Bagan is inescapably beautiful. The 104 square km plain in central Burma hosts some 2,200 temples, all built between the 11th and 14th centuries. These red brick buildings range from tiny, one-man shrines to huge complexes with vast Buddhas.
Take a horse-and-cart tour to familiarize yourself with the layout of the plain, and the better-known temples. But after that you’ll want to hire an electric bike (around $40-50) and whizz around the dirt tracks of the plain, seeking out your own temples to explore. The view from a temple at sunset is unbeatable—a thousand towers glow orange in the sun, as they have for hundreds of years.
The August 2016 earthquake hit Bagan hard, affecting more than
400 of its buildings. But it was the more recent construction and inappropriate restoration attempts that bore the brunt of the damage, clearing the way for better structured conservation and restoration plans. The ready money generated by tourism has never been more vital in helping to support this developing region.