The ancient city of Bagan, found in the Mandalay Region of Burma, is a landscape of cacti, historic Buddhist temples, pagodas, and stunning sunrises and sunsets. From the 9th to the 13th century, this city was known as the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan. Nowadays, visitors are treated to intriguing legends, architecture and delicious cuisine boasting Indian, Thai and Chinese flavours.
Those looking to get in touch with the land and explore tradition and culture will love a trip to this fascinating city. Visitors can take to hot air balloons to bask in the views of the dusty plains below (especially during sunset), while others enjoy taking a trip on a horse and carriage through the city’s narrow streets.
Ships typically dock near Old Bagan.
Facilities nearby include:
Restaurants and bars
How to Get Around
Bicycles (including electric bicycles or e-bikes), horse and carriages, and electric scooters are the most popular modes of transportation in Bagan. Buses, taxis and trains are other options as well. If you want to see the sights of Bagan up close, it is recommended to ride a bicycle through the city with fellow cruisers.
Travel times from Old Bagan port:
It is a 33 minute journey to Dhammayangyi Temple
It is a 27 minute journey to Shwesandaw Pagoda
It is a 32 minute journey to Nan Paya Temple.
It is a 16 minute journey to Nyaung U
It is a 7 minute journey to Dhammayangyi Temple
It is a 6 minute journey to Shwesandaw Pagoda
It is a 5 minute journey to Nan Paya Temple
It is a 10 minute journey to New Bagan.
Currency – The official currency in Bagan is the kyat (K). Banknotes come in the denominations of 50 pyas, K1, K5, K10, K20, K50, K100, K200, K500, K1,000 and K5,000. Coins come in the denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 pyas, as well as K1, K5, K10, K50 and K100. Banknotes are more commonly used.
Time Zone – Clocks in Bagan run by Myanmar Time (MMT), which puts the area 6-and-a-half hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
Weather – Bagan is located in Burma’s dry zone and receives only 30% of Rangoon’s annual average rainfall. The weather is typically hot throughout the entire year, so it’s important to take some bottled water, sunscreen and a hat when travelling to various landmarks throughout the region. From February to May, Bagan experiences hot and dusty conditions, while cooler and mostly cloud-free conditions occur from November to January. The rainy season is comprised of a few showers, with the heaviest of these occurring from August to September.
Nyaung U – While in Bagan, take a 16-minute journey to the bustling river town of Nyaung U. The streets here are more alive with activity than anywhere else in Bagan, with many savvy backpackers stopping by to take in unbeatable scenery. There are many teashops located throughout this town, as well as a few beautiful temples – one of the most popular being Shwezigon Pagoda. Those looking for a bargain and some special souvenirs to bring home should stop by the town’s busy market. Nyaung U also boasts a fantastic variety of restaurants to satisfy any cravings for local cuisine.
New Bagan – Stop by Bagan’s most southern settlement, New Bagan. This town was built in 1990 to house villagers who were relocated from Old Bagan. Nowadays, visitors will find a fantastic range of handicrafts and delicious riverside restaurants with stunning views of the Irrawaddy River.
Dhammayangyi Temple – Dhammayangyi, Bagan’s largest temple, is a popular tourist attraction. The temple’s intricate brickwork and surrounding history and legends are the biggest drawcards to the area. Thought to have been built by a crooked king named Narathu around 1167-1170, the temple’s construction has never been completed. It is comprised of a single storey and topped with 6 pyramidal terraces.
Shwesandaw Pagoda – Situated at the top of a hill in the town’s centre, this temple is one of the biggest Buddhist pilgrimage sites. Its traditional Burmese design is a sight to behold, and its surrounding legends are entertaining to hear. Visitors can take in panoramic views at the top of the pagoda as well, so be sure to bring along your camera.
Nan Paya – The 11th century temple of Nan Paya is comprised of bricks and sandstones. The temple’s interior features intriguing and skilful masonry work, and it houses an altar and numerous well-preserved sculptures. Legend has it that it was once used as a prison, which further shrouds the temple with mystery. All in all, it’s worth visiting Nan Paya for a look into history and to appreciate true craftsmanship.