The temples of Bagan
The temples of Bagan Reviews
Highly recommended tour! Apr 11, 2010
Situated near to the Ayeyarwady River, Bagan used to serve as the capital city for several kingdoms in Myanmar during the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. The temples however are Bagan’s most enduring legacy. So many of them dot the skyline and they are all best explored over a long day trip, or over two half day trips. Usually the temples involve stupas, domes, pagodas as well as some temples which are more similar to the ones found in India. Although 5,000 pagodas are said to have existed at some point, regrettably, just under half of these still exist after the 1975 earthquake decimated the landscape. Consequently, in order to avoid any further damage to the remaining structures, it is only possible to do the day tour of the temples with a horse driven carriage and driver. I paid around 10 US dollars for the day, and my driver took me around all the main temples and patiently waited outside each one until I was done. Usually the drivers can speak some English and the day is actually quite informative; you get some biography about the temples and learn more about the local culture! The key tips I would give are to:
- ensure your carriage seat is cushioned. The roads are bumpy and you'll be transported around on the carriage all day. The last thing you need is a seat that's uncomfortable!
- take adequate amounts of water for the day (soft drinks are more readily available though at the cafes near the major temples).
- prepare to put up with persistent locals who will try to offer you a tour (for a fee of course or for you to visit their souvenir shop). It’s best to keep conversation to a minimum, but on the plus side, the place isn’t as touristy as Angkor Wat.
- be prepared for the heat and dust if you're going in the dry season. The temples require you to take your shoes off, the ground can get rather hot to walk on as well as dusty. Therefore, make sure you have easy to put on shoes, and things such as wet wipes/face cloths.
COST - The temples are free entrance for all of them, so if you see someone trying to impose a charge, they are probably trying to con you! Luckily you have your driver-guide with you near most temple entrances, so you cannot get into too much trouble!
I booked my driver-guide through my hotel (no commission charged). Travelling around on the horse-driven carriage was rather unique too! The day trip around the various temples was a key highlight of Myanmar and I highly recommend it.
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