We spent our final day in Yangon wandering around the streets before heading back to our hotel. They were kind enough to let us shower off before grabbing a taxi to the highway bus stop and boarding the bus. With all aboard, we set off on our long journey north to the temple city of Bagan.
🚌 Yangon ▶ Bagan Tip: There are many bus companies offering transport between Yangon and Bagan. We went with the most popular and reviewed, JJ Express. We opted for the VIP night bus. The night bus is a great money saving option. You sleep on the bus so you don’t need to spend on a hotel. It cost us 20USD each. You can have your accommodation in Yangon organize a ticket for you or book a ticket online.
Now, before I get into our time in Bagan, let it be known that as of June 2018, the current “Bagan Archaeological” entrance fee stands at 20USD/27,000Kyat per person. We didn’t pay it and found all ways of getting around the fee. Why you ask? Shouldn’t you be supporting the town and people by paying the fee? Well, from what we have read, 85% of the fee goes directly to the government. They should then filter funds back into the Ministery of Culture’s Department of Archaeology to maintain and preserve the temples in the area. Being a highly corrupt system with no transparency whatsoever, we were positive that we wouldn’t really be supporting the local Bagan community and the temples by paying this fee. Where this money really goes, I’ll leave up to your imagination.
The local Bagan “tourist police” have set up checkpoints at certain pagodas and along the main roads entering Bagan. We knew this from reading fellow travellers’ blogs. As we had no intention of paying into this scam, we made it our mission to avoid all checkpoints. The problem is, when the overnight buses arrive at the highway bus station outside of Bagan, you will be forced to take an overpriced taxi into town and the taxi will stop at a checkpoint which will require you to pay the entrance fee on the spot.
However, we planned for this.
We booked an accommodation outside of Bagan and before the bus stop. We asked the bus attendant to ask the driver to stop outside our hotel, which they kind of did at around 5am. They actually dropped us at the wrong hotel about 1km before ours.
Sleep deprived and nauseated from the long bus ride on which we got minimal shut-eye-time, we put on our backpacks, walked to our hotel, checked in, took a quick shower and got into bed. Our 1st major hurdle was behind us.
We booked 3 nights at the Myanmar Han. We have only great things to say about this hotel. The rooms are spacious with AC, TV, private en-suite and a small balcony overlooking the pool. It has a great pool with sunbeds and a pool bar. The barman made some amazing Mojitos! The breakfast buffet is decent but the dinner is really good. And the portions are large. Definitely large enough to share! The biggest bonus was the hotel allowing us to check in so early without paying extra. Low season at this hotel ran us just 30USD a night with breakfast included. The only thing we would like to see improve is the hot water. Unfortunately the water got luke warm at most. It was hot in Bagan so it wasn’t a huge issue but after a long day of exploring temples and riding dirt roads on a bike, a hot shower is always a real treat.
Getting into Bagan was easy. The hotel rents E-bikes for 5000Kyat a day. We used one to get into town and explore the temples. The battery lasts long enough that you can get a full day out exploring temples and getting back with battery to spare.
On our first day, we took the E-bike into town. We made sure to avoid the checkpoint by taking a dirt road, which passed through a local village, into Bagan. We ate at the Delicious Restaurant and man, it was delicious. Try the Golden Pork curry with a side of Coconut Rice if you find yourself at this restaurant. We returned to our hotel to enjoy some much needed pool time with an order of the above mentioned mojitos. We got an early night in preparation for a full day of exploring temples the following day.
Golden Pork curry, Eggplant curry and coconut rice @ Delicious Restaurant
The next day, we woke up and jumped on the E-bike and headed towards the temples making sure to avoid the checkpoint again. We spent the entire morning bouncing between temples. They were all fascinating. We could clearly see evidence of the attention to detail that used to exist on the exterior of these amazing structures. After getting in our fill of temples, we grabbed lunch in town and headed back to our hotel. We decided to hike up to a golden temple at the top of a nearby hill to watch the sunset but unfortunately it was too cloudy that evening to see any sunset. We did get magnificent views of Bagan and Mt. Popa, an extinct volcano.
On the last day, we spent most of the day at our hotel as it was raining and we had some blogging to catch up on. For dinner, we returned to the Delicious Restaurant to get one final fill, enjoyed some Burmese tea at a local tea house and then returned to our hotel to pack for our next day departure to Mandalay.
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