My friend and I have spent the last few days exploring the temples of Bagan. Numbers vary when it comes to how many temples and pagodas you can find around the area and I’ve read anything from 3000 to 4000. I guess it depends on whether or not you count the really small ones.
There are a couple of ways to get around the temples that we used. The good news is that you don’t have to arrange anything in advance. You can just show up at any of the travel agencies around town and they’ll help you with whatever you need.
By far the most authentic way to get around. We used a horsecart on our first day and it was a fun experience. Some of the roads were rough but that made it even more exciting. Our driver took us to the most important temples and if we would have wanted, he would have been available on the next day, too, to show us some of the temples we hadn’t seen yet.
We paid 25.000 kyat for the whole day (for the whole horsecart, not per person). Maybe we could have pushed the price down a bit but I think it was fair considering the guy who drove us around had to stay with us until after sunset.
Talking about sunset, ask your guide to take you to a kice temple to watch it.
By far the most exhausting way to get around. The heat is brutal. We rented bikes on our second day and got stuck in the sand on a field in the middle of nowhere. We had three different maps on us which all looked different but weren’t correct.
On the plus side, we saw a couple of pagodas off the path that looked stunning. I’m surprised I’m not completely sore today but if I was, it would have been worth it.
This is the cheapest way to get around. We paid 3.000 kyat for each bike.
By far the most scary way to get around. Those e-bikes look like scooters and you can see they’re not really motorbikes. Nobody ever wanted to see a driver’s license when we rented them for the afternoon on the third day.
I drove for three meters and thought I was going to die. We went for another three meters and my friend’s bike broke down. Good thing we hadn’t really left the travel agency yet. A guy came, looked at the motor and then wedged a cigarette but somewhere into the electrics. After that, we were good to go.
One word of advise: Ask to test the e-bike first. Not every bike has brakes that actually work.
4. Taxi or tour bus
You can always hire a taxi for the whole day. We didn’t use that option but I would expect it to be a bit more expensive than the horsecart. It depends on your haggling skills. Ask at your reception how much you should pay. Ask other travellers. Be prepared to walk away from the first few taxis until you get a good price.
We’ve seen a couple of tour busses but I don’t think you’ll be on one of them unless you came to Bagan on a tour. The disadvantage is that those busses aren’t good on small dirt roads but I guess you’ll have to take what you get.