If you’ve looked at a Lonely Planet cover in the past five years, you might recognize the iconic hot air balloons rising at sunrise over ancient temples. If you have no idea what I’m talking about:
Yes, it is that gorgeous in person and yes, I am going to share what all you need to do in order to experience this as well.
STEP 1: GET TO BAGAN, MYANMAR
This may seem painstakingly obvious, but there’s a few things you’ll need to know before you head out for Burmese adventure:
- A Myanmar Visa
- A plane ticket or bus ticket is a must getting to Bagan.
- If traveling from Yangon:
- Nyaung U Airport is located very close to Old and New Bagan and you can easily book a ticket from Yangon.
- If traveling from Mandalay:
- It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from Mandalay. I suggest a bus or a driver. I’d like to learn more about the private driver business and how ethical it is in Myanmar, but we did get a round trip “taxi” for $180USD.
STEP 2: Rent an E-Bike
After checking in your accommodation, walk into town and go up to an “E-Bike” shack. You’ll see many, clearly written in English. Make sure you rent one the night before you want to experience a sunrise.
For us, we checked in late and were nervous we wouldn’t find an E-bike in time. At 10pm, we found a young woman running the E-bike stand. She told us that the batteries for her inventory were all charging, but if we came back at 5:00am, we could rent a “big” E-bike that could fit 2 for 7000 khat for the sunrise, which is approximately $4.50 USD. If you want to rent from 5am-7pm (all day), the price is a mere 12000 khat which is $7.75 USD. INCREDIBLE !! I never got her name, but please refer to the photo above and try to find her. She was quick witted and hard working.
STEP 3: Find a Pagoda
There are over 5000 of them in Bagan…finding a pagoda to stage and watch the sun do it’s thang may be the hardest part, #1 because it’s in the dark and #2 because some of the pagodas are closed down for restoration and some can not be climbed because it is not possible. However, it is actually quite simple with the app Maps.Me.
Let me rephrase: YOU NEED MAPS.ME !!!
Using the Maps.Me app, I was able to view which pagodas were available for climbing. I also HEAVILY & mostly relied on a site I found that is updated in real time. On the pagoda we ended up on, I asked the strangers how they had found the spot. I was shocked they didn’t use the site & I shared the site with them. Definitely check it out.
The app is full of great spots and the website updates in real time. In the end, I ended up in a place where the app and the website both agreed it’d be a great choice. Here’s a screenshot of the area I was at & the coordinates were approximately 21.149362, 94.870545:
A super random local came out of no where and showed us where to climb, but if you’re not the first ones, like we were, you’ll see more e-bikes parked & take the hint.
STEP 4: Climb, get settle & enjoy the view
Once you climb, you’ll be able to view the breathtaking slow sunrise. I love a good sunset, but I think I may be a sunrise girl. There’s something so gorgeous about about the darkness turning to light and I think it sparked from my home on the east coast of Florida, when we used to attend sunrise Easter Mass when I was in high school. It was a powerful experience to have Jesus rise on Easter and the sun rising as a symbol of that and even now when I go home, I like to enjoy sunrises on the beach. They’re so powerful.
Some final tips about these sunrises:
-#1: Bring a snack
We were there for about an hour and a half before we ate for breakfast so maybe something small would have been perfect! Also, I wore sandals which
-#2: Wear close toed shoes
I wore sandals that I thought were safer since they secured with a zipper in the back. FALSE. I actually scraped my toe in the dark on the way to pick up the e-bike…before we started adventuring…before we started climbing. Just wear closed toed shoes. It’s important.
-#3: Learn about Myanmar before you travel here
Myanmar aka Burma has a long and violent history, both past and present. Respect their culture and learn how to travel there ethically in order to enjoy the beauty it has to offer.
NOW, ENJOY SOME PHOTOS
Thank you for reading & feel free to comment updates or email firstname.lastname@example.org in order to ask any questions!