Faces of Mandalay Photography Tour

ALL THE MUST-SEE TEMPLES AND MONUMENTS IN ONE DAY

from $119usd/person
Bagan 12+ Hours 1+ Guests

Our “One-Day Wonder” in Bagan

On this classic Bagan temples tour, your guide will unravel the mysteries of the defining features of each structure, including their floorplans, structural features, and distinctive decoration, each shaped by historical influences over Bagan’s 450-year history.

Learn about Bagan’s ancient temple and stupa architecture, paintings, and sculpture on this premium Bagan temples tour experience. See the iconic 9thto 13th-century monuments of Bagan including Ananda Pagoda, Dhammayangyi, Shwezigon Pagoda, Sulamani, Dhammayazika, and Htilominlo temples and stupas.

 

Balloons over Bagan at sunrise
"Bagan contains an extraordinary ensemble of Buddhist monumental architecture, reflecting the strength of religious devotion of an early major Buddhist empire. Within the context of the rich expressions and traditions of Buddhist architecture and art found throughout Asia, Bagan is distinctive and outstanding."

What to Expect

We have curated this itinerary to include the most carefully restored and best-preserved examples from the 2,000+ temples of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Colorful people, lively discussion, and stories that tie it all together add to the experience on your Bagan Classics temples tour.

Bagan Classics Tour Highlights

  • A tour that goes deeper on Bagan’s most important sites
  • Save time and avoid “temple fatigue” – see only the best examples of temple architecture, mural paintings, statues, and stone carvings in Bagan
  • Great choice for a first-time Myanmar visitor to learn about local culture, traditions, and food
  • Combine sightseeing with an authentic cultural experience
  • Travel in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle with experienced English-speaking guide
Bagan's temple panorama

Visit Bagan with Insiders

Uncover hidden sites and secret temples on our Bagan temples tour. Classic temples, as well as lesser-known and remote sites await as you travel comfortably by air-conditioned private taxi and driver. We take you to significant sites, monuments and locations rarely visited by tourists. A truly exceptional day out for the “Best of the Best” in Bagan!

Following our tradition of being the most valuable resource for Bagan private tour experiences, we offer this compact showcase tour of Bagan’s must-see sites. For each, we provide as much detailed information as you are interested in, without making your tour a history lesson! The Bagan Archeological Zone is vast, and your time is limited. 

"The tour with our incredible guide Thandar hit the spot. From the sunrise on Bagan temples, to the sandpainting workshop, to the handycraft village... she brings you to places off the beaten tracks and is very knowledgable about the place and people living there. Moreover, part of the money you paid is going toward helping out community and that brings the feel good factor."

Sample Itinerary

The challenge of visiting Bagan’s most iconic temples is often avoiding the crowds and finding the best viewpoints. Our approach is to time our visits to maintain a distance from the big-bus crowds while capturing the most magnificent views of these masterworks. We realize most visitors can only maintain interest in a few sites each day before everything begins to look the same. This Bagan Classics temples tour brings you to the most notable and special sites across the Bagan Monument Zone.

06:00 (or 30 mins before sunrise): Pickup from your hotel by air-conditioned private taxi to position for sunrise

06:15-07:30: Sunrise balloon viewing at location within the monument zone. Due to changing regulations and to avoid crowds, specific site will be chosen shortly before tour date.

07:30-8:30: Discover the elegant struggle of daily life with Burmese people from nearby villages as they go out into the fields to farm or bring their animals to graze in the fields between the ancient temples. Smiling faces and colorfully dressed, with thanaka across their cheeks, Burmese women are constantly active with daily chores.

08:30-09:30: Al fresco light breakfast with local pastries, fruit, and fresh coffee/tea at our “home” pagoda situated within harvest area of local community. Orientation to Bagan, its historical significance, topography, agriculture. Discussion of your goals and confirm the day’s plan. Return to hotel for breakfast by request.

09:30-12:00: Guided tour of Bagan’s largest and most iconic pagodas, most of which are clustered along the riverside from Old Bagan to Nyaung U. Emphasis on exterior landscapes, dramatic interiors, significant structures, and murals.

12:00-13:30: Lunch break and travel time

13:30-15:30: Interior tours of main (and less-visited) pagodas in riverside section of Old Bagan-Nyaung U to avoid harshest light and heat.

15:30-17:00: Tour of late-period ruins in northeastern sector against tourist traffic, situated adjacent to agricultural village and reservoirs with amazing golden light in late afternoon. Sunset viewing and photography among village ruins OR position for classic views among Old Bagan pagodas.

17:00-18:30: Sunset at secluded pagoda in northeast section or Old Bagan based on your desired subjects and perspectives.

18:30-19:00: Return to your hotel

Small Group
Great for solo travellers
$119/per person
  • Join others to reduce costs
  • Sunrise-to-sunset tour
  • Includes Hotel Pickup/Drop-off
  • Min 2, Max 6 guests
Private Tour
Exclusive Bagan Experience
$149/per person
  • Your day, your way
  • Sunrise-to-sunset tour
  • Includes Hotel Pickup/Drop-off
  • Min 2 guests
Private Solo Tour
Exclusive Bagan Experience
$249/per person
  • Your day, your way
  • Sunrise-to-sunset tour
  • Includes Hotel Pickup/Drop-off
  • Free handmade gift

Price includes:

  • Air-conditioned private taxi and driver
  • Experienced English-speaking licensed tour guide
  • Outdoor breakfast
  • Chilled drinks all day

Price excludes:

  • Bagan Archaeological Zone fees
  • Lunch

This tour brings you closer to the colorful people and vibrant daily life of Mandalay’s markets, streets, temples, teashops, and monasteries. Learn the local rhythm of activities that drive Myanmar’s second-largest city and cultural capital.

First, we’ll visit a vibrant local market on the rainway tracks. The rainbow of fresh flowers, exotic fruits, and colorful dress will have you spellbound. The warm smiles of local sellers greet our cameras – we’re an odd sight for them. This isn’t a place tour buses visit, so many here have never interacted with foreigners before. We’ll spend about an hour here, enough time to witness a train pass through the market, a beautifully organized chaos.

Next, we’ll visit a local teashop for a break and to have a chat with locals as they begin their day. Fresh dim sum, Indian-style pancakes, noodles, and of course mohinga, the national dish of Burma, are all available. Myanmar tea, similar to Indian chai, is actually a complex speciality served in as more varieties than a coffee house espresso menu.

The tea shops are the cornerstone of daily social life in Burma’s cities. As such, they make perfect locations for street photography in Myanmar. If you enjoy shooting portraits, the rustic walls and interesting light will captivate you. Burmese people are very welcoming to foreigners, enjoy photography themselves, and are naturally curious about what draws so many photographers here. Spending some time in the tea shops with locals, these spontaneous moments naturally happen, and the photography flows naturally. As a result, our guests are able to capture the moments in photographs of people and places they remember and have a connection to. This adds context and depth to our photographs that staged shoots simply cannot capture.

After the tea shop is the perfect time for street photography before lunch! We’ll walk around downtown Mandalay and the buzz of everyday business there. Each street holds special interest, each shop a window on this fascinating culture. See items recycled or made by hand that you’ve never thought possible. Old machines and faded facades add sparkle and interest to our shots.

After lunch we’ll visit local artisanal workshops around Mandalay. Capture the fog of flying dust as stone carvers reveal Buddhas hidden in granite, jade, and marble. Visit the timeless trades of artisans who make slippers and begging bowls for Buddhist monks, toy and shoemakers. Marvel at the intricately carved teakwood pieces used to decorate Burmese homes, monasteries, and temples.

Finally, our journey brings us to U Bein Bridge, the photographic highlight of Mandalay. The trick is to get there early to find our own perspective. We’ll take a boat out onto the lake, walk on the bridge, and photograph the locals returning home from work in the city. We’ll remain out to shoot the changing light of “blue hour” after the sun has set and the tourists have gone. In darkness, we may even get lucky and see a fortune teller on the bridge after dark, revealing the future to local customers.

Tour Highlights

  • Sunrise at a vibrant local market on the railway tracks
  • Relax the Burmese way in a local teashop for breakfast. Meet and photograph locals as they meet, chat, and discuss events of the day. Try the many varieties of Myanmar tea, together with unique dishes influenced by our Indian and Chinese neighbors that have become part of local culinary culture.
  • Visit artisanal workshops. Master craftspeople carve Buddha statues from marble, make monks’ slippers and alms bowls by hand, and create colorful Burmese umbrellas from paper and bamboo the traditional way.
  • Sunset at U Bein Bridge. Join locals as they complete their day of fishing, farming, and selling goods around the bridge and local villages.

Tour Photos

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