Bagan, the land of temples is among the top places for many travelers on their Myanmar itinerary. With over 800 temples scattered, it takes a few days to explore the best Bagan pagodas, but if you have some time left, you can plan these day trips from Bagan, of all which are unique and worth visiting. Here is what you need to know about Bagan day trips.

Top Day Trips From Bagan

1. Hike to Mount Popa

Most people visiting Bagan and wanting to explore nearby places opt for Mount Popa. The distance from Bagan to Mount Popa is about 50km and takes 2 hours to reach. It is an extinct volcano mountain above which is located a shrine, dedicated to 37 spirits. These spirits called Nats, headed by Goddess Mother Popa, make it a sacred pilgrimage site for the people of Myanmar.

It takes about 45 minutes to climb to the top of the temple which is reached by 777 stairs. Check the panoramic views of the mountains and the valleys from the top, which looks magnificent around sunset and sunrise.

Some people feel that the mountain looks better from far, and the climb is not worth. It is not enjoyable to be at the top on a hot afternoon, of course, so better to plan at the time of sunset to make it a better experience.

There are plenty of Mount Popa tours from Bagan, which cover also some sightseeing in the nearby villages. It is best to book these Bagan day tours if you don’t want any hassle.

A free pick up from the hotel is included, you can easily book the tours online and you can just show your mobile voucher. You can also cancel if you have a change of plans for a refund. Here are some of the tours that I would recommend:

Mount Popa Day Tour (8 hours) – If you want to spend one full day to explore Mount Popa

Mount Popa and Salay combo day tour(8 hours) – If you are short on time but would love to visit Mount Popa and Salay together.

Mount Popa and Salay Private tour combo (8 hours) – A private combination tour perfect for families, groups of friends and couples who want an independent tour.

Wonders of Salay and Mount Popa (8 hours) – Another economical guided combo group tour.

How to reach Mount Popa?

If you are going by yourself, the best way to reach is to take a tuk-tuk, which is economical if you are sharing with someone.

You can also rent a cab for the whole trip, which again works great if you are traveling in a group.

Some tips

  • There are a lot of monkeys on the way to the temple, so beware of your belongings. They are used to tourists and are aggressive. It is better to not make eye contact or carry something that’ll draw their attention. They even snatch water bottles, so carry a stick to gently shove them.
  • You will find people cleaning the premises, especially the stairs, who sometimes ask for money. It didn’t happen to me but if you do encounter, don’t entertain them. Politely refuse, smile and walkway.
  • There are some shops for food and drinks on the way to Mount Popa, in the villages. There is not much near the temple premises. So plan your lunch/snacks accordingly.

Editor’s recommended: How To Get From Yangan To Bagan?

2. Day Trips From Bagan – Explore Salay Town

If you are wondering what to do on your Bagan trip for a day tour, Salay is another excellent option. Salay is a small town located about 50km from Bagan. It is among the list of options for popular day trips from Bagan for its ancient wooden monasteries. Salay is an important centre of learning for Buddhist monks, who live in hundreds in the surrounding monastic schools. 

The wooden monasteries, built during the 12th and the 13th centuries, are known for their exquisite, intricate carvings present in the courtyard and on the walls.

One of the famous temples in Salay is Yoke Son Kyaung, a 130-year-old wooden monastery which is a sacred place for the locals. The carvings depict scenes from the Indian Hindu epic Ramayana, which is a rare occurrence in a Buddhist monastery in Myanmar.

There are also writings and poems of the local poet U Pon Nya, who is one of the greatest poets of Myanmar.

The other ancient temples that you can check out are Mann Phaya and Maha Myat Muni Rakhine Pagoda.

You can also tour the Salay local market, which is a great way to get a glimpse of the local life. 

Salay is also home to rich colonial buildings, which are best explored on foot. 

After monasteries, colonial architecture and market, if you have time, head to the pier to take a small boat trip to witness spectacular sunset on Ayeyarwady River.

Some tours combine Mount Popa and Salay in a day, covering some of these places. If you are short on time, it is best to take these tours to get highlights of both places in your day trips from Bagan.

Here are some of the excellent tours that I would recommend:

Private Half-Day Salay Tour (4 hours) – A private half-day tour to Salay perfect if you are short on time and want to make the most of it.

Mount Popa Day Tour (8 hours) – If you want to spend one full day to explore Mount Popa

Mount Popa and Salay combo day tour(8 hours) – If you are short on time but would love to visit Mount Popa and Salay together.

Mount Popa and Salay Private tour combo (8 hours) – A private combination tour perfect for families, groups of friends and couples who want an independent tour.

Wonders of Salay and Mount Popa (8 hours) – Another economical guided combo group tour.

If you are planning to do a day trip from Bagan to Salay on your own, then it is best to rent a taxi or a tuk-tuk, either in groups or in private to tour around the attractions. It is slightly expensive, and you’ll have to pay extra for guides.

Editor’s note: How to get from Bagan to Inle Lake?

3. Check out the Stunning Views from Tantkyi Hill

If you want to get away from Bagan to experience some river views and temples without crowds, check out Tantkyi Taung or the Tantkyi hill, located on Ayeyarwaddy River. It is about 90km from Bagan, and if you plan a trip to be at the top around sunset, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of the landscape surrounding the hill

Tantkyi Taung Pagoda on top of the hill is also impressive and worth checking out. This temple was built during the 11th century and houses the sacred tooth relic of Buddha. The white and golden towers and the large stupas, circled by 32 elephant statues are beautiful.

How to reach

You can rent a cab or a tuk-tuk to get to Tantkyi Hill. But there are ferries from Bagan leaving to the hill, and it is a great way to combine a cruise with a visit to the pagoda. The boat trips are based on the season and the timings are fixed, so better to check when you arrive in Bagan.

4. Day Trips From Bagan – Visit Monywa

Monywa is located about 160km from Bagan and is more close to Mandalay. So if you are traveling from Mandalay to Bagan or Bagan to Mandalay, you can make a stop at Monywa. 

However, if you want to make a day trip from Bagan, it is possible as well. Buses leave at 7:30 AM from Bagan to Monywa, where you will arrive around 11 AM. This gives plenty of time to explore the town and be back by the last bus to Bagan. 

There are plenty of attractions in Monywa and you can spend easily up to 3 days enjoying the town. If you are here for a day trip, don’t forget to check out these top things in the town.

Thanboddhay Paya – It is one of the most beautiful Pagodas in Monywa, popular for more than five million images of Buddha, and hundreds of golden stupas of various sizes. The impressive roof is covered in gold leaf. 

Bodhi Tataung Laykyun Sekkya – Home to one of the tallest standing Buddha statue in the world, Bodhi Tataung Laykyun Sekkya is one of the famous attractions in Myanmar, and also a place of religious importance. The Pagoda is decorated with murals in the interiors. 

The garden around the temple is lovely with a lot of Bodhi trees, hundreds of statues of Buddha and also a large reclining Buddha. It is located at the back of a large religious site with bodhi trees, gardens containing hundreds of sitting Buddhas, and a huge reclining Buddha lying in front of the Laykyun Sekkya.

Check out The Hpo Win Daung caves – More than 900 caves built during the 14th century are located close to Monywa, which is worth visiting for the intricate murals and Buddha statues. 

If you are visiting during November, you will also witness the Hpo Win Daung Festival, the biggest festival of Monywa. 

If you want to plan to visit Monywa from Mandalay, then I would recommend you to take up guided day tours. Because this would include transport, which is challenging to arrange(but possible of course) considering the distance between attractions.

Also, you don’t have to worry about getting back on time to catch the bus, since it is taken care of. You can visit additional attractions as well on these tours, so it is a plus overall. 

Here are some of the tours that I would recommend:

Monya Private Tour From Mandalay (8 hours) – An economical private tour from Mandalay to Monywa perfect for couples and families. Also for solo travelers who want to go alone

5. Take a Boat Trip From Bagan to Mandalay

How about taking a cruise from Bagan to Mandalay? Not a day trip option, but experiencing a boat trip is one of the most popular things to do on your Myanmar trip.

It is one of the best routes for boat travel, and hence a lot of tourists opt for this to get to Mandalay. It takes about 12 to 12 hours and certainly is not the fastest, but it is one of those cases where the journey is more important than the destination.

Read more on taking this Bagan to Mandalay boat trip here.

Here is one of the famous guided boat tours – Bagan to Mandalay Irrawaddy Cruise, which is a one-way tour. It works perfectly to go to Mandalay next after exploring Bagan and around.

Apart from this, you can also take up short boat trips in the Ayeyarwaddy River to the nearby villages, where you will get to see the local life along the river.

A private sunset tour with cocktails on the Irrawaddy is one of the best tours to experience this, perfect for a romantic experience for couples and a fun evening for families and groups.

Bagan sunset cruise – A cheaper group tour ideal for small groups

6. Experience the river town of Pakkoku

Pakkoku is located about 40km north of Bagan and is also more or like Mongywa, both being ancient towns with old Buddhist temples. Located on the banks of the Irrawaddy river, it is where you can take some fabulous boat trips during sunrise and sunset.

The town is famous for these temples – Pakhan-Gyi Kyaung, a 13th-century wooden monastery with more than 300 original teak pillars known for their carvings.

The two old Thi Ho Shin Pagoda and Shin Muddaw Pagodaworth visiting. It is even better if you plan to be around sunset.

If you want to plan a day trip from Bagan to Pakkoku, you can easily book a cab or a tuk-tuk for a day. Make sure to negotiate for the best prices. It is best to check with your hotel or guesthouse for options as they will likely give you better deals.

If you opt for guided tours, you can also get to visit the local market and taste the local cuisine. The transport hassle is taken care and hence, is a comfortable way to tour the city on these tours. Here are some of the best tours that you can choose from

OTHER POSTS FROM MYANMAR TO PLAN YOUR TRIP

17 Best Bagan Pagodas That You Should Visit (Among the 800+temples)

How to get from Yangon to Mandalay– Bus or Train?

Watching Sunrise & Sunset in Bagan – Here is how to do it in 2019

Ways To Reach Bagan From Yangon in Myanmar

Offbeat Myanmar – 21 Awesome Things to Do in Hpa An

How to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake?

Crossing Thailand-Myanmar By Land – Here is a complete guide to do it

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