48 hours in Bagan
Myanmar is definitely not only about Bagan, having said that, you shouldn’t miss this so be sure to spare 1 to 2 days.
Getting to Bagan
Due to Thingyan Festival, no buses were operating so we were stuck in Yangon for one more day. From downtown Yangon to the highway bus terminal in Yangon costs 10,000 kyats and you need to spare at least an hour to get to it.
We took 9pm night bus but we have to leave our hostel at 5pm (!!!). There are ‘restaurants’ at the bus terminal, we left our backpacks and dined.
The VIP night bus was in fact a moving freezer. Blanket, neck pillow, a bottle of water, a can of coke, mooncake (!) and toothbrush were provided. No complaints and we reached Bagan earlier than expected.
Bagan bus station is located outside the entrance of archaeological site, a town called Nyaung U. There will be lots of taxi drivers waiting for you regardless of your arrival time. Though they have a board stating the taxi fare to each town, I’m not sure if they are actually following that.
Where to stay?
Bagan has 3 main areas.
We stayed 1 night at WeStay @ Bagan Lotus Hotel. They provided complimentary pick up service and early check-in for us!!
We technically had 2 full days in Bagan, leaving on the next day at night to Kalaw. Our goal was simple: explore the temples and watch sunset. Sunrise wasn’t on the list because it’s off season. NO BALLOONS. (YAY So we can sleep in!)
But before we could do anything, we need to get breakfast first! The hotel allowed us to have breakfast without extra charge.
Let’s play a game
We were the only ‘foreigners’ in the hotel until another group showed up sitting at the table next to us.
Me: Let’s play a game. What’s their nationality?
Me: How do you know they are from Germany?
Friend: All the foreigners we’ve met in Myanmar are from Germany!
My minimal research on Bagan told me that riding an electronic bike would be the easiest way to see the city. BUT, I don’t know how to ride a scooter. My ‘nothing-is-impossible’ attitude told me that I can pick up the skill easily because at least I know how to ride a bicycle. So, practice makes perfect, I practiced! WHAT THE HECK It was nothing like riding a bicycle, excuse me!
Even if I can ride on the road out there, I would be at a speed of 5km per hour (which is my walking speed) and I cannot take my friend with me because I was unable to make turns LOL.
E-bike was a no go.
What now? Bicycles? There’s no bicycles in the hotel. Car? Too expensive.
Me: Shall we ask the Germans if they can give us a lift?
Friend: Don’t you think it’s a bit too much to ask…
Me: We are fun to be with! LOL
Friend: [Eyes rolled] ………
Me: Hmm…but first we need to find them…
We didn’t know where the Germans were hiding so we decided to just use the swimming pool first. There were only us and a guy who seemed to be dead lying on the bench.
Until then I realized the ‘dead’ man was one of the Germans. Here we go, I asked “Are you from Germany?” – just to make sure our guess was correct. “Yes.” I explained our situation and asked for a lift. He discussed with his friends and they agreed to have a little adventure together.
Problem solved. *Applause*
Bagan we are coming!!
E-bikes at the hotel were all rented out so we need to take the shuttle bus to Nyaung U. Rental was the same, 4,000 kyats for half a day. There wasn’t much planning. We pretty much relied on google map and stopped whenever we wanted to.
Bagan has over 8,000 temples, stupas and pagodas to date. We spent most of our time at Soo Lay Gon Group which has a cluster of temples sitting next to each other as well as over a dozen of horses having their meals.
When we were about to leave, a Burmese tried to show us that we could climb up!
Don’t say you’ve been to Bagan until you’ve climbed one of the temples.
Next, we’ve identified a temple, Temple 801 to watch sunset. It is located on the other side but there is a short cut to it.
When we arrived, it said it is closed due to the earthquake last year which made it unstable for people to climb up.
It is really secluded and would have been the perfect spot if it’s not closed.
There is a view point nearby so it’s our last option which was not bad at all!!
I was satisfied of what we have seen given the ‘limited resources’. We ‘celebrated’ that we were back to the town in one piece. I had no idea how we ended up in Mandalay Rum (costs about 2,000 kyats!?) and coke for the night (for the record, it was the idea of the Germans!)