Having experienced our perfect Bagan sunrise we were equally determined to find an amazing vantage point from which to witness the idyllic Bagan sunset. With 2,200 temples and pagodas to choose from we researched extensively in the pursuit of our best Bagan sunset. Our hard work paid off when we found not one, not two but three amazing sunset spots!
We present to you our favourite sunset temples together with all the details on where to find the best Bagan sunsets!
2018 Update: It is not permitted to climb the Bagan temples as of January 2018. There are some artificial hills/mounds which have good sunrise and sunset views. There are two mounds are located close to Sulamani Pagoda and another near Pwar Saw village.
The ancient town is at its finest as the blazing sun sinks slowly to earth and a rainbow of colours fill the sky. Our evenings in Bagan were spent atop the temples and pagodas drinking in the beautiful sunset scenes and trying to capture every detail so we could relive the incredible moments time and time again.
Our Best Bagan Sunset Spots
Similar to our sunrise adventures, we were very determined in our hunt for the best place to watch the Bagan sunset! Our requirements were the following: a temple with an amazing panoramic view across the Bagan temple plain, the ability to climb at least two storeys high and, last but not least, be relatively quiet and off the tour bus trail.
We’ve narrowed our best Bagan sunset spots recommendations to two of our favourites: the incredible North Guni Temple (also known as Myauk Guni) and the terrace at the Pyathadar Hpaya Temple.
Bagan Tip: Try to stay as close to the Bagan temples as possible so avoid a long trip to/from the temples.
Our best Bagan hotels for visiting the temples
Bagan hotels tend to book up fast so book your hotel as far in advance of your travels as you can. Hotels in Bagan are located across three areas: Old and New Bagan and Nyaung-U. Nyaung-U, a mix of boutique hotels and local residents about 3km from the temples, is our favourite. Old Bagan, in the heart of the temples, houses many of Bagan’s luxury hotels while New Bagan is home to larger hotels and new builds.
- Zfreeti Hotel: we stayed in the Zfreeti, a small hotel with lots of great restaurant options in the surrounding streets and an inviting swimming pool! We rented electric bikes from the store across the street to get around – Check for lowest prices here
- Other good options in Nguang-U include the Sky View Hotel and Motel Zein.
- Aureum Palace Hotel and Resort: located within the actual Bagan Archaeological Preservation Zone amongst the ancient temples themselves, this hotel give you the very best views of the Bagan plains. It’s definitely one of the most unique hotels we’ve ever seen – Check for lowest prices here
- Other good luxury options in Old Bagan include The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate and the Bagan Thande Hotel
- Bagan Lodge (New Bagan): If you prefer New Bagan this might be your best option – Check for lowest prices here
- Another good option is the Blue Bird Hotel.
Sunset at North Guni Temple
Some of our favourite Bagan memories involve giggling uncontrollably as we squeezed through impossibly tiny spaces to eventually perch on a ledge 7 storeys high at the North Guni temple. The beautiful sunset views were entirely worth the effort!
- The sunset views are beyond belief. We had to pinch ourselves a few times to make sure we were really there!
- The temple offers an amazing view of the ancient Bagan temple plain and it feels like there are temples as far as the eye can see!
- North Guni is slightly off the beaten path and is accessed via a dirt track making getting there a lot of fun on electric bikes. The temple attracts a relatively small sunset crowd, helped by the fact that the large tour buses cannot reach the temple.
- You can climb to the sky! With some climbing it’s possible to get an amazing position high over the temple plain and equally amazing views come as part of the package!
- The drive home under the shadow of the temples is a true bucket list moment!
The Not so Good
- The child hawkers are super cute, speak at least 5 languages and can calculate the price of a souvenir in every major currency. Their techniques are incredible to watch and we definitely picked up a few tricks of persuasion! However, the daily routine got a bit much at times when we just wanted to admire the views and enjoy the moment.
- The upper levels of this temple do require a reasonable head for heights. I’m not a huge fan of heights but I was fine once I found my sunrise spot away from the edge!
- There are some tight spots to navigate to reach the top of the temple as demonstrated by Dave’s bottom in the below pic!
- There’s no respite from the beating sun while awaiting the sunset as once you have secured your spot it’s likely you’ll stay put. The east side of the temple fills up as it gets nearer to sunset and, after climbing, it’s not easy to move around when it’s busy. Bring sunscreen and plenty of water!
Myanmar Guide Books
We highly recommend investing in a guidebook for your Myanmar trip and planning. Lack of reliable wifi meant having our guidebook invaluable on a number of occasions. We used the following guidebooks for our trip.
Despite our reluctance to follow the crowds we wanted to try out Pyathadar Hpaya, one of the busier temples on the Bagan sunrise trail. Also known as Pya-Tha-Da Paya, it has one of the biggest terraces of all the temples in Bagan and its location made it the perfect place to watch the sunset over Bagan.
- Pyathadar Hpaya’s has an epic sunset view and watching the sunset here is a truly breathtaking experience.
- The landscape views are outstanding. The temple is surrounded by working fields and we were mesmerised watching the local women hard at the work and herds of goats meandering on the nearby paths.
Hard at work in the fields:
- The sellers are very much unobtrusive. They lay their goods out and only try to sell when someone shows interest.
The Not So Good
- Although it is a little away from the main tourist route, Pyathadar Hpaya is accessible to buses so it’s almost guaranteed that you will share your sunrise moment with many others! On the flip side, there is a huge terrace meaning there is room for everyone.
Our alternative best Bagan sunset: Shwesandaw Pagoda
Shwesandaw Pagoda is one of the most popular Bagan sunset temples and a tour favourite. It’s possible to climb high and the views are incredible. It is essential to get there early to secure a good spot!
Where we stayed in Bagan
We stayed in the Zfreeti Hotel which was perfect for exploring the Bagan plains. The hotel didn’t accept credit card so booking through Agoda meant we avoided carrying extra cash. The location, on the edge of Old Bagan, was perfect and we loved the electric bike rental store across the street from the hotel! It’s a total hidden gem in Bagan!
Location of our favourite Bagan sunset temples:
So there you have it, the lowdown on our best Bagan sunrise spots: if you’ve been to any amazing Bagan sunrise temples or pagodas let us know in the comments!