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Visiting Myanmar: 3-Days in Bagan

Hot air balloon over Bagan Myanmar

 

VISITING MYANMAR: 3-DAYS IN BAGAN

 

Without a doubt one of my top five destinations of all time, Bagan is a magical place in every sense of the word. I don’t know many places in the world where you have an endless number of temples and pagodas rising in the mist-blanketed grassy plains, seemingly stretching for miles on end. There aren’t many places left in the world anymore where you feel like you traveled back in time. But Bagan is “it”. Out of the four weeks or so I was in Asia, I will remember being most at peace and relaxed when I was in Bagan–and this includes staying at fancy resorts and hotels.

Here’s why:

 

THE BAGAN SUNRISE

 

There aren’t many places in the world where I am willing and able to wake up without struggle at 5 a.m. in the morning while on vacation.

And I did this every morning while I was in Bagan.

In fact, I can’t imagine starting my day without riding my e-bike in the pitch-dark, cold morning: cruising on the dirt road, looking for the perfect temple with the best view to watch the colorful and larger-than-life fairytale-like balloons rising up from the ground, taking off while perfectly synced to the rising golden sun.

It was hypnotic. And addictive.

 

bagan sunrise tamples myanmar

Whimsical Bagan sunrise

 

Sunrise in Bagan, Myanmar

Such a magical place

 

THE BAGAN SUNSETS

 

The Bagan sunsets are as equally as impressive as the Bagan sunrises. There’s something about the sun in Bagan that’s so captivating. It has the perfect form and color (I’m talking like the type of sun you’ll see in Lion King . . . if you get what I’m trying to make you visualize)! I mean, there’s only one sun in the universe, but the one in Bagan is unlike anything I’ve seen before.

 

bagan sunsets temple watching myanmar

Bagan sunsets

 

We met a local lady who sold us artwork and led us to this temple that is quite unknown–and it could not be any more a perfect spot for sunsets. We referred to this temple as our “own” and was our secret spot to keep the rest of the tourists at bay.

 

local lady in Bagan

A lady from Bagan selling her husband’s artwork.

 

The new friends that I met would get there around forty minutes or so before sunset and just chill, look out at at the open field and enjoy the view as we wait for the sun to set.

And if you are a couple . . . and, um . . .

Nevermind.



 

THE “E-BIKES”

 

I’m clumsy AF. I mean, I can easily injure myself trying to tie my shoelace (slight exaggeration, but only slight). So learning how to ride an electric bike, in full traffic, on a dirt road and in a foreign country, didn’t seem like the best idea.

But I had to suck it up and learn real quick –it’s the most efficient way to get around and explore the temples of Bagan!

But to my surprise, it only took me ten minutes to get used to it. It didn’t take long until I was riding it everywhere like a ninja.

 

ebikes bagan myanmar

My ride!

 

e-bike in Bagan

Hi. Your Uber is here.

 

Useful tip: Once you are in Bagan and you have rented this e-bike (costs approximately $7USD for the whole day), make sure that at the end of the daym it is still fully charged (hence the words/phrase “electric bike”). Otherwise, you will run into the same problem that I had, where the battery ran out and I got stuck walking the bike back to the hotel.

That was a lonely two-hour walk!

 

THE TEMPLE CLIMBS

 

There are approximately 11,000 or so temples in Bagan. And there are some that you will discover that will leave just leave you speechless.

Climb those temples and see the views they each have to offer.

Perhaps my favorite Bagan activity.

 

bagan myanmar temple climbing

Temple climbing

 

temple climbing bagan myanmar

I’ve lost count on the number of temples we’ve visited…

 

temple climbing bagan myanmar

Yet another temple climb

 

THE LOCALS

 

The nicest and most sincere human beings on the planet.

I got plenty of questions on whether or not Bagan is safe for solo travelers–and I can’t think of a single moment where I felt unsafe or heard any stories that made me think “Hmm…i probably shouldn’t go there . . .”

My friend would sometimes forget to take her key in the ignition on her e-bike, and would return back with the bike left untouched.

 

Local girl in Bagan

Always a smile somewhere!

 

Local boy in Bagan

Our little friend selling his own postcard!

 

WHERE TO EAT

 

Where everyone pretty much went: The Moon restaurant in Old and New Bagan and the Ice Cream store in New Bagan (they don’t have a website!):

 

The Moon restaurant in Old Bagan

The Moon restaurant in Old Bagan

 

The menu at Moon restaurant in Old Bagan

The menu at the Moon restaurant in Old Bagan

 

Fresh guacamole at Moon restaurant in Old Bagan

Fresh guacamole at Moon restaurant in Old Bagan

 

GETTING TO BAGAN

 

Originally, I was going to take an overnight bus from Yangon to Bagan, until we were told of a $25 one way ticket with a charter airline.

The overnight bus ride is around $17–so to fly there for only $8 more seemed too good to be true.

But it turns, it’s waaaaaaaaaaaaay true!

FMI Air had a promotion going on, and we snatched it right away.

You might wonder if the plane would even take off for a $25 flight.

BUT DUDE!!

Not only did it fly (and comfortably), they even provided lounge access with complimentary food and drinks.

TAKE NOTE UNITED, AMERICAN, DELTA . . .

 

The lounge at Yangon International Airport

The lounge at Yangon International Airport

 

The lounge at Yangon International Airport

Lounge food at Yangon International Airport

 

LEAVING BAGAN

 

Alright, this time, there were no special promotion on flights going back to Yangon. Instead, I stuck with the original plan of taking the JJ overnight bus, which got me to Yangon at around 5:30 a.m.

 

JJ express bus from Bagan to Yangon

JJ overnight bus from Bagan to Yangon

 

The ride was comfortable. It even had personalized video screens where you could select your movies (just like on long-haul international flights!), and two bus attendants that went around handing out blankets, pillows, drinks, and snack boxes!!

And to top it off, the overnight bus ride was equipped with big, cushy, reclining seats. It was overall a very comfortable ride!!

 

The JJ express bus cabin

Inside the overnight bus ride from Bagan to Yangon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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