You have reached the most popular and well-known destination in Myanmar – Bagan. Well, you probably also know why it is so popular, right? With more than 4000 temples within 20-mile square radius Began has to be one of the most unique archeological places in the world. And, the Bagan sunrise experience will be one of the most precious travel memories of a lifetime. We have created the best guide for temples in Bagan that you have to visit! Especially the ones where you still can experience a magical sunrise in Bagan.
What to Know Before You Look for the Perfect Bagan Sunrise Spot?
Due to the tourism increase in Myanmar and Bagan, many of the temples have been closed and tourists are not allowed to climb them. Whilst there were no regulations about climbing the temples in 2016 as of 2018 Burmese government has started to enforce some strict regulations. You will find temples with locked entrance gates and fences around them. You will find the staircases locked and the alleys filled with thorny bushes and sharp tree branches. The authorities are doing what they can to keep the tourists away.
You might ask why are the temples in Bagan being closed down? Apart from the huge tourism increase in Bagan, it’s a fact that climbing the pagodas damage the archeological wonders and you can hurt yourself in the process as well! The rocks are pretty loose so you might slip and fall while trying to climb a temple in Bagan. We completely agree with the Burmese authorities and believe that this beautiful wonder of the world should be preserved and it is possible to enjoy the beauty of Bagan sunrises without climbing all the possible temples. However, we are still guilty for trying to find the ones that are still open and trying to climb a few from outside.
I know, I know, you have seen those beautiful Instagram pictures with amazing sunrise views in Bagan from the temples’ rooftops and you want to have the experience! It is still possible! There still are a few temples that are open for a sunrise that are less known. There are also some temples that are officially still allowed to climb up for the sunrise. Let’s dive in and get to know which temples are the best for sunrise in Bagan.
Temples in Bagan That are Officially Allowed to Climb for Sunrise
Utrecht Temple and the Area (21.149617,94.87082)
This temple group offers very beautiful surrounding views and is quite an off the beaten path spot, so we would highly recommend visiting for a sunrise. There are 3 different pagodas around that you can climb and the area is usually not too crowded. The views are absolutely gorgeous and with less than 20 people around it can e a very enjoyable experience. It is perfect for sunrise in Bagan but it is also a great place for the sunset! So if you visit the Utrecht pagoda complex in the morning and you love the views, come back for the sunset as well!
Be very careful when climbing the rocks, they are quite steep and might be dangerous. Also, we have heard that there is tourist police coming around sunrise and sunset time and forcing tourists down. So, we suspect, it is not long until Utrecht pagoda will also be restricted for the public.
➳ Note: you might have to pay a local around $1 for the entrance, as a form of donation. It is not obligatory and is not enforced by law, but it’s only $1 so if there’s a local insisting on $1 entrance fee, you might as well pay it. Some time ago there was no one asking for money, but as the tourism increases and less and fewer pagodas are open, this is becoming quite a common sight.
Brick Monastery and “Open But not Impressive” (21.148050, 94.871902)
This is very similar to Temple 860, which follows up next. Also, open only in the morning and very crowded. The temple is very well maintained and very beautiful. It was a very popular spot. However, there is 1 report just from last week (end of May 2019) saying that it has just been closed down. We are not sure if this is true, we suppose the person visited during the daytime when it is closed, as it is ONLY open for the sunrise. Go check it out!
If the once popular Brick Monastery is closed go check out the “Open but not impressive” right next to it. This place is still open however, the pagoda is not too high, thus views are not the best. The temple has stairs and is accessible. If you are in the area, you might as well give it a try.
Temple 860 (21.145909,94.883118)
This is possibly the most popular sunrise place! It is very, very busy. Usually, you will find around 30-40 people watching the magical sunrise in Bagan. For the narrow space it has, it is very packed. Come very early if you want to secure a beautiful spot facing the direction the balloons will fly. It is the side to your right when you exit to the rooftop. There will be many sellers trying to get you to buy souvenirs and other trinkets. You have to take your shoes off and the temple floor is very cold so we recommend wearing socks.
➳ Note: This temple is only open for sunrise. You might wait a bit until the crowds are gone, but the sun will be already up and balloons will be gone as well. However, you can still make beautiful pictures.
This is another one of the few temples that are left open. It also gets really, really busy because it’s very easily accessible for buses and cars. Thus, most tourist groups come to see the sunrise here. However, you can also catch a sunset in Bagan from this temple. The 360 views are quite amazing if you don’t mind the crowd. There is a guy walking around and checking your entrance ticket. (The one you have to buy when you arrive in Bagan for $16 and which is valid for 5 days).
➳ Important: There have been some reports that also this place has been closed as of 31st March 2019. If you have any updates, please let us know!
Temples in Bagan That are Not Yet Closed nor Regulated
Sunrise and Sunset 360 (21.16147, 94.867761)
This is a beautiful place with great 360 views. Do not mix it up with the other Official Sunrise / Sunset Pagoda. Use the geographical coordinates and label each temple so you can distinguish which one is which and its highlights. You will see around 20 other people there enjoying the sunrise. The views are great for both, sunrise and sunset. This is not one of the most popular places, so there will be no tour buses. Thus, this pagoda group might be a good alternative to the ones that are still officially open.
Temple With Accessible Roof (21.159125, 94.860988)
The further we go the vaguer the names of the locations are. We know, we know. That’s mainly because many temples are not on the maps, thus people have made pins and notes about the locations. We spent quite a while trying to figure out which place is the correct one as our GPS lagged from time to time, however, it was an interesting and fun experience “Pagoda hunting”, we called it.
This pagoda is quite small, but if it is true and it is still open it will be a great place for sunrise. There are many gorgeous temples around to paint the view, so we would highly recommend checking this place out. We suggest you copy and paste the coordinates in google maps and then drop the yellow human to the little point right on the pagoda and you will see exactly how it looks. It will make it easier to spot it and distinguish it between the others.
Also, try to check the place out day before you are planning to watch the sunrise in Bagan, so you know that the place is open and accessible.
➳ Note: Some places are locked and a local comes and opens the gate only for a sunrise time, 5 am – 7 am, so it’s possible that a place is locked, but still accessible during the sunrise hours. If there are no bushes around the gate and the pagoda looks clean and often visited, it is a sign that it’s open for the sunrise only.
Smaller Temple Close to a Bigger One (21.149915, 94.861589)
We do not have much information on this one, but we will share what we know. This temple is close to a bigger one which was a great place to watch the sunrise in the past. Hahaha, the name is quite self-explanatory. The sunrise views here have been reported to be great. However, the sunset views are not so good as there are trees in front of the view on the west. It is not possible to drop the little google person there and there is not much other information about it. We did not visit it ourselves so we cannot say for sure, what is the situation right now.
Let us know if you have the chance to check the location out.
Close to Tha Mu Hti Temple (21.147716, 94.882258)
Well, in our google maps this is labeled as “can climb but bees”. So that says it all, the tunnels leading up to the top are open but bees have created a nice home for themselves there. Kris learned the hard way, haha. Honestly, it is worth checking out, because maybe the bees are seasonal creatures, maybe they have abandoned their hive. You will see if there’s a beehive and hear them. We suspect that because of the bees locals have not closed this one down yet, they let the tourists learn their lesson. If you check it out, update us on the situation! Go visit it during the day so you know if it’s worth returning for sunrise.
This temple is located close to Tha Mu Hit Temple, which was a very popular sunrise and sunset place before they closed it down.
Myauk Guni and Taung Guni (21.159372, 94.871265)
The gates exiting to the roof in Myauk Guni are locked but if you dare you can climb over them. Do it at your own risk, we would not recommend it. However, we got recommended to do so by some other travelers. If someone will spot you they will be very eager to figure out how you got up and come looking for you. Then being disappointed that the gates are locked and not thinking you climbed over them. If you are really after that picture, you might go, otherwise, it is a nice sunrise point close to Dhammayangyi Temple.
Taung Guni is right next to Myauk Guni and is worth checking out too.
➳ Note: This might change at any given moment and they might be closed down. Some temples might be under reconstruction and reopened when the works are finished. Thus, making them tourist friendly and allowing tourists to enjoy the beautiful views from the top.
Little Known far North Temple (21.183023, 94.876978)
This temple is also located on the North side of Bagan and is little known to tourists. It’s close to Thakyapone temple and the Sunset Viewing Pagoda 669. Apparently, all of them are open so we suggest stopping by each of them and checking them out. All of the temples are stable and safe to climb.
➳ Note: If you spend several days in Bagan, spend one exploring the South area and climbable temples and another day exploring the North side.
Apparently, this pagoda has been recently reopened and is very easy to climb. A local has re-opened it for sunrise and sunset viewings. It is on the other side of the road and in a less frequented area by tourists but it is definitely worth a try. We would highly recommend visiting this place because it might be one of the few lesser-known places, that is not officially open, so you might avoid the crowds. There are no temples facing the sunrise direction but it is an amazing place for balloon viewing.
Beautiful Sunrise Spots in Bagan – Don’t Have to Climb the Temples
This temple is absolutely gorgeous. You have probably seen a dozen Instagram pictures from this place. It is off the beaten path the temples of Bagan and it is very well worth a visit. The coolest thing about the temple is its unique arch which makes for a perfect picture framing. Another cool thing is that the temple is on a hill, so from the temple’s entrance, you can see quite far around. It is very close to the official Began Viewing Tower, which we will mention later. Thus if you are in the area, definitely check it out. The road to the temple is very bumpy and narrow, so the only way to get there is by an e-bike.
This place is amazing as you can see balloons rising over your head. There is almost no one around as this place is not marked on the maps. The area has a group of small stupas you can wander around and get lost in. There are not many climbing options but that is not the most important thing, as the location around Soo Lay Gon is gorgeous. The surroundings and the balloons over your head will make the perfect experience, so if you are not really into finding the best pagoda to climb and just want to experience a relaxed sunrise in Bagan we highly recommend this area. We made some gorgeous drone shots here in the sunrise.
Mounds in Bagan for Sunrise
There are some mounds that have been built for tourists to be able to experience amazing sunrises and sunsets in Bagan. Also, to keep tourists away from climbing the pagodas. One of the mounds can be found at 21.1524462, 94.8903215. Be aware that the mounds are always packed, as the buses an easily access the area and the mounds are a kid and elderly friendly. It is a great option if you are traveling with a family and want to keep things on the safe side.
Remember we mentioned Let Put Kan Temple before. Well on the way to Let Put Kan you can visit the Bagan Viewing Tower for the sunrise. No one goes there, really. That’s mainly because it is quite off the beaten path and because it is a viewing tower after all, so it is not like climbing a pagoda and having the authentic sunrise experience. Well, we still think it is a great option if you want to avoid climbing temples in Bagan and want to see the beautiful sunset. The entrance costs $5 and it is safe for you, your family and it does not ruin the archeological wonders of Bagan. You can literally see the whole Bagan from the watchtower.
Local Guides in Bagan Taking You to Secret Sunrise Spots
So imagine this scenario… you are driving in the dark, rushing to one of the temples to catch the sunrise. Then a local passes by saying “I will take you to a secret place for sunrise”. You keep driving and it happens again, again and again. Well, it has become a very popular way for locals to make some money from tourists. Usually, they will ask around $5 or so and take you to one of the temples that we have mentioned above. I highly doubt that there are any secret temples left.
A friend of ours shared a story that she agreed to be taken to the “secret” temple and in the end, she ended up at one of the pagodas other 15 tourists were at. Thus, if you study this guide carefully and mark all the spots you can do it on your own. Also, do your research the afternoon before and drive around and spot a great place for sunrise for the following day. However, if you have tried and visited several temples and feel like giving up because either they are closed or crowded, take the local’s advice and go with him to one of the temples that will be open.
Note: Many blog posts that you might stumble upon will have outdated information in them as they have been published a couple of years ago. The temples are being closed down so quickly that it is hard to follow, which ones are still open. We have provided the most recent information at our disposal from 2019. If you are in Bagan or visited just recently, let us know if you have information about any open temples in Bagan or any new ones being closed down.
Summary on Best Sunrise Spots in Bagan, Myanmar
Well, our best advice that you can take from this all is to explore the places the day before you want to see the sunrise. Drive around and find the perfect spot. Often the places that are great for sunrise will be also open for sunset so you could start with that. Other than that, go off the beaten path and get lost between the narrow roads, goats and thousands of temples. The further you’ll go the fewer people you will see around. It is a magical experience and one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited. Grab your phone, mark all the locations we have listed and go on an adventure! If you discover some secret spots we have not mentioned, share with the fellow travelers!