Taking part in this Bagan the First Kingdom trip, you will admire the Yangon’s towering golden master piece, Shwedagon Pagoda dazzling in the sunlight and you will experience the sun slipping behind the mountains and rivers in magical Bagan. During the golden age of Bagan, the city was at the first heart of the nation state as King Anawrahta unified the country under his monarchy and adopted Theravada Buddhism.
Yangon is dotted with some of the region’s most stunning colonial architecture. Its large parks and lakes offer a welcome respite from the heat, bustle and noises.
Bagan is the ancient remains of the city which offers a splendid spectacle to rival Angkor Wat with thousands of ancient temples, pagodas and stupas dating back from 9th century peppered across the seared plain.
The burnt browns and reds of the land and the seemingly endless pagodas piercing the sky in every direction offer a stunning backdrop to watch the sun sink into the land behind the mighty Ayeyarwaddy River. Bagan is a site not to be missed.
Start your first day in Yangon by heading over to the downtown and the ancient octagonal-shaped Sule Paya located in the very centre of Yangon. It is surrounded by the busy streets and colonial buildings such as the Supreme Court and Yangon City Hall.
Continue to the Botahtaung Pagoda close to the Yangon Jetty. There is a sort of mirrored maze inside the stupa, with glass showcases containing many of the ancient relics.
Stop by a street café to take a taste of the delicious local Shan noodle dish accompanied with some spring rolls and Shan tofu for filling lunch.
Afternoon visit is the vibrant Bogyoke (Scott) Market which has the largest selection of Burmese handicrafts.
In the evening, visit the Shwedagon Pagoda, the 'heart' of Buddhists in Myanmar. The Pagoda is believed to be 2,600 years old and it is always crowded with many people praying and making offerings at Shwedagon especially on Full Moon days and religious days.
Start your first day in Bagan by exploring and mingling with the local people at Nyaung U local market which has the wet market section selling the local produce from meat, fish to vegetables and another section selling the items such as rattan products, handicrafts and cotton clothing.
Then see the golden stupa of Shwezigon Pagoda, where the 37 pre-Buddhist 'Nats' were first officially endorsed by the Barmar monarchy. Although the entrances of the pagoda is packed with the gift shops which will spring the intense experience, the inner platform is undisturbed and filled with the colourful structures and statues. The size of the pagoda and overall scale of the complex is not large and more intimate.
Stop by one of the local eateries as they offer plenty of great food in different cuisines including local food and fusions.
Next stop is Htilominlo Paya situated close to the road between Nyaung U and Bagan, built by king Nantaungmya in 1218 and traces of old murals are also still visible. Continue to Ananda Temple, a whitewashed masterpiece of Mon architecture with four standing Buddhas, and the adjacent brick monastery with beautiful, well-preserved 18th century murals.
In the afternoon, visit Dhammayangyi, a massive-looking temple dating from 1170, which is famous for its interlocking mortar-less brickwork.
Then board a private boat to experience the sun setting up past the brink of the river, to capture the most picturesque scene; and to observe the local life along the river bank, the habitat of birds and surrounding nature.
Today drive to Popa. In the middle of the scorched plain 50 kilometres away from Bagan rises Mt. Popa, which looks like an oasis in a desert is an extinct volcano set in a national reserve whose slopes are covered in lush greenery. Also, it is home to Myanmar's intriguing 37 'Nats' and a major pilgrimage destination. With over 700 steps the dramatic ascent to the cliff top shrine is best done slowly but the views from the summit over the surrounding plains and Mt. Popa itself are spectacular. The infamous Popa’s monkeys can be seen along the line of the stairwell as ascending and descending. However, they are mostly kept to themselves around the areas with the stalls serving food. As long as they are not attracted by food, they will not trouble.
Stop by Popa Mountain Resort which has an incredible view of the Mt. Popa and amazing surroundings. The infinity pool of the resort and the food there are also worth the visit and fresh rest from the heat are rewarding.
In the afternoon, visit one of the villages around Bagan. Most of the villagers live in the bamboo houses and make wooden slippers, famous Bagan Pone Yay Gyi which is black bean curd paste and pottery traditionally for a living. Different aspects of the traditional Myanmar country life will be shown by the village visit.
Toddy palm tree is also a very important aspect of rural life in Myanmar. Visit one of the toddy fields to see the making of jaggery (palm sugar) and taste the toddy wine or “Sky Beer” which is extremely sweet and potent.
This morning, start your visit to Dala located across the river from Yangon. Take a 10-minute ferry ride at the Pansodan Pier in downtown Yangon which is very close to Sule Paya. Local commuters on the ferry are interesting sights to be seen. In Dala, take trishaw ride to explore the markets, teashops, local houses, farms and pagodas. It is one of the best trips around Yangon to experience the local ways of lives.
Say goodbye to your guide to depart Yangon. Take sweet memories of travelling in Myanmar back home. En Route will always make the unforgettable travel experience that lasts a life time.
It is a luxurious experience to ride a hot air balloon over Bagan pagoda ruins watching the amazing sunrise and peaceful view of the temples from the top. The balloons magnify and decorate the skyline each crack of dawn as the sun is up over the vast expanse of green plains spread with huge temples. Seeing the ancient city with tons of pagodas drifting by from a balloon ride while the sun rises and seeing the other balloons flying around magically is extraordinary.
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