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The Essential 3-Day Itinerary in Bagan

December 20, 2023 - 431 views

Where would you like to spend 3 days in Bagan? Let's follow this travel guide to better plan the best itinerary for a 3-day trip in Bagan. 

Bagan is one of the most mysterious and charming destinations in Myanmar. It is beautifully filled with over 2,000 pagodas and temples remaining from the 11th century. You will have a chance to explore the masterpieces of Bagan as Shwezigon Pagoda, Htilominlo Temple, Gubyaukgyi Temple, etc. Do not miss to experience these places when you travel to Myanmar.

To reach Bagan, you will have some popular ways like taking flights, overnight trains or hiring a taxi, private car. Taking a bus to reach Bagan is the most popular way chosen by tourists. This option will save your time a lot and also money. The best time for visiting Bagan is from November to February since the weather is pretty dry and the temperature is not a big difference between day and night. After this period, from March to May, the temperature would rise up high due to the sunny season. Rain would fall heavily around August – October.

Spending 3 days in Bagan would be the perfect timing to enjoy the best of this city. Here is our suggestion for Bagan 3 day itinerary. 

Day 1: Bagan Temples

Start the day trip early in the morning with Nyaung U Market will be a nice idea. This is the most favorable time for taking photos of local trading activities and local people at this local market. Even just a local market, tourists can find many interesting things about the local life here to explore. Tourists can find many types of goods selling here in this market such as fresh meats, veggies, and fruits, beautiful clothes, handmade ceramics,…

After the visit to the local market, you can take a cab to visit the famous Shwezigon Pagoda which is not far from the market. This pagoda is the most important reliquary shrine and houses 37 Nats in Bagan. This pagoda follows the original structure of typical Burmese stupas. It is one of the most famous Buddhist sites in Bagan which shows the close-knit connection between Theravada Buddhism and the traditional Burmese religion.

The famous Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan

The famous Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan

Next, you will explore the "Cave Temple" - the Kyansittha Temple and Gubyaukgyi Temple in Wetkyi Inn village. They are the 13th-century cave temples with interesting fine frescoes of sconces from the Jataka.

After the morning trip, you can have a little break with some local specialties for lunch to fill up the energy for the afternoon trip. You can consider some nice local restaurants for your lunch here such as Queen Restaurant, Golden Emperor, BBQ Harmony, Golden Myanmar with the popular local dishes like tea leaf salad, BBQ chicken, and fish.

The afternoon trip can start with Htilominlo Temple. Being built in 1218 during the reign of King Htilominlo, the 46-meter-high temple was known as the last and the most iconic temple Myanmar-style temple in Bagan.

Htilominlo Temple in Bagan

Htilominlo Temple in Bagan

Another outstanding pagoda in Bagan is Ananda Temple, which is considered as one of Bagan's most beautiful and sacred temples thanks to its very symmetrical structure with a Greek diagonal layout. When you enter the temple, you will find the story of the Buddha is told through 554 ceramic tiles on the stairs.

Ananda Temple is another must-see attraction in Bagan

Ananda Temple is another must-see attraction in Bagan

Then heading to Dhammayangyi Temple, you will see the largest temple in the area among the sacred temples with a pyramid shape. The temple can also be recognized as the one without a pointed top, unlike other traditional Burmese-style temples. Dhammayangyi was constructed in 1167 by King Narathu after murdering his own father for the throne. It is said that the temple was built but could not be completed due to the karma caused by Narathu, which also explains why it did not have the top like other temples.

Late afternoon, it would be best to see the beautiful sunset at Shwesandaw Pagoda before heading back to the hotel. The charming pagoda is not only an interesting place to explore the architectural magnificence but also a place to immerse yourself in the most scenic photos in comparison with other temples in the area.

Day 2: Bagan – Mount Popa

One of the best ways to start the morning in Bagan is to take an amazing balloon ride to see the sunrise. You will have a great opportunity to enjoy a breathtaking view over Bagan while the balloon floating over the temples, rivers and the sun comes up gently over the mountain. However, the hot air balloon season in Bagan only lasts from October to the next April. 

air balloon ride is the best way to admire the beauty of Bagan

Booking an air balloon ride is the best way to admire the beauty of Bagan

After breakfast, depart for Mount Popa, a good time to appreciate the varied landscapes of northern Myanmar. Mount Popa of Bagan is one of the special mountains in Myanmar. It is also a must-go place when people come to visit Myanmar. The mount is a crater of an extinct volcano perched by a sacred monastery, which believed to be home of the most powerful Nats and four of these Buddhist spirits worshiped by the Burmese.

Then observe the rural life and the cottage industries in Bagan. On the way, you may stop at several places for making photos and learning about the countryside life. To climb to the top of Mount Popa, tourists need to walk on their bare feet completely and wear suitable clothing as the mountain is considered a religious relic to locals and climb 777 steps. It is totally worth climbing this mount to enjoy the amazing view of the landscapes, panoramic view of an extinct volcano and the plain of Bagan.

After the trip, on the way back to your hotel, you can consider a river cruise to enjoy the sunset in Bagan.

Day 3: Bagan Daily Life 

After 2 days of exploring downtown places, it will be nice to spend a day to learn more and deeply about the Bagan local rural life where you can truly see how locals live. You can travel to Myinkaba Village by a local horse cart. This is a less touristy area and you will not find souvenir shops here as well because there are only local traders.

Myinkaba Village gives you an authentic experience in the countryside of Bagan

Myinkaba Village gives you an authentic experience in the countryside of Bagan

From here, you will head to Manuha pagoda, a nice place to observe local people produce peanut oils, special Bagan cigar.

All in all, three days in Bagan might be enough for exploring the city but could not be enough for the tourists who love exploring the mystical beauty of the ancient temples and pagodas here. The ancient city has many other precious gems waiting to be uncovered, let us be your local guide to take you to experience the real Bagan.

Thompson Ngo

(Image source: Internet)

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