PICSPIRATON SUNDAY: Any trip to Myanmar includes a visit to Bagan. For a photographer it is easy to understand.
Visiting the ancient city Bagan is all about sunrises and sunsets. Or almost all, at least. That´s when people gather on one of more than 2000 temples and pagodas to marvel over the beautiful colors cast over the landscape.
From the 9th to the 13th century Bagan was the capital of the Kingdom of Bagan. During this time more than 10.000 temples, pagodas and monasteries were built, of which more than 2000 remain.
Travelling in Bagan
Tourism in Myanmar is still in its early days – and the infrastructure can we weak. Yet I found it surprisingly easy to move around in Bagan thanks to the abundant supply of electric motor bikes for 8 dollars per day.
With the e-bikes you can move from temple to temple at your own speed, often on small and sandy tracks that are best suited for a horse. It is indeed a fascinating experience.
Most hotels are in the neighboring town Nyaung-U, just a few kilometers away from the temples.
Sunrises and sunsets in Bagan
For an eager photographer the time schedule for a typical day in Bagan looks more or less like this:
- 5 AM: Get out of bed, dress and pick up the e-bike. Travel to the chosen temple for sunrise.
- 6 – 8 AM: Climb up on the wall of one of the temples, set up the tripod and start taking photos.
- 08:30 AM: Breakfast in the hotel
- 9 – 11 AM: Extra nap in hotel room
- 11 – 2 PM: Relax by the hotel pool
- 3-5 PM: Tour the area on an e-bike
- 5 – 7:30 PM: Go to a temple for sunset photography
- 8 PM – …: Dinner, photo editing and sleep
The most popular temple for sunrise and sunset is Shwesandaw. The view is beautiful and lined with pagodas both towards west (sunset) and east (sunrise). But it can be quite crowded – and if you are going to use a tripod it is smart to be there early and claim a spot.
Here is a trick, though. Most tourists assume by default that the higher you climb the temple the better view. It is true to some extent, but the best photos can still often be taken at a lower level where more pagodas are shown as silhouettes against the golden sky.
A nice temple with fewer visitors is Bulethi. Here only about 20-30 tourists showed up, and by stepping one level down I had plenty of space 🙂 I also enjoyed sunset at the Pyathada temple.
Article 2 of 5 about photography in Myanmar
This article is part of a series of five about photography in Myanmar.
- Photography in Myanmar, article 1: Meeting the sun at U Bein bridge
- Photography in Myanmar, article 2: Marvelling at the temples in Bagan
- Photography in Myanmar, article 3: A quiet evening at Shwedagon Pagoda
- Photography in Myanmar, article 4: The fishers at Inle Lake
- Photography in Myanmar, article 5: 50 faces of Myanmar