Bagan is an ancient city of Myanmar and was founded in the second century, for many years, it has been the capital city of the Pagan Empire and a hub of economic, social, political and cultural activities. Myanmar is most widely known for the monuments and Buddhist monasteries and Bagan is no different, the city is known for its rulers who had built over 10,000 sacred monuments and for its locating right into the ferocious earthquake zone. The city has suffered numerous earthquakes that wrecked many of the monuments, but still, it has a large number of temples and pagodas that offer loads of activities for tourists in Bagan.
Best Things to do in Bagan
While making a what to do in Bagan list, there are so many things that, at times, you may feel overwhelmed, but don’t worry, we have compiled a comprehensive list of 5 best things to do in Bagan Myanmar.
1. Book a Visit to Temples and Pagodas
Myanmar is a land of mystery and architecturally supreme temples and pagodas, being a homeland to a large number of monks and monasteries, calling it simply a land of Buddhist culture will be a straight understatement, it is more than that. Talking about things to do in Bagan Myanmar, visiting as many temples as possible should be a number priority on your list.
Some of the temples in Bagan include Ananda Temple: the temple was built in the 11th century but was destroyed due to a massive earthquake of 1970’s. It is the largest and optimum temple in Bagan and is made up thousands of tiles, glazed with the life scenes of Buddha. The second is Shwezigon Pagoda: it was also built in the 11th century and the largest of the pagodas in Bagan. The main reasons of this temple’s fame is that it is said that Buddha’s collar bone is preserved in it and that it is the very first temple to have images of pre Buddhist spirits in its building.
2. Visit a Lacquer Manufacturing Site
Lacqueware is an ultimate show-stopper in Myanmar since the people are so well skilled at their craft that you are sure to take some of the things back to your home. Bagan has a number of lacquer making facilities and site that it will not be difficult to find one at all. The craft embarked on this land in the 12th and 13th centuries and now, is one of the main wheels of Myanmar’s economy. The process is scrupulously detailed and time consuming and, mostly, women are highly adept at it. While planning a visit, make sure that you go to an authentic lacquer making factory and for that, consult a local or book your own tour guide. You can get more information by visiting Myanmar Shopping Guide.
3. Having a Hot Air Balloon Ride
The Hot Air Balloon Ride at sunrise is one of the best ways to have a great view of all the beautiful pagodas and temples in Bagan and amongst the best things to do in Bagan. Some of the key things you will witness include magnificent and towering pagodas, serene villages and the famous Irrawaddy River. The whole arrangement of booking and having a hot balloon ride is quite simple and extravagant, as the local bus will pick you from your hotel and drop you to the hot balloon ‘airport’ where you will be served tea or coffee.
Hot Air Balloon Rides in Bagan are carried out in early, mostly at early sunrise, so they make sure that you do not doze off while waiting for your balloon flight. After the ride, you will be serves a light breakfast with champagne, it is the perfect occasion to have lots of photos, so keep your camera ready and enjoy the splendid scenery around you.
4. Horse Cart Ride
If you want to explore the city and have a great experience of living the real Myanmar culture, then hiring a horse cart ride is the best way for it. Bagan locals use horse carts and local buses as their primary mode of transport, if it is your very first visit to Bagan and want to get a better idea of the place, people and culture, then having a horse cart ride is one of the must things to do in Bagan.
A single cart ride will cost you around $10 to $30 and it takes two people, excluding the driver, afterwards you can explore the land on a bicycle or via hot balloon ride. Some of the best places to visit are the temples and local markets having fresh produce and specialty products.
5. Try Burmese Food and Wine
Want to have a taste of Myanmar’s culture, try out its local cultural food and wine. Many of us may think that wine is not the product of Myanmar but, surprise, surprise, you can get finest grape vines and wine here. The very first vineyard to grow in Myanmar is Athaya and it offers a variety of wine, including Athaya Rose and Athaya Red both of which are made from the imported vines of France and Italy.
Imported wines from European areas become accustomed to the 1,300-meter altitude of Myanmar. You can buy the wine in Bagan and a single bottle will cost you around $11. Now the food, being right in the middle of Thailand, India and China, Burmese food is a delicate mix of all three plus its very own flavours. While in Bagan, make sure that you try grated ginger salad with sesame, guacamole, special eggplant, pumpkin and ginger soup, and braised okra with sesame.
Besides being an ancient Myanmar city, Bagan is a cultural hub of raw Buddhist culture and offers a great variety of insight into it. Have you made a trip to Bagan? Please comment and let us know of other interesting Bagan activities you enjoyed there. You can learn more about interesting Myanmar activities for more information.