Bagan Travel Guide

Bagan lies on the banks of the Ayerwaddy (Irrawaddy) River, southwest of Mandalay, and is a hugely popular tourist destination in central northern Myanmar. Bagan’s main claim to fame is that it features the largest collection of temples and stupas in the world.

Bagan was all-powerful in the 9th century under King Anawratha, who solidified Theravada Buddhism in Burma. The city was sacked by Mongol invaders in the 13th century and its population greatly reduced. By this time many thousands of temples, pagodas and stupas had been built.

Up to 13,000 temples and stupas were erected in a 42-square kilometer area; these are down to around a little over 2,000 today. Many are badly in need of restoration while others are very well maintained, including that of Ananda Pahto. Unfortunately, UNESCO has not included Bagan on their site list due to the shoddy rebuilding of many of the original temples.

The town of Bagan itself lies south of Bagan proper after the government removed what was left of the original village to New Bagan. Here, there are many guesthouses, tourist facilities and markets.

Getting There & Away

Bagan has an airport and there are flights from Mandalay and Yangon with Air Mandalay, Myanmar Airways, and Air Bagan. Flying is recommended for the time conscious, while buses and trains also run here for those on a budget. The train journey takes half a day; buses are faster. Mandalay International Airport is the main airport in the region but Yangon’s airport is the main gateway into Myanmar.

Things to Do

Bagan Attractions

Ananda Pahto

This holiest of holy bagan temple was built in the 11th century and features four buddha images facing the cardinal directions.

Bagan shopping

There are many good buys in bagan’s markets, including lacquerware, t-shirts and paintings, but remember to haggle.

Eating in Bagan

Old bagan arguably has the best eating in the region with traditional burmese dishes fully available, including noodle soup and great buffets.

Mt Popa

This popular daytrip from bagan has excellent hiking and views.