There are thousands of temples, pagodas, monasteries in Bagan. It seems difficult to decide on where to start, so here’s some that you definitely should visit!
But first, let me explain the two most common ways of getting around. It’s easy to just hire a private car with driver, but where’s the fun in that? I mean, I’ve tried it and it was great, though not as memorable as driving yourself and getting lost and all that.
On our short stay in Bagan, we toured the complex in both styles. First on a private car, and the next day on our own rented e-bikes. Private tour drivers have similar routes and places though you may request certain temples to the driver. But the cheaper way is to rent an e-bike. It’s basically a scooter without the gas and driver’s license. Yup, you don’t need a license to use them! That’s why most backpackers choose to just rent, they’re everywhere and cost just as much as a meal.
Bagan Private Tour with Driver – 39,000+ Kyats
E-Bike – 3,000+ Kyats (for 5 hours rental)
Where to spend sunrise/sunset
Bagan Sunrise Viewpoint
Out of the three viewpoints, this is the one I liked the least. Not to say it’s bad, but for me it has the less interesting view.
Minnanthu Manmade Sunset Hill
This has a unique view of a local village nearby. While it was gloomy on our visit, this could have been my favorite sunset spot if the weather was great. Temples are close and would have an amazing silhouette against the sun.
Sulamuni Manmade Sunset Hill
This is a very popular sunset spot so make sure to be there early to save a nice spot. There is a big temple nearby and a lot of smaller ones, so the silhouette is also beautiful to photograph. This was the only viewing point where we were asked to show our Bagan Entrance Fee Tickets.
Temples and Pagodas
Our hostel was close to this pagoda so we immediately went here after we arrived. This is a popular pagoda, with mostly local visitors. It is believed to house a bone and tooth of Buddha making it a sacred Buddhist temple.
One of the big ones, the path to the main temples is surrounded by local vendors making the place feel more festive and lively.
This temple complex is home to a dozen or more little pagodas, with a unique leaning one.
I didn’t find the actual stupa interesting. For me, the view of the Ayeyarwady River is the best thing to see here. You can see docked boats line up the shore and a view of a mountain far ahead.
An impressively big white temple topped with a golden “umbrella”, a different design among temples in Bagan.
My favorite temple! It’s also the largest one that you can find in Bagan. It looks as amazing from afar as it is up close. The structure is formed like a pyramid with columns spiking out on its sides. This temple is certainly one you shouldn’t miss!
The structure of this pagoda makes it stand out, with its giant white stupa sitting on top of 5 levels of terraces.
Myauk Guni & Taung Guni
These two temples are near by each other and with similar built and structure. If you want a temple with no other visitors, then go to one of these (or both) and you can enjoy them for yourself. Being less popular, it is also less maintained and may have animal poop around. hehe
A popular sunset spot when climbing on temples were still allowed. The main attraction of this place is the giant statue of Buddha at the back of the temple. This is also a good resting place because of the food stalls outside and a toilet at the back.
That’s it! A list of temples and pagodas you shouldn’t miss in Bagan. Of course in our 2-Day exploration of the area, we visited a lot more temples which you can see in my North Indochina Itinerary by clicking here. There were even ones that I either forgot to take the name of or do not have a name at all. But if you only want to get to the best ones, then the list above would suffice. Don’t forget to buy your own longyi so you wouldn’t have to borrow one when you get to the temples.
The thousands of temples across Bagan signify the level of devotion the people of Myanmar has to Buddhism. Exploring those temples is a way to witness that devotion and experience their culture, the best way possible.