Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan – neither a success nor a failure

Bagan is one of the world’s most famous places thanks to its many pagodas and temples. There’s simply no such thing as visiting Myanmar without going to Bagan. I had read the many articles about how incredible it was and how there’s no such thing as Bagan in the world – which I can agree on. But it simply didn’t wow me. And I’m going to tell you why.

I had the pleasure of traveling to Bagan in February 2019 and my expectations were high. Every person I met raves about it and I knew that I was going to see something very unique. When I arrived, I knew I had to do two things: see the sunrise and the sunset. It’s then when all the magic happens, when you really get to see the beauty of the place. Granted, it’s a wonderful place during daytime as well, when you can see all the details of the temples and pagodas. But I came for the sunrise and sunset.

What I didn’t know was that in order to be able to fully appreciate it, you have to climb on top of a temple and get the panoramic view you’ve often seen on photos. I just didn’t realize that the government had started to shut off all the entrances to the temples so that you can’t climb up, therefore ruining your chances of getting that postcard view that you came there to see. This really bummed me out and I thought it must be some sort of mistake. It wasn’t.

However much I enjoyed cruising around on an electric bike and watching all the natural wonders unfold, it was extremely disappointing that you couldn’t climb up to take in the views. All of a sudden it felt like one of the main purposes of going to Bagan was… lost. Although the beauty of the place can’t be denied, I knew that I would be getting an entirely different experience than that of the people who came here before me.

Bagan was neither a success nor a failure. It still gave me a chance to marvel at the old temples, get to know the history of Myanmar and learn more about the locals lives. During my days there, I met some of the friendliest locals in the world who made my stay in Bagan much better.

But it’s hard for me to say if I’d recommend Bagan or not. I think if you do get the chance to one day climb on top of a temple and see Bagan in its full splendor – yes, then I highly recommend it. There’s no doubt about it. But do I recommend it now when the government made all of these changes? It’s hard for me to do so. If you’re going, come with low expectations, then you’ll be sure to have a good experience. But if you’re like me and have very high expectations, you’re bound to be disappointed.