Bagan: A Glimpse of Old Myanmar
am glad to have agreed to squeeze in a trip to Bagan during my visit to Myanmar because visiting this archaeological preservation zone is truly reminiscent of not just the Old Bagan but as I was told the old Myanmar in general before it became an open country.
You come to a place like Bagan if you are comfortable in a provincial setting meaning that while people are very nice, everything closes early. This also means that the line-up of activities is of the chill kind like temple and pagoda hopping or cruising a river. Tourism is not organized so don’t expect everything to be in great shape or to find excellent tour guides which, for me, actually adds to the charm of the entire journey.
I was able to try two modes of transportation, eight-hour bus journey to Bagan and a quicker two-hour journey back to Yangon via plane. I had a very pleasant experience with JJ Tours from start to finish. Their waiting area has Wi-Fi so you are able to surf or do whatever you like on the Internet. The bus left and arrived on time and all throughout it was generally a smooth ride. You also get complimentary snacks and water. Flying back to Yangon aboard Asian wings was generally a good experience as well except that they gave me a wrong boarding pass for Heho which was luckily only a stopover so I just showed them my ticket and I was allowed to board back the plane. The plane also left on time and snacks on board was satisfactory but a first for me was the free seating policy.
Where to Stay
Ruby True Bagan offers modest accommodation with the service of very friendly staff for only 60USD a night.
If you want a more high-end place to stay then there’s always Myanmar Treasure Resort. It is one of the more luxurious hotels in the area.
Where to Eat
It takes a village to take down our orders so that easiest ways is just eat Myanmar food which happens to be cheap yet plentiful since it is buffet. A word of caution though, most of the viands are oily. For some reason, their top restaurant is vegetarian called The Moon and while we did not eat there, we did find their coffee
and tea pleasurable.
What to Do
Of course you have to go around the
zone and visit temples and pagodas.
I suggest you do a bit of research before
going to the place. Ask locals for tips
too like where is the nicest spot for a
photo op and the like. I honestly could
not keep track of the names and
significance of all the structures
so here’s where your
One nice surprise for me was the Irrawaddy River sunset cruise. The view was not as spectacular as a Boracay sunset but it is one of the best ways to see how the locals really live and that was one of the goals of my visit so I really appreciated the authenticity of the experience. You will see boathouses and the fishermen and their families, whether the ones at the shore or at sea, wave at you. You spot a few big houses of the rich overlooking the river.