The trip to Bagan was truly unthinkable before. Armed with AirAsia’s round-trip ticket promo from Jakarta to Kuala Lumpur for Rp550.000, I then idly searched for ticket prices to Yangon. Aji mumpung, I get a ticket with a cost of around Rp350.000, and a return ticket from Yangon to Kuala Lumpur is approximately Rp800.000. I thought it turned out that the total ticket price was much cheaper than I did a direct flight from Jakarta to Yangon.
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur around 1 pm and decided to leave immigration and take a nap at McDonald’s near the KLIA2 Departure Gate. There is still time difference because my flight to Yangon is around 6 am. Long story short, I arrived in Yangon then decided to stop for a moment to look for Wifi and relax.
I arrived around 8 am. That day I still have to work, so I must immediately find Wifi. Once out of immigration, my eyes fixed on Cafe De Yangon, this cafe has a look that is very very similar to Starbucks. But I was disappointed because apparently, they did not provide Wifi. Without thinking, I then went to KFC, I checked the SSID from my cellphone, I should be able to work at KFC until noon. But again I was frustrated because it turned out that their Wifi had constraints and based on the information I got from local people, KFC Wifi at the airport could never be used. I quickly finished my breakfast and ran over to the information staff.
The information department staff said that in Yangon, many cafes did not provide their own internet access. They are all using Public Airport Wifi. The airport wifi has a reasonably fast connection. But after 30 minutes, my device cannot be connected to the internet. I was (then) informed that Wifi at Yangon International Airport is only valid for 30 minutes per day per device. Oh my :O
I was upset then I ordered Grab to go to the nearest Mall from the Airport named 9 Mile. I hope to find a little proper cafe there. Apparently, every cafe in the 9 Mile Mall also uses public Wifi from the building. Frankly, the Wifi connection was better than at the Airport. They do not limit the time for us to access the internet. At least, I was able to complete some of my work until around 6 pm because I had to immediately go to Aung Mingalar Bus Station.
Aung Mingalar Bus Station is the largest bus terminal in Yangon. I had previously booked a bus ticket from Yangon to Bagan through Easybook. Incidentally, there is a 25% discount promo for their service in Myanmar. The price of the bus ticket that I got for my trip to Bagan from Yangon was around 120 thousand. Public transportation in Yangon is not very friendly because most use local language signs so it is difficult to understand. However, don’t worry because Grab is available here. Oh yes, as a reference, in Yangon there is no Bike service, only GrabCar, and even then most of them are taxis. It takes about 45 to get to Aung Mingalar from the city center because the location is far from the city center.
The positive thing that I have encountered here is, even though the city looks messy, it turned out that every bus provider in the terminal is orderly towards its fleet. When I showed my ticket, Grab immediately drove me to the provider without having to ask questions — without having to fear of getting on the wrong fleet. Once I arrived at the bus provider, they checked how many items I carried, this meant whether they needed to help me put the things in the baggage or not. The waiting area was also less comfortable.
Around 19.20, the other passengers and I were welcome to take the bus. My first impression was that the bus is also not comfortable (lol). Also, I did not expect VIP facilities because I ordered the cheapest service from the price list offered by Easybook. However, even though the price was low, I got the equivalent of executive bus facilities in Indonesia. We were also provided with snacks, mineral water, blankets, and pillows.
I finally arrived at Bagan Shwe Pyi Bus Station after about 10 hours. Actually, there was a Grab in Bagan, but the order is somewhat complicated because they have to contact the customer service first. But anyway, the price of a taxi rental can still be negotiated. By paying around Rp30.000, I was finally delivered to the hotel where I was staying. Bagan Temple View Hotel, the reason I chose this hotel is because of the rooftop that allows me to see many temples in Bagan and its ballons in the morning sky.
I arrived at around 6.00, there was still a difference of 5 hours from my check-in time, which was the fastest to be done starting at 11.00. I was hesitant, but strangely, the hotel staff invited me to wait on the rooftop to be able to enjoy the air balloon phenomenon at 7.00. At the rooftop area, there was a restaurant and bathroom. They allowed me to refresh myself (take a bath) and had breakfast. There were also internet facilities that I can use to get rid of boredom. Oh yes, the cost of renting a room per night in this hotel is only Rp400.000. Really worth it!
Most visitors who stay at this hotel are not Asian. The air balloon phenomenon in Bagan can be enjoyed from 7 to 8 in the morning. Totally, I spent 2 days in Bagan. The Myanmar government has banned climbing the temple, so in my opinion, enjoying the sunrise at this hotel is the best option.
As a consequence, the local government prepared a small hill to enjoy the sunrise. On the second day, I had the opportunity to go to the mountain, but the view was not so good. Even it was just 2 tourists and me from Finland who then finally decided to explore other places while waiting for the air balloon. We went around using a motorbike, it’s a kind of electric bicycle with a maximum durability of 8 hours. For 1 day rental, the price is approximately 60 thousand. I can say the city of Bagan actually is lovely, there are beyond so many temples, it is definitely a place for Instagram-celeb.
Apart from that, I have prepared a list of temples that I think are amazing for your bucked list:
To be honest, on my last afternoon, I met 2 Americans. We toured together to find a hidden pagoda that we could secretly climb on. After around 45 minutes, we finally found the pagoda. We are not alone because many other travelers have also discovered the hidden spot. When I came here, there was no fence. I can give hope that you will get the maximum sunrise and sunset views in this pagoda.
Dhammyan Gyi Temple
In contrast, you will find a barren area with sandy soil in around Dhammyan Gyi Temple not far from Sunrise Pagoda. Many foreigners enjoy this area by horse-drawn carriage. You can order this horse-drawn carriage through Klook or through the hotel where you stay. But based on the results of my research, the price on the spot through the hotel was much lower.
Iza Gawna Pagoda
I recommend you come to this place when the sun really appears after dawn, there are about 3 large pagodas in this area. You will find views like Indian movie scenes worshiping the sun god. Very cool!
Minnanthu Manmade Sunset Hill
Title to the name given to this temple, many people, enjoy the panoramic sunset here. I came to this temple on the first day around 16.00, where it was still very bright. Unfortunately, when my motorbike entered the temple area, I was greeted by a wild dog that was absolutely not nyantuuuy. The dog ran towards me at about 500m. Reflexively, I turned around and raised the speed of my motorbike to another location. Chased dog! It was hmm fun! Lol, I returned to this temple the next day with other American friends. Secure. There are no more dogs.
Don’t know why, but many tourists come here. Well, in my opinion, this spot is suitable for those of you who vacation with family. There is a worship temple which is divided into also a spacious courtyard there. Actually back to taste, but I am more interested in taking photos outside where many statues are. Most of the tourists will take a tour around the place of worship through many alleys. I could say it’s fun! But I have mine definition of fun: P
These temples are my highlight in Bagan. There are several other temples visited, but I did not get the sense to be narcissistic. And anyway, you will get a far more impressive experience if you enjoy the beauty of hundreds of temples in Bagan with Air Balloons!