Bagan, Myanmar

Why Bagan gets Rave Reviews – An Adventure on an E-Bike

So many travellers rave about visiting Bagan in Myanmar. On the plains of Bagan beside the Irrawaddy River, there are more than two thousand ancient temples dating back to the 11th century. The massive scale of this UNESCO World Heritage site is truly astounding. Add to that hot-air balloons, e-bikes and distant mountains and Bagan is a must-see destination.

TIP: Book a hot air balloon flight in Bagan and float above the temples at sunrise. From the air, the view is incredibly beautiful and you can truly appreciate the huge number of temples that were built on the plains of Bagan. I flew with Golden Eagle Balloons and loved every minute. It was an unforgettable experience and a highlight of my Myanmar trip!

**Myanmar is now open to foreign tourists who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. However, due to civil unrest, Myanmar is an unsafe destination for travel at the present time. Check with your government for the latest travel information.

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temples in Myanmar Lawkananda Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar
Lawkananda Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar

I spent four weeks in Myanmar and visiting Bagan was a highlight.

I arrived on the river ferry from Mandalay and after settling in at my hotel, I walked to New Bagan to get my bearings. After passing through town I found a place on the banks of the Irrawaddy River to watch the setting sun as it slipped behind the mountains turning the sky and the river pink. The tranquillity and beauty of this ancient place is captured in the picture below.

Walking back to my hotel at the edge of town, I met a local woman who persuaded me to hire an electric scooter from her stall. I was a bit unsure at first as I had never ridden a motorbike on my own before. But she showed me how to ride the e-bike and, after a quick trial run, I decided to take it out the next morning. I was up before dawn. Thankfully the road was very quiet. It was freezing cold and I wore my down jacket & hiking boots. If I’d taken gloves with me I would have worn them too. There were no street lights and it was pitch black.

After riding for about twenty minutes I realised that I had I missed a turnoff and was completely lost on my own in the dark on the plains of Bagan.

 I was looking for a viewing platform near the Sulimani Temple hoping to see the sunrise with hot-air balloons floating overhead. As I tried to find my way on the bumpy dirt roads, it started to get light. I rode around past many small ruined temples and eventually found a raised area near a small village. It turned out to be an ideal viewing place as the hot-air balloons were taking off nearby and I watched them floating over the village and across the plain. As I stood enjoying the peaceful rural scenery, a man drove past in his ox and cart.

a farmer driving an ox and cart in Bagan Myanmar
Bagan Myanmar

Leaving the village I stopped to give way to a herd of goats on their way out to graze. I continued along the dirt road and soon found the main road and then a turnoff to the Dhamma Ya Ka Za Pagoda.

As I arrived at the temple, the stupa was glowing golden in the morning sun.

At the entrance were a number of people from Myanmar who had come to pray and there was a large group of young nuns dressed in pink robes and several monks amongst the visitors.

It was January, winter in Myanmar, and although cold at night, it was hot, dry and very dusty during the day. After my adventurous morning, I decided to take a break from the heat.  I went out exploring again later in the day and found the viewing platform that I had been looking for near the Sulimani Temple.

monks entering the Damma Ya Za Ka Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar
Damma Ya Za Ka Pagoda, Bagan, Myanmar

I watched the setting sun throwing beautiful pink and orange colours across the sky behind the ancient Temple and into the dust haze that settled over the plain.

The next morning I rose again before dawn. This time I was going to fly in a hot air balloon and it was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. Only from the air can you fully appreciate the size of the plain and the vast number of Buddhist temples & monasteries that were built in Bagan between the 11th and 13th centuries.

 A bus collected me from my hotel and took me to the launch site out on the plain. I was flying with Golden Eagle Balloons and my balloon took off just before sunrise.  There were around thirty brightly coloured balloons taking off that morning and it was a spectacular sight.

Floating over the plains of Bagan in a hot-air balloon is an incredibly beautiful experience.

It’s so peaceful drifting over the rural landscape with stunning scenery and the pink glow of the early morning sun reflected off stupas and temple ruins below. It was a highlight of my visit to Myanmar.

Riding in a hot air balloon in Bagan Myanmar
Riding in a hot air balloon in Bagan Myanmar

 I spent several days exploring Bagan on the e-bike and visited some amazing temples with many beautiful Buddha images.  Amongst my favourites were the 11th century Ananda Temple with its impressive terraces, four standing Buddhas and golden Hti, and Shwezigon Pagoda which overlooks the Irrawaddy River in Old Bagan.

There are so many temples to see you can easily spend several days in Bagan. If you have time, a half-day visit to Mount Popa is worthwhile. The monastery at Mount Popa is perched on a rocky peak at the top of a very steep staircase. There were lots of mischievous monkeys trying to steal things from visitors. The local people feed the monkeys to keep them under control. I watched an unwary tourist have his bag of bananas snatched by a cheeky monkey while he was paying for it. So if you go to Mount Popa, hold onto your hat…and your bananas!

Mount Popa Monastery Myanmar
Mount Popa Monastery

Travel essentials

A Travel Guide for Myanmar. I rarely travel without a trusted Lonely Planet Guide.

For peace of mind make sure you buy travel insurance before you go, especially if you are travelling solo. I use Travel Insurance that covers me for overseas medical, lost baggage, and other expenses and I can concentrate on enjoying my trip without worrying about something going wrong.

More on Myanmar Travel

20 Amazing Temples in Myanmar: A Myanmar Temple Guide

Why Bagan Gets Rave Reviews: An Adventure on an E-bike

Golden Rock in Myanmar: My Solo Travel Adventure

The Best Things to do in Mandalay, Myanmar

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