Bagan in Myanmar: The World's Most Beautiful View is written by Tania Karpatschoff
Bagan in Myanmar - well worth a visit
As a guide, I regularly bump into guests who complain of 'temple fatigue'. For if there is one thing you never run out of in Southeast Asia, it is temples that need to be visited.
But temple fatigue or not, do not deceive yourself for a visit to Bagan in Myanmar - formerly known as Burma. After years of exploring Thailand, Laos , Cambodia og Vietnam for there is nothing left so sharply in my memory as Bagan's majestic temple plain.
Bagan in Myanmar is among the greats
Although Bagan has always been an obvious candidate to appear on the UNESCO World Heritage List, it has only succeeded in 2019 to join the prestigious list. As early as 1995, the country's military government tried to get the area recognized as a unique and cultural heritage worthy of preservation, but the application was rejected.
UNESCO believed at the time that the generals ignored the advice of experts on how to restore the old buildings. Among other things, by allowing modern materials and stylistically incorrect restorations. But now the generals and UNESCO have agreed, and Bagan has finally received the recognition that the area fully deserves.
Bagan exudes history and grandeur. The city originates from the Kingdom of Pagan, which was one of the first to constitute what we know today as the modern Myanmar. In the heyday between the 11th and 13th centuries, over 10.000 pagodas and stupas were erected on a huge area of 42 square kilometers.
The many gold-plated shrines have since their heyday been looted by, among others, Mongol warriors, and to their great annoyance, they have also been hit by earthquakes most recently in 2016, in which 400 temples suffered major or minor damage. But even though Bagan has been exposed to a bit of everything over time, it is still one of the world's largest archeological sites; a place that can easily compete with both Machu Picchu in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
So far, however, Bagen has only a fraction of the visitors that the other two places have to suffer from. The rear position is sublime; situated on a lush flat plain along the Irrawaddy River. At sunrise and sunset, the area is framed by a magical glow from the hazy silver-gray mountains that can be seen in the distance.
The world's most beautiful sight - definitely worth a visit
No one should deceive themselves for the completely incomparable sight, that is, to see the temples sticking up through the morning mist as they are slowly lit up by the golden sunrise. Whether you have a penchant for temples or not, you can only get excited about the bombardment of temples, stupas, pagodas and palaces that meet you in Bagan.
It is no wonder that Marco Polo in his memoirs from the 13th century chose to call Bagan "the most beautiful sight in the world" - and the man had seen a lot!
Do not wait too long to go there, because even though Bagan has today become Myanmar's most popular destination, you still do not feel overwhelmed by other tourists.