Destination Bagan


Bagan is one draw for most travellers to Myanmar, and is south-east Asia’s richest archaeological sites in Asia and it is most certainly a more enriching and freeing travel experience than the temples of Angkor Watt in Cambodia. Bagan is currently in the works to be recognized as a UNESCO heritage sight. King Pyinbya founded the Pagan Empire in 849, and at it’s peak (1044 to 1287) the city was the central cultural and religious hub of the empire. Pagan King’s and their wealthy associates built over 10,000 religious monuments (1000 stupas, 10,000 small temples and 3000 monasteries) in 40 sq. km, to this day some sites are still being discovered. Bagan ceased to be the capital of Myanmar in 1287 after repeated Mongol attacks, then in 1297 the Myinsaing Kingdom took control of upper Myanmar. During the 14th to 19th centuries under the Konbaung Empire, Bagan was seen as a pilgrimage site and many of the sites were renovated. During the 20th Century many temples fell victim to earthquakes and restoration, a total of 2,229 temples still remain. UNESCO has failed to recognize the site as a heritage site because during the 90’s the Myanmar government renovated and restored some of the sites (you will notice the white paint) in order to begin a tourism campaign. Despite this the government and UNCESCO are working to amend this. Despite it’s popularity amongst foreign tourists the size of the grounds are sparse and at the best of times you will find yourself a place to call your own. Being in the dead center of Myanmar’s dry zone it should be avoided during March to June, the best period to visit is just after Myanmar’s monsoon season where in Bagan it is dubbed the “green season” – November to January, temperatures are much cooler during this period.