Bagan is hardly known as a party destination. But after a day of temple touring, fighting off hordes of package tours and inhaling way too much dust, a cold beer is in order. Here are our picks for the best Bagan nightlife.
Hti Bar – Creative cocktails, excellent European and Asian food and great music, Hti hits all the right spots. Also, it is one of the only bars in Bagan with shisha and has lounge-style seating made from palates. If you are looking to get away from the ‘backpacker’ street, head right to Hti for an enjoyable evening.
Shwe Yar Su – Bagan’s first beer station, Shwe Yar Su is busy every night with locals and a few tourists. The outside courtyard is an ideal oasis on balmy summer nights with delicious barbeque on offer (the ‘chicken ass’ is a popular local favorite). As with most beer stations, the toilets are a bit gritty but after your sixth cup of Myanmar draft, you will hardly care.
Bagan Zay – After passing through the deceptively boring entrance, the shabby chic interior of Bagan Zay is a pleasant surprise. Grab a seat under their ‘chandelier’ of empty liquor bottles, order one of their delicious western-inspired tapas items and enjoy cocktails such as a Mandalay Mojito or Negroni. Daily happy hour boasts 2-for-1 cocktails from 4 to 6 PM.
Cheriland – Once a humble one-room restaurant, Cheriland underwent a huge renovation in early 2017 and evolved into what could be called a ‘real’ beer garden. Cold draft beers and delicious barbeque are on offer from midday until late at night.
Ostello Bello Mingalabar – Ostello Bello is, by far, Bagan’s most popular hostel so it’s no surprise that its ‘Mingalabar’ is New Bagan’s most popular watering hole. The outdoor bar offers the usual drinks and cocktails, as well as bar snacks. But you come here for the people, not the booze. The international crowd usually consists of a range of ages and backgrounds, making for interesting conversations and an always-changing atmosphere.
Mingalarbar Food Corner – Mingalarbar is part restaurant, part barbeque, part beer station. Although there is no happy hour, the draft beer is only 750 kyats and the barbeque is cheap and good. Other menu items are a tad more pricey but delicious. Start with a Burmese salad then move on to one of their delicious curries or fill up with barbeque. It’s all good.
Harmony 2 – This large garden is surprisingly easy to miss. With only a small sign marking its entrance and only a few simple lights, the long-running Harmony 2 is a local favorite. There is no draft beer and a basic menu of local dishes, but it’s perenially busy with New Bagan residents who gather to sip beer in the garden.
Erawati Raft – If the idea of a regular bar sounds too boring, head to Erawati, a boat that has been converted into a restaurant and bar. Watch the sunset from the ship’s deck and quenching your thirst with a signature cocktail while the colors change over the Irrawaddy River. Yes, it’s more expensive than most places but with the unbeatable views, it’s well worth paying 3,000 MMK for a beer.
Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort – The cocktails come in shocking colors and the service is slow, but there is perhaps no better place for a sunset beer than poolside at Thiripyitsaya. Pay USD 15 to use the pool or grab the best seat in the garden.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Dhamayangyi Temple – You’ve seen it during the day, now go see it at night. The locals will tell you not to, because they believe it’s haunted. Story has it that King Narathu assassinated his own father to build this temple. The murders though, were not to stop there. If a needle could be pushed between the bricks, it was believed that he would execute the masons. And there are a lot of bricks, so go figure. So, grab an e-bike and head there after dark. Switch off your phones and wander through at night for a bit of ghost-hunting.
Sunset boat cruise – If you are templed-out, the Irrawaddy beckons. It’s easy to hire a boat from the Bu Paya or Nyaung U jetty for a sunset cruise. Bring your own beers or ask Bagan Zay (mentioned above) to organize a sandbank cocktail party for an unforgettable night on Myanmar’s mighty river.
KTV in Pakokku – Bagan lacks one essential part of Myanmar nightlife: karaoke! If you are really missing late night crooning, drive up to Pakokku, a university town 30-45 minute-drive northwest. There are several KTVs, usually filled with local students, to satisfy your karaoke needs.