Bagan archaeological wonders sightseeing, day tour
The Bagan archaeological zone is one of the richest historical sites in Asia and the main tourist attraction in Myanmar. It is considered by archaeologists, historians and photographers alike as one of Asia’s holiest cities along with Varanasi in India and Angkor Wat in Cambodia thanks to the greatest collection of Buddhist sculptures, lavishly decorated monuments: temples and pagodas with mural paintings and plaster carvings from the 11th to 13th centuries. During its Golden Age in the 12th century, Bagan was known as “the City of Four Million Pagodas”.
While Kublai Khan and several massive earthquakes have reduced that number drastically, what remains is quite incredible. Full day of exploring the most important and spectacular temples, pagodas and stupas in the archaeological zone of Bagan. Your guide will explain all historical, architectural and esthetic details of each site. A good way to learn about the Bagan era.
Visit Nyaung Oo market, then proceed to Sulamani and Shwegugyi Temples and Minanthu village.
Bagan is also famous as the centre of Myanmar’s thriving lacquerware industry. In the afternoon, the tour includes a stop at a local workshop to watch the skilled artisans at work on the various stages of the creative production.
Then proceed to Old Bagan for a pony cart tour among the temples: Tayokpye, Htilominlo and Thatbyinnyu Temple before sunset. In the evening, enjoy Bagan’s most popular sunset at Bu Paya overlooking view to Ayeyarwaddy River.
Balloon Flight Over Bagan
While a visit to the Bagan archaeological zone is a must for any visitor to Myanmar, the Royal Way to see the temples and pagodas is without a doubt by taking a hot air balloon flight. Passengers get picked up at dawn from their hotel and are ferried to the departure site, offered a cup of coffee or tea and some snacks before a short briefing on the day’s flight. The view from above is breathtaking as the Bagan plain reveals all of it’s treasures. The immensity of the site takes its full meaning as you glide over more than 4000 temples, pagodas and stupas. After a 40 minutes flight, the ground crew meets the passengers at the landing point and offer a glass of champagne before returning, exhilarated, to the hotel for the breakfast proper.
Enjoy a cooking class at the Kuthodaw library with the lovely Ms May. She welcomes you in her small garden and typical Bagan house and introduces the ingredients that you will use for today’s class to prepare delicious Burmese recipes. Besides the plants in her garden, the most important ingredient Ms May uses is her love of food and sharing it. She graduated in bio-gardening in Thailand and is an ardent promoter of pesticides and fertilizers free agriculture. A part of the benefits from her cooking classes is donated to the library, a community project where she volunteers. After the cooking class, sit and take the time to savour today’s creations.
Mt. Popa excursion, day tour
Drive some 50km southeast of Bagan to Mt. Popa, an extinct volcano (1,500m). On the way, stopping at a palm plantation and sugar candy workshop in Kyaukpadaung village. Mt. Popa, the Burmese “Mt. Olympus” is the legendary home of the “Mahagirinats” (Powerful national spirits), an important pilgrimage site.
After arrival at Mt Popa, an optional climb to summit for an amazing panorama view and visit the Nat worship Shrine and monasteries on top of the volcano. Everything about the place is dramatic: the lush vegetation on the mountain’s slopes; the Petrified Forest along the road; the complex of monasteries and shrines perched on the rocky crag and endless views of the plains below. The Mt Popa area has been designated National Park.
For those who like an active life, a few short hikes can be taken to enjoy the National Park. Either to the summit of Mt Popa or to a Natural Spring, just a couple miles away, the options are countless with varied levels of difficulty and duration.
Imagine a table magnificently set on a sandy bar in the middle of the mighty Ayeryaawaddy. Far away from the city, in complete communion with the river and it’s natural life. A feast just for your party of 2 or 4. Great food, a bottle of wine (optional) and Nature. Some fishermen in their small canoes paddle along on their way home without disturbing the silence. A few shore birds fly above head and mind their own business as you relish in every bite and sip of your unique dinner on a sandbank, served elegantly by your own private waiters.
Since times immemorial, Buddhism and monks have been part of the social landscape of Myanmar. Monks rely on the generosity of the public for their meals and every morning parades of monks can be seen canvassing the neighborhoods to receive alms from every household. Tourists can also contribute by donating lunch for a number of monks, directly at the monastery. The donation follows a certain ritual and giving food to hundreds of monks certainly brings good karma.
Passionate about archaeology and ancient history? Grand Lotus Tours can arrange a meeting and specialized talks on the topics of architecture, ornamentation, symbolism and cultural influences of different temples, pagodas and stupas found in Bagan. Equipped with audio-visual materials, the professor has endless stories and information and you can either choose a talk of a couple hours or a visit of the most important temples with him serving as a guide and lecturer.