How we got here:
Took the train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin and crossed the famous Goteik Viaduct (highest railway in Myanmar). It was quite a nerve wrecking ride. After alighting, we took a shared pick up to Mandalay Train Station where we took an overnight train to Bagan. The overnight train from Mandalay to Bagan (9pm to 4am) was a really interesting experience. Throughout the entire ride, you’ll be thrown about in all directions and you’re literally airborne most of the time. Thankfully, we managed to catch some sleep despite the turbulent ride.
Where we stayed:
We stayed at Winner Guesthouse and it was cheap and clean, centrally located. Bagan is quite small and you can easily explore one end to the other end in a day on a bike.
What we did:
Bagan is an ancient city with more than 2,000 shrines, pagodas and stupas, one of the world’s most beautiful temple cities. Also, Daniel’s favourite.
1. Explored Bagan on an electric bike and scoured the city.
2. Hot Air Balloon – Booked our hot air balloon flight with a highly reputable and recommended operator. Albeit being costly, safety always comes first and with them, we felt assured of our safety. This was definitely another highlight of our trip! Very awesome experience!
How much we spent in total:
Food – $69.60
Activities – $640 (Hot air balloon)
- $29 (Electric bike rental for 2.5 days)
- $30 (Admission pass)
Transport – $8 (Taxi)
- $20 (Overnight train from Mandalay to Bagan)
- $4 (Bus to Mandalay train station from Pyin Oo Lwin)
- $12 (Train from Hsipaw to Pyin Oo Lwin)
Accommodation – $72.50 (3 nights)
Others – $5 (donation)
- $3 (Medicine and toothbrush)
- $2.6 (Laundry)
Total expenditure for 2 pax - $895.70
Average expenditure/pax - $447.85
Myanmar's answer to Angkor Wat, Bagan is the kind of place that sends poets into a tizzy trying to find just the right adjectives to describe its just-out-of-reach beauty. While the elements of the landscape are neatly divided into different complexes however, Bagan's temples rise evenly out of the flat, dusty horizon peppered with trees. What most separates the two great marvels of architecture however is the fact that unlike the development of the roads winding around and leading to Angkor, Bagan still forces you to grapple with difficult-to-navigate sandy tracts, which blow up clouds of smoke when the horse-carts carrying tourists make their way through the temples. What this gives an illusion of (without quite intending to) is kings making their way on chariots, riding triumphantly through the land they govern; messengers carrying the word of other kings; pilgrims and guests approaching with a look of awe and amazement. Angkor may mesmerize, but Bagan transports you.
Rent a bicycle and tick off all the major stops on your way through the city. Later, as the sun threatens to start dipping, climb up to the highest vantage point you can find and watch as the large orange ball illuminates the temple tops on its way down, creating a patchwork of translucent graceful silhouettes. Hold your breath and thank your stars. This is a sight that feels like it should be reserved for the gods.
We took the overnight bus from Inle to reach Bagan around 2 AM. A local rickshaw took us to a hotel. Next morning, we rented a cycle to move around Bagan. The entire city is dotted with Pagodas and you can find some stunning views here. The city is rich with history. The Shezigon Pagoda is the most important pagoda and we spent a few hours here and caught the sunset. The city is dotted with 3000 pagodas in total.
After reaching Bagan the next day, we spent the rest of the day exploring the scenic countryside. Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan, the first empire of the modern unified Myanmar. The region literally has thousand of monasteries and temples that belong to the 11th and 12th centuries. The Bagan Archaeological site is extremely popular with tourists flocking to visit it. It is as great as the Ankor Wat in Cambodia.
We jumped on bikes to ride around some of Pagan’s 2200 pagodas. We love the Buddhas at Ananda Phaya, whose expressions change depending where you stand; and Tayokye Pyay with panoramic views.
Spent a whole day here on bicycles, exploring the temples. We also explored the Nyaung U market and another local Bagan market - some of the more interesting markets in the country.