No matter how many photos you have seen, the first time you gaze over the temple-studded planes of Bagan you will be awe-struck. The sheer number of monuments is overwhelming and the landscape provides a picturesque backdrop.

The history of Bagan dates back almost 2000 years to a time when Myanmar was ruled by kingdoms. The earliest temples are some of the grandest- with Ananda topping the list of the ‘must sees’. Others such as the haunted Dhamayangyi, gold-covered Shwezigon and the red brick Htilominlo are popular monuments for visitors.

With thousands of monuments spread out over 100 square kilometers, you are certain to find your own personal favourite. And although Bagan is on every tourists’ itinerary, there is a good chance you will find yourself alone amid the temples at least once on your visit.

Farmers and their ox carts have created small, sandy lanes amid the monuments and following these paths- rather than the half-dozen or so sealed roads in town- you will not only get a different perspective but also discover a tranquil solitude amid the ruins. Hire a bike, electric bike or travel by local horse cart to experience this for yourself!

When you’ve had your fill of temples, a boat trip on the Ayeyarwaddy River is a perfect way to relax. Or discover the flavours of Myanmar cuisine with a cooking class. The Bagan region is known for its lacquerware and it is possible to visit a local workshop to see the incredible handiwork process and pick up a few souvenirs to take home.

A trip slightly further afield to the hill top shrines of Tuyin Taung or Tant Gyi Taung will give you a chance to rub shoulders with local pilgrims. Or discover the process of making local alcohol and sweets with a visit to a toddy palm farm. Mt Popa, a 1.5 hour drive from Bagan, is a good option for those interested in the nat culture of Myanmar however be prepared for the climb to the top- 900+ stairs!

With several flights a day and located just a 4.5 hour drive from Mandalay, a visit to Bagan is easily incorporated in to a Myanmar itinerary.