The sole reason why I decided to go to Myanmar was because I have always wanted to see Bagan in person. Considered the Angkor Wat of Myanmar, Bagan is a UNESCO Heritage site and valley of more than 2,000 ancient temples built during a golden era of Burma in the 12th century. The temples and pagodas stretch out as far as the eye can see. I was expecting to see a place like no others, and I was not disappointed.
We arrived here after a 4h bus drive from Mandalay with JJ Express Bus (the VIP ticket is around 8$). At the bus stop there are lots of taxis. Once we went out of the bus, a bunch of them came to tell us the price to Old Bagan which was 20000. It was a good thing that, just entering the parking lot there is a sign saying that there are fixed prices and for our hotel was 8500 kyats. So we went to the bus company office to help us find a taxi. And guess who appears, the guy that told us 20000 kyats in the beginning! Let me tell you that he was not happy that we werenʼt fooled by him!
In Bagan you have to pay for an archaeological ticket which is 25$. Once we reached our hotel, Villa Bagan, we arranged an electronic scooter for the next day. Don’t rent a car or a horse cart for your trip around Bagan. Go with a traditional bike or an e-bike. Basically, any transportation that puts you in control of the vehicle. There are many temples that aren’t listed on the map, and you will be able to visit these hidden gems only by bike.
Some temples in Bagan have a secret passage that will let you go up to the top of the temple. It’s basically a small hole in the wall with extremely steep and narrow stairs which will lead you up to the top. Watch out for these secret passages and it may reward you with a beautiful scenery and an uninterrupted peace. Most of the temples have these passages closed and locked in order to restrict the access. It was quite disappointing not being able to go up the big temples but you can still find some small ones and enjoy a nice sunrise from there.
One of the temples that impressed me quite a lot was Ananda Temple. This is one of the first temples to be built in Bagan and very well preserved. It looks different from other temples and its architecture is quite impressive.
One of the most popular temples is called Dhamma Yan Gyi. At times, we were surrounded by hundreds at the largest temples, and at other times, completely alone to crouch and crawl through narrow passages of empty temples. This templeʼs story goes that is supposed to be the highest in Bagan but it was never finished. Dhamma Yan Gyi is unique for its pyramidal shape, the only such temple in all of Myanmar. The brickwork reflects the impossibly high standards that were set for the artisans who raised it. Legends say that the supervisor would check the brickwork with a needle – if it was possible to insert a needle through the bricks, the masons would be killed.
I felt like I was Indiana Jones, exploring these lost temples. There was nobody around in most of the remote temples I went. It was a majestic experience! Even now that I try to remember how I reached some of them, itʼs impossible! I donʼt want to say that we were lost and found it by mistake, but that is the truth. Even when we looked on the map to see the name of it, there was nothing on the map. I will just let you live visiting these forgotten temples through my pictures!
Bagan is one of the most magical places Iʼve ever been- so enjoy!