Photo: Sunrise from Old Bagan, looking towards the central plains.

Old Bagan

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Old Bagan can be toured on foot or by bicycle. Lying between Nyaung U and New Bagan, the old city is easily reached by bicycle from either. Here's our suggested itinerary for a half-day or so spin around, seeing the major highlights.

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Since the carpark just outside Tharabar Gate is where the best cafes are located, that’s where to begin, and end the tour. You can do this route on foot though pedal power’s the easiest. The brick gate would have originally been one of four entrances to the old walled city, though the entire western half of the walls has long since subsided into the swirling waters of the Ayeyarwaddy. Tharabar Gate is most notable today for its pair of adjacent nat (spirit) shrines added in the late 18th or early 19th century and consecrated as brother and sister nats. Custom has it that whenever you drive through the gate you should beep your horn out of respect, though we’re a bit sceptical about how many horns there would have been in the late 18th century.

You won't need one of these, but you will need to get to Tharabar Gate to begin the tour. Photo taken in or around Old Bagan , Bagan, Burma_myanmar by Mark Ord.

You won't need one of these, but you will need to get to Tharabar Gate to begin the tour. Photo: Mark Ord

Walk through the gate and follow the road until you see the squat Pitaka Taik temple off to your left. Completely renovated and substantially altered in 1784, a sign claims King Anawrahta used it to store some of the loot he brought back from Thaton in southern Burma on the backs of 32 white elephants. Historical evidence of Anawratha having sacked the Mon city of Thaton, however, is flimsy at best.

Keep an eye out for the decorative stone windows that are thought to have been purloined from other ruined sites during the 18th century renovation along with the peacock designs on the roof. Aside from the windows it’s of minimal interest so head on to Shwegu-Gyi a little further down the track, again on your left. According to inscriptions, Shwegu-Gyi was thrown together in a mere seven and a half months. The temple has been dated to 1131 with a subsequent refurbishment in the 18th or early 19th centre. Today it's still active as a ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,500 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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Location map for Old Bagan

Popular attractions in Bagan

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Bagan.

Best places to stay in Bagan

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Bagan.

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Bagan.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Bagan.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Bagan.
 Read up on how to get to Bagan.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Bagan? Please read this.
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See below for more sights and activities in Bagan that are listed on

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Bagan? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Burma_myanmar.

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