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On the beautiful banks of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River, Bagan is a magical place of misty plains sprouting the largest concentration of Buddhist temples, stupas and pagodas in the world. This is an 'area' rather than a town and covers around 26 square miles. The original village, now called Old Bagan, and the new centre, New Bagan, are the best places to stay in Bagan if you want to be right in amongst the magic of the monuments.
Some of Bagan's beautiful structures date from the 11th Century with the area being added to over the decades. Photos of Bagan show many spires and domes - like inverted ice cream cones, but each monument is different with its own shape and significance to Buddhist thinking. Part of the magic of the place is the wonderful red of the temples, which is actually the exposed brick, visible now that much of the original stucco has eroded. So there's a feeling of graceful decay added to by the plants growing in and out of the temples and squirrels scampering all over the place. Bagan is often compared to Angkor, the main difference being that Bagan's monuments are spread out over a much greater area, though not hidden by jungle, so your view is always full of more great temples, stupas and pagodas.
What Not To Miss
- Ananda Pahto with its gold cladding is one of the largest, at 170feet tall, and best preserved of Bagan's monuments.
- Dhammayangyi Pahto, is another of the largest and best preserved temples, but this one is also famous for its grisly history - workers who didn't produce masonry that fitted so perfectly that a pin could not pass between the stones supposedly had their arms amputated just inside the west entrance where there are arm shaped groves in the walls.
- Shwesandaw Paya is a white, pyramid shaped pagoda worth visiting because it also offers one of the best views of the whole region.
- Enjoy a spectacular view of Bagan at the Bagan Viewing Tower. Visitors can even enjoy a meal and drinks at the restaurant for a particularly scenic meal.
- Take a tour of Minnanthu Village for a truly authentic experience of rural life in Myanmar. You can see people weaving,harvesting, animals being fed and learn about all aspects of village life.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Bagan features properties in both New and Old Bagan, so there's something for everyone, wherever you choose to be.
For excellent value
- Bagan Thande is right in the heart of Old Bagan, on the Ayeyarwady River, surrounded by 27 acres of beautiful tropical gardens. The Bagan Thande first opened in 1922 to welcome King Edward, and is extremely comfortable and beautifully decorated. There are 92 rooms and it is ideally located to see the best of Bagan's archaeological treasures.
For New Bagan
- The Bagan Lodge in New Bagan is a new hotel, with 82 rooms and all the mod. cons., including a large spa with a long menu, and a promise of the sort of looked after feeling you get from a luxury safari camp.
- The Areindmar Hotel, also in New Bagan, is an elegant 50 room hotel built around a beautifulacacia filled garden. You're well located for exploring the town, but this hotel is also full of its own charms with antiques, wooden sleigh-beds and traditional lacquerware.
- Fly to Nyaung U Airport located only 11km (7 miles) from Bagan. The airport serves domestic destinations including Yangon.
- Catch a train to Bagan with trains from destinations such as Yangon and Mandalay.
- If you want to rent a car - for prices visit our online partner Rentalcars.
- Best time to visit - November to February when the temperatures are most pleasant.
Still not sure?
Best Hotels in Bagan
Bagan Thande 92 rooms from £77Archeological Zone, Old Bagan
A picturesque hotel set in 27 acres of tropical gardens, right on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River – with a swimming pool and spa to boot.Sights nearby - Ideally situated to make the most of Bagan's archaeological sites.Country EscapeViews - Some of the rooms have views over the Ayeyarwady River.Swimming Pool - Outdoor pool
Bagan Lodge 82 rooms from £126New Bagan
Opened in 2013, this is one of the newest and best places to stay in the temple city. Great service and beautifully designed – this is a slick operation.Sights nearby - Archaeological sites, temples, pagodas on your doorstep.Spa - Eight treatment rooms with a range of massage and beauty therapies on offer.Swimming Pool - 20x0m outdoor pool
The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate 80 rooms from £138Bagan (Nyaung Oo Township,)
Set in the centre of Old Bagan beside the old city walls, this is an ideal base from which to explore this enchanting area. Featuring a relaxing spa and stunning 20m pool. The restaurant's extensive menu offers a good mix of local and international dishes and an extensive drinks menu.Local exploring - Located in Old Bagan, the ancient capital of the Burmese Empire, surrounded by temples, pagodas and breathtaking viewsGreat walks - Surrounded by more than 4000 ancient temples and pagodas, an opportunity for some enchanting walks with breathtaking viewsOutstanding location - Situated right in the heart of Old Bagan, beside the old city walls and a five-minute walk from the Ananda TempleSights nearby - Within walking distance of spectacular sights, such as the Ananda Temple, known as ‘The Jewel of Bagan'
Areindmar Hotel 50 rooms from £150New Bagan
A charming, antique-filled bolthole tucked away on a quiet, dusty street in New Bagan. A peaceful place to put your feet up and relax after a day’s temple-hopping.Sights nearby - Ideally situated for exploring the ancient temples and pagodas of Bagan.Swimming Pool - Outdoor pool