1Watch the sunset
There is nothing like watching the sun set over the pagodas in Bagan, but it can be tricky to find a nice elevated spot for doing it. Myanmore found 3 nice spots when here, please feel free to add more trough commenting on the post and we’ll make sure to add them to the map.
2Learn how lacquerware is made
There are many lacquerware “factories” and shops in Bagan with varying quality and price levels. One of our favourite is Maung Aung Myin Art Gallery Bagan, go and see the whole process and learn about a craft that has been passed on in generations. Other great places to visit are Golden Bagan, Bagan House and Jasmine Family Lacquerware workshops.
3Rent an E-bike and be your own guide
Go to the nearest (or cheapest) E-bike rental place. The price for one bike for a full day was 5000 MMK for us. Drive around on small sand roads and explore the less visited pagodas in between your stops at the most famous ones like Ananda Temple, Dhammayangyi Temple, Gawdawpalin Temple, Shwesandaw Pagoda, Shwezigon Pagoda and Thatbyinnyu Pagoda.
Don’t forget to ask for a helmet and check so the head- and tails light are working before taking off with your E-bike. And most importantly, don’t forget your camera!
4SWE DAW LAY SU (Four Tooth Relics) – Finish in one day to make your wishes come true
Take the opportunity to discover one of Bagan’s famous legends as you pass the tracks of King Anawrahta and his precious white elephant. The tale has it that the King was given a replica of Lord Buddha’s tooth, which he placed on the back of a sacred elephant before he set him free. This elephant stopped at four places around Bagan on which later the King had stupas built. The four places are Shwezigon, Tant Kyi Taung, Tu Yin Taung and Lawka Nandar. It is believed by the local Burmese that visiting and paying homage at all four of these places in one day makes your wish come true.
5Climb the 777 stairs of Mt Popa (Taung Kalat)
A well visited place by locals and tourists. The Buddhist monastery is situated on top of a rock pedestal (Taung Kalat) and the foot of Mount Popa and gives you a great view over the area. Don’t have open pockets with food or loose things as the monkeys tend to try and grab things, luckily there are salespersons and stair cleaners with slingshots fencing them off. Cleaners will ask for a tip for keeping the stairs clear of monkey poop and other trash, but are also frequently seen throwing trash off the fence, but at least the stairs are clean.
6Day Trip to Salay and Shin Bin Sar Gyo Hla
Approximately 1.5 hour drive from Bagan is Salay, an old colonial outpost with less tourists but not less to see. Grab a lunch at Salay House before walking around the town looking at the colonial buildings, visiting Yokesone Monastery, Shin Bin Maha Laba Man Temple (hollow lacquer Buddha that once during a flood floated on the Irrawaddy River). We paid 60 000 MMK for a private taxi 9AM-8PM that took us to from Bagan to Mt Popa and in and around Salay and back to Bagan.
From Salay, continue further south for 15 minutes and you reach Shin Bin Sar Gyo Hla Pagoda, which offers splendid photo opportunities and makes you feel like Lara Croft in Tomb Raider!
Please write to us about your experiences in and around Bagan, and we’ll make sure to add the good stuff!