Where to see the sunrise in Bagan (December 2018 update)

Sunrise at Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan is shutting down its temples, an ongoing process that began on January 2018. Authorities are locking the ones with roofs and guarding with police the ones that were usually climbed from the outside.

For info on how to get there, accommodation and places to sleep, check out this quick travel guide to Bagan.

Finding the perfect sunrise/sunset spot has become trickier, and a lot of information on travel blogs and maps applications is suddenly obsolete.

I am periodically updating this article with information from travelers who provide updates from their trips (check their comments for some extra info!). Thank you so much for sharing your tips!

Why are the temples being shut?

Asking locals here and there, I received mixed opinions. However, since most sellers care about the quantity (not quality) of the travellers, they were not happy about it in general.

They provided different accounts on the reasoning behind the government shutting down temples. An opinion shared by many is that authorities want Bagan to be a destination for luxury travel only, and by preventing access to temples and castles they will keep backpackers away.

Others of course observed that having tens of travellers go up the (usually old) staircases of (usually old) buildings is dangerous for both the people and the building. This is specially true for temples that were usually climbed, such as the Buledi. I personally witnessed a young traveller trying to climb an old temple and falling down on his back when a big block of bricks gave in to the weight (and felt on him).

Finally, a seller told me that this was done to redistribute the flow of tourists; that the government plans to keep opening and closing different temples throughout the place every now and then. I am not sure about the logic behind this.

The free phone app maps.me is an absolute must in Bagan. It is the best “map of Bagan” you will find, because previous travellers have shared info about their findings on it.

Good spots still accessible as of December 2018

First, here’s a list of temples still open to tourists, in order of my personal preference 🙂

  • Utrecht Temple and surrounding temples (21.149617,94.87082): very unique views from between the temples, some of which can be safely climbed. Do not attempt to climb any of the old-looking or unrestored ones. One of the temples is marked in funny Spanglish “Beautiful vistas from within the trees. But have to climb”. Usually visited only by youngsters.
  • Near Utrecht, “Viewpoint” temple (21.14805, 94.871902) has stairs and is still accessible.
  • Temple opposite Law Ka Ou Shaung (21.162636,94.864083). As of June 2018, it’s locked, although the fence can be climbed over…
  • Temple next to She Myet Hna (21.169197,94.857): on the northwest of Bagan, the views are interrupted by the road and town buildings. It is marked as “Sunset and sunrise temple” on Maps.me.
  • Temple at 21.156784, 94.867959, as recommended by Elliot and Christina in the comments. It is marked as ‘Sunrise temple’ on maps.me. It is located right below the trajectory of the baloons. Confirmed to be open as of December 2018. Expect crowds of 10-20 people.
  • Temple at 21.178849, 94.872101, open according to Matt in the comments.
  • Templa at 21.159125, 94.860988, marked as “Accessible roof” on Maps.me; confirmed to be open as of December 2018.
  • Rooftop place labeled as ‘360 rooftop views’ on Maps.me (21.085301, 94.521889), a bit further from the previous ‘Sunrise temple’. Travelers have commented it is still accessible as of December 2018, expect to find 20+ other visitors on it, since it is one of the spots that local guides now recommend.
  • Myauk Guni Phaya (21.159454, 94.87121) was closed but the lock was left unlocked. So up to you. It is are guarded during sunset, but accessible during sunrise, expect 0-10 people. It was locked again in December 2018, but people still manage to climb over the door inside.
  • Thaung Guni Paya (21.158712, 94.871242), exact same situation as Myauk Guni Phaya.
  • “Sunset and Sunrise Pagoda, 360 view” (21.16147, 94.867761) is still open, with a crowd of about 20 people. As Vincent commented below, the views are great for both sunrise and sunset.
  • “Rooftop 360” (21.145187, 94.8817) is still open. It is more accessible, it has stairs and then you can climb a bit higher along the outside. As Amy writes in the comments, there were about 15 people when visited at sunset time in December 2018.
  • “Temple 360 view” (21.145138, 94.882221), locked in December 2018, but climbable from the outside, as some people have been spotted on top of the structure.s of December 2018. Again, climb at your own risk, and remember that local authorities strictly forbid it.
  • Temple 860 (21.145909,94.883118): very good views on all sides. I loved this place for sunset and post-sunset colors and fog. It was closed, people used to climb the fence, and now it is finally open again. Expect a big crowd already on it, as the list of other open places is getting shorter and shorter. Secure a good spot by going earlier! UPDATE: There is now a fence around the stairs and thick branches with horns, making the climbing very difficult.

Alternatives: unofficial local guides, the Viewing Tower and the mounds

Previously, tourists did not pay any attention to locals who offer to take you to a good spot for some pocket money. Since pretty much everything was accessible, most travellers ignored them. Now, with the temples closing down, it might be a good idea to trust them; they are probably a more reliable source than travel blogs now that only a few places are left open.

Regarding the Bagan Viewing Tower, it’s still a very deserted place, rather far away from the rest of the temples. It is accessible for sunrise and sunsets. It is inevitably becoming more and more popular due to tourists giving up on the temples that are being closed. I was personally asked to pay 8 EUR when I tried to access for a sunset, but other travelers have since been told it is free of charge. If you have any new information on this, let me know and I’ll include it here!

As for the viewing mounds, well, you can’t really see much from there as they’re very low. That’s also where many tour buses drop their (usually old) travelers, so it’s massively crowded.

Sunrise at Bagan, Myanmar

Off-the-beaten-track spots

It is 2018 and smartphones have been around for long, so don’t expect any temples you can find along the paths in Bagan to be out of the government’s radar. If you wish to find untouched temples and undiscovered sunrise views, you literally need to get off your bike and get away from the (beaten) tracks.

However, if you only wish to visit around temples from the outisde, most of those south of Anawratha Road are empty and quiet during the day. Outside of sunrise/sunrise hours, you will only pass by a few other foreign travellers on most dusty roads throughout.

Once popular spots that are now closed to the public

These were frequented by locals and travellers, and therefore appear on Maps.me as sunrise/sunset spots, but cannot be accessed anymore. Sometimes, they are temporarily reopened, as reported by some readers. These are:

  • “Best view point of Bagan, gate is broken” (21.158819, 94.876733) is now locked shut.
  • Buledi (or Bhuleti)
  • Law Ka Ou Shaung
  • Lay Myet Hna Pagoda
  • Meenyeingon Phaya
  • “Roof climb” building (as marked on Maps.me): this temple’s roof is a flat platform. Lots of photographers used to come here as you can get a shot of the rising Sun and the balloons in between the temples.
  • Shwe Gu Gyi Phaya (21.170806,94.86243): big temple with southern views. Inaccessible as of June 2018, according to Anna.
  • Shwe Leik Too (21.180897,94.882382): close to the Irrawaddy River. It is far from trees and temples, which are south from it. The stairs were locked as of December 2018.
  • Shwe Nan Yin Taw Monastic Complex
  • Sulamani Pahto’s surrounding temples
  • “Sunset sunrise view point” next to temple 2000
  • Tayoke Pyay Temple
  • Temple 446
  • Temple 697
  • Temple at 21.176409,94.8866252 (used to be very little frequented and off the radar, a shame that it’s been finally shut).
  • Temple at 21.158799,94.871151: saved as “sunrise/sunset views very good one” on Maps.me, it is surrounded by trees. The first line of temples is a bit far, so those looking for the perfect Bagan picture might want to go elsewhere. Sadly, it’s been closed!
  • Temple 843 (21.1547353, 94.8807665) is open, and very crowded during sunset and sunrise. There are reports of a guy with some kind of official ID card showing up, asking everyone for their zone ticket and leaving afterwards. He didn’t seem to care that some people climbed the temple’s roof, though. Locked on September 2018.
  • “The Real Best View Point Ever” as marked on Maps.me (21.148057,94.871913): featuring a very narrow staircase, this place is usually visited by 20-30 people on sunrises and sunsets. Trees and temples on all sides, awesome views! Finally locked as of September 2018.
  • Thit Sa Wadi (great sunrise views with balloons sometimes passing very close above the temples) has finally been locked.

If you want to know how to get to Bagan, and where to sleep and eat, check out this quick travel guide.

You can read here about my experience in Bagan, where I visited popular and lesser-known temples and monasteries for a few days, and witnessed incredibly beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

Want to share your experience in Bagan or recommend a spot? Write in the comments section below!

51 Comments

  1. “Roof climb” building (“roof climb viewpoint” on Maps.me, the one south of old Bagan on the sealed road to new Bagan) is closed (March 2018)

  2. Update March 14th 2018

    Temple 860 is closed, but one could climb the fence easily.

    21.148057,94.871913 (real best Viewpoint) gets pretty crowded including kid hawkers. Some tourists will be brought here by locals (unofficial guides) but it’s open.

    21.1547353, 94.8807665 is open, very crowded during sunset and sunrise (there was a wedding shooting during sunset!). There was a guy with some kind of ID card showing up, asking everyone for their zone ticket and after having checked all foreigners, he left. He didn’t seem to care that some people climbed the Temple’s roof, though.

    Outside Htilominlo temple I found an official sign, stating that climbing the temples and pagodas is forbidden due to conservation. It’s quoting:

    “Dear Tourists, You can enjoy to see the sunrise,sunset and panoramic view from third floor of Bagan Viewing Tower by free of charge. (no need to pay)
    Morning (AM), Evening (PM) (5:00) To (6:30)”

    So much for that.
    Thanks for your efforts to list all those places!

    • Thank you so much, bere! I included your tips in the article. The Viewing Tower was not free when I visited, so I directly ruled it out! I wonder what the views are really like from there, since it was a bit far away from the denser temple areas.

      • You’re welcome! But you helped me more with the information provided 🙂

        About the Viewing tower I’m pretty sure, the experience will be totally different and even though, I haven’t been there, I strongly recommend anyone not to go. Problems are, it’s so far in the east of the zone that you will only see the temples and pagodas to your west, all pretty far away what will cause a problem to everybody’s camera due to fog. Also, I am very scared of busloads of Asian group tours roaming there…

        But as you’ve mentioned above, more and more likely the local touts offering sunset / sunrise spots will become a serious source. I believe, some of them will at some point cracking open some of the locks using bolt cutters.

  3. Hi Ferran,
    Thanks very much for your information, I had a short time in Bagan so I chose (21.148057,94.871913) to see sunrise and sunset. It was still open on 23 March 2018. There was one guy who came and checked visitors’ tickets but did nothing.
    But the sunrise and sunset is not beautiful so much now because this time is the end of season. I hope that this place will be still open when I come back to Bagan in the next season.
    Pls keep updating. Your list is very helpful for many visitors.

  4. Thanks so much for this super helpful list. We went to temple 860 yesterday for sunset but a man was there saying it was closed and directed us to temple 843. Temple 843 was open, slightly crowded but nice still the less (we also got asked to show our entry cards). We went to Utrecht Temple and surrounding temples and the real best view point ever and both were open!! There was a man there that asked everyone to come down as soon as sunrise was over which was fair enough. Thanks once again!!

    • Such a shame Temple 860 is closed! I personally witnessed an accident of a man falling there, so I am not so surprised. It is still good to visit during the day, since the complex itself is great and sort of in the middle of the forest.

  5. Hi Ferran,

    Thanks for this info, we were in Bagan last week and, after searching long and hard, found a temple that’s open that I don’t think you have listed here.

    It’s located at 21.156784, 94.867959 and I’ve marked it as ‘Sunrise temple’ on maps.me.

    We saw it by chance after leaving another popular spot on the last ballooning day of the season. There were only 10-12 people there and the balloons went right over us. A really great spot!

  6. Thank you for this post! Really helped us navigate the temples on our recent trip.

    ‘Sunrise temple’ on maps.me. is open, some locals were going around showing tourists the way there so it was a little crowded, but only about 10-12 people.

    The temple at 21.085301, 94.521889 labeled “temple (good for sunrise), is great for sunrise! and if you go just a bit further there is a perfect one with a 360 view that we discovered on the map too, labeled “360 rooftop views” (21.085301, 94.521889). we had it all to ourselves 🙂

    Thanks for the tips!

    • Thank you so much, Christina! I added your tips with your name next to them, I hope this post continues to be useful for many other travelers 🙂

  7. Hi,
    I’m in Bagan right now. I’m going to check view points you mentioned tomorrow. I checked Shwe Gu Gyi Phaya (21.170806,94.86243) today. They closed it as well (not possible to go up anymore).

    • Thank you! I updated the article with your comment. I hope you can find a great place for your sunrises there, enjoy Bagan, Anna ;)!

  8. As I promised, I checked most of mentioned spots.
    Temple opposite Law Ka Ou Shaung (21.162636,94.864083) is closed as well. If you want, you can easily climb the fence.
    Temple at 21.158799,94.871151: saved as “sunrise/sunset views very good one” on Maps.me – closed (june 2018).

    • Whaaaat, that is so unfortunate, I really liked the views from Law Ka Ou Shaung area! Thank you so much for the tips, Anna!!

  9. This is amazing as going to Bagan in few days.
    Is there lots of check points all over Bagan?
    We will be staying 6 days (taking some time off from travelling 🙂 and I don’t want to pay again after 5 day ticket expired.
    How strict are the check point people if you don’t have a ticket anymore??

    Thanks again for all the info. It’s super helpful

    • I never paid for the entrance fee, as I didn’t even know I had to and nobody asked. One day I noticed one “checkpoint” near one of the big temples north of Anawrahta Road. Along the main and small roads and around the whole temple complex south of Anawrahta Road I was never asked for the ticket. You’ll definitely be fine with the 5-day ticket. If you wish to visit any of the big tourist areas north of Anawrahta Road (between the road and the river), just do that during the valid days.

      Enjoy Bagan, Didi!

  10. Two 860 temples are open as of August 8, 2018. Will update you on the other temples we visit today. One is climbable from inside and the other has a gate around the steps outside by the gate is open.

  11. We were in Bagan from 4th of september to 7th.
    Sunrise temple: 21.156784, 94.867959 was still open (about 10 people at sunrise).
    The Real Best View Point Ever is locked.
    843 locked.
    360 rooftop views is open.

    Also, Myauk Guni Paya 21.159454, 94.87121 is open, there is a lock but it isn’t locked, same for Thaung Guni Paya 21.158712, 94.871242.
    But watch out. They are amazing for sunrise (max 10 people, or zero), but at sunset there are locals threatening to call the police if you climb up.

  12. Hello,

    We were in Bagan from 4th to 6th October.

    Here’s our small update:
    – the “Rooftop 360 view” (21.145138, 94.882221) is open to climb. There were at least 15/20 people on it at sunset
    – the roof of 860 (21.145909, 94.883118) is open but very crowdy, 30 people min.

    The ticket is only for 3 days now (it changed on 1st july) and they check it at famous pagodas and at some rooftop for sunset / sunrise.

    • Sorry Zen, I am no longer there to give you an answer. I hope you could enjoy some nice sunrises! Regarding your other comment, Bullehti is most likely still closed to climbing…

  13. Hello

    We were in Bagan from 9 to 11 November and watched sunset at the hill close to the Sulamani temple. This was very crowded and temples are rather far away, but nice view.
    Then we watched sunrise at the Utrecht temples, nice view from this area for sunrise, but temples are still rather far away in my opinion. Also climbing these temples is not very easy as walking a stairway.
    In the evening we went to temple 860. We went very early there to have a good spot. I thought we were there at 16:30 and there were already people waiting. At the time the sun started to go down it was really crowded. The view was very good. And also 20/30 meters to the west of this temple is another temple open to watch sunset.
    The last day of our stay we went to temple 21°10′36.49″N 94°52′53.23″E This temple we heard from a local. It was the best sunrise I have seen in Bagan. There are a few temples very close and sun is coming up between these temples. At this temple were 10-20 people and you can reach it with a stairway. Also balloons are close at this temple and I made to most beautiful pictures at this spot! Note: This spot is only nice for sunrise, not for sunset.
    Also we discovered another small temple that was located on a very small path you can reach from the path on the south. 21°09′41.29″N 94°52′03.94″E is the coordinate. Maps.me says: sunrise and sunset 360 views. From this temple also a great view for sunrise. 2 giant temples are in front of you (temple Annika mentioned). Also a great view from this spot.

  14. Hi there,
    Thanks for making this amazing post for sunrise in Bagan, it’s particularly useful for my upcoming visit in Jan! Been reading and noting down all the temples as suggested by you and the replies. I’m just wondering, is the photo you took above taken when you were on the Temple 860? Again, thank you so much for your effort in listing everything above.

  15. Hi there,
    I was in Bagan the last couple of days. First of all, thank you for the info on this blog. It helped me to find my way around. I watched the sunset from 21°08′42.5″N 94°52′55.99″E and 21°09′41.57″N 94°52′03.98″E. The sunrise I watched from 21°10′36.49″N 94°52′53.23″E. All three are good locations for nice photos, you have to share the spot though with other people. Also, my ticket got controlled at every one of these temples.

    There’s one thing I want to warn about, apparently it starts to happen more and more: While I was watching the sunrise, the battery of my e-bike was stolen. The owner of the scooter rental wanted 180.000 MMK from me. In the end I paid 13.000 (the rest of what I had in my wallet at this point) with the help of the hotel owner where I stayed and who had arranged the e-bike for me (the hotel was Golden Rose guesthouse). I’m not sure if this was a scam and the batteries get stolen by the rental guys themselves to get some more money out of the tourists. Either way, people should watch out and leave bikes where they can see them (mine was parked on the backside of the temple). I know stuff like this can happen everywhere, but after three weeks in Myanmar I was really disappointed because this is nothing I would have expected anywhere else in the country. I guess that’s what tourism eventually makes of people.

    • Thank you for your comments, JJ! Did the bike issue happen more than once? It’s the first one I hear about something like this! 🙁

  16. As of today 2nd of December 2018:

    Temple 860 is closed (fence around the stairs, probably possible to climb over though)

    “360 rooftop views” is still open but lots of people now (guides bring people here)

    North/South Guni are now locked but some people manage to climb over the door inside.

    We went to “Sunset and Sunrise Pagoda, 360 view” (21.16147, 94.867761) and the view is really good for both. But can be crowded too, 20 people at least.

    West of Dhammayazika Pagoda is 2 temples, “Temple 360 view” (21.145138, 94.882221) is locked now but “Rooftop 360” (21.145187, 94.8817) still open.

    • Also “Sunrise temple” (21.156784, 94.867959) is still opened and so is “Accessible roof” (21.159134, 94.860988) but that last one has a powerline going just in front of it so I’m not sure about the view for sunrise.

  17. Hey! Firstly, thanks for pulling together this list – was super helpful. We checked out every single one of them yesterday and today (3 and 4 December 2018) and unfortunately only 6 are still open. These are:

    21°08′53.01″N 94°52′18.89″E

    21°08′58.62″N 94°52′14.95″E
    (but would not recommend – not safe, not v good views and not good for temples)

    21°09′24.42″N 94°52′04.65″E

    21°09′31.75″N 94°52′36.24″E

    21°10′43.86″N 94°52′19.56″E

    21°11′11.6″N 94°52′57.96″E

    Hope that helps for a new update. Hopefully other travellers have found new open ones!

  18. Thanks for this list! I checked Temple 860 and the Utrecht temples today. Utrecht is nice but not super easy to climb. There’s a nearby spot marked “Viewpoint” (21.14805, 94.871902) that has stairs. For Temple 860, they put thick branches with thorns in front of the gate to prevent visitors from climbing over it. It doesn’t seem possible to get through it without injury unless you have a heavy-duty coat, boots, and thick pants. Also, there was a group of locals hanging out by the gate at sunset discouraging anyone from trying. But “Temple 360 view” (21.145138, 94.882221) and “Rooftop 360” (21.145187, 94.8817) are nearby. For the first one, no stairs but there were some girls who scaled up the structure from the outside. Rooftop 360 is more accessible, it has stairs and then you can climb a bit higher along the outside. There were about 15 people when I visited at sunset.

  19. Great list, thanks! At 1 pm today I went to Shwe Leik Too for the first time to see if I could climb it, but the two sets of stairs inside have locked gates a few steps up.

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