Bagan: An Introduction
If you’ve written ‘mind-blowing temples’ anywhere near the top of your Burma ‘to see’ list, you need to visit Bagan, an ancient city 50 miles south-west of Mandalay. Catch it at the right time of day & you’ll witness thousands of delicate spires rising through the tendrils of mist that hang low in the valley & turn the view utterly mystical.
There are areas where the junta’s city planning has been haphazard; their damaging 'restoration' attempts scuppered the city’s bid for UNESCO Heritage status. Nonetheless, Bagan (its formal name, rather splendidly, means 'City of the Enemy Crusher') has been important in one way or another for two millennia, & was Burma’s capital during the 9th century. Some of its stupas & temples are many hundreds of years old.
Bagan is one of the most significant ancient religious cities in Southeast Asia, matched only really by Angkor Wat, in Cambodia. And whereas Angkor has that delightful 'buried in the jungle' adventure quality to it, the view across Bagan's 2500 + temples and pagoda's is completely unobstructed. Some can even sit on their hotel balcony & gaze out, stunned into contemplative silence by that valley of gleaming spires.
Many hotels are located close to the old city walls or in Bagan New Town just a few miles away; the government having forcibly evicted the many thousands of residents from inside city walls. The nearby New Bagan has a lively market and the tea shop culture
Without question, one of Asia's finest ancient wonders. Allow time, this is an experience you will not want to rush.