With over 2,200 temples, pagodas, monasteries and monuments – Bagan is overflowing with historic and cultural wealth. Majority of these structures were built in 11th and 13th century but were shattered by frequent earthquakes, weather changes and of course, old age. In fact, another earthquake just recently hit the ancient city again and damaged hundreds of pagodas including the latest restorations.
It was quite heart-breaking because the locals are really doing their best to preserve the archaeological site. But since the country is positioned in a major fault line, anyone can hardly do anything about it and rebuilding becomes never-ending.
Also, many people think (myself included) that Bagan is listed as UNESCO Heritage Site… it’s NOT. UN rejected Myanmar’s application because the former military government did not pay attention to the original details and materials used during the restoration projects. This means that the preservation work budget is largely paid for by locals themselves (that huge glass boxes of money inside the temples are proof!) – a genuine attestation of their love for their own. It’s really humbling.
I am remembering Bagan again today with some of the most gorgeous views I’ve seen in my life! Let’s give Bagan (and Myanmar in general) the love it deserves because it’s truly one of the most amazing places in the world.
Tip: The temperature reaches up to 45 degrees in dry season, always bring a bottle of water to keep yourself hydrated.
Tip: It’s good to spend time with a local tour guide in at least one day of your visit. This way you’ll get a better appreciation of the history and the story behind the construction of the temples.
Tip: The national currency of Myanmar is kyat (pronounced as “chat”) but US dollar is preferred ($1 US dollar approx. equal to 1031 kyat). Major credit cards are not always accepted in Myanmar. There are not that many ATMs as well, so visitors need to bring a lot of US dollars. The higher the denomination, the better the exchange rate.
If you’re visiting Myanmar, please remember to respect the temples (do NOT wear shoes or socks inside) and dress appropriately. Also, not all pagodas and temples should be climbed upon to avoid further damage to the structure. When in doubt of which temples are allowed for climbing, simply ask the locals. :)
I hope these photos convinced you to visit Myanmar.
Is Bagan on your bucket list?