The days in Bagan were probably some of the best of my time in Myanmar.
South and away from the main road where the resorts and the larger temples lie, there is a world to discover.
Get an bike and set off!
During the day, the dusty paths that link the thousands of temples are rather deserted.
Because the bikes are electric, the place is deliciously quiet.
You will find other travellers, but you will mostly be on your own or with your own group during the day.
It is the perfect setup for couples who chase adventure.
And if you’re a photographer, you are in for a threat!
You never know what you will find next: a herd of goats, a ruins complex, a big-ass pagoda, a majestic stupa, a palm-tree forest, a temple…
And whenever you find a temple, you will want to take off your shoes and venture in. Will there be a small staircase to the roof? Will there be unique statues or paintings of Buddha?
Since Bagan authorities are trying to prevent the temples from being climbed, they have shut down most of them and set guards on others.
If you want to know where the best sunrise spots are, check this up-to-date list of temples still accessible.
On my first day there, I still tried to see a sunrise from the Bulethi, so I got there before the guards and hid at the too.
Just ten minutes before sunrise, a Chinese-Japanese couple arrived and were spotted by a guard a second later. The guard then pointed his flashlight to the temple. I quickly hid on the other side.
“I saw you. Come down!”
“Just five minutes more, please!” I begged like a spoiled white kid.
“Come down or I go up!”
So in the end I went down and I told the couple that I knew another place.
I gave my phone with the directions to the place to the lady, who was riding in the back of the bike.
She guided her husband and I to Temple 843 and we made it in time for a great sunrise.
Vast, endless forest with temples popping out all over the place.
And as the Sun began splashing with golden all those temples, a bunch of hot air balloons rose into the air.
With the recent banning of climbing temples and accessing their rooftops, you will hardly be alone for a sunrise. But that’s okay.
I spent some days riding with friends I had made in Hpa-An, Hsipaw, Inle, and even a guy I met in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
And I spent some other days on my own, flashing through the dusty trails in search of cool spots to lay down and read books.
In the afternoon, I roamed the streets of Nyaung U.
I walked around the market or I sat down at Perfect Restaurant, wondering how (and how fast) all of that is going to change with the growth of Myanmar’s tourism.
Sunsets in Bagan are no less spectacular than the sunrises.
Right after the Sun hides from view behind the western hills, a thin mist covers the tree.
A couple of minutes after th Sun is gone, the western sky then explodes in many warm colors above the horizon.
And with that, all of us, the travellers, quiet and still. A few “wow” here and there, and “what did we just see?!”
A realization that the world around me is impossibly pretty, that I was extremely privileged to be there.
Only a few sunrises can compare to those in Bagan.
Are you going to Bagan soon? Make sure to check out this quick guide, it might be useful to you!