Bagan Ancient Temples & Sights

The temples of Bagan! When I first started re-searching Myanmar on the web these temples came up over and over again. They were stunning and I'd always hoped we visit the city of Bagan. Well, sure enough, one of our co-teachers invited us with her church and off we went! 

I've written about Bagan Golden Palace  and the Ministries in Bagan but today I wanted to share more about the palaces and other unique sights we saw. But first I need to tell you how we got to Bagan. 

Our friend picked us up in the early evening so we could take a long taxi ride to the bus station. When I say bus station this is not the bus station you or I ever picture in our mind. It is more like a neighborhood with 50 small businesses who each own a bus and they park wherever they want. On top of that you need to imagine busses and cars going around in a frenzy like an ant pile who just got stepped on. It was crazy but our friends knew exactly where to go! 

Our bus left around 8 in the evening and it was an overnight ride. I normally can sleep like a champion on buses but I just couldn't on this one! They even gave us a blanket but sleep wasn't happening for me. We arrived at Bagan around 5am and then had to wait at the bus station there for a taxi to get us to take us into Bagan. 

The taxi came and our friends then had to be awesome again and find us a hotel to stay at. By law, we weren't allowed to stay at the boarding school where everyone else was at but finding a hotel was no easy task either. To house foreigners the hotel has to be licensed specifically for that. One hotel said they had vacancy but when we got out of the car they declined our stay because we were foreigners.  ha! Forty five minutes later our friends found us a place to stay. We slept for one hour and then went to the boarding house to help over there. 

The second night we got much better sleep and the next day we got to sight see. You all, this city is dreamy and ancient. It had an ancient charm to it and I loved visiting it. 

This is one of the largest temples in the area and I hate to tell you but I forgot the name. I couldn't believe how huge the temple was and how intricately designed it was. The temples are from the 11th to 13th century and I was amazed to see how much of them are preserved. 

All around the temple are many shopping stalls. We purchased a few things but mostly just enjoyed the sights. 

I thought the inside was the prettiest part.

Bagan also has a huge museum full of ancient artifacts. It was interesting to see but you couldn't take any pictures inside. The outside though ... you could for sure snap away and the building itself was rather beautiful. 

Have I told you monks are all over in Myanmar? We see many of them every day. The ones wearing saffron are from Myanmar and the ones wearing orange are from Thailand. I hope to share more about that part of the culture here one day. 

Here are a few pictures of some of the other things we saw there. 

Now I'm going to be super honest: as much as I think the temples are beautiful I have such mixed feelings about visiting them. It's neat to see the creativity that God gives people but to think that all these were built for Buddha is hard to see. I hope to share a full post on that later but it won't be until I leave Myanmar. Either way I am glad we got to see a really neat part of this country. 

What do you think of the temples? 
Would you visit somewhere like this?


  1. Interesting that the hotels there have to be licensed to house foreigners. Do you know why that is?

    You're right - the temple is beautiful. But I do understand your mixed feelings. We visited several temples while we lived in China and I remember always having mixed feelings with observing the people who were there to worship. Your photos are lovely, though! :)

  2. I just love looking at all your pictures! That first one of you and Dave seriously looks like a postcard with a photo shopped background! And that sounds bad but I just mean like the temple is so incredible and beautiful that it almost doesn't look real. That is so weird that hotels require special licenses to host foreigners- I wonder why??

    You bring up a good point about the temples- cool to see but kind of hard knowing they were built for Buddha. At least when you visit you know that you are bringing the Holy Spirit and God's light along with you into places that need it most! I think I would visit places like that just for the experience and praise God for the creativity He gives his people- just like you did.

    Thank you so much for your pictures and stories- even though im sure my brother isn't at all the same places it's like I get a little glimpse into his life at the same time seeing all the adventures that you and Dave prepared for for so long!

  3. Myanmar ha recently opened up their country for tourism. The licensing is so that the government can keep track of where the foreigners are. There are still are places within Myanmar that foreigners can not visit.

    Thanks for sharing your insight into visiting temples too. I'm glad I am not the only one who feels that way. How long were you in China?

    Also, do you have a blog? I clicked on your Disqus name but it wasn't on there.

  4. I don't think your comment about the postcard is bad at all. It does look like that. There was a little path and then this little house you had to climb through a narrow stair case to get to this look out. It was fun and pretty to go in there.

    Licensing to host foreigners ... Myanmar has just recently opened the country up to mass tourism. Before that the military was (and still is) in control would not allow them to tour the country. Even now there are certain areas that foreigners aren't allowed. There just aren't as many freedoms here like there are in America, even when it comes to traveling.

    I would imagine many of the pictures from Myanmar are similar to Thailand. The countries haven't always gotten along but they sure do have a lot in common. Some of the old temples look identical.

  5. That's so weird that it doesn't show my blog! I'll have to check into that. I blog over at thisitalianfamily.wordpress.com :)

    I lived in China from 2000-2004 during my high school years. I moved back to the states for college in 2004. My family moved back to the states the following year. My little sister has actually been back living in China for the past 6 months. She said it was like going home. One of these days I'll get back there to visit again! I miss it!

  6. Thanks for the link to your blog!

    That is neat that you got to spend a lot of time in China. I'm glad your sister is able to go back and feel at home. It is crazy to me how you can be away for so long but when you step your feet back into a place where you grew up it feels like home!

    I hope you get to go back and visit sometime.

  7. As I was scrolling through your pictures I was thinking the SAME thing about the temples... how beautiful they are, but how sad it is that they're for worship of someone other than God! I do hope to see some in person some day.

  8. I'm so glad I'm not the only Christian who thinks about the temples and the idolatry that goes along with it.

    I hope you get to see some too! Have you been to any ancient temples in SA?

  9. It's so sad :( I've been to a few "worship sites" and archaeological sites... mainly pre-Incan & Incan ruins that were the ceremonial sites for sacrifices to the various gods... Huaca Pucllana, Chavin, and even Machu Picchu had a temple for the sun. I guess I never really thought of them as temples, since they're ruins... literally just piles of rocks! But it still is sad what they believed in.

  10. You have been to a lot of those temples! Do you people still use them for worship or are they just ancient? I was surprised in Myanmar because you would walk into these super old temples and they'd have a new Buddha in there and people would be bowing down. It was a bit odd to see.