Highlights from a land of payas (pagodas)
Without a doubt a key attraction for Myanmar visitors is Bagan, a 26 square mile area with literally thousands of pagodas visible everywhere in the area. While the temples are busy, there’s a real time-slowing country town pace and the people are extremely friendly and traditional.
There are three distinct sections of Bagan:
- Nyaung-U: in the north east, arguably the busiest – it’s where most backpackers stay.
- Old Bagan: is in the middle and is where the majority of pagodas are located.
- New Bagan; down south, during 1990 the government forcibly relocated the village from Old Bagan. According to Lonely Planet one of the reasons for this was to protect the pagodas from “increased incidence of treasure hunting and gold prospecting around the ruins”.
It’s got that Angkor Wat feel, with tourists flocking to pagodas especially for sunrise and sunset. As Myanmar is still relatively unexplored, noodlies recommends taking along a Lonely Planet guide. During my visit it was a constant and essential guide.
And it’s not that easy to hail a taxi, so make sure you book a tourist car and guide with a travel agent or your hotel.
Here are a few highlights from noodlies, Sydney food blog’s recent visit:
Mani-Sithu Market, Nyaung-U
A bustling, colourful local market with local fresh produce as well as locally made textiles, arts and crafts. For the moment, prices are pretty reasonable, though you will need to bargain. Many longyis are made in Bagan so you’re likely to score a better price here.
There’s some great local Myanmar street food to be had, including delicious mohinga which set me back just 500 kyat ($A0.60 – yeah, that’s 60 cents). Watch the stallholder cook up my bowl in the noodlies, Sydney food blog video below.
Nu Wa Restaurant, Nyaung-U
For Myanmar home-style cooking at amazing local prices it’s hard to go past this restaurant on the Bagan Main Road.
For lunch I had their special which includes 23 different dishes; five types of local curry – the lamb and chicken were my favourites, an crazy number of sides including pickled bitter melon, fish, morning glory and a plate of fresh and zesty greens.
If you’re keen to find Nu Wa, the full address is West of Market, Nyaung-U, Bagan Main Road, near the Township Development Committee, Nyaung-U, 09 2043716.
Shwezigon Pagoda, Nyaung-U
A stunning golden pagoda that glistens in the sun. It’s surrounded by particularly beautiful golden trees with delicate leaves.
Ananda Pagoda, Old Bagan
Distinguished by four elegant standing golden Buddhas, each in a different pose and facing a different direction.
Mahuna Pagoda, Old Bagan
The reclining Buddha is unique and in my mind, so beautifully graceful. Particularly at this pagoda, the Buddha faces are depicted with exaggerated eyes and mouths which I find so beautiful.
Thatbyinnyu Pagoda, Old Bagan
Architecturally stunning, sure it’s faded but the upward direction of this pagoda is a brilliant reminder of the higher and more enlightened things in life.
Lawkananda Pagoda, New Bagan
This pagoda is one of the major ones in Bagan and is located by the riverside.
Bagan is a must-visit area if you’re coming to Myanmar.
This unforgettable noodlies, Sydney food blog experience is thanks to the lovely folks at Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air.