Bagan

Mandalay Region, Myanmar

The 2,000-plus temples standing in the arid Bagan plain are just a remnant of the 10,000-plus pagodas that once stood here in the Pagan Empire’s heyday from the 11th to the 13th century CE. The temples speak to the uncommon prosperity of Bagan at its peak: even commoners could afford to build and make merit doing so.

Bagan’s temples vary wildly in size, purpose, and grandeur. You can marvel at grand constructions like the Ananda, Htilominlo, and Shwezigon Temples; hear the tragic backstories of Manuha and Dhammayangyi Temples, or watch the sunset at the riverside Bupaya and Lawkananda pagodas. From October to April, travelers can view the entire temple plain from a hot-air balloon over Bagan.

Beyond temple-spotting at the Bagan Archaeological Zone, you can catch the local color at the Mani Sithu Market in Nyaung-U, or go shopping for lacquerware at Myinkaba.

There is a $20 entrance fee to access all Bagan temples. The tickets can be purchased at the airport or before entering the Archaeological Zone.