Travelers to Bagan will not have to worry about not having any interesting places to visit. In fact, the only problem they may encounter is deciding on which destination to go to first. There are about 5,000 temples, pagodas and ruins scattered over an area of about 42 square kilometres on a vast plain on the eastern side of the Ayeyarwady River. As the capital of the first Myanmar Empire, Bagan is home to many archaeological sites. The history of Bagan dates back almost 2000 years to a time when Myanmar was ruled as a kingdom. Apart from its rich Buddhist heritage and spectacular sunset views, Bagan has an archaeological museum and is also the centre of a thriving lacquer ware industry. Visitors to Bagan can enjoy serene river cruises, hot-air balloon rides over its wondrous temple-studded plain, bicycle and horse cart rides, and horse riding.
Attractive Destinations around Bagan
Mt. Popa is about 50km away from Bagan. It is an extinct volcano which is 1518 meters (4981 feet) above sea level and set amid lovely hill and forest scenery. The view from the 730-metre high Popa Taungkalat monastery offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the distant temples of Bagan on a clear day. It is home to 37 Mahagiri Nats, or spirits. Statues depicting the Nats are at the base of the Shrine and highlights of the region include two important "Nat Pwes" (festivals) held each year (one in May-June and the other in November-December to propitiate the Nats.
Salay is a lovely town about 43 km south of Bagan, down the Ayeyarwaddy River. In between visiting the numerous ancient monasteries, adorned with beautiful woodcarving, you can enjoy the beauty of this compact city of colonial buildings, monasteries and pagodas. The Sale Yok Sone Kyaung is an all-teak Monastery with magnificent carvings featuring traditional motifs, U Pone Nya Museum, exhibits antique lacquer wares, wooden relief and a large standing gilded Buddha image. Another place worth visiting is Tha-ta-na Kyaung (Keythar Monastery) where Tipitaka texts are housed in a large red lacquered cabinet.
Pakokku is located on the western bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River is easily accessible by ferry and local bus. This is a prosperous trading town in central Myanmar with its conservative atmosphere far from cities like Yangon or Mandalay where there are big cars and big houses but in Pakokku there are a lot of unusual attractions like palm industries, timber, Thanakha market and also the high quality tobacco The archaeological site of Pakhangyi is just outside the town and has a museum and a spectacular 19th century wood carved monastery.