Best of Bagan: Top 15 Things to do in Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan is a city in the Mandalay Region in Myanmar. It’s an ancient city rich with traditions and has beautiful temples and shrines. It used to be the capital of the Pagan Kingdom during the 9th to 13th centuries. The main attraction of Bagan is the Bagan Archaeological Zone where many tourists go to.

Shwezigon Pagoda - Best Things to Do in Bagan
Shwezigon Pagoda – Best Things to Do in Bagan

The breathtaking views of Bagan, Myanmar couple with Burmese cuisine and quiet surroundings of the whole place make it a top tourist destination.


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Enjoy these top 15 things to do in Bagan.

Ride an Electric Bike to Tour Bagan

Bagan Electric Bike Tour photo via KLOOK
Bagan Electric Bike Tour photo via KLOOK

Bagan, Myanmar promotes green tourism through electric bike usage. The uses of these bikes allow travelers to enjoy a quiet ride to their destinations. And while tourists can’t explore all the temples by using electric bikes in one day, it’s still a good experience to visit other parts of Bagan and to contribute in making it a greener place.

Guided E-Bike Bagan Temples Half Day Tour

  • Visit the beautiful Shwezigon Pagoda and check out the marvelous Thatbyinnyu Temple.
  • Stroll through Wetkyi-In-Gubyaukgyi temple and see its fascinating murals.
  • Travel to the massive Htilominlo temple, and gaze on its intricate plaster carvings.
  • Sightsee at your own pace on an electronic scooter, led by a friendly and informative guide.

Guided E-Bike Bagan Temples Half Day TourBOOK THIS BIKE TOUR

Try the Free Tour of Bagan Archaeological Zone 

Bagan Archaeological Zone
Bagan Archaeological Zone

A local hostel in New Bagan offers a free tour of the ruins complete with a tour guide. If you stay at the hostel you can avail of that freebie where you can see religious shrines in the vicinity. You’ll learn a lot about the history of the location through your knowledgeable tour guide.

Eat Burmese Cuisine

Food in Myanmar
Food in Myanmar

Burmese cuisine is a collection of dishes from the regions of Myanmar. It’s mostly ethnic dishes with the extensive use of fish sauce and fermented seafood called ngapi. It’s also been influenced by the cuisines of China, India, and Thailand. Try eating Mohinga which is a traditional breakfast. You can also eat dishes like lahpet, Mont let saung and drink a Myanmar lager beer.

Discover Mani-Sithu Market

Mani Sithu Market in Bagan
Mani Sithu Market in Bagan

This market has stalls where you can find items like handicrafts and barks which are used to make traditional face mask (thanaka) of it locals. Aside from souvenirs, you can find different Burmese snacks in the market. The market also offers cheap but quality items. You can find the market when you find a rotunda then you can go straight until you reach the covered shoppers’ heaven.

Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bagan

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bagan
Hot Air Balloon Ride in Bagan

Visiting the temples of Bagan is quite an experience but seeing it from another vantage point is something else. You’ll be up 2,000 feet in the air where you can see the beauty of some 2,200 temples. The ballooning season happens from October to mid-April. The fee can be pricey but you’ll be riding the hot air balloon for at least 45 minutes.

Bagan Hot Air Balloon Sunrise Experience by Balloons Over Bagan

  • Experience an early morning hot air balloon flight over spectacular 360-degree views of Bagan.
  • Ride safely with balloons built to the highest standards of the British aerospace industry.
  • Enjoy a trip with a crew trained to the highest international standards for the past 15 years.
  • Receive a certificate for your efforts and take the memory home with you to keep forever.
  • A hotel pick up and drop off, as well as an English speaking pilot, provides you with excellent convenience.

Bagan Hot Air Balloon Sunrise ExperienceBOOK THIS TOUR

Sightseeing at the Temples of Bagan

Inside a temple in Old Bagan
Inside a temple in Old Bagan

The presence of more than 2,000 temples in Bagan still makes it a good place to visit despite the fact that the number of temples used to be 10,000 plus. The abundance of stupas stands for acts of merits in the ancient times. Travelers who have limited time are advised to visit more popular temples like Ananda Temple, Shwezigon Temple, Htilominlo Temple and Dhammayangyi Temple.

Bring Home Quality Lacquerware

Lacquerware Souvenirs in Bagan
Lacquerware Souvenirs in Bagan

Bagan lacquerware is a hand-carved decorative object using traditional techniques and materials. You can find Bagan lacquer wares at markets and workshops such as Chan Thar Lacquerware Workshop, Ever Stand Lacquerware Workshop, Golden Bagan Lacquer ware Shop, Golden Cuckoo Lacquerware Workshop and Moe Moe Family Lacquerware, all located in Bagan. These products last a long time and can be put in your display rack for years.

Watch the Ananda Temple Festival

Ananda Temple Festival
Ananda Temple Festival

This festival happens at the vicinity of Ananda Temple and it’s supposed to be the most visited celebration in ‘the most beautiful temple’. It’s celebrated a few days before the full moon day of Pyatho which often happens in January or February. The money raised is used for the maintenance of the temple which is about a thousand-year-old. They put Thanaka (yellowish cosmetic paste) to keep their faces cool during that time.

Go on a Sunset Boat Ride

Irrawaddy River Myanmar
Irrawaddy River Myanmar

The sunset boat ride on the Irrawaddy River will take you on a journey to the temples near the river. The boat will stop and you can take a tour of the riverside temples. You’ll also get the chance to see small villages of the area where local boats are located. The tour lets you see a beautiful sunset and end your cruise with some cocktails.

Drop by a Monk Monastery

Monk Monastery in Bagan
Monk Monastery in Bagan

You can make your Bagan travel more memorable when you visit a Monk monastery where you can learn their ways of living. You can join in their meditation and other rituals. You can also take the opportunity to say a prayer while you’re there. You can also learn a thing or two about being at peace with yourself through the teachings of Buddhism.

Go on a Palm Reading Session

Palm reading is popular anywhere in the world but the strong sense of superstition in Myanmar makes palm reading in Bagan eerily good. It’s interesting when the palm reader takes you on an experience where you actually feel like he/she can read your future. Sometimes the things they say are very accurate which makes you want to avail of the service further.

Try on a Traditional Longyi

Pinoy Travel Bloggers wearing Longyi in Shwedagon Temple
Pinoy Travel Bloggers wearing Longyi in Shwedagon Temple

Longyi is a traditional sarong-like cloth used by the men and women of Myanmar. If you want to feel like a local for a while then you must try wearing one. Just ask the shop owner to teach you how to wear it as you can’t just wear it anyway but the way the locals wear their longyi. The longyi has colorful patterns that really make an outfit. It can be cheap or expensive depending on quality.

Go on a Side Trip to the Royal Palace of the Last Burmese Monarchy

Mandalay Palace
Mandalay Palace

The Mandalay Palace sits in the middle of Mandalay City. It houses ancient weapons, a museum, a watchtower, and halls. It was the first palace built by King Mindon in Mandalay. It served as the home for the last two kings of the country. The Royal Palace’s location was decided upon using lucky omen and positive astronomical predictions. The palace is open to the public.

Teach English to Burmese Kids

Burmese Kid in New Bagan
Burmese Kid in New Bagan

Teaching English to Burmese kids is a fulfilling experience. You might also get free accommodation and food in exchange for teaching English to these kids. It’s a way to know about the locals since they sure are excited to share about their traditions and you can also taste authentic Burmese dishes as a thank you for your kindness. You can contact some people before your trip or find kids to teach when you’re there.

Golden Pagoda in Old Bagan
Golden Pagoda in Old Bagan

Learn the Art of Gold Making

The use of gold foil in Myanmar is a common thing. In Bagan, you can also see the technique being used in temples and Buddha statues. This gold craft has attracted big numbers of travelers who want to learn how to do it and they can do that by visiting Gold Leaf Workshops in the area.

The lovely and green environment of Bagan, Myanmar allows travelers of all ages to go on a journey about culture, language, and nature. When you go to Bagan, you’ll learn a lot of things about its locals and how the place came to be. Visit Bagan and experience all these wonderful things.

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