USD or you can even get for free from your accommodation as it happened to us. You can ride a horse carriage for $10 USD 2 hours going around the temples. If you prefer a motorcycle will cost you $10 USD but we recommend you the E Bike since you will not contaminate the environment and they even give you cheaper price. Make sure you arrange your transportation the day before if you are going to watch the sunrise or check which shop is opened to rent a bicycle or E Bike to move around Bagan.
For more comfort you can move by car in Bagan. You can get a private driver for around $40 USD the whole day. It will be great if you are bringing camera, you want to change your clothes for the pictures. Also more comfort with the air conditioning since it’s really hot in Bagan the weather. Also is great if you go to Bagan for 1 Day Trip.
We did the tour with Go Myanmar and they planned everything in advance for us. You can also go by tuk tuk around Bagan and it will cost you around $15 USD per day.
You can also watch the sunset with a private boat at Irrawaddy River. Prices are around $10-15 USD and you can stay 1-2 hours watching the sunset and they will offer peanuts, sweet tamarind and tea. If you have time you can navigate and see a few temples from the boat before sunset.
We were staying in Old Bagan so we were moving around by bicycle since most of the temples were so close for the sunrise and sunset. And one day we rented a driver with guide with Go Myanmar and took us around New Bagan, Old Bagan, Nyaung U and Minnanthu village in Bagan. It was really interesting and we learned a lot with this tour.
Currency Exchange and ATM’s in Bagan
Myanmar’s currency is Burmese kyat. If you’ll convert it to US dollar, $1 is equivalent to 1,500 MMK (Burmese kyat). While in the country, you’ll have to use a mix of US dollars and Burmese kyat when buying and going around.
There are ATM’s and exchange offices in Bagan in Old Bagan, New Bagan and most of them in Nyaung U where most of the budget accommodation is. The rates are very similar when exchanging money and the ATM’s charge around $5 USD commission per withdrawal plus the commission that your banks apply to your card.
Wifi Internet Connection in Bagan
Wifi connection is weak around Old and New Bagan and Nyaung U. You will find often power cuts and the connection will not bet as fast in Yangon. At least data connection was working great for us 4G staying around Old Bagan plus we were staying at The Hotel@Tharabar Gate and the connection was reliable most of the time.
Conclusion guys if you have to get some work done online Bagan like Inle Lake isn’t the best place for it, better you do your best in Yangon!
How Many days would you recommend to stay in Bagan
I would say 3 days is fine to stay in Bagan if you have time. If you have time enough and you can extend and if you are on a tight schedule would be great at least spending 2 days in Bagan. Enjoying the sunrise and sunset at least once is a must.
Daily Budget in Bagan
You can find bars where cafes and juices are serving for $1 USD Nyaung U. You can also eat local food like noodles and rice and vegetables with curry for $1-2. Everything’s really affordable in Nyaung U in Bagan also in Old Bagan and New Bagan you can find these prices. There are also restaurants starting $4-5 USD per person and they usually offer free peanuts and fruits for dessert included in the price.
Read here our budget travel in Myanmar and how much do you need per day!
About transportation we mentioned above the prices from $1 USD bicycle, $5 USD Ebike to a private car for $40 USD. You can rent a boat for sunset $15-20 USD. Entrance fee is $15 USD and valid for 3 days!
If you want to stay in other area in Bagan prices are starting from $15-20 USD in a local guesthouse in Nyaung U depending on how much you want to stretch your budget. Luxury hotels in Bagan can cost $50-300 USD for a room if you wish more comfort when visiting Bagan. Click here to get the best deals with Agoda and Booking.
You can also try AirBnB in Inle Lake with prices starting from $20 USD. Click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB!
Travel Tip: Click here to know prices and schedule to book your bus/boat tickets online in Myanmar with 12Go Asia.
Things to do in Bagan
And after all this information that we hope is useful in our Bagan travel guide. Let’s go with the best things to do in Bagan.
1. Explore Temples in Bagan
Between the 11th and 13th centuries over 10,000 temples, pagodas and monasteries were built in Bagan. Nowdays around 2,000 of them still exist in Bagan.
Our suggestion to visit Bagan temples is waking up super early around 4 30 am. You have to watch the sunrise is unique! And the best travel tip in Bagan make the most of your time after the sunrise to visit the temples since most of the people will go back for breakfast. You will find the temples without people.
Around 10 am tourists and tours start going around Bagan. So if you stay until 10 am you will avoid the crowd and the heat. After 10 am just go back to your place, swim and relax if you have a pool. If not have a juice or a refreshment and be on time for the sunset which is also magical.
Just try to go with time enough for the sunset just in case the temple you choose is so crowded or you wish to choose other location. After sunset all the people go back for dinner. So it’s great staying around the temples with the night lights 1-2 hours. You will find less crowded and you will have better experience.
These temples are the most popular ones:
Ananda Temple, Gawdawpalin Temple, Dhammayangyi Temple, Sein Nyet Sister Temples, Sulamani Temple, Thatbyinnyu Temple, Thambula Temple. You can check our pictures below!
2. Respect the Rules and Tips to visit Bagan Temples
Remember to dress properly in the temples is important to respect Burmese people and even it’s hot covering your shoulders as they demand. Also not bringing shorts, they will show before the entrance which allowed and what’s not allowed.
As it’s too hot the weather we recommend you to bring sunblock, water and snacks just in case you are from everything. Flip Flops are so comfortable since you have to get barefoot most of the time inside the pagodas and temples. Also wearing comfortable clothes, raincoat or dry bag to protect your devices
The area of the temples of Bagan is clean so keeping clean is the best for next visitors. Just bring with yourself a bag to put your trash.
3. Enjoy the Sunset at Irrawaddy River
We enjoyed the sunset at Irrawaddy River. It was great we had another views to the temples. There are a few boats that you can rent for an hour and they will offer you free tea and peanuts for your trip. Obviously you can organize more luxury if you wish with a bottle of wine while cruising.
We liked the sunset and also the views that you get to the temples from the river was amazing! Prices for an hour can go around $12-15 USD for two people or even more depending how big is the boat.
4. Ride a Hot Air Balloon in Bagan
One of the best things to do in Bagan is riding a Hot Air Balloon. We couldn’t since we were visiting in May and they weren’t flying anymore until October. Even if you don’t ride a Hot Air Balloon because of the price. It’s always nice to see them for the pictures in the landscape.
Prices of the ride is around $250-350 USD some companies offer breakfast so you have to check prices and offering to get the best deals. Click here if you want to get your discount booking activities in Myanmar with Klook!
5. Market Nyaung U
We find interesting local markets everywhere. We took a look to Nyaung U local market. There are shops, places to eat, you can buy food and of course Thanaka. Have you ever heard about Thanaka? It’s a yellow paste that Burmese people spread in their faces and arms.
Children and woman are using Thanaka. It’s used as cosmetic beauty in their face. It’s believed that helps to get smooth skin. And also it’s used to protect against the sunburn.
6. Watching the Sunrise in Bagan
It’s a must to wake up for the sunrise in Bagan. We recommend you to research where you would like to have the sunrise. We added one of the main points to have sunrise in Bagan without climbing a temple. This point it’s also useful for the sunset in Bagan.
There are a lot of people for the sunrise. So as faster you get there you will get a better place to enjoy and taking pictures. Also make sure you rent the day before your bicycle or E bike just in case you have problems to find a place open at 5 am. It’s usually hostels and hotels have bicycle available for guests!
7. Sunset at the temples in Bagan
For sunset there are two options enjoying around the temples. Looking for a temple that you can climb or have a nice view for the sunset. You can also go for a sunset boat cruise in the river. We weren’t lucky with the sunset in Bagan and we couldn’t enjoy in the same way that the sunrise. A few years ago it was possible to climb the pagodas in Bagan. You can check the picture below.
If you want to ask for climbing temples. Ask locals and they will point to you where to go and where is possible to climb a temple to have a better view in the sunset. You can do the same for the sunrise.
More Things to do in Bagan
8. Visit Bagan Tower for sunset/sunrise
Bagan Tower is located in Aureum Palace Hotel and you can access to the top paying an entrance fee of $5 USD. There are 360 degrees views and you can watch the sunrise and the sunset.
9. Shopping in Bagan
You can find places for shopping in Bagan. There are smll shops selling typical clothes and souvenirs. Also you can find street sellers selling their paintings. We loved it them so much and one painting of Bagan can cost around $5-10 USD depending on the quality and your negotiation skills.
10. Visiting Lacquerware Stores
Lacquerware is a handmade industry that you can only see in Bagan, Myanmar. Creating Lacquerware is a system where handicrafts are created in glossy and high glossy finishes from bamboo, or special saps of trees only grown in North, Myanmar.
Authentic lacquerware cups can take 30 days to make if you count all the wood coatings, the design addition, and the authentic colors they use to create the Lacquerware cups. These cups can cost about 30-$40 USD a piece. So they also create cups and other products from horse hair and bamboo.
11. Visit Minnanthu Village
We visited a village and it was so interesting. Minnanthu Village got electricity only 3 years ago. They were living simple and making handcrafts, cigars and also growing peanuts. They are building a school. Also it’s a great point to see the sunrise and the sunset in Bagan. There is a small hill where you can have amazing views.
12. Swimming Pool Relax
Enjoying a swim in the pool after breakfast in Bagan was awesome. As we were staying at The Hotel@Tharabar Gate in Old Bagan so close of the temples. We could relax and protect from the heat in Bagan before the sunset. Check it out above how cool is the swimming pool.
13. Enjoying a Burmese Massage
Enjoying a massage between the visit to the temples is a great idea. Since the weather is hot and you wake up early for sunrise. It could be a perfect plan before sunset!
14. Day Trip to Mount Popa from Bagan
It’s one hour and a half by car from Bagan. You can join to a tour or just hire a private car going there to climb Mount Popa for around $40 USD. To climb Mount Popa , enjoying hte views and going down it would be great if you have 2-3 hours.
There are almost 800 stairs, you will see monkeys and amazing views especially on the top. If you wake up early it can be done in the same day. And you can go back to your accommodation in Bagan!
15. What to eat in Bagan: Go For Local Food
Vegetarian Food at Khaing Shwe Wah
A Vegetarian Restaurant with amazing reviews in Tripadvisor. The food was delicious, affordable and they serve snacks before your order and also sweet desserts as complimentary. The staff is super friendly and they serve vegetarian food because the owners are vegetarian. The restaurant is close to Tharabar Gate in Old Bagan.
Try Local Restaurants in Bagan
Burmese people are so friendly and wherever you go they will attend you great. We loved this small restaurant where we could try many different dishes for just $1 USD each of us. Yes only one dollar with rice included for all the dishes that you can see in the picture and if you finish the soup they even refill it.
Where to stay in Bagan
If you go to Bagan there are 3 main areas where you can stay. Nyaung U is full of hostels and cheap hotels, close to the market, bars and restaurants is the most affordable area. Old Bagan is close to the Pagodas and temples, more quiet and expensive. And New Bagan is mid budget and also peaceful area where to stay in Bagan.
Old Bagan is where most expensive hotels are. Old Bagan is close to the temples so the most comfortable especially for the sunrise. There are restaurants and most of the things you can find here. We stayed in Old Bagan and it was great after the sunrise we were close to our hotel. Later also for the sunset we were just 5 minutes bicycle distance.
We stayed in Old Bagan at The Hotel@Tharabar Gate and we really liked it our staying. It was so close to the temples which was great for the sunrise. Also most of the temples are in Old Bagan we can always go for a quick rest since it was so hot the weather. We could enjoy swimming in the pool and catching up with work since the internet connection was working good in the hotel. Even you don’t stay there we recommend you to go for a a juice or beer and enjoying the pool area.
Apart from the location the food, the staff and the facilities were awesome. They provide everything that you need services and information to go around Bagan. Click here to check their prices and availability!
Nyaung U is where most budget accommodations are. There are bars and restaurants around the area. Places to rent bicycle and E Bikes. You can also find local markets to eat and shopping souvenirs.
For accommodation, you can find accommodation prices starting from $15-20 USD in a local guesthouse depending on how much you want to stretch your budget. Luxury hotels in Bagan can cost $50-300 USD for a room if you wish more comfort when visiting Bagan. Click here to get the best deals with Agoda and Booking.
Festivals in Bagan
Thingyan Water Festival
Ananda Pagoda Festival
Ananda Pagoda festival that is celebrated during the month of Pyahto December to January and it las for a week. If you are staying around Bagan at that time it would be great to adjust the dates and attend the festival.
You can also try AirBnB in Yangon with prices starting from $20 USD. Click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB!
Travel Tip: Click here to know prices and schedule to book your bus/boat tickets online in Myanmar with 12Go Asia.
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