Experience a sunrise or sunset in Bagan tops off everyone’s bucketlist. But how to spend the time in between? The temple ruins of Bagan in central Myanmar are a must visit archeological site. With over 2000 pagodas, the setting always is sublime, but what is the best way to spend your days in Bagan besides temple watching?
Myanmar’s tradition features lot of festivals celebrated by locals. One of the biggest festivals celebrated in Bagan is the Ananda Pagoda Festival. The event takes place in January and is held to worship and to raise funds for the upkeep of the Buddha. This is done by the flourishing commerce around the Pagoda. In Nyaung-U, just outside the Old city of Bagan, another celebration is being held in February.
Allthough being smaller, the villagers of Nyaung-U hold the Nhtet Pyit Taung Pagoda Festival. There are small stalls selling local products everywhere and you won’t have any trouble finding one selling you Htamane, a dish made of sticky rice with peanuts, ginger and onions.
Birmese people love celebrating. Eventhough Birmese New Year is already waiting in the month of April, people already celebrate another festival in the await of the New Year. The Water Festival is held in the last weeks of the Birmese year. Locals splash water on each other to wash away their sins. If you’re spending a few weeks in Myanmar, there is a big chance you will witness the Full Moon Celebration. It’s an event that takes place every night there is a full moon. It is celebrated with lots of fireworks, music and locals driving on their motorbikes.
Try out local food
Foodies are found of traveling in Southeast Asia and Myanmar is no exception. And eventhough the food is not so extraordinary as with their neightbours in Thailand, Birmese food is quite enjoyable. Our best dish we had however, we’ve found in Bagan in a place you would not expect.
Bagan has three areas: New Bagan, Old Bagan and Nyaung-U. Most of the restaurants are to be found in the newest area of Nyaung-U. You will find Italian, Thai, French as well as Japanese food but anyone wanting to taste some local dishes can go to Sanon. Noodle soup is the typical breakfast in Myanmar but if you’re not quite ready for noodles early in the morning there are alternatives at Cafe Bagan. Hopefully you like spicy food since Birmese love to eat spicy. It is said that they are so used to eating chilipeppers they have burnt their taste buds as a kid, leading to eating even spicier food. For tourists however, it can get a bit too much.
If you want to have a relaxing day not spended to temple watching, than maybe you can enjoy a game of golf. Yes you wouldn’t expect it to be possible to play golf in an ancient areas so hot, it seems impossible to have a ‘green’. Bagan has a golf resort built right next to the Archeological Zone of Bagan. Playing golf in a setting of the world’s most famous temples, pagodas and stupas is a magical experience.