Twilight. Darkness all around. As you breathe in the fresh morning air, you eagerly watch as the slit of light in the horizon expands throughout the sky, revealing emerald green plains and beautiful glittering pagodas as far as your eyes can take you. This is the ancient town of Bagan in Myanmar, one of Southeast Asia’s gems.
This wondrous region boasts thousands of temples and pagodas steeped in Myanmar’s rich history. Take time to explore off the beaten path after visiting the main attractions, and who knows, you may be rewarded with your own one-of-a-kind Instagram shot. Can’t wait to get started? Get ready to try these 15 Enchanting Experiences for Your Bagan Honeymoon in Myanmar!
P.S. In this series, we used Google Maps and created a list to share the places we covered for your convenience. Check it out here!
1. Hop on a Magical Hot Air Balloon Ride over Bagan
This jaw-dropping view unfolds as the hot air balloon rises in the air and the rolling landscape of Bagan unravels before your eyes. The beautiful stupas of pagodas that dot the area look like daytime stars. Definitely an experience of a lifetime. This sets visitors back at least US$300, but the glorious sunrise view you get in exchange? Priceless. The ride is weather dependent, hence do allocate some extra days for rebooking should the ride get cancelled. The hot air balloon season in Bagan begins in October and ends around mid April.
2. Snap the Perfect Instagram Shot in Bagan
Because of the rising tourist influx, the Myanmar government has started taking protective measures for their national sites by banning climbing on the pagodas. Nevertheless, Bagan still offers a couple of secret spots where tourists can take in a panoramic view of the peaceful landscape atop a pagoda. Below are some of the notable spots to take extraordinary Instagram photos atop a temple or pagoda!
Google map link here
Google map link here
Google map link here
3. Catch the Florid Orange Sunrise over the Bagan Temples
Ohh.. the majestic hues of orange! Watching the sunrise in Bagan is an absolute must. Do so from any of the many temples and pagodas scattered around the area. Better yet, if budget permits, witness the golden sun cloak the lush green grass in an enchanting shade of amber while riding a hot air balloon. Opting to watch from the ground? Lowka Oushang Temple offers a decent lookout spot being relatively crowd-free. Google map link here.
Where to stay at Bagan: Amata Garden Resort Bagan
The poolside bar, meeting room, and outdoor dining at Amata Garden Resort. Source
Amata Garden Resort Bagan is located in New Bagan, a mere 5-15 minute drive from all the main tourist sites. The tranquil hotel sits on 6.9 acres of lush green gardens beautifully landscaped to match the natural flora surrounding the property. Each room comes equipped with a balcony where one can greet the amazing Bagan view each morning.
Enjoy a palatable meal al fresco style while lounging by the outdoor pool, where the restaurant serves continental dishes alongside local Myanmar delicacies. Perhaps even take a dip in the refreshing pool after a long day of sightseeing. Come nightfall, sum up a lovely day with a cocktail by the poolside bar.
We recommend having an expert’s hands knead away the tension in your muscles after days of temple exploring. The Nibbbana Spa offers traditional Myanmar massages as well as complete body therapies which will rejuvenate any tired souls, ideal for getting yourself ready for the next day.
Experience authentic Bagan hospitality at the Amata Bagan Resort!
Amata Garden Resort
Phwar Saw Village, Thu Htay Kan Kwin, Kwin No. (1544) East New Bagan, Nyaung U District, Nyaung U Township, Bagan, Myanmar.
95 1 657689 | 95 9 73242536 | 95 1 665126
4. Explore the Majestic Ananda Temple
The Ananda Phaya is one of the last, and arguably the most beautifully preserved, of Mon architecture. Known as the most loved temple in Bagan, the Ananda Temple boasts a unique feature, the Sikhara, which juts out on top of the pagoda and is visible all around Bagan. Despite damages from an earthquake in 1975, the temple has been restored. After sundown, see it bathed in a mystic glow from several spotlights.
5. Pursue Cooler Weather (and a Grand View) at Mt. Popa
48km away from old Bagan, a fort-like structure sits atop a mountain peak. Introducing the Taung Kalat Monastery, with its commanding presence overlooking the lush greenery below. Nestled among the flora is the Popa Mountain Resort, offering a panoramic view of the Taung Kalat Monastery. If you are experiencing some pagoda-chasing fatigue, this is the best place to just sit back, relax, and just be. Get lost in your thoughts as you float in the infinity pool watching the sunset.
6. More Temple Hopping at Sulamani Guphaya Temple
After re-energizing, it’s time for more temples! Sulamani Guphaya, also known as Sulamani Pahto, was built in 1183 during the rule of King Narapatisithu. This elegant temple is just 1.5km southeast of ancient Bagan in the Minnanthu region. The Sulamani temple has two storeys and a square layout with terraces on the top floor. Terracotta plaques depicting Buddha’s early life, called Jataka tales, can be found hanging by the entrance.
7. Climb the Steps of the Shwesandaw Pagoda
Shwesandaw Pagoda was constructed almost a thousand years ago in 1057 by King Anawrahta when he finally captured Thaton. He had this circular monument made to serve as the centrepiece of his brand new kingdom. This pagoda was also referred to as Ganesh or Mahapeine, named after the Hindu god with an elephant head, of whose images once adorned the terracotta plates and statues at the five terraces of the temple. The top of Shwesandaw Pagoda is a multi-tiered spire, known as a hti, which is shaped like a mini umbrella.
8. Get a 360-degree view of the Bagan Plains at Bulethi
Bulethi Pagoda used to be one of the favourites when it comes to climbing up and enjoying the magnificence of the Bagan plains. Access to its staircases has been restricted recently, but that does not mean the pagoda itself isn’t worth seeing. Located very close to the centre of the plain, enjoy a 360-degree view of the two thousand temples and pagodas of Bagan. Bulethi is also a popular spot to watch the sunrise, so come early if you want a good spot. Look up and marvel at hot air balloons gliding gently up the skies!
9. Watch the Shwezigon Paya Light Up the Night Sky
The brilliant golden zedi of the Shwezigon Pagoda serves as the primary worship site of the town of Nyaung U. This particular pagoda is known for Myanmar’s most important nat or spirit. Three tiers of balconies peppered with Jataka enamelled plaques rise up at 160 feet, and another 160 feet makes up its stupa, all of which are surrounded by a gated wall. The Shwezigon Pagoda was built by King Anawrahta and added on to by King Kyanzittha. There is a 13-foot bronze Buddha image in each direction – north, south, east, and west. While its shimmering splendour dazzles in the morning, it is equally beautiful at night when lit up by spotlights.
10. Stand where a King was Chosen at Htilominlo Pahto
One can’t help but spend some time taking in the intricate exterior of this ancient pagoda. Standing 150 feet tall, Htilominlo temple is named after the prince was chosen to be king using a white umbrella. Legend states that King Narapatisithu had his five sons stand in a circle right where this temple stands. Placing a white umbrella in their midst, whichever son the umbrella points at will be king. Htilominlo was the lucky chosen one, but history states that he was more into books and knowledge than ruling a kingdom. When you visit, be sure to check out the carvings of female creatures from Myanmar myths.
11. Visit the Infamous Dhammayangyi Temple
Built in the 12th century by King Narathu, Dhammayangyi is steeped in dark history. Its mammoth size is said to house walled-up inner passages that no one knows the uses for. Apparently, this structure is the king’s attempt to pay for his sins – murdering his father and brother. He also killed one of his wives for performing Hindu rituals. The Eastern entrance serves as the main entry point, while images of the Gautama Buddha and Maitreya Buddha are visible at the west side.
12. Try Your Hand at Haggling at the Mani-Sithu Market
Head to Lanmadaw Road and follow it to the end to get to the Mani-Sithu Market. Open from Monday to Saturday from 6:00am to 5:00pm, get a fill of Burmese souvenirs and local snacks here. Looking for lacquerware but have limited budget for authentic ones? You can find very high-quality faux lacquerware in this market. You may also buy the material for making a thanaka here, which is a face mask worn by the locals.
13. Visit a Traditional Lacquerware Workshop
Lacquerware is probably the “it” souvenir to get in Myanmar. You will see many of these in the local markets as well as in other parts of Myanmar, but authentic lacquerware is actually a speciality of Bagan. If you are looking for the real thing, visit lacquerware workshops like Mya Thit Sar or Bagan House Lacquerware Workshop in New Bagan. Here you can watch locals make the elaborate pieces, starting with the bamboo base and layering glaze after glaze before painting on finishing embellishments using needles. An authentic Bagan lacquerware piece can cost up to a few hundred dollars, so line up your pockets if you are looking for one.
14. Visit the Two Beautiful Nat Siblings at Tharabar Gate
This ancient structure was built in 849 AD by King Pyinbya and is the only one left standing out of the 12 gates. The name Tharabar means “shielded against arrows”. Legend has it that this ancient gate is guarded by two nats, or Myanmar spirits. When you pass through the gate, on one side you will see the brother, known as “Lord of the Great Mountain” or “Lord Handsome”. On the other side is his sister, “Lady Golden Face”. It is said that a cowardly king was scared of the brother, so he married Lady Golden Face to lure the brother out. Lord Handsome most certainly came for his sister, and the king burned him at the stake, prompting Lady Golden Face to jump into the fire with her brother, with all but her face getting burnt.
15. Check out Local Life and Culture at Minnanthu Village
Minnanthu Village is the perfect place to get a truly authentic encounter with Myanmar people. The villagers are very friendly, accommodating, and will help show you around. Over here, you can watch women spin and weave cotton, make lacquerware, prepare local cuisine and other things you will not normally get to experience as a tourist.
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