Adventure or comfort? Whatever your sightseeing style, Myanmar’s scenic ancient city has got you covered.
Located in the central part of Myanmar, the ancient city of Bagan is reachable via three-hour bus or car ride from Mandalay or eight hours from Yangon. At first glance, it’s hard to comprehend just how many temples are scattered around the lush green plains. It was believed that there used to be as many as 13,000 temples and stupas during the city’s glorious days from the 9th to 13th centuries, when it was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom. Today, around 2,000 temples remain, but even that is a truly stunning sight to behold.
With its fascinating history and notable cultural values, Bagan was recently added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the second Myanmar destination to be recognised after Pyu Ancient Cities in 2014.
Now is a good time to explore the magical plains of Bagan. Depending on your travel plans and goals, you may need at least a couple of days here to cover all the major temple ruins. Since the site is huge, you’re gonna need to plan the transportation method that works best according to your travel style. Here are a few options:
1. For the Free Independent Traveller: E-Bike
Cheap, easy, and with minimal carbon footprint, e-bikes are the most popular choice for most independent travellers in Bagan. Foreigners are not allowed to drive motorcycles in Myanmar, hence the introduction of these e-bikes. Not only is it fairly easy to learn how to ride, they also can’t go very fast (safety is key!). The best part is how little noise they make, allowing you to fully immerse in the environment surrounding you. Standard rental fee is between MMK5000-8000 (approximately USD5-8) for whole day use or until the battery juice runs out.
2. For Those on a Tight Budget: Bicycle
Those who can appreciate the laid-back way of life in Bagan will definitely enjoy riding around in bicycles. With rates that go between MMK1000-2000 (approximately USD1-2) for whole day rental, not only is this cheapest option amongst all, but it’s also the most environmentally friendly. The only drawback is that Bagan is a huge area to explore, so you need to map out which temples you want to visit and plan your route accordingly. Some of the bigger temples such as the Ananda Temple and Htilominlo are located within the same stretch in the Old Bagan area, and definitely doable to visit within the same day.
3. For the Romantics-At-Heart: Horse Cart
Classic and romantic, need we say more? The ride tends to be bumpy due to the condition of the main roads as well as the smaller dirt roads leading to the big temples, but that’s where half the fun is. The other half is the fact that you don’t really have to do anything but sit on the padded seats and enjoy the scenery. Another plus point is you also get a guide (the driver) to explain about the temples and the surrounding area. Just remember to exercise caution when agreeing on the fare, which is approximately between USD15-25 depending on your bargaining skills. Best to plan which temples you want to visit and communicate clearly with the driver to avoid any troubles.
4. For Those Who Prefer Comfort: Car
Hiring a car with driver is the easiest option for those who want to cover as much as possible within a set time frame. A full day hire may cost USD35 or more, but at least you get to sit in cool air-conditioning in between temple stops!
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