Due to COVID-19, Bagan has been a least travelled destination in Myanmar in 2020. But you are planning to go for the Bagan and thinking of where to watch the best sunset and sunrise in Bagan. But you heard most temples are locked and closed! Now what?
The government’s reason is for reservation purposes as well as your safety. And most of the blogs about the sunset suddenly become obsolete.
It’s frustrating for anyone to travel a long way to reach a temple and finally know that the temple is closed!
But, no worries! If you know exactly where to go, things get a lot easier for you. And this blog’s mission is to help you to save your time and money to reach the best sunset spots of Bagan.
First, I will start with all of the four alternative sunrise and sunset viewpoints which are officially open.
Alternative Viewing Spots in Bagan
1. Two sunset viewpoints near Pyathagyi Paya in Bagan
Man-made mounds are alternative viewpoints for people who are seeking a sunset or sunrise spot in Bagan. Two of them are near Pyathagyi Paya.
The O Bo Gon Hill sunset to the north of Pyathagyi Paya as shown on the map above can be reached by e-bikes. It is less crowded but the mound is not high enough.
The sunset hill at the south of Pyathagyi Paya is great for balloon spotting and sunrise view. But for those who want to shoot higher level photography, the mound maybe not high enough.
2. Three man-made mounds near Sulamani Temple
The other three of them are near Sulamani Temple. They are still open during the COVID-19 period. But the view is not very good and often crowded especially on public holidays.
Here in this map above, I put 3 viewpoints. Viewpoint 2 has more positive reviews from visitors according to maps.me. However, all of these mounds may not be satisfactory for tourists who want to take 360 degrees panoramic on high ground. But it is worth visiting.
As a matter of fact, there should be new mounds high enough as a good viewpoint. However, building new mounds is also a challenge for the government since there are also people who protest against building mounds. Because some they believe building mounds damage the temples.
3. Bagan Viewing Tower (Nan Myint Tower)
This has become the official viewing spot for sunrise and sunset in Bagan since the government banned rooftop climbing for most of the temples. The entrance fee (Bagan zone pass) is 5 USD per person. Take a lift up to the 13th floor and there is a good view. Not sure if they open early enough for the sunrise but it is an ideal place for the sunset. You can also buy food and drinks up there.
4. Where to see the sunset in Bagan from the sky
For the best aerial view of the sunrise in Bagan, no viewpoint is better than capturing videos from hot air balloons. The cost is approximately $380 for an 8 passenger balloon.
– Balloons Over Bagan bus picks up usually between 05h30 and 06h00 in the morning depending on the location of your hotel and the hotels of the passengers.
– After the ride, you will usually arrive at your hotel by 8:30 am.
– You should wear long trousers and long-sleeved clothing from 100% natural fibers.
– Pregnant women cannot fly for safety.
– Any passenger in excess of 125 kg / 280 pounds or any passenger who requires the space in the basket for 2 passengers needs to pay a 100% surcharge of the ticket price.
Perfect temples once famous for best sunset in Bagan (with alternative viewpoints)
The following temples are the ones once famous for the beautiful sunset. Most of them are now closed but I add some available alternatives viewpoints for some of the temples below.
Buu Hpaya Pagoda and the river view
The last one first. Alright, this one should be the last temple to go because enjoying the sunset with a gentle breeze from the river will wash away your exhaustion. This pagoda is a must-go. Surroundings are the river view restaurants and the dock where you can rent a boat for just 20,000 Kyats (15 bucks) to take a cruise along the river. A great sunset spot in Bagan near the river.
Shwe San Daw – Best sunset spot in Bagan
Probably the best temple often crowded because of its famous sunset view. People know this pagoda for its really cool panoramic views but has been closed for access via stairs. You should not go if the panoramic view is what you are seeking. Because you can’t go up anymore since the 2017 rainfall caused destruction to the southeast corner. For sunset try Thatbinnyu nearby instead, some visitors say it has the better view, bigger pagoda and you can go up to the first level for a panoramic view of the sunset.
Ta Wet Hpaya – once an ideal sunset spot
People know this temple as one of the perfect places for sunset in Bagan. In September 2018, you can no longer climb to the rooftop. And until March 2019, the doors are still locked with the guard at the entrance.
Instead, there is a building in the google map which says Observation Deck srs where you can climb to watch the sunrise from a higher perspective. Reach there by e-bikes. The building is not very high but you can capture a great sunset moment.
Pyathetgyi with two sunset hills nearby
You can no longer go up the internal stairs to view the sunset from the terraces. It is disappointing. At the entrance to the carpark, there is a blue sign indicating another viewpoint 600m ahead. So, you can go there to enjoy the sunset and temple spires could be seen on the horizon. There were not a lot of people. The viewpoint name is O Bo Gon Hill and it is not visible in Google Map. I have covered its details at the end of this article. On maps.me, here is the map location of O Bo Gon Hill.
Myauk Guni Temple
Less crowded and brilliant. If you can reach there at 6 and the Sun would be red in half an hour. So Be early! You can go there by e-bikes. Myauk Guni pagoda is not far away from Taung Guni and Dhammayangyi. Within its complex, there are many smaller temples you can explore. It has a very steep staircase and there’s a sign saying that the pagoda is unsafe due to rainfall. It used to be a popular sunrise and sunset viewpoint until 2016 when the government banned climbing the pagoda for its preservation reasons.
Shwe Gu Gyi
This temple is probably the best after you visit those popular temples around as this temple is surrounded by those popular ones. Moreover, if you climb to the top, there is a place where you can see the captivating view of Thatbyinnyu Temple. You can see Dhammayangyi and Shwesandaw at the southeast, Ananda at the east, and Thatbyinnyu at the south and sunset in the west if you arrive at the right time.
Ideal temples for the best sunrise in Bagan
Well, this is all the update about the top temples famous for sunset watching. Some of them which I already mentioned is also great for the sunrise view such as Ta Wet Hpaya, Shwe San Daw and Shwe Gu Gyi. But, there are also temples particularly best for sunrise.
Utrecht Pagoda – isolated sunrise viewpoint
Until recently, visitors can still climb the temple for sunrise. This temple is unique because the place is isolated and not so crowded. But expect to find approximately 10 people. You can climb on three different Pagoda to take photos from different viewpoints. The stairs to climb up are really narrow and steep so watch out. The sunrise is just amazing! Unfortunately, You are only allowed in the morning and afternoon. At sunset, guard police will request you to leave.
Oak Kyaung Gyi
This pagoda used to be a place for marvelous 360 views. Great for sunrises or sunsets. Average height also perfect for taking photos. At the time of 27 FEB 2018, the iron door was installed in front of the stairs and locked. However, some visitors reported that there are few temples in the surroundings which can still be climbed which will need a little exploration.
This temple is quiet and not crowded but you cannot climb the stairs as they are now closed and locked. It’s a graceful lovely temple in a nice location near the road and good as a sunrise spot. You can see several stupas close from there. It’s a popular spot among locals and they advise tourists to go there for sunset watching. I think It will be getting crowded soon. I wouldn’t tell it’s the best place for watching the sunset but if you have more than one day you can check it out.
Law Ka Ou Shaung
Small temple good for the sunrise, however, climbing not possible anymore. Nice to see the different architecture, make sure to look around, and there may be some people selling local handicrafts and souvenirs. It’s not the best temple around, but still worth seeing if you’ll be spending more than 2 days in Bagan. I think it is very easy to get to, and it’s not a super popular site, but there will still be some tourists there.
Lesser known Temples for best sunset
Here is a list of lesser known the temples which also has been banned from climbing. But you may check out if some of them have re-opened.
Shwe Leik Too
Shwe Nan Yin Taw Monastic Complex
Sulamani Temple’s surrounding temples
Tayoke Pyay Temple
Thit Sa Wadi
Myauk Guni Phaya (21.159454, 94.87121)
“Sunset sunrise viewpoint” next to temple 2000
Temples (446, 697, 21.176409)
“Roof climb” building
Final Tips before you go to watch the sunset in Bagan
If you have got a licensed tour guide along your trip, make sure that he knows exactly where to go because temples are often locked for maintenance. Or better still, hire one of the locals who are happy to guide you for 5 bucks to 12 bucks. It is not difficult to find one when you are near the famous temples.
If you want to find clean and cheap hotels in Bagan where you can watch sunset more easily, look for the right hotels here.
I will keep on updating this blog. And if you have visited recently and have got update information, please leave your comments below. You can share this if you find it useful. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful trip.
Things to Note when travelling to Bagan during COVID-19 pandemic
Only some temples are open during 9am to 4pm. Temples are least travelled recently and it is not recommended to travel alone or with very few people. Beware of snakes too. Not all of the hotels are open yet. Bagan has never been insecure because of the helpful locals. But during this difficult time, please be cautious while travelling.