Beguiling Bagan

Unfortunately, the historical city of Bagan, Myanmar was wrecked by an earthquake in August 2016 that annihilated over 400 of the buildings. Whilst the community is obviously trying to repair the damage, there is still visible signs of devastation on many of the temples. However, this didn’t temper the resplendent aura of the town during my visit in October 2016. Since the catastrophe there has been a tremendous effort to restore many of the buildings, and there is even hope that Bagan will regain its title as a UNESCO heritage site. 

More than 4,000 religious buildings abide in Bagan, and despite the destruction of the recent earthquake, there are still plenty that remain untouched by the natural disaster. The older architecture suffered far less than those built more recently, so the ancient structures are still relatively intact. Personally, I even enjoyed the appearance of the temples that were defaced by the earthquake; the red bricks that have crumbled away from the once grandiose edifice portray a somewhat macabre picture. 

As there are so many buildings to visit, the best way to navigate the town is by e-bike (10,000 kyat for one day). Zipping down the narrow dirt tracks, and stumbling upon deserted sanctuaries is thrilling, and by far my favourite part of Bagan. Also, there are a few temples that offer perfect viewing points for sunrise and sunset. Obviously, the more popular ones tend to be very busy, so if you prefer a bit of peace whilst you watch the sun, go off the beaten track in search of a quieter area. Many locals will direct you to good viewpoints, but these often entail climbing up crumbling, ancient structures that were recently hit by an earthquake, so be careful. 

Entrance into Bagan is 25,000 kyat, and this ticket lasts for five days. The town is well connected to the rest of the country, so you can get a bus from most towns.


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