Top 5 Temples in Bagan for Sunrise & Sunset

By Dave

Out of approximately 40 temples I explored, here are the top five temples in Bagan for sunrise and sunset that you can climb up for an elevated view. I have never been to a country where information becomes so dated so rapidly. All of the blogs, maps, and books I read about temples in Bagan were already out of date, so I hope this is helpful while it lasts. One thing that should remain the same is that the best time of year to visit Bagan is in October, before it gets too dry and the dust makes the air (and your photographs) hazy.

Disclaimer: Climbing up most temples is now officially forbidden, as the stamp on the back of your ticket will likely attest. I do not advocate violating these regulations, and, of course, you do so at your own risk. (I heard that the new, heightened restrictions are due to an American tourist dying from injuries after falling off of a temple at sunset in November 2017. Similarly, foreigners are no longer allowed to overnight at Mount Zwegabin because a French tourist committed suicide there, also in 2017; not that staying overnight necessarily has anything to do with committing suicide, and people can just as easily do so during the daytime, but that’s government logic for you.)

Best Temples in Bagan for Sunrise:

The greatest concentration of temples is in Old Bagan, so the general rule of thumb is that the most scenic sunrise views are found in the west of Old Bagan, looking east. (Or from a hot air balloon.) For sunset, the opposite is true: You want to be east of the temples, looking west.

Unnamed Sunrise Temple, Bagan, Myanmar
Unnamed Sunrise Temple

1) Unnamed/unnumbered temple located at 21°09′35.94″N 94°51′32.15″E: This is one of the best temples in Bagan for sunrise due to its location in the west of Old Bagan. There is s a “do not enter” sign outside, but everyone ignored it. There’s a gate at the stairs, but it wasn’t locked.

Temple 1555, Bagan, Myanmar
Sunrise Temple 1555

2) Temple 1555 (21°09′45.49″N 94°51′50.7″E): There are several red “do not climb” signs that everyone on the temple ignored. One local came by saying we can’t climb, but then simply left. Another local came by on a motorbike to make sure everyone took off their shoes and socks.

Sunrise Temple 869, Bagan, Myanmar
Sunrise Temple 869

3) Temple 869 (21°08′42.53″N 94°52′56.19″E): I climbed up this temple, located just north of Dhammayazaka. Because there’s a big power line in the foreground when looking west, the view is better at sunrise than sunset. There is a gate at the entrance, but it was not locked.

 

Temple 863, Bagan, Myanmar
Sunrise Temple 863

4) Temple 863 (21°08′45.27″N 94°52′59.22″E): This temple has a good view of the massive Dhammayazaka temple but was very touristy (lots of souvenir vendors outside), so I didn’t go at sunset or sunrise. Nice view during the day though. As it is accessible by stairs on the side of the building, it may be one of the few temples one is officially allowed to go up.

Best Temples in Bagan for Sunset:

 

Temple 843, Bagan, Myanmar
Sunset Temple 843

5) Temple 843 (21°09′16.86″N 94°52′50.86″E): A gate is currently being built to close off the stairs, but it’s not complete yet. This one appears to be well known because several locals came by to sell souvenirs.

Temple 344, Bagan, Myanmar
Sunset Temple 344

6) Bonus Temple! No. 344 (21°10′30.64″N 94°53′14.04″E): For the “adventurous” only: you have to climb up the wall on the side of the porch area to get on the metal roof of the porch and then climb from the peak of that roof onto the roof of the temple itself.

Other tips for Bagan:

  • In dry season, bring eye drops or goggles as you navigate the dusty roads.
  • A face mask is useful for the dust and exhaust (like much of Asia).
  • Wear sandals (“thongs” for you Aussies) for ease of taking off /putting on visit the temples.
  • Bring a headlamp for exploring dark temples and navigating in the dark before sunrise & after sunset.
  • Bring a jacket for sunrise/sunset as it gets chilly when the sun isn’t out.
  • Instead of an e-bike, take it slow at least one day and use a bicycle to visit the temples nearest you.
  • If you can afford it, stay in old Bagan as it’s most central to the most temples.
  • If you want to interact with locals, they tend to live in new Bagan.
  • Don’t buy things from kids (or give them money), as this incentivizes them to skip or drop out of school.
This entry was posted in Asia, Myanmar

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