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Bagan Travel Guide and Tips, Myanmar

by Marina Utami
Bagan Temples Travel Guide and Tips, Myanmar

After a great tour of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, I never would have thought that I would have set my heart more in an ancient city named Bagan, Myanmar. No wonder they called Myanmar the city of thousands of temples and pagodas. Bagan has over than 2000 temples, pagodas and monasteries to explore. This is the place where all pagodas built the most across Myanmar. I will give you some tips on Bagan temples travel guide to have a good memory!

Our route for Myanmar was short due to our short time visa, so we only had 2 days to explore Bagan. We decided to rock hard on the first day and touring all the beautiful temples that was recommended by Lonely Planet and blogs that we read online. There were 3 transport options to circle the archeological zone for backpackers; moped, horse cart, or car. Since Arma couldn’t ride motorbike or even moped, we took the horse carriage instead. Knowing that Myanmar doesn’t have a good mobile internet, we couldn’t depend on Google Map at all, so hiring the driver was a good choice!

Bagan HorsecartArma and Horse cart Driver in Bagan

The driver was super nice and I was actually glad that I could take a break on the cart (Oh motorcycle made my butt numb for hours) So we had a very beautiful journey sightseeing couple of temples that we passed by. It was eye candy for us even on the road 🙂

Bagan Temples ViewTake a peek on our first temple we stopped by. The details of the decoration and the stupas are exquisite! We knew that the Kingdom of Myanmar and Thailand crossed some histories, but never thought that it has major differences on the temples.
Bagan Exterior TempleBagan TempleBagan Temple MyanmarWhat amazed us more is the mural painting inside the pagodas. They were enormous and have histories to tell. It was quite rare to see some mural painting with the drawing style almost like Chinesse in a temple, so we were excited going around for hours just to look at those murals. Although we were bit disappointed that couple of painting was stolen from the wall. Probably some people try to sell them for money, it’s the same cases like Buddha’s head statues on Borobudur temple, Indonesia.

Nonetheless, these Burmese temple still not even guarded well. Gosh, it really should be preserved by the government.

Bagan Historic WallBagan Historic WallBagan Historic WallThe next temple that we reached was the modern one. The stupas and the decoration were filled with gold and jewelries. It was quite different and plenty of local people still go to pray there. There were even people selling souvenirs on the road. The praying spot were quite regular like other Buddhist temples, so it wasn’t really special much.

Then, we realized that Myanmar temples put their love more to the exterior part of the temples more than the interior one. So even though it was a hot day and we already took our shoes off (we entered a scared place, remember?) we insisted to go out, almost crying because of our burned feet, and took plenty of beautiful photos of the temples exterior.

Could you resist these?

Arma at Ananda Phaya Bagan TempleBagan Temple InteriorBagan TempleBagan Temple Exterior DetailsOur driver then took us to this craft place somewhere on the road before our last temple visit. We weren’t really aware about these, but we glad that we stopped by.

The owner took us to their workshop first up on the second floor. I was so amazed with their handicraft and how’s they do the process with their art.  They are still using traditional way to make the decoration for mugs, tables, sliding door, and so many things. Even the colors were used was still adapted from the nature. The worker are mostly women, young and middle age, and they were very diligent on crafting each one. That means, they made each souvenirs one by one with their hands and do you know how long it will take? Gosh….

Burmese Art HandcraftsBurmese Lady paints handcraft vase in BaganWe were so blown away and of course, I really had to take one of this back as a reminder that there are people put their hearts and patiences when it comes to the make a perfect art. This explains so much why the exterior temples in Myanmar are so crafty designed. They are details oriented, very (oh very) patience, perfectionist yet so humble.

Burmese Handicraft at BaganBurmese Art Handcrafts DetailsBurmese Art HandcraftsThe last temple we visited on that day was the perfect spot for sunset and sunrise. I think most tourists would know this temple as you have seen many beautiful images on the internet was taken at this place. So we just rested there and took plenty pictures up on the peak of the temple. 

The view will take your breath away. Seriously. There are thousands of temples on every horizon and it will make you feel so small. You would think that centuries ago people are capable of building something that could last until now. The kingdom of Bagan is truly fascinating and you would absorb the history lies within.

Arma at Bagan Myanmar viewBagan Myanmar viewMarina at Bagan MyanmarAfter a while we chatted with other travellers about Myanmar when a group of monks came up too with us. We were a bit intrigue to ask them many questions. But then again, we also remember that monks could not connected with the opposite sex. So we thought we should respect them and help them take pictures with other tourists.Monks climbing the Bagan pagodaMonks in BaganArma said that Myanmar remind her a lot with Indonesia in the old days – around 80s or even less. It was still very early ages for technologies in Myanmar, but the country were filled rich with cultures and histories that the next generation should really preserved.

We do hope that Myanmar’s historical places will never change into a skyscrapers building or modern lifestyle. We knew that Myanmar was still trying to open their country for tourism, and in a good way, it was a very eye opener for us. Our knowledges about this country was astounding and it was the most beautiful country I have ever been.

Oh, you won’t find any malls here, you won’t have any good mobile internet or even good wifi, even handphone itself was still new for them, you will find it hard to be on the smooth asphalt road. You will think that Indonesia is already modern enough, don’t even compare with Europe. I honestly thought that I was so proud of being Indonesian, we are far more modern than them. But I was wrong.

In here I found the most friendliest smile, the goodness in people, the simple life, the enrichment of cultures, the patiences that most people on these age won’t have and the art of a true country with its history intact. Our experiences in Inle Lake was another encounter of a simple human life. We also coincidentally encounter a local while we were in Yangon as we experienced praying at Shwedagon Paya, the largest pagoda in the country. The next day was another amazing experiences of climbing the 1765 stairs of Mount Popa with locals. I truly blessed and respect with these connection with Myanmar.

Bagan Temples Travel Guide and Tips, Myanmar

Tips and Guide to visit here:

  1. Remember, the 3G internet is really bad in here, if you insisted to get lost by scooter that’s fine. But if you were running out of time, get the horse cart and the driver that know the way to see the gorgeous temples in Bagan. Less hassle, less tiring, and less lost on the way.
  2. When you try to rent the horse cart, make sure you got the price deal by giving the driver half of the price at front.
  3. Use respectful clothes (especially for ladies)
  4. Ask the driver the perfect temple to see the sunrise or sunset.
  5. Come earlier for the sunset before the guard comes and ask you for the money. If you were already inside, they wont charge you again.
  6. Plenty of children will ask you some money and follow you begging to buy their souvenirs – you can, but if not don’t give them high hope.
  7. Stock lots of food and water because the driver will take you to the fancy restaurant – for budget traveller, you can ask him to skip this!
  8. Have fun get lost in the temples!!!

© 2017 Writing & Images copyright of Marina Utami.


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Vinnie August 17, 2015 - 4:11 pm

Hi Marina, my name is Vinnie.
This is my first time reading one of your article. I think I like how you describe your journey, the writing style is full of information yet entertaining enough. I’m writing too, but still learning. I hope someday I can write as good as you. Looking forward to another travel story from you 🙂

jejakmarina August 24, 2015 - 8:58 am

Hi Vinnie!! Oh thank you so much!! I am still learning too though 🙂 same like you!

But I am glad that you like how I write. My bestie once told me this: just write what you like, no need to care about what other thinks. And dear, that is exactly what I do.

Will check ur site too! Thanks! Appreciate it sooo much!

10 Tips How To Travel Like a Local | RUNWAY MARINA | Jejak Marina March 31, 2017 - 4:28 am

[…] them. I remember that I and Arma wore the yellowish-white cream, named Thanaka, on our face in Bagan Myanmar just to look like the locals. By using the same kind of dress code with the local can also avoid […]


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