Located on the Irrawaddy River, Bagan is readily accessible by road or the nearby airport Nyaung U. The Bagan Plain is part of the Central Burmese Basin which is a strip of flat ground that runs much of the length of Myanmar in a north-south direction and is flanked by two mountainous areas. To the west is the Arakan Mountain Range and to the east are the Shan and Karen Hills. Old Bagan is a quiet, relaxing area on the banks of the Irrawaddy River and the location of many of the temples including the notable Ananda Temple and the Shwesandaw Pagoda. It is a highly atmospheric locale , its’ sleepy laid-back atmosphere is a pleasant contrast to the hustle and bustle of the more densely populated areas. New Bagan, as its name suggests, is more modern and lacks the atmosphere of Old Bagan. It was founded about five kilometres south of Old Bagan although still on the banks of the Irrawaddy and is set out loosely in a grid pattern. The monuments in Bagan are spread out over a vast amount of space, and it is impossible to visit them all in a short amount of time. Most visitors will spend two to three days in Bagan, exploring the stupas and pagodas and their interesting architectural details. E-bikes are a popular way to get around the archeological zone, but one can also rent a horse and carriage, go on foot or by car. For an unrivaled view of Bagan, hot air balloons take visitors over the ancient kingdom in the soft light of dawn or dusk. Bagan is also famous for its role as center of Myanmar’s thriving lacquerware industry. You can watch skilled artisans as they work on the various stages of the painstaking six-month process. A few hours drive away from Bagan is Mount Popa, a monastery perched atop an extinct volcano – it is famous for being home to many spirits, each with its own unique story. The view rewards those who make the climb up the 777 steps to the top.

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