Bagan in Myanmar and Siem Reap in Cambodia have, surprisingly, a lot in common. I mean there are all the half-gone temples, the prices which are way too high, the scams and the lack of any activity except the temples. Well, maybe you can tell by now, but this is not going to be one of these “Bagan is so amazing” posts,” simply because it is not! There are so many places a lot better to visit in Myanmar. If you are completely blown away by temples and religion, you might like Bagan. If you aren’t a fan of religion, saw 5 million temples before and want some action while traveling, like me, you might not enjoy Bagan (Or Siem Reap) at all.
It all starts when you arrive with the bus in Bagan, and you are forced to pay for an incredible overcharged taxi to your Hostel or Hotel. The bus stop is 8 km from the nearest Hotel, and of course, no Grab is working. So, I ended up spending 12.000 Kyat for a 15 min taxi ride which would cost me 2.000 Kyat with Grab. Then you enter the region of Bagan, and your taxi stops at one of the offices. They ask you to pay 25.000 Kyat (19 USD) for the entry in Bagan. With that ticket, you don’t have to pay any entrance fees for temples anymore, but the price is overpriced. Adding the fact that actually only 2% of that money goes into the restoration of the temples and the other 98% goes to the corrupt government, meaning in the pockets of some corrupt politicians, doesn’t make me happy.
The next thing is that Hostels and Hotels are nearly double the price than in any other city or town in Myanmar. Furthermore, the prices of food are also higher, and we couldn’t find any super good restaurants like in other cities. The great part about Bagan is that it is hot all year round and as my Hostel had a pool, I could relax a little bit at the pool.
What is there to visit in Bagan?
Temples. And that’s it. NOTHING else. Just temples. And they are fallen half apart already, and you can only go inside a few ones. Admittedly, the sunrise and sunset are beautiful, and in the dry season, it would be even better with the hot air balloons. Speaking of which, they cost 340 USD per person and therefore impossible to afford for a Backpacker. During the day temperatures rise to 38 Degrees or even more, which makes it hard to do anything and the best times to go out are early morning or late evening.
There is one only other thing to do in Bagan and that to visit the Mount Popa which again has a temple on top. To get there, you need to take a Taxi, and if you are lucky, you get a shared taxi for 10.000 Kyat. Another rip off as foreigners are not allowed to rent out scooters, which is bullshit as it is allowed everywhere else in the country.
Similar to Siem Reap
Bagan reminded me of Siem Reap in many ways. Overpriced, nothing to do except temples, rip-offs and hot. As I said, if you are fascinated by old half-destroyed temples, then Bagan or Siem Reap (Or even Cambodia) is the place to go for you. If you’re not, skipping it and staying longer in another place or visit different parts of Myanmar might be a good idea.
- Total countries I visited until now: 38
- Planes: 21
- Busses: 48
- Trains: 21
- Boats: 24
- Km driving: 8000
- Km running: 2972