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Top 10 Bagan Temples

I can’t remember the names, if I even knew them to begin with, of most of my favourite Temples and Pagodas in Bagan.

Yes I did study the map (FYI you will need to pay for a map from your hotel around 3000kyat), yes I checked out some blogs and even ‘shock horror’ looked in the Lonely Planet for the best temples to visit, and I did visit most of them, but they were not my favourite.

The popular sunrise spot of Shwesandaw Pagoda has a spectacular view, and the often talked about Dhammayangyi Temple is impressive with it’s grand entrance, by night the Shwezigon pagoda looks incredible and like it is made of solid gold when it’s all lit up, all these ‘classic top 10’ temples are great, but they were not my favourite.

My top 10 Bagan temples are not my favourite because of the location, or beauty, it was more the ambience.

One of them isn’t even a Temple, but just an abandoned monastery (find Oak-kyaung-gi if you can) that we happened to stumble upon as we hurried around looking for a good sunset spot.

So in no particular order, here it goes:

  • Pya tha da Pagoda
    I’ll start with one that I do know the name of and apparently the tallest climbable temple in Bagan. It is already well touristed, hence the refreshment stall outside, but was totally empty when we arrived. Took a couple of wrong turns before finding the way up, some of the stairs are inside, some out, but you can get to the top and be rewarded with a view of what seems like every Pagoda in Bagan, but miniture because you are so high up. It is grand, and it is beautiful. Don’t go in the middle of the day though, at the top there is no shade when the sun is directly above you and its very very boiling on your feet (you take footware off at the door).
    {photo: stairs and red shirt philip}
  • Anauk O-htein-taung Group (well around there somewhere)
    I’m not entirely sure the name or even exact location of this Pagoda, can only tell you that is is on the way to Pya tha da when heading South on the dirt track. There is a little farm with lots of goats and a house next door, from what I gathered, the family that live here own the Pagoda. It was soo nice and cool inside, and smaller than it looks from the outside with most of the room taken up by a Buddah. Similar probably to the other hundreds of Pagodas you have seen, but what made this one special was the family that live there. A woman was sat with her baby in the foyer, she took the hand of one of the guys in the group and placed it on the babies forehead, whilst throwing us worrying looks. It became clear that the baby was unwell and she was asking us to help her. Not there there was much we could do but we did all we could, gave her extra bottles of water, put a cold compress (read: wetwipe) on the babies forehead, and stayed with her and told her everything was going to be alright. She was the sweetest, friendliest lady, even with the language barrier we managed to have some communication of sorts, but her eyes were so sad. I didn’t want to leave. {photo: woman and child and buddha}
  • Thisa-wadi or Tha-mu-ti 
    Again I am not sure exactly the name of the temple I visited, but after studying the map and some google images and my own photos hard, I’m pretty sure it was one of these.
  • Sulamani Pahto for its grandness and paintings on the wall and enormous Buddah – there is another famous one with paintings, but it was so busy and dark it wasn’t that enjoyable.
  • Ananda Temple – for the golden buddahs. Slap bang in the middle of Bagan, this Temple comes with all the bells and whistles. It’s not a climbing affair, but it had very Golden buddahs, a courtyard, bells you can ring, men selling goldleaf for you to place on the buddahs, even it’s own (pretty decent and well stoked) bookstore. Everything you want to see in  temple is here.
  • Law-ka-ou-shaung  Pagoda – to see shwedagon, cos of candles, cos of family that still are preying to that buddah as you make your way up the stairs, to really feel in the middle of the pagodas.
  • Oak-kyaung-gi Monastary – you wont find a breathtaking view (although arguable every view in Bagan is amazing), or a fancy nicely decorated place, just an old structure that reaks of history and stories. There is a very very narrow stairway leading up to the top, you might need a flashlight for some of it.
  • My sunrise temple of no name – best place in the world, the mix of ambience and views. We stumbled upon by accident after getting off the bus from Inle Lake and walking in hope of finding somewhere nice to see Sunrise. See the map of it’s approximate location here.


Wish I had seen:

Shin bin tha hlyaung – little brother of Shwesandaw

Gaw Daw Palin – circled it on the map, never made it so I’ll never know what was there but if I circled it I must have read something interesting somewhere about it.

2.3/5 - (3 votes)