Bagan’s accommodation is divided between Nyaung-U and New and Old Bagan. Broadly speaking, the most upmarket resorts are found in the latter, the majority of budget options in the former and mid-range in New Bagan. There is of course plenty of cross-over. Bear in mind Nyaung-U is the largest town with the most room and restaurant choices, but it's the furthest away from the temples and the most crowded in high season.
Spread across a vast plain, hemmed in on two fronts by the Ayeyarwady River and home to thousands of monuments, Bagan is an evocative and fascinating place to explore. 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... Read our full review of Where to stay in Bagan.
Although Nyaung U is the largest town with the most options, it does sprawl a long way along the road to the southeast. Swallowing up Wet Kyi Inn village, it gives you a strip of four kilometres or so liberally dotted with guesthouses and hotels. A series of eateries lies along the main road in Wet Kyi Inn. If you want to avoid a long walk or cycle ride in the dark to have dinner then bear that in mind.
Though predominantly aimed at the budget and flashpacker range, several very good mid-range choices are also found in town.
With its lush garden and pool set amid Nyaung U’s dusty streets, 19-room Oasis really does live up to its name, offering excellent rooms in delightful surrounds. Oasis' narrow garden runs back off the road, then a frangipani-studded lawn lies on one side with rooms on the other. At the rear of the garden is a small but cute swimming pool, fringed by loungers and parasols. ###4329 Rooms are... Read our full review of Oasis.
Classy, midrange Zfreeti boasts temple references in its architecture and local-style decor, without being over the top. The well-kept rooms represent great value for money in Bagan, making it one of our top picks. It doesn't look so from the outside, but it's a large complex, with 98 rooms set in a number of long accommodation blocks, finished in bare brick and surrounded by wooden decking... Read our full review of Zfreeti Hotel.
To entice travellers out of town, effort is required and New Wave seems to have successfully expended plenty of it. Rooms represent good value for Bagan, particularly if you can snare a ground floor, courtyard one. The newish-looking set up has a subtle pale yellow and green colour scheme. Reception, a level of rooms and a rooftop restaurant face the street and hide a quiet courtyard to the... Read our full review of New Wave Guesthouse.
A change of style from most of Nyaung U’s small hotel and guesthouse options, longstanding Thante has bungalows scattered around a well-kept, lush garden. While it's nothing flashy, it's comfortable, attractive and friendly. For what you get it's excellent value, and a particularly good spot if you’re travelling with kids. There’s an old school feel to Thante and while bungalows have... Read our full review of Thante Hotel.
The brand new two-storey room blocks of Bagan Umbra are set in a sprawling garden, which boasts a huge and immaculate swimming pool. While the set up wouldn’t look out of place in Old Bagan, low season rates at least are kept at a good midrange level. The most upmarket of the Wet Kyi Inn strip of hotels, Bagan Umbra’s location has the same pros and cons. It’s got that Bagan feel, with... Read our full review of Hotel Bagan Umbra.
Innwa offers basic budget rooms with good breakfasts plus views, friendly staff and a fair location. Innwa boasts a small hotel-style lobby, behind which are two floors of fairly standard guesthouse rooms. Room interiors are comfortable and clean enough, though devoid of decoration. They’re not huge, but we’ve seen much smaller and all come with air-con, ensuite cold-water showers and TV,... Read our full review of Innwa Guesthouse.
May Kha Lar Guesthouse is set in a two-storey, part-wooden building with a coat of powder blue paint. The converted family house has some reasonable deals for Bagan and is probably a good spot to meet other backpackers if you’re travelling on your own. Cheaper rooms come with shared bathroom, while some larger ones have supposedly hot showers. Upstairs rooms are better, with wooden parquet... Read our full review of May Kha Lar Guesthouse.
It’s quite easy to miss New Life as the three-storey, lime green building is hidden from the busy street by a row of trees. While it lacks character, rooms are clean and reasonably sized and represent great value for money. New Life's business card has an address of Main Road, though the location is quite clearly Anawrahta; one sign announces a guesthouse, and another a motel. You can't park... Read our full review of New Life Guesthouse.
One of New Park’s best selling points is its location down a side lane off Restaurant Row, so it's quiet but only a stone’s throw from all the cafes and restaurants. The large compound is tucked behind a spectacular old acacia tree, with rooms arranged in low, long blocks on either side of a pale green chapel-style reception building plus a yard with plants, more than a garden as... Read our full review of New Park Hotel.
Pann Cherry has a good location and super-cheap functional rooms ideal for those on a super-cheap budget. The guesthouse has a bit of funky character from the outside, and though the interior doesn’t quite live up to the promise, you can't really beat a $7 bed in Bagan. The guesthouse is on the corner of Main Road and the side lane leading down to Shwezigon, so Restaurant Row is only a... Read our full review of Pann Cherry Guesthouse.
The ostentatious Royal Bagan has all the hallmarks of a fancy, midrange, would-be boutique resort, with a smart pool and well-tended tropical garden -- with $20 dorm beds, good deal mid-priced rooms plus overpriced family rooms. The entrance is, we guess, an attempt at nouveau temple chic design and gives onto Anawrahta Road, between the midrange Motel Zein and Oasis Hotel. Behind this, a... Read our full review of Royal Bagan Hotel.
A popular budget choice with a handy location close to Restaurant Row, Shwe Na Di offers beds in a dormitory or rooms with shared bathroom or ensuite. Low season rates are some of the cheapest in town. Though rooms are okay, the shared bathrooms aren’t great and aren’t even on the same floor as some rooms. And while there are better choices about at the pricepoint of their air-con rooms.... Read our full review of Shwe Na Di Guesthouse.
Winner Guesthouse's marketing tactic is simple: They offer some of the cheapest rooms around, and they throw in breakfast. Found in the Wet Kyi Inn accommodation strip, they don’t manage to undercut Pann Cherry they do go a step up by including breakfasts. It’s a recent construction and it looks better and cleaner than many other Bagan budget options. It offers the standard layout of... Read our full review of Winner Guesthouse.
We'd describe Aung Mingalar as erratic rather than boutique. Though their layout and rooms aren't bad it does have a slightly past its best feel. The old wood, brick and tin-roofed clubhouse type building looks like it should contain a billiard table and hunting trophies, but it's set off the road in a very pleasant, tree-studded garden. (If they changed the roof, it could look really good.)... Read our full review of Aung Mingalar Boutique Hotel.
The Bagan Princess has the most peculiar layout and decor, making you wonder what the architect had for breakfast, but it does work in an odd way, and some of the equally odd room rates are pretty good too. The decoration is brick and laterite blocks -- all painted a dark brown -- and they extend into the interiors of the rooms. The reception begins in relatively normal fashion though its... Read our full review of Bagan Princess Hotel.
Eden doesn’t look anything special from the outside but rooms aren’t so bad and since they’re now onto Eden II and III, they must be doing something right. Eden makes no pretensions towards being anything special anyway; we're calling it our suggested plan B in case your first choice in Nyaung U is full. With air-con rooms with ensuite, cold-water bathrooms from $15 for a single through... Read our full review of Eden Motel.
Old Bagan is home to a half dozen upmarket, large resorts. With strict and sensible regulations, not too many more are likely to be added. Whether any of these should be in the heart of the archaeological zone is debatable; we weren’t comfortable to see that, with one exception, all had ancient stupas enclosed on their own private land. Value for money is not good overall and you’ll presumably spend most of your time visiting temples anyway rather than hanging out in your resort. Bagan Hotel River View and Bagan Thande did offer some very reasonable low season deals, though the latter is our only real high season recommendation.
Riverside Bagan Thande Hotel's claim to fame is that the future King Edward VIII stayed here as Prince of Wales in 1922, so longstanding is an understatement. Overall this is probably the least flashy of these Old Bagan resorts. The hotel manages to encompass both decent midrange, low season offers with exaggerated upmarket, high season ones. The wooden, tin-roofed economy rooms are decidedly... Read our full review of Bagan Thande Hotel.
Aye Yar Riverview has a prime location on an extensive plot of riverbank land to the north of Old Bagan. It started life in 1958 as a guesthouse for Burma Airways Corporation, so the spacious gardens are well established. Accommodation in these upmarket Old Bagan resorts is often classy and well appointed but in Aye Yar’s case, the lay-out and setting are a league of their own. As usual, the... Read our full review of Aye Yar River View Resort.
Bagan Hotel River View, just out of town on the south side by the river and within easy reach of many temples, boasts a lush garden and general layout far superior to those of the adjacent more upmarket spots. The Ayeyarwaddy-side location and well situated terrace are major pluses, though while it makes some great low season offers, they more than double their rates for the rest of the year. ... Read our full review of Bagan Hotel River View.
The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate is a simple and classy operation, with a lower key, more understated decor and layout than many other Old Bagan extravaganzas. Prices quoted are on the absurd side, but you might snare a walk-in or online discount. There’s a more Thai than Sino-Burmese style to Tharabar. The entrance is unassuming and gives onto an excellent alfresco dining area and medium sized... Read our full review of The Hotel @ Tharabar Gate.
New Bagan was once Old Bagan, till the junta kicked the villagers out on their collective backsides to this dusty set of crossroads south of the major monuments that became New Bagan. Accommodation is a very mixed bag, attracting tour groups more than anything else. The accommodation generally is poor value, though at least rates are not as inflated as in Old Bagan.
The 2016 star of the Bagan accommodation scene, Ostello Bello’s smart formula and attention to detail has taken the place by storm. You’ll need to book in advance for any month of the year. The original Ostello backpacker hostel was in Milan and the Italian owners have applied their time-tested system to Burma. They’ve opened Ostello Bello Mandalay (still running under the old name of... Read our full review of Ostello Bello Bagan.
Ruby True is a quiet, tucked away spot with low wood and bamboo chalet blocks scattered around a well-tended and spacious garden. In a town full of generally very friendly people, Ruby True’s staff are particularly welcoming and manager War War is clearly the star of the show. Visiting on a quiet day, we found it very difficult to get away. Decor both in and out is varnished, woven bamboo... Read our full review of Ruby True Hotel.
This cute little converted family home has much more of a homestay, or at best guesthouse, feel to it than hotel. Beauty isn’t any more appropriate than hotel, either, but the grey and green painted two-storey house does have a certain old-style guesthouse character to it. No new room blocks have been added alongside and there’s no sunset rooftop terrace. There aren’t many spots around like... Read our full review of Bagan Beauty Hotel.
The aptly named Bagan Central successfully fills the flashpacker gap in New Bagan. Found right on Main or Khayae Street, it's also one of the rare New Bagan sites which doesn’t involve a 15 -minute walk home after dinner. We like their layout, with chalet-style rooms set around a cute courtyard garden boasting rock gardens and walkways over a large fishpond. It isn't too cluttered and there are... Read our full review of Bagan Central Hotel.
A spacious garden and decent sized pool accompany the standard format room blocks at this good mid-range address. Well, good for low season anyway, as we don't think more than doubling rates in peak periods can be justified. The two-storey room rows are better than many, with plenty of carved wood finishing off the bare red brickwork. A red-tiled reception and restaurant has a terrace and... Read our full review of Bawga Theiddhi Hotel.
Balconies and the swimming pool have unobstructed vistas of chedi-dotted farm and scrubland at Kumudara, though the edge of town location means it is a hike to get anywhere else. This is an overall good mid-range choice as you’ll probably hire an e-bike or bicycle for temple visits, though it is still a long walk to the nearest cafe. Unfortunately, and it's not the resort’s fault, but a... Read our full review of Kumudara Hotel.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.