When I lived in Bagan as an ex-pat, I had the opportunity to visit a lot of pagodas and temples but not all 2000 of course! So to save both of our time, I am only sharing the best of the best pagodas and temples to see in Bagan, Myanmar. Some of these also offer the best sunset in Bagan. On saying that watching the sunrise with loads of hot air balloon is something else too! And I have included the secret temples for sunrise as well. Let’s go!
Best pagodas and temples to see in Bagan, Myanmar
- Best pagodas and temples to see in Bagan, Myanmar
- So, why are the temples being shut?
- Ananda Temple
- Shwesandaw Pagoda
- Where to see the sunset in Bagan?
- Mimalaung Kyaung Temple
- Shwezigon Pagoda
- Mount Popa Monastery
- What I used to take these photos:
- Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Digital Camera
- Accessories For Canon GX7 Mark ||
- GoPro HERO4 Silver
- Accessories For Go Pro Hero 4
- SanDisk 64 GB Memory Cards
- All-in-One Memory Card Reader
First thing first, what is the difference between the pagoda and temple?
The answer is simple guys, Pagoda looks like a dome and you CANNOT enter inside but in the temples, you CAN.
Finding the perfect sunrise/sunset spot has become trickier as the temples are getting shut, and a lot of information on many travel blogs and maps is suddenly becoming useless. So, I decided to see it for myself and share with you the names of the best temples and pagodas in Bagan.
So, why are the temples being shut?
One reason I found is climbing old stairs in old temples can be dangerous to people and the monuments too. So, to protect them the authority decided to ban the climb. Another reason I found is, there was an architectural study being undertaken to test the capacity of the temples. It’s due to finish soon. It’s maybe worth mentioning that later this year they will be reopening some of the rooftop temples.
All the pagodas and temples in this list are free to enter at the time of writing.
Don’t forget to carry a valid Bagan Archaeological Zone ticket, take a torch, wear a high-factor sunscreen, and be careful of scorpions as you’ll have to remove your footwear each time you enter these holy places. Smart idea is to bring a carry bag with you. Although Bagan gets crowded with tourists, you can find yourself completely alone at times and you may even have a whole temple to yourself as you sit and watch the sunrise!
Now in no particular order, here are the best temples and pagodas I recommend that offer the best sunset in Bagan.
Ananda Temple is the masterpiece built with the mix of Myanmar and Indian architectural styles. It was one of the first great temples to be built in Bagan and is well preserved. It is also one of Bagan’s best known and most beautiful temples. Inside the four walls of the temple, there are four standing Buddhas, each facing a distinct direction. Oh, and it is wheelchair accessible!
There are also over 1400 inset Buddhas offered by devotees on the wall and as are the wall paintings, found when workers were cleaning walls many many moons ago. It is an ancient but interesting temple, that is a must-see in Bagan.
If you missed it, watch the quick videos, here -> check out the “Myanmar” stories on Instagram.
Shwesandaw Pagoda has five terraces, which means it offers the best sunset views. However, during my visit climb to the top was banned, otherwise, it would have been one of the best sunsets in Bagan! As you can see in front of the stairs there is a “no-climb” sign. In fact, most of the popular temples and pagodas are now banned for climbing. Having said that, some locals were offering to show a temple that is open to climbing. (I didn’t try it, so can’t comment on it, let me know in comments if you have)
Where to see the sunset in Bagan?
Option no 1.
There are two hills made as viewpoints overlooking the most famous temples in the area. FREE entrance but don’t forget to carry your Bagan Archaeological Zone ticket. There were officers checking its validity at the gate. Below are the pictures from one of the viewpoints.
On one side of the hill, you have beautiful temples, and on another side, you have the river flowing. Both offer the best sunset in Bagan.
An Asian version of “That Wanaka Tree” in New Zealand!
Option no 2.
I recommended staying at the Kumudara hotel in my Day 1 Bagan itinerary. And the reason is that, if you stay there, there won’t be any need to rush because the hotel is situated within the Bagan archaeological area and the temple they maintain is right outside the gate! It is built more like a fort than a pagoda or a temple though. So, on the roof, it can easily fit more than 30 guests but nobody was there when I went. Hotel staff kindly opened the temple door and I could climb up a few stairs and there you are with an uninterrupted view of Bagan temples! It was a cloudy day for me, but I have no doubt this spot would be perfect for that best sunset in Bagan pictures. If you go, tell them you read about it here.
Option no 3.
Mimalaung Kyaung Temple
Hands down, Mimalaung Kyaung Temple offered the best sunrise view in Bagan. It was also the ONLY temple WITHOUT a no-climb sign. At the front of the temple, you will see a couple of lion-like creatures that are common at temples in Burma. Once you climb the stairs, the view is unbeatable.
Gloomy morning but the warm rays of the sun, birds chirping away, greenery as far as you can see and nothing but the quietness was a dream setup. I recommend going early in the morning, so you can have this serene place all to yourself.
While most of the pagodas and temples are in old Bagan. Shwezigon Pagoda is located in Nyaung-U north of Old Bagan and is visited daily by worshippers. It is one of the oldest, and the second-largest pagoda in Myanmar! The architecture is one a kind and the temples surrounding the Pagodas have fine craftsmanship too.
Sein Nyet Ama and Sein Nyet Nyima
This is a set of a temple and a pagoda in 1 place! Turns out they are known as Sister Temples. Little far away from the crowds but still featuring the bagan beauty. Sein Nyet Ama is the elder sister and is a temple featuring the typical square structure with four entrances. Sein Nyet Nyima is actually a spire influenced pagoda. Beautiful inside and out, and is another best temple to visit in Bagan.
Mount Popa Monastery
Mount Popa Monastery is about an hour’s drive away from the flat landscape of Bagan. Read more about that adventures day here.
If you have visited all of the best temples listed here, I have a challenge for you. Can you find the temple below?
When you are out and about exploring, sometimes get away from the beaten track and you may discover the untouched and undiscovered sunrise/sunsets views. That’s the magic of Myanmar!
I hope this best sunset in bagan article helps you plan your trip.
This 3 days itinerary will give you an idea of what to do, see and where to eat in Bagan, Myanmar. I have also included some bonus information regarding traveling to Bagan. So, check it out now!
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What I used to take these photos:
This has been my favourite Camera so far. I love how my pictures come out crisp and colourful. It also has a screen which is useful when vblogging. You can check out what I meant on my Instagram which is here.
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This is the good old Go pro that I take with me everywhere. I recommend it because it is small, lightweight and waterproof. I have had made many memories with this trusted item and looking forward to more.
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I have been using SanDisk since my first camera which was back in 2009. They build quality memory cards. I recommend getting at least two, just in case something happens to one of them.
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- You can find Bagan guide itinerary Day 1 here, Day 2 here and Day 3 here
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