Bagan is a special place. It’s not just that it’s home to the densest concentration of temples, pagodas, and stupas in the world, many from the 11th and 12th centuries. It’s just the place itself. It’s so laid back, so truly Burmese, it’s a visual feast for the eyes and all the senses.
It’s similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, but has a different feel. There’s something about the seemingly unorganized fashion that the Bagan landscape took shape that gives it a special character.
Bagan was the headquarters for King Anawratha, who unified Myanmar under Buddhistm in the 9th century. There used to be about 13,000 temples and stupas, but now only about 2200 remain. The golden age of this majestic place came to an end with the invasion of the Mongols in the 13th century.
The best way to see Bagan is to rent a bike for $1-$2 and pedal around. It’s easy to make the circuit and see the major temples in one day, with ample time to rest and replenish fluids drained out by the fierce sun.
The best way I can share Bagan’s majesty is through pictures.