The town of Bagan in Myanmar has so much more to offer than just beautiful sunrises over temples. After spending a week there and wishing I could spend more, here are some of my insights.
Where To Stay
If you are wanting to stay in hotels or luxury accommodations, old town Bagan provides beautiful hotels which are very close to the famous spots to watch sunrise. However the true jewel of accommodation is in new Bagan at a hostel called Ostello Bello. Out of all the 232 hostels I have stayed in, this was by far my favourite. Located on the Main Street in New Town Bagan, the hostel is an oasis for backpackers, families and anyone on the street who is looking for some fun. At 1pm, 7pm and 9pm they provide everyone with a small bowl of spicy pasta, they play bingo and cards and provide an amazing free tour around the town of Bagan, which is run by a local. Accommodation wise it feels like you are in a hotel and they recently opened another hostel 5 minutes up the road with a pool.
Where To Eat
My favourite restaurant of all was a restaurant called “Vegetarian Myanmar” it was located halfway between old town and new town and provided delicious Myanmar delicacies such as tomato salads, tomato curries and even guacamole. The prices were also very cheap! Within the new town there are lots of delicious restaurants of all cuisines but you’ll easily find one which provides insight into the Myanmar food culture. They love salads and curries.
I highly recommend renting an ebike or a bicycle in Bagan. Although I do not trust bikes at all, I found the ebikes to be safe and the only way to get around. To rent an ebike for the day will cost around $1-$2. Although there are some nice walks from both old and new town it is tricky not having a bike of some sort. Tuk Tuks are also available but are a little more pricy and prevent you from having freedom.
I would highly recommend taking the Ostello Bello ebike tour on one of your days. Not only does it orientate you with the town but the tour guide is fantastic! As a local he provides insight into the history, culture and people of Myanmar whilst taking you to beautiful temples, Pagodas and even to a village which is over 200 years old and almost completely unchanged.
When looking for the best sunrise temple it is important to stick near to new town as the sun rises above old town which means your viewpoint will have lots of temples. My recommendation is to get up at 5am and leave as soon as possible and explore until you find the one! My favourite temple which provides a beautiful view but is not overcrowded with people is a temple around the corner from Sulamani Temple. From new town it is about a 20 minute ride by ebike. It is well worth the view! for sunset you want to ride over to old town and watch the sun set over new town. A beautiful spot is a temple just past the Sunset hill spot. Once you see the hill spot drive past in and then curve the road to the right. The temple is not crowded, has stairs and a beautiful view.
During the day it is really fun to take your ebike and just drive around through the villages. As there are over 2000 temples in Bagan you will constantly be finding more and more beauty the further you dig.