Where to stay in Bagan, Burma (Myanmar)
First published 6th October, 2013
For first-time visitors to Burma (Myanmar), Bagan is a must-see destination. Spread across a vast plain, hemmed in on two fronts by the Ayeyarwady River and home to thousands of monuments, it's an evocative and fascinating place to explore, whether for two days or 10. While some of the monuments are fabulous, the accommodation is generally less so. Spread across three towns kilometres apart, it can be a little difficult for travellers to initially decipher. Here's our primer on the best places to stay in Bagan, for both budget and the more upmarket traveller.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, some orientation is in order. Bagan's accommodation is split across three main areas: Nyaung-U and Wetkyi-Inn (which I'm going to refer to as just Nyaung-U) to the northeast, Old Bagan to the northwest and New Bagan to the southwest. Broadly speaking, Nyaung-U has the bulk of the budget accommodation, New Bagan has the midrange digs that tend to appeal to tour groups and Old Bagan caters to the more upmarket traveller.
Like the monuments, some hotels could do with a renovation.
Each has its pros and cons. Nyaung-U has the best selection of places to eat, is most likely where your night bus will drop you, is closest to the airport but is also furthest from the monuments. Old Bagan is the closest to the monuments -- at least one hotel has two monuments within its grounds -- but this isn't as useful as it may sound as the rest of the monuments are still miles away. There's also some good eating in the area. The main disadvantage is the hotels are quite expensive, and in many cases woefully overpriced.
New Bagan is closer than Nyaung-U to some of the monuments but you will still need transport to see the others. The accommodation is mostly midrange, and, in our opinion, not great value.
Budget guesthouses in Bagan
If you're travelling on a budget, Bagan is going to involve a little bit of wallet pain, but minimise it by staying in Nyaung-U. At $8 for a fan-cooled room with a shared bathroom, the very basic Pann Cherry Guesthouse is difficult to beat. As a bonus it's straight across the road from Weatherspoon's Cafe -- one of our favourite places to eat in Bagan.
Not a guesthouse, but would be a great one.
If Pann Cherry is too basic, our pick of the budget digs in Bagan is Shwe Na Di Guesthouse, which has a range of options from $15 up to $30. The rooms are clean, the WiFi works and the staff are friendly and helpful. A newer orange building out back will have flashpackers sleeping very comfortably. This is our pick of the bunch, and with loads of rooms, Shwe Na Di Guesthouse shows plenty of promise. If they're full, Winner Guesthouse out in Wetkyi-Inn isn't exactly a winner, but is popular, similarly priced and far closer to the monuments. A couple of places close to Shwe Na Di are also worth a look should you not want to trek out to Winner.
If for some reason you've ended up in New Bagan and are having trouble stomaching the prices, try Mya Thida Hotel, which has spartan but very clean four-bed dorms for $15 a head and doubles from $30 -- check online for discounted rates. It's a friendly spot and they're trying to build it into a bit of a traveller centre.
A challenging welcome drink.
Midrange hotels in Bagan
Bagan is a very mixed bag when it comes to the midrange, but one absolute standout is Oasis in Nyaung-U, which was doing its $80 rooms for $50 when we passed through. With a small pool almost completed at the end of its lovely little garden, this is our absolute number one choice in Bagan.
A veritable Oasis.
For a little less money (and a lot more wear and tear), Bagan Umbra Hotel, at the eastern reaches of Wetkyi-Inn, is a solid choice with comfortable though very basic rooms in the $30 to $40 range, with a fair-sized swimming pool thrown in. Spread over spacious grounds, this is a good option for those travelling with kids -- the room next to ours had a very serious collection of My Little Ponys left out every morning. The rooms could do with a solid revamp though and as the hotel has recently changed hands, perhaps that's on the way.
In New Bagan, we liked the Thiri Sandar Royal Bagan Hotel, with clean and very well kept modern rooms in the $22 to $35 range. Piping hot showers, very good WiFi (by Bagan standards) and a good location for local eateries make this a good flashpacker option.
Further afield, the Kumudara Hotel (from $38) is popular with groups, and we loved the quasi-desert poolside setting, but the rooms can be variable -- be sure to ask to see another if the first isn't up to scratch. The location, a solid 10-minute walk down a dusty road, isn't one of New Bagan's better ones.
I prefer my swimming pools with a view of ancient monuments.
If you want to stay in Old Bagan, the Bagan Thande Hotel has some standard rooms squirrelled around the back going from $65 -- we'd much rather spend that money at Oasis, but if you simply must stay in Old Bagan and can't afford to set your wallet on fire, this is your best semi-budget bet.
High-end hotels in Bagan
Bagan does not do the high end well. The hotels are uniformly overpriced for the offerings, sometimes ridiculously so -- but it seems those with more dollars than sense continue to pay these amounts. When shown a "river view" room at Bagan Hotel River View, we almost fell over after being told they rent it at $250 per night in low season, only then to be hit with a double whammy of the high season rate -- $350. Complete madness.
Big dollars for a big pool.
If you want to stay in Old Bagan, the pick of the bunch is absolutely The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate with rates starting at $150. The rooms are lovely, well decorated, and, in a change for the cluster of high-end madness around here, the staff actually know what they're on about. The pool is on the small side, but it's a lovely hideaway should it fit your budget.
The high-end delivers on lovely riverside settings.
In high season Bagan can get pretty busy and booking in advance can be a sterling idea, but bear in mind that many places (as of yet) cannot be booked online, so do pick up the phone and give them a call. Online rates with Agoda for those that can be booked online are very variable, with some are considerably cheaper online, others cheaper as a walk-in; like many things in Burma, it's complicated. All rates listed above are what we were quoted as a walk-in customer.
Add your comment
Feature story quicklinks
- Giving back in Southeast Asia (15)
- All stories
- Angkor Hospital For Children
- COPE: Helping people move on
- Epic Arts
- Free the Bears Laos
- Helping Phuket's children in need
- Helping Siem Reap's rubbish dump families
- Helping Singapore's transient workers
- Helping the Karen of Burma
- Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam
- Lifestart Foundation, Hoi An
- MyME Yangon
- Swim Vietnam
- Thai Freedom House, Chiang Mai
- The Samui Prison Project
- The SET Foundation
- Burma (8)
- Cambodia (23)
- All stories
- A Cambodian Eco-lodge
- A honeymoon in Cambodia
- Angkorian traffic woes
- Battambang weekend
- Elephant riding in Cambodia: Should you?
- Great places to stay in Siem Reap
- Is Preah Vihear safe to visit?
- Kampot or Kep?
- Koh Rong: Trouble in paradise?
- Kompong Cham escape
- Northeast Cambodia in photos
- Oh Poipet!
- PEPY:Sustainable Cambodian tourism
- Phnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge
- Sihanoukville beaches lure expats
- Spas, shopping & seers in Siem Reap
- The best islands in Cambodia
- The best places to stay on Cambodia's islands
- The Death Highway
- Trekking in Virachey National Park
- Trekking the Cardamoms in Cambodia
- Which Cambodian island is right for you?
- Why you should go to Cambodia
- Indonesia (14)
- All stories
- A funeral in Toraja, Sulawesi
- Climbing Rinjani
- How to hire a boat in Indonesia: Without drowning
- Learn to surf in Bali
- Medewi: A great Bali getaway
- Mountain biking in Bali: A ride in the woods
- Pasola, Sumba
- The Gili islands: Which is the right one for you?
- Ubud bird watching: From waterhens to witchcraft
- Ubud shopping guide
- Village trekking in Tana Toraja
- Weekend in Nusa Penida
- Yogya's student scene
- Laos (17)
- All stories
- A breeze through Luang Prabang
- Best budget rooms in Luang Prabang 2013
- Elephant trekking in Laos
- Exploring Laos' Bolaven Plateau
- Huay Xai to Pak Tha by slowboat
- Is Lao Airlines safe to fly?
- Laos' vanishing elephants
- Luang Prabang escape
- Muang Ngoi Escape
- Photos of Luang Prabang, Laos
- Pi Mai Lao in Luang Prabang: In 1999
- Southern Laos by scooter
- Temples in Luang Prabang
- The Gibbon Experience
- The Phonsavan adventure
- Vientiane's Chinatown
- What to buy in Luang Prabang, Laos
- Malaysia (9)
- Singapore (9)
- Thailand (76)
- All stories
- 10 Bangkok galleries worth a look-see
- 10 Thai treks aside from Chiang Mai
- 24 Hours in Bangkok: Sukhumvit to Siam Square
- 31 Thai islands
- 5 Southern Thai towns to lose time in
- A Thai homestay in Ayutthaya
- A weekend in Phra Phradaeng
- A weekend on Ko Samet, Thailand
- An extra day in Krabi
- Andaman Sea island hopper
- Are Thailand’s cheap guesthouses disappearing?
- Ayutthaya temple tour
- Bangkok for art lovers
- Bangkok's Charoen Krung Road
- Bangkok's Thonburi: exploring the west side
- Brilliant Bangkok
- Chiang Dao getaway
- Chiang Mai's temples
- Corruption in Thailand
- Eating on the edge
- Elephant's World Kanchanaburi
- Exploring Lamphun
- Exploring the Lungs of Bangkok
- Far southern Thailand: Go or not?
- Five days in Khao Lak, Thailand
- Floating markets around Bangkok
- Highlights of Chanthaburi province
- How to do Khao Yai National Park
- Khao San Road safety and scams
- Ko Mun Nork: a nearby paradise
- Ko Pha Ngan 7-day detox:Colonic fast
- Ko Pha Ngan's best beaches in 2013
- Ko Phi Phi on a budget
- Ko Tao for non-divers guide
- Ko Yao: the islands you're looking for
- Learning Muay Thai in Bangkok
- Motorcycling the Chiang Rai loop
- Narathiwat: residence of good people
- Navigating Bangkok: The BTS Skytrain
- Phuket by night
- Phuket for Kids
- Phuket heritage walk: Car parts to saris
- Phuket's secret beaches
- Planning around Thailand's civil unrest
- Roll your own Kanchanaburi
- Should I book for the full moon party?
- Should I cancel my Thai holiday? No.
- Should I cancel my trip to Thailand? No.
- Soi Thong Lo, Bangkok
- Sorting out Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Staying at a Thai monastery
- Thai islands for nature lovers
- Thai islands to lose yourself on
- Thai visa FAQ
- Thailand tsunami wrap
- Thailand's Mae Khlong market
- Thailand: Where to from here?
- The best beach on Ko Samui
- The best places to stay on Ko Kut, Thailand
- The bridge over the River Kwai festival
- The road to Sangkhlaburi
- The road to Sangkhom
- Travelling through north-east Thailand
- Trekking in Thailand
- Trisara -- decadent luxury at its best
- Two days in Kamphaeng Phet
- What are the alternatives to Bangkok?
- What is the best beach on Ko Tao?
- What is the best island in Thailand?
- What's a good beach on Ko Pha Ngan?
- What's a good beach on Ko Samui?
- Where to stay at Railay Bay, Thailand
- Where to stay in Sukhothai?
- Where to stay on Ko Samet, Thailand
- Which beach on Ko Samui?
- Which island in Trang?
- Vietnam (32)
- All stories
- A short break in Nha Trang
- A Weekend in Can Tho
- Being fed Fido: Eating dog in Vietnam
- Buying a touring motorbike in Vietnam
- Con Dao escape
- Do nothing and see the best of Hanoi
- Doing the DMZ from Hue
- Exploring Kon Tum
- Exploring Vietnam's Mekong Delta
- Great Hanoi cafes to chill out in
- Ha Long Bay conclusions
- Ha Long Bay for backpackers
- Ha Long Bay for budget-busters
- Ha Long Bay for flashpackers
- Hanoi escape
- Hanoi or Saigon?
- Hoi An -- Walking over the dragon
- How to do the Dien Bien Phu loop
- How to enjoy your time in Vietnam
- How to pick a good Ha Long Bay cruise
- Is the Hoi An culture tour worth it?
- Motorbike Vietnam's Central Highlands
- One day in Hanoi
- Responsible shopping and eating in Hoi An
- Saigon's top 10 cafés
- Sapa or Bac Ha?
- Saving Vietnam's bears
- Street food safety
- The DMZ: Traveller tactical briefing
- Travel tips for Tet in Vietnam 2013
- Two Wheels & Ricefields: A review
- Which is the best street food tour in Hanoi?
- Accommodation guides (21)
- All stories
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2005 Top guesthouses in Chiang Mai
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Hanoi
- 2006 Top guesthouses in Phnom Penh
- 2006 Top guesthouses on Ko Phi Phi
- 2006 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top Bangkok airport guesthouses
- 2008 Top Luang Prabang guesthouses
- 2008 Top spots on Phu Quoc Island
- 2009 Top guesthouses in Bangkok
- 2009 Top Phnom Penh guesthouses
- 2011 Best places to stay in Kuala Lumpur
- 2011 Best places to stay on Ko Phi Phi
- Best places to stay in Hanoi 2012
- Cheap Phuket guesthouses & hotels
- Five special hotels in Cambodia
- Ko Lipe's best budget guesthouses 2012
- The best hostels in Bangkok 2014
- The best places to stay on Ko Chang, Thailand
- The changing face of Khao San Road
- Where to stay on Koh Rong Samloem
- Travel with kids (7)
- Opinion & advice (16)
- All stories
- 10 reasons to do an adventure tour
- 10 reasons to travel independently
- A year's worth of travel for 2013
- Beach hideaways in Asia
- Christmas and New Years in Southeast Asia
- Do I need reservations for my holiday?
- Evil man of Krabi
- Fifteen tips for a great holiday in Asia
- Getting a cheap airfare to Asia
- Hotels should never charge extra for WiFi
- Long distance buses in Southeast Asia
- Mass tourism in Southeast Asia
- Nine Asian upcountry hideaways
- Planning a Gap Year? Some advice.
- Ten Southeast Asian trips for 2008
- Ten thoughts on ten years with Travelfish
- How do I? (11)
- All stories
- Bangkok to Ko Samui, Pha Ngan & Tao
- Bangkok to Siem Reap
- Catching a train in Thailand
- Catching a train in Vietnam
- Cheap flights with Discovery Airpass
- Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- Crossing the Cambodia Laos border
- Ko Chang to Phu Quoc Island
- Siem Reap to Ko Chang
- Stops between Bangkok & Chiang Mai
- Visa run from Thailand to Burma
- Cycling Asia (13)
- All stories
- 24 hours in Bangkok
- An Angkor cycling guide
- An introduction
- Battambang, bamboo trains & guides
- Confessions of a "cheating cyclist"
- Cycles of all sorts
- Ha Long Bay independently
- Ko Samet Vs Pattaya
- Muay Thai night
- Phonsavan and Luang Prabang
- The hills of Vietnam
- The road less travelled
- Tubing in Vang Vieng
- Health and safety (6)
- Money and finance (4)
- Diving guides (6)
- Photo essay (3)
- Guest blog (2)
- General (15)
- All stories
- 10 Christmas days in Asia we're yet to have
- 10 dumb things I've done while travelling
- 34 ways to travel greener
- Asian animal experiences
- Call me Mr Massage Magic
- Chefs Without Borders
- Flying is fun!
- Mr Golden
- On being a travel writer
- Teaching ESL in Asia
- The 211 country honeymoon
- The Boxing Day Tsunami: 5 years on.
- To Teach or Not to Teach
- Travel writing scholarship 2012
- Tuk to the Road Charity ride
- Book reviews (5)
- Interviews (8)
- Explore Bangkok by BTS (18)
- All stories
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ari
- Bangkok by skytrain: Asok
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chid Lom
- Bangkok by skytrain: Chong Nonsi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Mo Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: National Stadium
- Bangkok by skytrain: On Nut
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phaya Thai
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phloen Chit
- Bangkok by skytrain: Phrom Phong
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchadamri
- Bangkok by skytrain: Ratchathewi
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sala Daeng (S2)
- Bangkok by skytrain: Sanam Pao
- Bangkok by skytrain: Saphan Taksin
- Bangkok by skytrain: Siam
- Bangkok by skytrain: Surasak
- Bangkok by skytrain: Thong Lor
Sign up for Travelfish Burp!
Our weekly wrap on Southeast Asian travel.
Click here to see a recent newsletter.