Bagan (map) is an area in the Central region of Myanmar, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is located 290 kilometres (180 mi) south-west of *Mandalay and 700 kilometres (430 mi) north of *Yangon.
From the 9th to 13th centuries, the city was the capital of the Pagan Kingdom, the first kingdom that unified the regions that would later constitute Myanmar.
During the kingdom’s height between the 11th and 13th centuries, more than 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan plains alone, of which the remains of over 2200 temples and pagodas survive.
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A strong earthquake rocked central Myanmar on 24 August 2016, resulting in damages at many of Bagan’s temples and pagodas.
Bagan has three main cities that draw the majority of tourists, New Bagan (southwest of the main sights, map), Nyaung U (northeast of the main sights, map) and Old Bagan (just northwest of the main sights, map).
Walking. This option is only meaningful for tours within the town, New Bagan or Nyaung U. Nobody can be expected to visit more than 20 of these structures, let alone all 2,000. One day in Bagan is enough (even with a bicycle) to see all desired temples and sights if started at sunrise and finishes at sunset. A second day can be used to concentrate on specific sights or dos, like Mount Popa, a cruise across the river or just a relaxed hang-around somewhere in Old Bagan.
*Mount Popa (map) – 50 km southeast.
*Inle Lake (Nyang Shwe, map) – 9 hr. In case no direct buses are available, try to catch the Taunggyi bus from the junction 12 km north of Inle. The same buses go through Kalaw; 7 hr from there.
Before entering Bagan, if travelling by bus, you will be taken directly to a ticket booth (directly at the airport or on the road between the Highway Bus Terminal and the airport road junction, about 1 km from the Bus Terminal) where you present your passport and purchase a ticket to the whole archaeological site valid for 5 days from the day of purchase. The price is either US$20 or 25,000 kyat as of June 2019—you can choose either currency.
BUS > Overnight buses and cars also operate to and from Yangon and Mandalay taking approximately 9 and 6 hours respectively.
RAIL > The city is on a spur from the Yangon-Mandalay rail line. *Myanmar Railways operates a daily overnight train service each way between Yangon and Bagan (Train Nos 61 & 62), which takes at least 18 hours. The trains have a sleeper car and also 1st Class and Ordinary Class seating. Between Mandalay and Bagan there are two daily services each way (Train Nos 117,118,119 & 120) that take at least 8 hours. The trains have 1st Class and Ordinary Class seating
AIRPORTS > Most international tourists fly to the city. The Nyaung U Airport is the gateway to the Bagan region. Several domestic airlines have regular flights to Yangon, which take about 80 minutes to cover the 600 kilometres. Flights to Mandalay take approximately 30 minutes and to Heho about 40 minutes. The airport is located on the outskirts of Nyaung U and it takes about 20 minutes by taxi to reach Bagan.
WATERWAYS > An (almost daily) “express” ferry service runs down the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) from Mandalay to Bagan taking about 9-12 hr (or something like 30 km/h).