From Yangon, I took the night bus to Bagan, and arrived at Ostello Bello hostel at about 4am. The hostel was amazing, one of my favorites over the last 5 months. They had beds on the roof for all of us night busers to relax. And that evening they offered a relatively inexpensive sunset boat ride.
The hostel was great for making friends, and by the second day I had found a great group to explore Bagan with. Attempting (and failing) to successfully get around in Thailand via scooter, I was nervous when I got to Bagan and it became clear that e-bikes (electric scooters, which are lighter and slower than regular scooters) were by far the best way to see the vast, temple-filled landscape. My first day I chickened out and hopped on the back of an Italian’s e-bike (total generalization but I thought he’d probably be a good scooter driver). But after the first day I decided to be brave and try again. I kept my scooter on the lowest gear (with a max speed of 35 km per hour), and luckily was with a group of friends who were nice enough to go slow with me 🙂 And success! Scooting around really is the best way to go, and while the hostel offered almost daily tours of the temples, it was fun to just get a little lost on the winding dirt roads, wandering into empty pagodas and laughing with new friends. And it’s tough in the moment, but waking up at 4am to make it out for sunrise is 100% worth it!
As a half-day trip, we took a van taxi out to Mt Popa, a temple/monastery perched atop a tall, flat hill. The climb up was a lot easier than expected (20 minutes compared with the 45 we’d been told), and the view from the top seemed endless. A highlight (for me anyway), were the monkeys – they were everywhere, and not shy about stealing anything and everything from you! We decided that sunset from Mt Popa Resort, on an adjacent hill with views of Mt Popa, would be better for sunset, and we definitely made the right choice!