Bagan, the main tourist destination in Myanmar, is the ancient capital of the first Myanmar Empire founded by King Anawratha. It is one of the richest archaeological sites in South-east Asia. Among Bagan’s more than 13,000 temples were destroyed by invaders, other by earthquake and decay. Today, remains over 2000 pagodas and temples which are representing the diversity of ancient Myanmar architectural styles in the 11th to 13th century. Bagan is the cradle of Myanmar culture. Intricate frescos or mural paintings in the pagodas, depending the life of Buddha, are worth viewing.
Bagan is a highlight of any trip to Myanmar and minimum stay of at least one or two night is essential in any itinerary is strong recommended. Sunset in Bagan is a most captivating scene and treasured memory to take home. Bagan lacquerware is the best in the world.
Mount Popa is located 67km southwest of Bagan. It is an extinct volcano rising 1520 meters out of the plains. Mt. Popa is so lush and green that it is called the Oasis of the Central Myanmar Dry Zone.
Climbing to the summit, one enjoys a great panoramic view over the environs. It is famed as the abode of Mahagiri nat (literally meaning the spirit gods of the Mountain Lord). It is also the dwelling place of the 37 nats (spirit gods) and is compared to the Parthenon of ancient Athens. Mt. Popa hosts two major “nat pwe”, spirit festival, in the month of May/June and other in Nov/Dec. Spirit possession and over all drunken ecstasy are still part of the celebration.
Visitors to the ancient capital Bagan often make a 40 km trip south to see Salay ancient town rich in Myanmar culture. Salay is also on the great Ayeyarwaddy River, like Bagan, another pleasurable way to get there is to go by one of the small motor boats available for hire and which usually leave Bagan from the Bu Phaya Jetty. It is worth visiting for its exception 18th century wood carving works at “Yoke Sone Monastery”.