Bagan is the land of thousands of ancient stupas and temples dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. Over 10,000 religious structures were built in the 42 sq km plain with about 2,200 remaining today. Erosion is an issue in this area with much of the stucco coating of the temples gone revealing the reddish bricks beneath. The resulting ageing process lends a very romantic feel to these temples. I have been to Angkor Watt years ago but Bagan, for me, is more interesting and more spectacular. What is interesting here is that the temples all have very different architectural styles.
We flew from Mandalay to Bagan in a small plane. The flight was more like a bus stopping along the way to pick up more passengers from other airports. We were landing and taking off a couple of times before arriving at Bagan. We stayed at the Aureum Palace Hotel & Resorts set amongst the ancient temples and pagodas within the Bagan Archaeological Preservation Zone. Because we were pressed for them, we were only able to visit about a dozen or so temples over the next few days.
At the time of my visit, all temples require the removal of shoes and socks at the entrance to the temple grounds (not just inside the temple). The easiest is the wear flip-flops especially when you are constantly entering and exiting temples. Bring a good pumice stone because the soles of your feet will need a good scrubbing after a day of temple visits. I am a bit of a germaphobe so I tried to come up with all sorts of methods (duct tape, cling wrap, etc) to cover the bottom of my feet without it showing on top. I discovered that the best method is to use 3M Tegaderm films. These transparent film dressings are breathable but waterproof and super-thin and very easy to remove without any sticky residue on the skin. I got the large size ones that fully covered the bottoms of my feet. Even my guide was impressed and said most of his clients complain about ending the day with dirty and black soles. He made a mental note to order them for his future clients.
If you have time, you should also visit Gubyaukgyi Temple with the best preserved murals (photography not allowed).
We also spent some time visiting a few lacquerware factories and shops. There are a few shops in town specialising in old or antique lacquerware which they collected from neighboring villages or dilapidated temples. I find these much more beautiful than the new ones.