In western central Myanmar, situated along the Irawaddy River, lies the ancient city of Bagan. For more than 400 years, Bagan was the sacred capital of the Theravada Buddhist kingdom which once unified ancient Myanmar.
From the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, the city’s rulers built more than 10,000 stunning stupas, temples and monasteries. Today, Bagan hosts one of the largest concentrations of ancient Buddhist architecture in the world.
The city showcases examples of some of the most magnificent Indic architecture in Southeast Asia. Set against beautiful sunsets, more than 2,200 ancient temples and pagodas remain today. Most of them in the BaganArcheological Zone are open to the public. If you’re flying from Gatwick Airport in the UK and require parking, then take a look at official Gatwick Airport parking for valet services and competitive price.
About Visiting Ancient Bagan
The condition of the thousands of ancient temples varies, with some structures beautifully restored and carefully tended and others left to crumble into ruins. Many sites were damaged by time and frequent earthquakes. Major efforts to repair the damage took place in the 1990s under the military government, but there is controversy over the authenticity of some of the restorations. Regardless, all of the sites in Bagan are considered sacred and visitors are advised to approach them with deference. As a sign of respect, it is customary to remove socks and shoes before entering into any temple.
Getting To and Around Bagan
The Nyaung U Airport, about twenty minutes away by car from the archaeological sites, is the first stop for most international visitors to Bagan. Travellers can also arrive in Bagan by train or bus. An “express” (by local standards) river ferry frequently runs from Mandalay to Bagan; an average trip takes ten hours!
There are a number of options available for transportation around Bagan. The city is thousands of acres filled with thousands of ruins baking under the brutal South Asian sun; most visitors will appreciate a break from walking while touring the sites. Horse-drawn carts can be hired at most guest houses and hotels, or on the street. The drivers may also be willing to serve as local tour guides and point out the most important temples. Visitors preferring to travel more independently and less expensively can rent a bicycle. Many guest houses and hotels also offer them for a nominal fee.
Accommodations range from a few international hotels to a number of locally-owned guesthouses. Admission to the archaeological site requires at $10 USD ticket. Visitors should keep this ticket as it is frequently used to record hotel reservations as well as to enter Old Bagan.
What to See in Bagan
Visitors seeking a unique attraction can book a hot air balloon ride through Balloons OverBagan. The opportunity to view the temples, the plains, and the magnificent Irawaddy River delta from the air at sunrise is a truly singular experience highly recommended by many travellers. This international company is well-regarded by visitors to Bagan and has an excellent safety record. Flights fill up early and are subject to weather conditions; booking in advance is advised.