Myanmar has rapidly gained in popularity for tourism since 2010 – all the more reason to hurry and visit before it becomes like Siem Reap. The charm of Myanmar seems to be it’s authentic people, ancient past, and beautifully preserved culture.
We arrived in Yangon and immediately booked an overnight bus for Bagan. Go with JJ Express and book the first class option. This will give you a comfortable seat with a blanket and neck pillow. Don’t forget to bring a jacket, while it may be hot and humid during the day; the buses like to blast the A/C and it can get chilly.
We arrive around 6 AM which is just in time to watch the famous sunrise over the temples. Instead of checking in, we ask the tuk tuk driver to take us directly to the temples for watching the sunrise. He takes us to Bulethi, but you can really choose anyone to avoid the crowds and get the same view. If you’re baller status you can take the hot air balloons but it will set you back a good $300 USD. We decided the view from the temples were just as nice!
The best way to explore Bagan is to rent an electric scooter and explore all the surrounding temples. Throw the map out and forget about needing to see everything. Follow the stupas to find your next stop and when you get hungry, stop for some local grub.
Along the temple grounds we see Kayan people or “Long Neck” women as known by tourist. They are identified by the long coils they wear around their neck giving the appearance of a lengthened neck. They start wearing these coils as young as 5 and continue to elongate them as they grow older.
Along with their distinctive neck coils are the beautifully colorful hand woven pieces of cloth. The sun is starting to go down so find a temple nearby and watch the sunset in this magical place.