We got an overnight bus to Bagan from Yangon and arrived at a god awful hour of 4:30am (!!) however the huge positive to this was that we had arrived well before sunrise and watching the sunrise over the temples of Bagan is one of the most popular things to do in Bagan and probably in Myanmar alone so a taxi driver waiting at the bus station offered to take us to a temple right away, wait until it was light and then take us to find accommodation which was perfect!
He took us to a huge temple and we were some of the first people there, we climbed all the way to the top in the pitch black, figured out which side the sun would rise and then got our spots.
It turned out to be a very popular temple as it soon filled up with people so we were glad we got there the time we did and got some of the best spots!
By roughly 6:15 it was starting to get light and we could make out the many temples in front of us. Just as we started to think that it was too cloudy to actually see the sun rise we saw it pop out from the low mist and saw it rise fast into the sky and it was a beautiful experience (despite the constant clicks that were happening from people’s cameras behind us).
Another thing this sunrise is known for is its hot air balloons. With a price tag of $350 USD per person there was no way we were going to do it!! But like in Cappadocia in Turkey sometimes the view of them is just as good from the ground!
After the sun had risen a good amount we went back to find out taxi driver at 7:00am and find a place to stay. We stayed at the first place we took us to which was Winner Hotel where we got a twin room for $18 USD a night, the hotel wasn’t too bad, the wifi was of course pretty terrible as was the breakfast but the best thing about it was its location as it wasn’t far from the temples.
We decided to head out straight away and beat the midday sun. It’s basically impossible to walk around this area and all the temples and pagoda’s (by the way theres roughly 2200 of them!) so a bike is needed! If you’ve read my blog I’ve said before how i don’t want to ride mopeds in Asia as so many people end up hurting themselves but the thought of riding a bike and peddling all that way in the heat wasn’t appealing either!
After looking around we realised that the mopeds we were seeing were actually electric bikes meaning they look like mopeds but don’t have as much power and run off of being charged rather than fuel, we thought we might as well try them out so we each had a test drive and got on with them a lot better than what we thought so we decided to give it a go!
We started off pretty slow and sensible and by now we’re used to all the beeping from passing vehicles and know its just a way of them telling us they are passing and for us not to pull out and it was by far the best way to get around the area.. not to mention the least sweatiest way.
We didn’t have any particular temples in mind that we wanted to visit, i had read a few things online with the best ones to see but instead we just kept a look out and stopped whenever we saw a nice one and to be honest i think this was the best way! The map of the temple complex was also quite confusing so just going with the flow worked a lot better!
Being able to watch the sun rise and then set in the same day is something i had wanted to do for a long time so after a well needed nap in the afternoon we headed back out to watch the sunset, this time i had my Gopro attached to my helmet so i got some great footage of just how beautiful the area is (look out for the video soon!).
We weren’t too sure which temple to head to when a local stopped us and told us he knew a good one, we weren’t sure if he would want money but we decided to follow him and he took us right off the normal paths (awesome but also a little scary on the bikes as sand is hard to ride in!) and to a small temple with only a couple of people on. Again the sun set behind the haze and cloud but it was still very beautiful and serene.
The guy didn’t ask for any money, instead he had some paintings with him which he tried to sell, we had already seen a lot of these during the day and none of us wanted to buy one so we left on a kind of sour note but hopefully some people do buy them to make up for it and he did ask us to follow him after all.
We spent the next day out on the bikes too seeing more temples that we hadn’t seen the day before. We found one that we then went back to for sunset and it was such a gorgeous chilled out day.
There weren’t many food options near to where we were staying and while driving back before our nap on the first day we past a sign for a vegetarian restaurant called ‘The Moon’ which said it was recommended by the Lonely Planet so we turned around and headed in. It was pretty busy and the menu was great so in short we ended up eating lunch and dinner there both days! Yummy!!
I felt like 2 days was enough in Bagan, one day definitely would have been stretching it and after 3 days we may have got a bit bored. Watching the sunrise the morning we arrived was an absolute highlight (i’d say it was on par with arriving in Cappadocia in Turkey after a night bus and seeing the hot air balloons and sunrise there!) and then seeing the sunset from two different temples was a must while in Bagan and the days went quickly and at no point did we really feel like we were ‘templed out’.
I can see why this is such a popular place in Myanmar and so iconic!