Situated in central Myanmar is one of the world’s richest archaeological and historical sites, featuring more than 2,000 pagodas and temples all set on a vast 26 square-mile plain beside the legendary Ayeyarwady River. The Bagan kingdom was swept away by earthquakes and the invasion by Mongols. Some 2,230 of an original 4,450 temples survive. Buddhist belief that to build a temple was to earn merit and that could be the reason there were so many pagodas throughout Bagan’s desert plain. Modern day Bagan now features a variety of good hotels and is also the starting and ending point for cruises on the Ayeyarwady River to and from Mandalay. A unique travel experience is a hot-air balloon ride over the archaeological zone, which is available during the winter months.