Find the best temple in Bagan to fulfill your wish of the perfect view
Bagan and its mystical temples was the part I was most looking forward to on my trip. I didn’t know anything about what was located where and figured that I would just go on a quest to find the most beautiful view of Bagan and therefore the best temple in Bagan for sunset and sunrise.
How to prepare for your trip to Bagan
Book a hotel that’s either located in Nyaung U, which is closest to the bus station and therefore the taxi at arrival will be the cheapest. Or stay in Old Bagan where most and also the most stunning Bagan temples are located. I didn’t see the point in New Bagan. It wasn’t nice and the views from the temples there weren’t as good either as they were further apart.
Also, have 25000 kyat ready to hand over soon after you entered Bagan. That’s kind of the entrance fee to the whole area. Afterward nothing costs anymore except for the souvenirs you’ll probably buy from one of the many (slightly annoying) vendors. Nevertheless, their paintings are beautiful and you can always use new flipflops and elephant pants, right? What are you waiting for? Head out to visit the best temple in Bagan.
How to best visit Bagan and its temples
Your choice consists of electric scooter, bicycle, tour bus and horse cart. I wouldn’t take a horse cart since the terrain is sometimes rough and to have to work so hard in such a heat cannot be good for that poor horse.
A guided tour
If you go with a tour you’ll never have a view to yourself (which I had many times) and you can’t access all of the temples. You can still see a lot though and you’ll also have the comfort of a bus with a/c in between.
Discover Bagan by bycicle
A bicycle is the cheapest option at 2000 MMK per day. Just bring a head lamp if you want to stay until after sunset because most bicycles didn’t have lights. The terrain is mostly flat and doable if you only concentrate on temples in a small area. But don’t underestimate the heat! I cycled around for half a day after my trip to Mt. Popa. It was fun but I already made a list in my head to which temples further back from the road I’d return by scooter the next day.
Discover Bagan by e-scooter
So, for me, the electric scooter was the best option. I rented it for 6000 MMK for the day and for two people to share it’s 7k or 8k MMK. Since it’s electric, you don’t need to pay for gas anymore. Plus, there is less traffic in Bagan than at any of the other places I have driven a scooter at. So, even if it’s your first time, it’s not the worst place to start. I loved most about the scooter that it gave me so much freedom. I cruised around the whole day and sometimes felt like on off-road tracks in Mongolia (at least that’s how I imagine it to be). Sometimes I was completely alone and climed on a temple and felt like the world belonged to me. Then I just hoped that my scooter would start when I was back on the dusty ground again.
The best temple in Bagan for sunrise
Bulethi Hill with two stupas was recommended to me for sunrise and it didn’t disappoint. You can climb the two stupas on a steep stairway and then you just sit there with the other 10 to 20 people who also got up on time.
Is it worth to get up even if it’s cloudy?
Definitely! I had three cloudy days and therefore my sunrises and sunsets weren’t the most spectacular ones but I liked the sunrise even better than tbe sunsets because that’s when Bagan looked as mystical as I imagined it to be. Mist around the temples above the green grass and perhaps a few balloons who whitness from above how a new day begins. A very pretty picture and a calming atmosphere.
The best temple in Bagan for sunset
Sunset from Shwesandaw Pagoda
To be honest, the view from Shwesandaw Pagoda is amazing and therefore it’s no surprise that you will watch the sunset with about 100 other people from the same temple. But that doesn’t make the view less good. You just have to arrive about 1.5 hours before sunset if you want to be able to pick your favorite spot and have a look over the valley from all sides. This temple must also be good for sunrise.
Sunset from North Guni Temple
The view from North Guni temple was also pretty neat but minivans filled with people and horse carts were driven there and it’s not a quiet spot anymore either. However, this temple has a nice stairway on the inside and therefore has easy access if you are scared of hights or not so fit.
Loka Oakshang near Shwesandaw
An unexpected positive surprise was Loka Oakshang Stupa. I was actually on the way to another temple when I saw that about five people were sitting on this stupa. So, surprisingly there you are still pretty much alone and have a good view. I assume that from here you’d also have an amazing sunrise view, since you’d have many big temples in front of the horizon. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for another sunrise but if you get a chance to go there, let me know how it was.
The absolute best temple in Bagan for sunset
The best temple in Bagan for a unique sunset doesn’t even have a name. Download maps.me and look for “temple with the most amazing view”. It really is true! Plus, this temple seemed to be abandonned. It wasn’t locked but there was no gate keeper or vendor around either and so I had the whole thing to myself. It’s near Sulamani Temple but if it rained it is a bit hard to access. Therefore I didn’t actually stay for the sunset because I was too afraid to be in the wild and climb back down the narrow stairway in the dark, by myself. But I wished I could have stayed there.
All these temples are in the old Bagan area. In the new Bagan area you can also see pretty sunsets and moreover you will be alone but there also aren’t any big temples in your field of vision.
Tipps for sightseeing in Bagan
- bring a head torch if you cycle or even just for climbing around in the narrow temples.
- visit the big golden pagoda in Nyaung U. It’s very pretty and on the right side of the stupa there is a small water puddle on the ground. If you move closely with your eyes you see a reflection of the temple in it. It’s supposed to bring good luck.
- eat an eggplant salad. If you like eggplant, you’ll love this. Sometimes it’s made with avocado sauce. What an awesome combination.
What if you are tired of visiting any more temples?
- Go to a nice hotel and ask to swim at their pool if you don’t have one
- Take a half day trip to Mount Popa. It’s a nice ride.
What was your favorite temple in Bagan? Now that I read this post again, I wished I could go back and explore some more. It was so much fun and I felt like on another world!