Along my way through Myanmar before reaching Bagan, many people would proudly proclaim that they had ‘used a REAL bike’ not one of those modern eBikes when they visited Bagan, therefore they must be a better traveller as ‘an old fashioned bicycle is waaaay more authentic and you have suuuuch a better experience’, while chugging down their organic chai latte and wearing trousers made of grass. To these people, I roll my eyes and say, simply, No.
I am so happy I chose the Ebike option, despite the horror stories about them running out of battery or breaking and you having to pay fines, if you just choose a reliable looking rental place and keep an eye on the battery life there shouldn’t be any problem. Saving you time to see more of the beautiful landscape and less sweat so you don’t feel like shit by lunchtime. Want a bicycle for the exercise? well there are plenty of stairs in most of the Pagodas to climb instead! 🙂
I rented mine from the restaurant next to Winner Hotel for the first day. Then they began being snotty about haggling and changing the price up. So I took my business to a couple who appeared and hung out every morning on the road opposite the hotel who I was happy to give my business to. A bike cost no more than $6 for the day depending on your haggling skills and whether you go for a big or small one. I went for small and it was fine and lasted a full day of off-road riding.
NB. All day doesn’t mean 24hours, it means until around 7.30pm or 8.30pm if you plead with them that you want to go and get dinner. Do arrange a time to bring it back, we didn’t, and ended up being penalised for it.
Ebikes are easy peasy to get to grips with, if you’ve ridden a scooter its more or less the same. There is no cycling involved, just rev the handle and away you go.
Yes you may look like a pensioner on a mobility scooter on some of the eBikes, but a few of the more modern (read: expensive) ones look just like mopeds, so if you want to keep you streed cred (what?!) go for them.
The more interesting routes are just sand pathways, I often and still do find myself wondering how on earth did such fine sand get here? Really it’s like sand from the beach! Answers on a postcard please.
The sand is a bit of a pain to get through on any form of bike, the Ebike got stuck a lot, but a few revs of the engines and some muscle power often did the trick to get it free. A regular bike would have been considerably more effort. Get an eBike!