Many travellers flock to Bagan in search of that perfect sunrise or sunset shot, where a glowing ball of light is flanked by the mysterious silhouettes of Bagan’s temples and pagodas. Such photos were normally taken from these religious structures, which allowed visitors to clamber up staircases or ladders to the very top.
However, Bagan was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, which led to the Burmese government prohibiting all manners of temple climbing. This was done in the name of preserving the temples, as well as to protect the safety of tourists. Indeed, there has been more than one instance of tourists getting hurt whilst climbing to the top of the temples!
Here are some spots (the last is my favourite!) that you can still visit in order to catch the sunrise or sunset in Bagan:
1. Sulamani Hill
One popular sunrise spot that’s accessible now is Sulamani hill, which is a little mound located just down the road from Sulamani Temple. As the first rays of light hit the skies, watch as multiple balloons launch off from the ground, taking to the air in a graceful arc.
Do note that the hill can get very crowded, especially with the cordoning off of the temples’ outdoor terraces. Do arrive early – we arrived at 6.25am and still weren’t able to snag a spot in the front row!
After the sun has risen, make your way out of the crowd and head to Sulamani Temple for a look-see.
Read: Temple-Hopping in Bagan
Otherwise, take your pick from plenty of tuk-tuks and horse carriages or, return back to your tuk-tuk if you have a driver waiting.
2. Bagan Viewing Tower
Another sunrise or sunset spot is the Bagan Viewing Tower. Do arrive early to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area!
Watch as the setting sun paints the skies a fiery hue of orange and gold, framed against the mystical silhouettes of the many temples that dot the land.
Look at how the sun rays streak out from the horizon!
Comparatively, I preferred the Bagan Viewing Tower over the experience at Sulamani Hill, as there were significantly fewer people there. This is perhaps due to the MMK6, 500 (~SGD7) entrance fee required for the former.
3. Bagan Senses Hotel
I stayed at the Bagan Senses Hotel, the rooftop of which offers amazing views.
The terrace makes for wonderful sunrise and sunset spot that didn’t require me to jostle with other tourists. Plus, how could I say no to a 1-minute commute?!
Another plus point? I could quickly jump right back into bed once the sun had fully risen!
I could even view the take-off of hot air balloons in the morning from the rooftop terrace.
Many tourists still flout the rules and climb the pagodas illegally – however, I urge you not to do the same, the various temples and pagodas are in various states of ruin and we should do all we can to help preserve the structures.
After all, there are still some spots where you can enjoy a beautiful view of the sunrise or sunset, so it’s a win-win situation!