These are the 22 pagodas/temples in Bagan that you should see – if time permits. For many travelers, Bagan is just one of those places they’re passing by and for others, it’s a place they’ve been wanting to see all their life. For a few, it’s a place to stay a bit longer so they could explore more of the more than two thousand temples in the ancient city. Yep! As of the last count, there are 2,229 temples/pagodas in Bagan that are documented. While most are in ruins, a few others are partly restored to their former glories.
And please, travelers, respect the warning signs outside some of the temples that won’t allow visitors because of their fragile status/structure. Just because no one is watching, you have the right to enter and pretend you didn’t see the tiny sign.
In this post, I will show you the first 8 temples we visited. If ever the names and photos of the temples are mismatched, please do let me know so they can be corrected.
Ask your hostel/hotel a map of the temples where tourists can visit. Plan your trip to save time. Plan where to spend the sunrise and where to end your day by watching the sunset.
How to get around the temples in Bagan
Rent a motorbike. That’s the best mode of transport you can do to get around. Since I don’t know how to drive, I found a motorbike driver to get me around the whole day. He picked me up at sunrise and brought me to a place where only the two of us were there. I love the quietness of the misty morning while the fog enveloped us. I like that he brought me to some of his favorite places that no tourists know. If you want to hire a driver, make sure to agree on the price first.
1. Sunrise in Bagan / Unknown Temples
My driver/tour guide brought me to the pagodas near his residence. There were a couple of pagodas around but he led me to the one where we were allowed to go up. We waited for the sunrise there.
2. Soe Min Gyi Oak Kyaung
Most of the temple platforms are restored. The ruins are visible but you could still figure out what the temple looked like in the past. Some of its areas are still used by Buddhist devotees for worshipping.
3. Lawka Nanda Pagoda
Built along the riverbank, Lawka Nanda Pagoda replicated Buddha’s tooth relic. Every July, this temple is host to Lawkananda Festival.
4. Manuha Pagoda
This pagoda is named after a King who built it – King Manuha. It is rectangular in shape and inside, you will find a trio of seated Buddhas. There’s also an image of the Buddha as he enters into a peaceful state of Nirvana.
5. Gubyauk Gyi Pagoda (Myinkaba)
It was pleasant to the eyes when I saw that most structures of this temple are still intact or well-preserved. The frescoes are still visible, albeit in their faded colors. It is a bit dark inside but such dimness contributes to the holiness and calmness of the temple as a whole.
6. Gubyauk Nge Pagoda
Don’t confuse this temple with the one above. Both temples are close to each other. But this one is smaller than the other. The name Gubyauk means ‘illustrated pagoda.’ However, you can’t find any paintings or illustrations inside. Go around the temple and you will appreciate the great stucco work.
7. Gawdawpalin Pagoda
Constructed in 1203, Gawdawpalin Temple stood the test of time. Its vaulted chambers, hollow halls, and pointed arches are one of the amazing features of this temple. Inside, you will find huge and small statues of Buddha. This is the second tallest pagoda in Bagan.
8. Bupaya Pagoda
Bupaya Pagoda has a bulbous, shining titled dome. It is a unique temple overlooking the Irrawaddy River. At the entrance, you will find twin Chinthes (mythical lions) guarding the pagoda. What you see today is a reconstruction of the temple after its original was hit by the 1975 earthquake.
Tours in Bagan
If you know how to ride a motorbike, then I won’t recommend you to join a tour. Renting a motorbike is cheaper, of course. But if you’re not into searing heat from the sun or you don’t want dust, then, go and join the tour. Remember that in Bagan, you will be on a dirt road most of the time, so you might not like the dust anywhere. Sitting in a comfortable car suits you fine, I suppose. Here are some tours you could take in Bagan.
Hostel in Bagan
The best hostel where you can stay in Bagan is at BaobaBed Hostel. It’s clean and the beds are comfortable, too. Staff members are helpful and they help you with all their might. The hostel is also surrounded by restaurants and souvenir shops. If you want to rent an electric motorbike, the rental place is just across the street. You can also find other accommodations of your type on these websites: Booking, Expedia, and HostelWorld.