After a hot dusty day, there’s nothing more welcoming than the glowing evening lights as they begin to sink below the horizon. Bagan, with its booming tourism industry, can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially if you are looking for an opportunity to slink away from souvenir hawkers and other tourists. Most of the best sunset-spots will be overcrowded with people shoved onto the temples rooftops, but there are a few desolate temples hidden within the sprawling rice fields.
Over 3 very dusty days, Brandon and I explored as many of these temples as we could. We searched everywhere for the best ones to watch sunset in peace. It had to be at least 3 stories tall, with ample space to relax. I’ve mapped out the best spots to watch sunset below.
A Quick Preface:
After the August 2016 earthquakes, many temples and monasteries were damaged and in need of a lot of repairs. Many of these temples are off-limits now. After the damage, it’s imperative that we do our parts to preserve these historical monuments. Be extremely careful when ascending the temples, especially in the dark, because some of the bricks will be loose or broken. If you see a patched-up area, don’t step on it. If part of the temple is scaffolded off, or has a tarp over it, please leave it alone. And I shouldn’t even have to say this: but please don’t etch your name into the side of the building. There’s nothing more un-cool than damaging a 2,000 year old structure with “E & M FO-EVA, 2012”. Come on.
Where not to go
Unless you like fighting for a small space to stand or sit, there are 2 locations I would like to warn you about. A few blogs on the internet recommended Shwesandaw Temple and the North “Guni” temple near Dahmmayan Gyi Phaya. Shwesandaw will be full of souvenir hawkers, and packed with tourists. North Guni will be just as bad, despite being advertised as difficult to access by tour bus. Avoid.
The Best Sunset-spots
Law Ka Ou Shang Temple
Just off the road to New Bagan is a little temple called Law Ka Ou Shaung. It has an area perfect for relaxing as you wait for the rays, and is very easy to access. This temple had about 15 people when we arrived, but there was more than enough room to accommodate everyone.
With a little bit of dirt-biking finesse, you can make your way out to my personal favorite spot, a monastery tucked away behind acres and acres of farm land. Although it barely fits my height-requirements, it was by far the emptiest spot we found during our travels. There was no one around, we had it completely to ourselves! If I were to go back and do it again, I would bring a glass of wine, a picnic blanket, and a snack. Sinbyushin is the perfect hideaway.
Let me know if you find any other temples worth adding to this list. Happy sun-gazing!