Bagan Myanmar – Top 6 Thrilling Things to Do and to See
If the pagodas in Bagan get too much for you, don't fear, there are many other activities on offer to keep you busy. With thousands of pagodas to explore, whilst they're certainly impressive, some people do find themselves getting somewhat ‘pagoda’d out’ after a day or two – we certainly felt a little temple fatigue after two days of solid exploring!
6. Exploring New Bagan
New Bagan is often missed out by travellers unless they happen to be staying there but there's plenty on offer that's worth seeing in this small town. Try visiting the Anauk (West) Petleik Paya Buddhist temple or Lawkananda Paya or taking an evening stroll along the riverside.
5. Learning more about Bagan
If you're staying in Old Bagan, this is another great place to spend a day enjoying some of the sights on offer that aren't pagodas. The Archeological Museum (USD4) is a good way to spend an hour or two learning more about the history and culture of the area, as it did used to be the ancient capital of Myanmar.
In addition, the Golden Palace, which is a reconstruction of the original palace complex which is currently being excavated at its riverside site, is another way to spend an hour seeing Bagan’s royal history. This was one of the seats of the historic Lion Throne that can still be seen preserved at the National Museum in Yangon.
4. Visiting locals villages
Other options include tours of some smaller villages in the Bagan area where you can see how the small communities live and work which are priced from around USD100 for a full day tour including local food. These also often include the option to try Burmese street food and to explore local markets and are perfect for a more authentic and less touristy experience. Normally run as small group tours they involve private transport to several stops before returning you to your accommodation – it's well worth the fact that you may end up spending a fair amount of time in the car.
3. Getting even further afield – Mt. Popa
If you'd rather venture further afield and see more of the area surrounding Bagan, a day trip to Mount Popa is the most popular tour. The peak is an extinct volcano located in the national park, with impressive golden stupas situated at the top. It's a tough walk up to the peak with a total of 777 steps to climb in order to get there. Make sure you prepare with plenty of water as it's normally very hot. Also be extremely wary of the monkeys lining the path. They know exactly where to find food from tourists and will not hesitate to jump on you or rummage in your bag if they can see or smell any potential treats!
It's located around 50km from Bagan although be prepared for at least an hour and a half of driving as in this part of central Myanmar the roads are very poor. Tours cost from USD30 per person and you can also reach the mountain by bus or car - share a taxi for better value as the price is not per person.
2. Boat trips along the Irrawaddy River
To enjoy an alternative sunset experience why not try a boat trip along the Irrawaddy River, where for less than 10USD you can enjoy cruising along this peaceful stretch of water for an hour or two and watching a beautiful sunset over the mountains in the background.
1. Hot air balloon ride
The ultimate treat in Bagan is a hot air balloon ride. These are a truly iconic sight floating along the skyline at sunrise each morning and taking a trip on one will be the memory of a lifetime. With strict safety regulations and only around 20 balloons operating daily it's the perfect place to try a balloon ride. They cost around USD300 per person and must be booked well in advance as spaces sell out quickly.