We’re Passionate About Your Bagan Experience
Three Treasures Responsible Tourism is your Bagan specialist for community-based experiences, activities, and tours. We founded the company as a local Myanmar social enterprise in April 2016 as a means to support local community development and offer Bagan’s visitors once-in-a-lifetime adventures no other tour operator can offer.
Meet the Three Treasures Team
General Manager: Ian Hayes
Ian was born in the United States and later migrated to Switzerland. He completed his Master’s Degree in Sustainability and Environmental Management at Harvard University in 2014 and soon after founded Myanmar SEEDS (Sustainable Economic & Environmental Development Society), a non-profit development association based in Zurich and Bagan. Ian has been studying Buddhist philosophy and practice in monastic communities in the USA, Europe and Asia for over two decades. Inspired by the principles of “Engaged Buddism” as developed by Thich Nhat Hanh, his goal is to use responsible tourism as a tool for conservation and sustainable development at the community level. He’s also a keen photographer and mountain biker.
Languages: English, German
U Thaung Lwin
Mr. Lwin is Bagan’s “master guide”. He knows the Bagan area so well it is astounding, down to the tools and brickwork of each temple and monument as well as their cultural and historical significance. His charming colonial English and mannerisms may bring to mind Yoda from Star Wars as he guides you across the Bagan plain. His reputation is such that he is in high demand during the high season, as guests demand him for tours and local guides seek his knowledge, training, and advice to develop their own skills.
Languages: Myanmar, English
Ko Ko the Elder
Ko Ko is a Bagan local who started out as a horse cart driver before expanding his skillset to include tour operations management and photography. He knows the hidden gems and secret viewpoints all around Bagan and has a great relationship with the local community. After getting his hands on his first “real” camera, his photography skills quickly developed and in June of 2017 he participated in his first photo exhibition in Bagan. Ko Ko’s tour itinerary ideas are very innovative and he is quite amazing at anticipating guests needs and positioning us for the perfect photo at sunset. If you need a photography assistant for your professional Bagan photo shoot, he’s your man.
Languages: Myanmar, English, basic French
Ko Ko the Younger
Ko Ko the Younger is the little brother of Ko Ko the Elder. (In Myanmar, many guys are named Ko Ko!) He is our go-to horse cart driver and tour support, always early and prepared for your comfort. He knows the sandy paths of Bagan well, and with his horse Madonna he is always there to provide you with that classic, slow pace of early Bagan. He is keen to follow in his brother’s footsteps and become a photographer, if only he could find time when he isn’t playing or watching football. He’s a big fan of Neymar and Manchester United.
Languages: Myanmar, basic English
U Thein Shwe & Daw Hla Thi (Grandma & Grandpa)
This elderly couple are the caretakers of our little “home temple” in Bagan. As we returned again and again to this secluded temple compound and its expansive gardens, we learned about their struggles to maintain the grounds and support themselves in the heat and drought. Their hospitality knows no bounds as they welcomed us and our guests into their home despite their daily challenges. We began helping out with garden and temple maintenance during our first month of operations and soon after we “hired” the couple as part-time staff to compensate them for their hospitality and hard work. Through responsible tourism, your tour fees ensure that this couple and others in the community receive sufficient income, nutrition, and medical care throughout the year.
Madonna the Horse
Madonna is our horse cart puller and part of the Three Treasures family. We prioritize her health and welfare and do not over-work her in the Myanmar heat. She is well-fed and receives regular medical checkups. When Madonna is on duty, we all go at her pace to allow ourselves to relax and enjoy our surroundings while she works comfortably. Guests are of course welcome to visit her at home at any time to check on her living conditions.
Three Treasures in a social enterprise, the first such project launched in Bagan with support from Myanmar SEEDS, a Swiss non-profit association. By combining sustainable development with responsible tourism we are able to create jobs, improve livelihoods, and conserve the environment in Bagan.