Bagan is one of the world’s greatest archeological sites that all avid travelers should see!
…it’s the most beautiful city in Myanmar, Asia (Burma) with over 2,200 Temples and Pagodas still standing today. It is seen by many as equal in attraction to Angkor Wat in Cambodia… a tall order, but after our visit to Bagan- we couldn’t agree more!
It was a destination we visited while on our incredible AMA Waterways River Cruise on the Irrawaddy River. The entire trip was sensational (you can check out here: what we experienced in Myanmar) but Bagan was SO special it deserved it’s own write up including several tips to make it extra special when YOU visit… so keep reading.
Once you arrive, one thing you will want to do is get as high off the ground as possible to appreciate the silhouetted temples that are framed by a colorful sky & distant mountain ranges…
Imagine that all this was built by the kings of Bagan back in time between 1057 and 1287.
What’s the best way to get those high viewings?
BIG Tip: You can visit Guni Temple or the “Nan Myint” Watch Tower to see the sunset. We chose the later and would recommend the same as the experience & views were more favorable and the complimentary adult beverage (not available at the Temple) made the sunset that much nicer! 🙂
With AMA Waterways we arrived by bus and got an elevator to the very top of the Watch Tower where we were served cocktails and canapes (that made us feel very special) while we marveled at one of the most breathtaking scenes in the entire world!
Here we are enjoying a beverage at the top of the watch Tower. Look at those views!
Speechless, all you can do is shake your head as there are no words to describe the magnificence of what you are seeing, especially as the sun sets or rises in the distance. Check out these pictures to give you a peek of what to expect:
The following morning in Bagan we boarded a bus and drove 1 hour to Mount Popa; a volcano 4981 feet above sea level in Central Myanmar/Burma which you can see from the Irrawaddy River. Check out the picture below:
We walked the 777 steps to the top of Mount Popa where the views were spectacular and worth the climb. Monkeys will welcome you as there are tons of them, but be sure to hold on to your things as they will steel your glasses, water, etc… no kidding! 🙂
The steps sound exhausting and intimidating but trust us when we say that it’s an easy climb and felt more like 60 steps. It’s not straight up and has shops on the way so you can take your time, do a little shopping & take pictures of the baby monkeys. Plus, the walk is completely covered so you stay cool the entire way. So be sure to do it!
Note: There is another optional tour with AMA waterways where you can go to the base of Mount Popa but not climb the steps. You just walk about the area and shop but to be honest there is not a lot there so our recommendation is to go off on your own, hire a horse carriage and explore Bagan or take the Bagan city tour which is the 3rd option AMA Waterways offers that day.
At each temple you can make souvenir purchases at good bargains, plus you get to explore all the temples. Like these in the background:
Bagan’s temples are spread out so be sure to hire an English speaking horse buggy. It’s traditional, the main source of transportation there and will make the experience that much more special. Plus, its inexpensive. $10 for 1 hour at time of writing.
Don’t you want to experience this below? We had so much fun!
Side note: If u love horses like we do, when it’s time to get off the ship to take a horse carriage ride save some of your apple after breakfast or lunch (or buy a few from the market) and give one to the horse as a treat… They will appreciate it. 🙂
And you’ll want to give them a treat after seeing views like these:
Wow, right? As you can imagine… we couldn’t stop snapping pictures.
Another Recommendation: If we had our time back, we would have also taken the Sunrise Balloon ride like some of our friends did. It is a GREAT way to see the land and get up close to the temples to get some great shots. We recommend contacting: Balloons over Bagan to book it in advance. (Do not wait until your cruise to book the excursion as the internet is unreliable right now in Myanmar & you may not get an opportunity to contact them)
Imagine experiencing this:
Shopping, Restaurant & Internet Recommendations in Bagan:
Want to get out for a night off the ship and enjoy a local restaurant?
Then try Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort. Good food, 5-star, location location location. And along with the other local hotels, the only places for reliable internet in the area.
Want to do a little shopping?
Ask your driver to take you to Shwe War Thein Handicrafts Shop. You will find good quality, authentic gifts and souvenirs. Just write it down on a piece of paper before you leave & ask your driver to take you there. Highly recommended.
The morning the ship leaves the port from Bagan DO NOT miss this morning’s sunrise (they post the time in your daily program) because you get the BEST sunrise with Temples and Hot Air Balloons in the background… it is spectacular! We highly recommend setting your alarm for it and grab your camera! Seriously, DON’T miss it.
If you’d like more tips like these & want to learn more about our Myanmar River Cruise then check out our blog post titled “Our Experience During Our Myanmar River Cruise!” and our blog post What To Expect During Your AMA Waterways River Cruise.
Then have a look at Our Pictures & Videos of our Myanmar River Cruise.
After all that, if you are ready to experience a Myanmar River Cruise yourself, then contact Shawn today & he’ll answer all your questions & help you get that Dream Vacation planned!
Keep Learning & Cruising.
We appreciate you!
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!