Bagan is one of the richest archaeological sites in Asia, situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River, about 500km north of Yangon. This once splendid and glorious capital of the first Myanmar Empire is now a 42 sq km area. Founded as early as in 849AD used to be the capital of today Myanmar. During the kingdom's height between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were constructed in the Bagan. In early 13th century of Mongolian horsemen under Kublai Khan conquered Bagan. Soon after the realm of Bagan disintegrated into many smaller kingdoms. After years, the remains thousands of ancient pagodas, stupa, shrines, ordination halls and monuments still survive to the present day.
Bagan is a highlight of any trip to Myanmar and a minimum stay of one night is essential in an itinerary. There are daily flights between Yangon and Bagan which take 1hr and 10mins. Regular express coach services take about 14hrs from Yangon.
Attraction places in Bagan are Shwezigon pagoda; the phototype of later Myanmar stupas, built in early 11th century, Wetkyi-inn Gubyaukgyi temple; with fine mural paintings of Jakata scenes, Htilominlo temple;famous for its plaster carvings. Anada temple; an architectural masterpiece resembling a Greek Cross, Anada Okkyaung; a monastery with 18th century mural paintings , Thatbyinyu; the highest temple in Bagan plain and Manuha Temple with gigantic Buddha images, a captive king's impression of life in prison. Bagan is not only famous for the monuments but also can study the ways of and some handcraft such as lacqueware.
Mt. Popa is an extinct volcano with the height of 1500m above the sea level and 60km south-east of Bagan. Well-Known as the oasis of the central Myanmar dry zone. Also known as the “Olympus of the Nats” because it is the home to Myanmar’s legendary 37 “Nats”, one hast to climb 700 steps accompanied by a crowd of monkeys to reach the top of the volcanic plug, with its many shrines and monastery. Around the area of Mt. Popa is Popa National Park, which features dense sandalwood forests and rare species of birds and butterflies. Mt. Popa hosts two major Nat Pwe (spirit festival), one in the May/June and other in November/December. Spirit possession and overall drunken ecstasy are still part of the celebration.
Salay is an ancient town rich in Myanmar culture, which is situated on the eastern bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River and 40km south of Bagan. Visitors can choice two ways to reach Salay, one by car and another one by small motor boats, available for hire and which usually leave Bagan from the Bu Paya Jetty. In Salay you can visit the monastery “Yoke-Sone-Kyaung”, famous with its spectacular woodcarvings and “Man Paya” is the largest lacquer Buddha image in Myanmar.