If you are wondering what to do in Bagan, here is the complete checklist that you are looking for. Bagan is not a boring place. Apart from temples, here is a list of 30 things you can do in Bagan during your trip.
Seeing the sunrise over Bagan
Waking up at 5 am, watching the breath-taking view of the shimmering sun rising from the foggy horizon makes you feel alive. For the sunrise, there are few unique places we recommend. We highly recommend getting the local guide. The best sunrise spots are; 1. Utrecht Pagoda, where you can still climb the temple to watch the sunrise. 2. Temples near Oak Kyaung Gyi 3. Thitsarwadi temple, still not very crowded 4. Law Ka Ou Shaung temple.
Learn the difference in architectures (pagoda, temple and stupa)
Well, we always get confused between the three. Pagoda is an umbrella word for any stupa or temple. Temple is where you can go inside but stupa, you can’t. Exploring ancient building architecture is an interesting thing to do indeed.
Take a hot air balloon ride over Bagan (An interesting thing to do)
Taking a ride with a balloon is the best option if you can get up early to enjoy the beautiful sunrise. It is a really interesting thing to do in Bagan because you can enjoy the bird’s eye view of the temples in a foggy morning while the sun rises from the horizon. Balloons Over Bagan is a good option for this. The cost is around 380 bucks per person for 8 passenger balloons.
Walking on foot or bicycle
When you visit there especially in the early winter where the weather is not too hot, walking on foot or bicycle is a good option. Nearly all the pagodas are within the reach of a bicycle. But if you think of going far, an e-bike is a better choice.
Ride an e-bike
The most popular one. These battery-powered e-bikes cost around 7 bucks and are chosen by many tourists. Few things to keep in mind. 1. Mind the hot weather and dusty road 2. Cover your eyes and mouth from dust 3. Make sure it is fully charged.
Take a horse cart
This is actually a more traditional way of transport in Myanmar. Bagan is often remembered with the sound of the cowbell from carts since the old days. If you think this is a way of torture, avoid this.
Travel by car
Some pros and cons to remember; 1. you don’t’ need to deal with heat and dust, 2. If you have planned destinations, the car is better, 3. It is better if your driver can speak English, otherwise, you may probably need to bring a local tour guide. Besides, it is better when you have no time to ride a bike. Cons is that you may miss the feeling of traveling in solitude.
Visit exotic places near Bagan (An exciting thing to do in Bagan)
Bagan trip is not complete without visiting really interesting places nearby. Some places which are a bit far from Bagan but are worth paying a visit. Check out 9 exotic places near Bagan.
Try local food
Some local food shops serve food in a buffet style. You may find some food oily and salty but this is normal for Myanmar people. But when you decide to try, make sure to bring some medicines. Because sometimes the food may cause an upset stomach.
Visit lacquerware shops or workshops
Lacquerware is one of the most popular handicrafts in Myanmar and the workshops are one of the interesting places to visit in Bagan. Ancient people use it for the dining room and monastery donations but nowadays this is more popular as a decoration in the lobby. Here is some info about lacquerware shops.
Hike Mount Popa, a fascinating thing to do
An extinct volcano which is 58.3 km far from Bagan. You can reach it in 1 hour and 20 minutes if you have a car. It is also a worth visiting place especially if you like hiking.
Take a sunset boat ride along Irrawaddy
At the end of the day after a tiring trip, it is best to take the cool, fresh breeze from the river with some nice drinks and foods. The sunset view in the river will also take away your exhaustion.
Visit Archeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum is located within Old Bagan city near the Gawdawpalin Temple. With an entry fee of around 50 bucks, you can learn pretty much about the city’s history there. You will find ancient stone statues in interesting shapes as well as the ancient people and their culture.
Visit Mani Sithu Market
Another interesting thing to do in Bagan is visiting a local market. At the end of Lanmadaw Road, there you find the market. You can buy most souvenirs from there such as traditional bags, lacquerwares, traditional umbrellas, and paintings, etc.
Try toddy palm juice (An unusual thing to do in Bagan!)
Toddy juice is a popular alcoholic delicacy of upper Myanmar where you can find palm trees almost everywhere. This has become part of our culture since ancient times. Toddy is actually the sweetest as soon as you drink it once it has been taken down from the tree.
Watch the sunset at Irrawaddy River
The best place to watch the river view sunset is at Buu Pagoda which is on the river bank. If you don’t want to buy the hot air balloon service, this is the second option.
Attend the biggest Pyatho festival
If you are to arrive Bagan around 20 January, you might get a chance to see the Pyatho festival. The festival is traditionally offering food and offering to the monks the hundreds of local people gathered near Ananda Temple.
Visit some surrounding monasteries
If you want to dive deep into the culture of Bagan and its people, monasteries are not the places to be ignored. You will see the daily routine of a novice, a monk and the abbot. The monastery surrounding is usually quiet and peaceful.
Visit Sunset watching Tower, Nan Myint Tower
At the southeast of Bagan, there is a sunset viewing tower called “Nan Myint Tower”. The tower is 200 feet tall and you can see pretty much of temples from the highest available viewpoint. The view is not as perfect as a sunset spot. There are some bad reviews online, but it’s a worth visiting place if you have extra time. The entrance fee is $5.
Take awesome photos at sightseeing spots
For the selfie spots, Tharabar Gate, Marionette trees and Yoke Sone Kyaung are quite popular. For the panoramic photos, Ta Wet Pagoda, North Guni Pagoda, and Law Ka Ou Shaung temple are recommended.
That’s it, the complete list of interesting things to do in this wonderful ancient city. In another article, I will write about things to do in Bagan at night such as visiting night market as well as nyaung u at night. I really hope you have time to visit every places mentioned in the list which I already did. Have a nice day in Bagan!