Exploring Bagan is one of the best experiences you will have anywhere in the world! You can easily fly from Yangon to Bagan through Nyaung U. Here The colorful market is fun to see along with Monks getting their food from the villagers.
The Bagan Archaeological Zone sits along the eastern bank of a bend in the Ayeyarwady River (known before as the Irrawaddy). The site contains close to 2,200 pagodas and stupas (or Buddhist religious monuments) and is one of the most spectacular places I have ever traveled to. They are constructed of fired brick covered with plaster and decorated with stucco relief, polychromatic murals and glazed tiles. They were built from 900 to 1300. I highly recommend seeing the site at sunset where the colors are amazing and also at sunrise.
Don’t miss the hot-air balloon trip, through our recommended Balloons over Bagan, to see the temples at sunrise. It was totally magical!!! The champagne following the trip was also a treat. When you visit them many have steep steps but some are easier to climb. The colors, the intricate carvings are wonderful. The area is semi-desert so it is dry, hot and dusty, so be prepared. I would try to see them sooner than later. I understand the government has started to restore some of the more important pagodas and that the work is not great. Much of Bagan was damaged in a 1975 earthquake and it is only now that restoration work is being done, and that work is being done haphazardly, using modern building materials. Experts call the restoration “blitzkrieg archaeology” and deride the idea of turning Bagan into a temple theme park. Instead of restoring temples, the regime is building new temples on top of old ruins, replacing priceless historical artifacts with shoddy new structures. I was just glad I went when I did!! Make sure to visit Schwezigon Paya Pagoda, Ananda Pahto Temple, Dhammayangyi Pahto Temple and Nathlaung Kyaung Hindu Temple.
Surrounding the temples were green fields, people walking and carrying baskets on their heads, colorful carts drawn by horses carrying locals and some tourists to the pagodas. In Bagan I stayed at a nice hotel/resort, the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort, which was located right along the river.