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Though Bagan had been a major city since King Pyinbya moved the capital here in AD874, it was not until the Bamar King Anawrahta converted to Theravada Buddhism in the mid 11th century that the 'golden period' of Pagan commenced.

In 1057 he overwhelmed the Mon capital of Thaton, capturing over 30,000 prisoners, including the Mon royal family. Yet the influence of the Mons was key to the development of Bagan. During Anawrahta's 33 year reign the Mon language became the official Royal language instead of Pali and Sanskrit, and Theravada Buddhism became the state religion. It was in honour of this new found religious fervour that Anawrahta ordered temples to be erected, the most notable being the Shwezigon Pagoda. It was however under the reign of King Kyanzittha (1084-1113) that temple construction reached new heights, perhaps the most famous being the Ananda with its 170ft golden hti or stupa.

Buddhist monks walk together in BaganBy the start of the 13th century Bagan had become known as the 'city of four million pagodas' and a complex system of irrigation supported extensive rice cultivation on the otherwise arid plain on which Bagan sits. The end of Bagan's dominance was heralded when King Narathihapate assassinated an ambassador of Kublai Khan bringing down on himself and his people the considerable wrath of the Mongol empire in 1287.

Over the next four of five centuries Bagan was left to the elements and considered by many as a region haunted by nats (spirits). The earthquake in 1975 destroyed almost half of the pagodas although what remains today may be just a glimpse of Bagan at the height of its powers it is without a doubt a remarkable footprint of a once glorious period in Myanmar's history.

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Suggested itineraries featuring Bagan

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Bagan, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Bagan

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Bagan

    Accommodation choices for Bagan

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Bagan. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • The gardens of the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort, Bagan

      Bagan Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort

      First Class

      With an enviable location on the banks of the Ayeyarwady River, the Thiripyitsaya Sanctuary Resort has 76 guest rooms set in extensive gardens.

    • Hotel @ Tharabar Gate, Bagan

      Hotel@Tharabar Gate

      First Class

      Situated in front of the legendary Tharabar Gate in Old Bagan, this is a well-located and attractive property. Facilities include a nicely designed swimming pool and sun terrace, bicycle hire, laundry, babysitting and massage service.

    • Swimming pool at Areindmar Hotel, Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

      Areindmar Hotel

      Medium

      Well located a couple of streets back from the main road in New Bagan, the hotel offers beautiful rooms, great food and good service.

    • Pool, Blue Bird, Bagan

      Blue Bird

      Medium

      Hotel Blue Bird is located in the peaceful village of New Pagan, the small town, just a short walk from the Ayeyarwaddy River.

    • Pool, Aye Yar River View Resort, Bagan

      Aye Yar River View Resort

      First Class

      Residing on the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy River, the Aye Yar River View is an established property with 103 well-appointed rooms and suites with either garden, pagoda and river views, all set in ten acres of tropical gardens.

    • RV Paukan 2007

      Paukan Cruises

      First Class

      Paukan Cruises takes its name from Paukan Rarma, a city dating back to 846 AD which later became Bagan. It can carry 55 passengers, who are looked after by a crew of 30, and has 29 en suite cabins situated on three decks.

    • Deluxe Riverview room, Thande Bungalows, Bagan

      Bagan Thande Hotel

      Medium

      The Bagan Thande is one of the oldest hotels in the area having opened in 1922 for the visit of King Edward VIII. The simple accommodation that has an air of faded grandeur.

    • Bagan Lodge, Bagan

      Bagan Lodge

      First Class

      Ideally set in the heart of the archaeological zone, Bagan Lodge offers convenient access to some of the world’s most magnificent temples.

    Ideas for experiencing Bagan

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Bagan, and which use the best local guides.

    • Dawn balloon flight over Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

      Dawn balloon flight over Bagan

      Bagan

      An early morning balloon flight over Bagan is a fantastic way to see the temple landscape. You'll trip will end with light snack and celebratory glass of champagne.

    • Village girl relaxing, Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)

      Bagan by bicycle

      Bagan

      Prepare to be astounded by Bagan, a grassy plain scattered with pagodas. A full day of cycling will take you to the city's most fascinating sites, including the teeming Nyaung Oo Market, the glittering Shwezigon Pagoda, and the atmospheric cave temple of Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi.

    • Mount Popa, Burma (Myanmar)

      Mount Popa villages on foot

      Bagan

      Driving 80 kilometres southeast of Bagan you reach the famous Mount Popa. Rising 1,518 metres out of the Ayeyarwaddy flood plain, Mount Popa is one of the most sacred sites in Myanmar and home to the 'nats'.