Bagan. It’s in Myanmar.
(Location: Bagan, Myanmar)
When we told people that we were going to Myanmar, the reactions were pretty classic. Most people didn’t know where it was and then said, “Oh, you mean Burma.” Most people asked “Why??” Bagan is just popping up on the tourist radar, and I hope the crowds don’t flock here and ruin it (Bagan gets 200,000 visitors per year, compared to Angkor Wat, which gets over a million)
BAY-gan. BUH-gone. Burma. Whatever you call it, we loved it.
From Bangkok, we flew to Mandalay and then on to Nyaung U (Bagan).
- We were super excited to be given Bangkok Air lounge passes – but it was the saddest lounge EVER.
- Landing in Mandalay was a bit dodgy – we were almost on the ground when the plane started to ascend and bank to the left. Still not sure what happened here, but it wasn’t a good feeling.
- Departing Mandalay, we were boarded onto this ANCIENT bus. Andy said, “I think Rosa Parks was on this one.” I snort laughed.
- We had booked the ticket on Air Bagan, via their website. But then the bus dropped us off at another airline, Asia Wings. We think the flights may have been combined at the last minute because only a few people got off in Nyuang U.
- You have to buy a park pass to exit the airport, and you have to pay in USD. I never realised what a complete pain in the ass this was until I started living outside the US.
We stayed at the Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort in a river view suite. Basically it was perfect – large, clean, quiet, and good air conditioning. The grounds were lovely and had a perfect sunset view across the river. The main dining area was open air, overlooking the pool and river – basically perfect except the food was just so-so (and pricey).
We wound up looking on TripAdvisor and ventured into town one night for dinner at La Terasse. This was our best meal in Bagan – YUM.
We spent one day on a private photo tour with Maung Maung. We booked with him directly via email, though you can book via the hotel (more expensive though). We had an absolutely AMAZING day with Maung Maung, and he even dropped off a CD of the pics he shot the next day. On a scale of 1 to 5, he’s a 10.
- Pickup at 6am – sunrise photoshoot at Shwegugyi Pagoda
- Monk Ceremony at Shwe San Daw Pagoda
- Monk Photoshoot at Tharabar Gate
- Random Parade
- Back to hotel from 11-2
- Afternoon photoshoot with monk at Dhammayangyi and also inside a smaller (locked) temple
- Sunset Photoshoot
We also did a sunrise balloon flight with Oriental Ballooning. It’s a bit expensive, but the views are amazing. Seriously amazing.