Bagan in central Burma is one of the world’s most magnificent archaeological sites, located on the banks of the legendary Irrawaddy River. Once described by Marco Polo as a 'gilded city alive with tinkling bells and the swishing sounds of monks' robes', it is estimated that as many as 13,000 temples and stupas once stood here. Over 2,000 still stand today, most of which were built in the 11th - 13th centuries. Each of the temples is exquisite in its own right. They represent a variety of architectural styles, depending on the period they were built: some are huge and others are only very tiny, some have been restored whereas others are crumbling after a number of earthquakes over the centuries, some have gold gilding whereas others have ornate frescoes painted inside. Regardless of what state they are in, these all-important religious sites bear witness to Burma’s rich culture and heritage – and they are especially mystical at twilight, bathed in the orange light of the sunset.
Exploring the temples is sure to be your main focus while staying in Bagan, but don't miss the hustle and bustle of Nyaung U market, which sells everything from rice and colourful exotic fruits, to longyis (commonly worn Burmese sarong-like cloths) and lacquerware. You may also like to take a trip out to sacred Mount Popa, to enjoy a climb past the resident monkeys to the imposing monastery on the top of the mountain. We also love taking a hot air balloon over Bagan in time for sunrise.