“Most of Bagan's churches were damaged in the 2016 earthquake. When we were there, there was a lot of scaffolding. I would like to note in parentheses that I hope they don’t get some cowboys in to do the renovations. Unfortunately, the temples of Bagan have not been listed as World Heritage sites yet, probably because their restoration has so far consisted of filling cavities with concrete, and the walls, which once had frescoes, were smoothed down to a height of 2 meters, in those places where they decided to do anything at all about the decay.
Many people compare the temples of Bagan to Angkor. The fact is, though, they are completely different and do not come close to Angkor. Don't get me wrong, I liked them, but the style of the place and the buildings are completely different.
Bagan has more than 2,000 temples and pagodas within a 50 square kilometer area, ranging from very small to very large. The churches are especially beautiful from the outside because inside we are not greeted by a large square, but by a circular walkway, from which a door with a Buddha statue opens on each side. There are one or two churches with beautifully decorated corridors, but most are not, or at least the decorations have not been preserved for posterity. The environment is a savanna-like plain dotted with trees and bushes. (We were there at the beginning of March, in the dry season).
The roads between the churches are mostly of sand, which can be soft in places, so it's a big relief if you rent a battery-assisted bike with motocross tires. Since it's very hot during the day, it's good that if you don't feel like cycling, you can just hit the gas and the bike will go without you pedaling. Every sunrise in the dry season, you can view the churches from above on a hot air balloon ride. It isn’t cheap, but it's definitely worth it (it was 330 dollars per person). I definitely recommend it, it's an unforgettable experience.
Our accommodation was in the Nyaung-U area of Bagan, close to the Shwezigon Pagoda. It's a really good area, not too crowded, and there are many restaurants in the area.
We traveled by electric bike and on foot. Two bikes for one day cost 10,000 Kyat or about 5 US dollars.
There are quite a few restaurants with food suitable for Western stomachs. Since there are more and more tourists, the prices are higher than elsewhere, but they are still affordable.
All kinds of things are sold around the temples, of course at much higher prices than on the streets of Bagan. You have to haggle everywhere, as here too they are bent on ripping off tourists.
There was a church where the vendors, like quasi-local tour guides, led tourists to a church with a really good view, which was a few steps away, and then started asking them to look at their wares. They were not violent. Of course, this is not typical, but there is already pressure here, unfortunately. They did not even leave the churches alone.” (Agnes, 2017)