“Min-ga-lar-bar”, a cheerful greeting you will hear called out in most places you visit in Myanmar. No more is this the case then in Bagan, arguably the most famous tourist attraction in the country. Bagan is the home of more than 3,000 temples that stretch out as far as the eye can see. This impressive sight is truly mesmerizing, and is often the image that most people associate Myanmar with. But where are the locations you can get that perfect shot at sunset? The lesser known spots that every traveler craves to find, but few achieve.
1. Thiripyitsaya Village
A riverside village, just west of Bagan. Located at the bank of the Irrawaddy River, it is the perfect spot to watch sunset over the river. If you want to get away from masses, this is one of the best options.
Hear the water flowing slowing by, the splash of paddles shifting left and right from the rower’s hand, and the rhythmic sounds of the monks’ prayers. Quite perfect.
2. Ta Wet Phaya
Well situated in the centre of the Bagan archeological zone, Ta Wet Phaya is a good place for both sunrise and sunset. Being situated slightly off the main road, getting there can be hard, but it is entirely worth it. No crowds, no noise. Just you and the plains of Bagan.
The easiest route would be driving there as if going to Sulamani Pagoda. Then, across from Sulamani is a small dirt road which leads south and takes you to the secret temple.
3. North Guni Temple
This underrated temple in the evening becomes one of the best options to watch sunset from. Unlike many of the other bigger temples, its small passages and hallways are unblocked. Therefore, it is possible to explore the whole temple, and make your way to the very top. The higher you get, the better the view.
Look for the small hidden passages inside the corner pillars and go up to the 7th floor. As soon as you get up there, viola! A sight that many fall in love with.
The temple is just behind the shadow of Dhammayangyi Temple and the route there is small and quite dusty. To top it all off, the big tour busses can’t make it this far, so, the fewer crowds you will encounter.
4. Law Ka Ou Shaung Temple
Although it is easily accessible, the temple gets far fewer tourists coming along at sunset then others. Come around 5pm and there will be candles lit all the way up the staircase.
The scene is full with nature and activities; from the locals playing chin lone (a traditional outdoor sport in Myanmar) to the sun slowly descending behind the temples. From here, you can see Shwesandaw Pagoda, the most popular sunset spot for tourists. We’re sure you’ll be pretty pleased with your choice as you see photo hunters scrambling for space on the congested pagoda.
5. Oak Kyaung Gyi Monastery
A great spot to see the beautiful glowing Htilominlo Temple after dark. You’ll have to climb up a small, dark staircase, a very narrow secret passage, to earn the view you are about to see. If the gate to the passage is closed, look for a gatekeeper nearby to open the door for you.
Although some people are brought here by their guides, not many know about this place yet. Right after the sunsets, you can enjoy the sound of birds and monks and watch the stars come out while lying on the roof.
The monastery is a few minutes North-East of Old Bagan and very close to Khaymingha Pagoda.
6. Bagan Hotel River View
Good sunset views are not only possible from temples and pagodas in Bagan. For those guests who are not able to visit the temples at sunset, this can be another option. Bagan Hotel River View is located in Old Bagan, on the banks of the Irrawaddy River. Come and enjoy the view in the evening and watch the sunset over the hills on the other side of the river while relaxing in a deck chair with a glass of wine.
7. Thitsawadi Temple
A medium sized temple that shouldn’t be discounted as an option. From here you can capture a great photo of the nearby pagodas silhouette’s, which are topped with gold. The temple itself has been well renovated with ornate exterior decorations that are great to view before the sun begins to set.
Getting there can be hard since it is well hidden and off the main road. If you come from New Bagan, it is just past Dhammayazika Pagoda (a very big golden pagoda). The temple is visible on the Google Maps, so don’t worry about getting lost.
8. On the Irrawaddy river
Hiring a boat is another option. This is where you can have your own private space to watch the vivid sunset view. Hire a boat from the jetty in Old Bagan, but more likely the boat owner will find you.
The sunsets behind the river, so there’ll be no temples in this shot, but the view focuses on the wide dramatic sky of Bagan. Clouds turn a pinkish colour, while the sun reflects off the river with a fiery shade of orange.. Apart from the river and the sunset, while on the boat you will also discover the riverside temples and villages, including the local peoples’ long legged wooden houses roofed with palm leaves. A peaceful way to end you day.
9. Temple 405
Last but not least, one of our favourites.
Many tourists now know of the view from the top of Buledi Pagoda, however, what they do not know about is Temple 405. So, where it is?
Temple 405 is a slightly smaller copy of Buledi Temple and you’ll find it if you walk a few metres past it. The steps are seriously steep so be careful, but the view itself is absolutely worth it, displaying a combination of the archaic temples and incredible landscape.
Each one of these locations are unique in their own way, and each offer something slightly different from the next, so pick your sunset spot carefully. Regardless of who you are or where you are from, Bagan will welcome you warmly. So, why not stop wasting your time, and come visit!