Bagan is one of the highlights of any trip to Burma, and watching the sunrise and sunset is a daily ritual. It’s not as easy as you might think to find the best places for sunrise in Bagan. Here’s why…
Have you heard rumours about temples being closed for climbing? Well, they are. All the major temples no longer allow tourists to scramble over them in search of the best vantage point for sunrise. Which I guess, when you think about the history of the place, is kind of a good thing! That said, watching the sunset from the top of a temple is the most MAGICAL part of being in Bagan, and it’s still possible.
My tips for finding the best place for sunrise in Bagan:
Head Towards Old Bagan
If you’re staying toward Nyuang U (we were), set your alarm early and drive your ebike towards Old Bagan for sunrise. This is the best place to see the balloons floating against the backdrop of the sunrise. Be aware that the number of balloons really depends on the time of year (more tourists = more balloons)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ve probably heard of MapsMe. If you haven’t already, install the app on your phone. Like, right now.
MapsMe is a godsend in Bagan and is probably the easiest way to find an epic place to watch the sunset. Most temples and viewpoints have notes saying “closed Feb 2018”, but dig a little deeper. There are plenty of temples labelled as “360 viewpoint” or “rooftop access”… It’s these gems that will lead to the best seat in the house for sunrise.
Fellow travellers who have been in Bagan for a couple of days are the BEST. They will already have done some of the hard yards for you, and most are pretty happy to give up the goods!
If all else fails, hop on your ebike and drive around aimlessly just before dawn. Without fail, you’ll be approached by a local “painter” who offers to take you to a good temple for sunrise. In return, he will want to show you a painting once the sunrise has finished. Generally the paintings go for about $7-10USD, but if you’re not into buying, a small tip will keep them satisfied.
- Always take your shoes off before climbing the temples
- Don’t wear shorts or show your shoulders
- Be quiet when visiting a temple
- Respect the locals, as well as their beliefs and traditions
Bagan, and actually all of Myanmar, is a truly incredible place to visit. Go now, before it gets any more touristy!