I made a graphic Bagan travel guide hoping that it might help someone who is planning or curious about travel to Bagan, Myanamar. I really enjoyed my time in Bagan and it has probably the most authentic place I’ve been to so far. It’s very raw and not crowded at the time I visited, that also means the usual conveniences are not there but that also adds charm to the place.
1. BY PLANE – Air Bagan, Air Mandalay, Asian Wings
Flights would be limited in low season. This is the most expensive way to get to Bagan but also the fastest so if you have very limited time, it might be something to consider.
2. BY TRAIN – Trains are a lot slower. You can check a full review of trains in Myanmar at Seat61.
The Yangon-Bagan train leaves at 16:00 every day and arrives at Bagan the next day at 9:30. It costs $17 for first seats, $23 for upper seats, $28 for sleepers. More info here.
The Mandalay-Bagan train leaves twice daily. First train leaves at 07:20, arrives 18:45. Second train leaves 21:00, arrives 04:50. Ordinary seat is $1 and First class seats are $2. More info here.
3. BY BUS – It’s probably the most used transport out of all five. I found this really good schedule from a Tripadvisor post. I’m not sure how current it is.
Buses from Mandalay to Bagan:
Shwe Mann Thu Bus ( Mandalay to Bagan ), Departure time : 8:30 AM , 1:30 PM , 4:30 PM , 10:00 PM, Price : 8500 Kyat or $8.5
Shwe Mann Thu Bus ( Bagan to Mandalay ), Departure time : 8:30 AM , 4:00 PM , 9:30 PM
Phone of Bus company : 0280693 , 096500151 , 0991042741
Aye Chan Mg Bus ( Mandalay to Bagan ), Departure time : 7:30 AM , 5:00 PM, Price : 7500 kyats or $7 ( 7:30 Bus ) and 10000 kyats or $10 ( 5:00 PM Bus )
Aye Chan Mg Bus ( Bagan to Mandalay ), Departure time : 8:00AM , 5:00 PM
Phone of Bus Company: 02 78558
Pyi Daw Aye Bus ( Mandalay to Bagan ), Departure time : 7:30 AM , 11:30 AM , 2:30 PM, Price : 7500 Kyats or $7.5
Pyi Daw Aye Bus ( Bagan to Mandalay ), Departure time : 5:30 AM , 8:00 AM , 2:30 PM
Phone of Bus Company: 0278513 , 092057330
Nyaung U Man Bus ( Mandalay to Bagan ), Departure time : 8:30 AM , 1:00 PM , 4:30 PM, Price : 8500 Kyats or $8.5
Nyaung U Man Bus ( Bagan to Mandalay ), Departure time : 5:30 AM , 7:00 AM , 9:00 AM
Phone of Bus Company: 096500913 , 09425007273
Yangon to Bagan Bus Schedule
Shwe Mandalar Bus, Departure time : 8:00 AM, 7:00 PM, 8:00 PM
Mandalar Min Express, Departure time: 7:30 AM, 7:00 PM, 7:30 PM
JJ Bus Company Schedule as of September 15, 2015
Inle Lake to Bagan (Taunggyi) Bus Schedule, posted on April 28, 2014 at this Tripadvisor forum.
Ye Thu Aung Express
Departure time from Nyaung U : 7:00 PM, Departure time from Taunggyi ( Inle lake ) : 6:00 PM ( The bus will arrive at the Shwe Nyaung Junction around 6:30 PM )
Cost : 12000 kyats or $12
Bagan, Nyaung U ( 061-60230 , 0949218470 ), Taung Gyi ( For Inle lake ) ( 081-208051 )
Shwe Man Thu Express
Departure time at Nyaung U : 7:30 AM, Departure time at Taung Gyi : 6:00 AM
Cost : 11000 kyats or $11
Nyaung U ( Bagan ) : 096500152 , 09402500129, Taung Gyi ( Inle lake ): 096500155 , 09402576749
Bagan Min Thar Express
Nyaung U Departure time : 7:00 PM, Taung Gyi Departure time : 6:00 PM
Cost : 12000 kyats or $12
Nyaung U ( Bagan ) : 061-60202 , 0943128712, Taung Gyi ( Inle lake ) : 09421144892 , 0949350026
4. BY FERRY – There’s only one route for this, Mandalay to Bagan and it’s a slow one.
The “express” ferries take about 10 hours and costs around $40-$50. Departs 7am daily.
There slow ferries are a cheaper option at $10. Departs at 5am twice a week. It takes about 14-17 hours.
5. BY MINI VAN – This is the one I took. You can read about my experience here. I love the door to door service and I can’t rave about it enough.
OK Express ( Mandalay to Bagan ), Departure time: 8:00 AM , 10:00 AM , 12:00 PM , 3:00 PM , 5:30 PM, Price: 9000 Kyats or $9, Duration: 4.5 Hours
Contact Phone in Mandalay: ( 09-33824444 , 09-256273332 )
OK Express ( Bagan to Mandalay ), Departure time : 05:00 AM , 08:00 AM , 01:00 PM , 4:30 PM , 8:30 PM, Price: 9000 Kyats or $9, Duration: 4.5 Hours
Contact Phone in Bagan : ( 0933814444 , 09256273331)
Contact Phone in Myingyan: ( 066-22623 , 09-256273337 , 09-33134444 , 09-256273338 )
BAGAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL ZONE TICKET – $20, required for all foreign visitors. Collected at the gate entering Bagan. Ticket is good for 5 days. Bring cash.
WHERE TO STAY?
It is very important to choose the area you want to be in. There are 3 areas to choose from.
- NYAUNG U – closest to the main town, nearest to airport, bus terminal and train station. It is also closest to restaurants meaning more eating options. There are a lot of budget accommodations in this area and transport rentals.
- OLD BAGAN – closest to the sights and temples. If I were to come again, I would choose to stay here. Most upscale resorts and hotels are located here but I’ve searched options and there are certainly affordable ones.
- NEW BAGAN – this is the farthest of the three. There are a good number of hostels and hotels in the area. This feels more like a residential area where you can actually see locals live their day to day life, not as touristy. That would be a plus if you like that. You can read about my hostel experience here.
FAMOUS TEMPLES OF BAGAN
SHWESANDAW PAGODA – This is the pagoda that is famous for sunsets and sunrises. It can get crowded but it has five levels. The view is really amazing up top.
SHWEZIGON PAGODA – Located close to Nyaung-U. It’s a golden pagoda unlike most pagodas that are made of bricks or stone. This is probably one of my favorite ones.
ANANDA PHAYA – The Ananda temple is derived from the name of the venerable Ananda who was Buddha’s first cousin. He was one of his principal disciples, personal secretary and a devout attendant. It is famous for it’s enormous Buddhas, each on four sides of the temple.
THATBYINNYU TEMPLE – Thatbyinnyu” means “Omniscience” which the Lord Buddha attained on becoming enlightened. In the Temple are circumambulatory vaulted corri-dors, four-terraced devotional stupa, vihara (monastery) and the library. It is a big complex structure with seven terraces in all facing east. It is also the tallest temple in Bagan. To read more about it, you can check this site.
HTILOMINLO GHUPAYA-GYI – This temple had a really nice structure. It is also frequented by tour groups because it’s very accessible from the main road. There were a lot of stalls that sold clothes and other trinkets surrounding the temple.
OTHER TEMPLES THAT ARE WORTH THE VISIT WHICH I DIDN’T GET TO..
DHAMMAYANGYI TEMPLE – The largest temple in Bagan. It is also the widest temple in Bagan. It was built with a plan similar to the Ananda Temple. The temple’s interior is bricked up for unknown reasons, thus only the four porches and the outer corridors are accessible
SULAMANI GUPHAYA TEMPLE – The red brick temple is similar to Thatbyinnyu Temple in design. It was built with bricks and stones. It has impressive frescoes in its interior.
MANUHA TEMPLE – It is located in Myinkaba, south of Old Bagan. It is a rectangular structure with two stories. The structure contains three images of seated Buddhas and an image of Buddha entering Nirvana. It is one of the oldest temples in Bagan built in 1067.
The number of restaurants are increasing. There are usually restaurants near hostels and hotels. I’ve only tried two restaurants on the list that I wanted to go to. Otherwise, I ate some place nearby my hostel. I’ve also tried getting food from our hostel – this is pricier than going out to eat in my experience.
WEATHERSPOON – located in Nyaung-U on Restaurant Row. They serve huge burgers and local dishes. The price is fair. They have really good reviews. You can read mine here.
BE KIND TO ANIMALS – THE MOON – This one is located in Old Bagan. They have a copycat restaurant nearby so make sure you go to the “original one”. Read my review here.
STAR BEAM – This one is also located in Old Bagan. I actually wanted to eat here but never really found the opportunity to. It’s in the top five on Tripadvisor.
BICYCLES – This would be the cheapest option and also the most tiring. Haha. They do bike rentals for 1000 – 2000 Kyats for a full day.
ELECTRONIC BIKES OR E-BIKES – I love these! They are rented out for 3000-6000 Kyats for a full day. It can actually accommodate two people. Foreigners are not allowed to operate motor bikes so this would be the next best thing. They do instruct you on how to use one and you can try it out before renting it. You can read more about it here.
HORSE CARTS – These would have been fun and more economical if I wasn’t alone. They cost 10,000-15,000 Kyats for a full day. The go really slow but at least you have some shad from the sun and the rain. The driver/guide would be a bonus too.
PRIVATE CARS – These are the most expensive of the bunch. They are $40-$50 for a day. I bet they are really comfortable with the AC.
HOT AIR BALLOON RIDES – There are two companies that does this. The price range is from $320-$400. That’s a bit much for me but I’m sure it’s a really nice experience.
WATCHING THE MONKS IN THE MORNING – The monks rise really early to walk the streets to get their rations of food from people. It’s a really nice sight to see and very unique especially if you’re from the West.
TEMPLE RUN – It is THE thing to do in Bagan. Why else go?