Buddhas, bikes, balloons and bargains: Bagan for beginners

The ancient city of Bagan, Myanmar, is a big player on travelers’ bucket lists – a really big one. It’s wide-stretched plains sprinkled with pagodas, temples and monasteries are definitely not something you would want to miss. I personally had been more excited to go to Bagan than to any other place in Myanmar – and have not been disappointed. But as always with places as fabulously famous as this one, shenanigans and pitfalls are a thing. Buckle up for a ride of disorientation, lack of energy, wanting to face palm other tourists and some useful information also.

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Shwedagon Pagoda – and how not to offend the Buddha when there

“A visit to A is not complete without B” – a claim found in many guidebooks and one I usually don’t agree to, because how is a visit ever complete really? Either way, in this case I’m going to have to make an exception, because a visit to Yangon simply isn’t complete without a trip to Shwedagon Pagoda. This place is about as impressive and magical as it gets. Visiting one of most important religious sites in Myanmar as a foreigner, or rather as a non-Buddhist, most people with common sense will put some effort into behaving appropriately. Needless to say, many tourists there still prefer to be assholes instead. But even if you try you hardest, there are some cultural tripping hazards around – trust me, I would know.

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