Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Pagan from the 9th to the 13th centuries. This kingdom was the first to unify the area that is now Myanmar, establishing the Burmese culture and ethnicity, as well as Theravada Buddhism, in the region. Over this period of rule, as the city and kingdom grew in influence and stature, over 10,000 temples were built on the plains surrounding the capital next to the Irrawaddy River. Below are a few facts about the city.
1. Bagan Archaeological Zone is the main attraction to tourists in the city. It easily rivals Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
2. Bagan is fondly known as the 'sea of temples'. Some of this temples include; Ananda Temple, Thatbinnyu Temple, Htilominlo Temple, Myinkaba Gubyaukgyi Temple, and Shwezigon Pagoda among many others.
3. Bagan has a relatively stable climate that ensures more sunshine than any other Myanmar city.
4. Bagan Cuisines are said to be the best in Asia. They combine the exploits of Indian, Chinese, and Thai culinary genius with some of their own to come up with the best food you can taste anywhere in Asia.
5. Bagan is as traditional a city can get. In fact, there is not a single form of modern entertainment in the city. There are no discos there.
6. Although walking the narrow streets among the temples and pagodas is the best way to see the city of temples, there are hot air balloon rides that will make the rides in any other city you know look like child play. The city is best photographed from hot air balloon.
7. The best way to see Bagan is on a temple hopping tour. However, don't plan on seeing all of them. Choose the most popular.
8. The best time to visit Bagan is November through to May when the rainfall is limited.
9. To get around Bagan, you can either board a flight to Nyaung U Airport which is a few minutes’ drive from the city or you can catch a bus or train from Mandalay or Yangon to get to see more of the country.
10. Bagan is one of the cheapest tourist destinations. Meals here will cost you $1-$5, and mid-level accommodation at $40 - $60.
If you love photography, old sites, and religion, the only alternative as good as Angkor Wat in Cambodia is Bagan in Myanmar. Good luck on your journey.