Bagan (Mandalay district) - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Bagan (Mandalay district)

Bagan (Mandalay district)

Bagan is quite simply one of Asia's most astounding sights, an impossible collection of thousands of temples and monuments scattered over a vast plain. The buildings range in condition from ruined to resplendent, although many retain the power and majesty their devout designers intended. Most of the structures were built between the 10th and 12th centuries when Bagan was the capital of the First Burmese Empire. Regrettably, many temples have suffered under the government's ham-fisted attempts at restoration. The temples can best be viewed via bicycle which allows for a self-directed exploration as bike trails link all the temples. Sunset is prime time in Bagan as locals and visitors alike head for the highest temples to enjoy the magnificent sunsets over the stupa-dotted plain.

Information & Facts

Bagan is located 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Mandalay. The temples are situated within the Bagan Archaeological Zone
US$10; the ticket lasts for a week
Burmese is the official language, yet English is widely spoken and understood. Burmese's alphabet is made up of circular and semi-circular characters. Other languages spoken are Karen, Shan and Kachin.

The official currency is the Kyat (MMK) pronounced 'Chat'. The best currency to travel on in Myanmar is the US Dollar. The Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC) is a legal currency for visiting tourists that is usable in government shops and hotels. It is no longer a requirement to convert US$200 into FEC upon arrival in Myanmar. One FEC is equivalent to one US Dollar. It is recommended to use US Dollars. It is difficult to cash American Express travellers cheques in certain cities, such as Mandalay, and even when it is possible the commission can be as high as 10 percent. US Dollar notes will not be accepted if they are damaged or torn in any way, or have pen marks on them. There is a big difference between the official and unofficial exchange rates; street moneychangers offer favourable rates at hotels and Scott Market. As a rough guide, the black market rate is in the region of US$1 = MMK 1000 - a dramatic difference when compared to the official government rate. Very few major hotels, airlines, shops and restaurants accept credit cards and ATM cards can rarely, if ever, be used. It is advisable to carry cash. Banks are closed on weekends.

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