Guest Post: Exploring the temples of Bagan from a hot air balloon

It's time for another guest post!
Paula shares her story about a hot air balloon ride in Bagan, Myanmar, showing us the best temples from above. I'm so jealous of her experience, that she didn't have a hard time to convince me of sharing her story. I loved exploring the temples by bike but after seeing her pictures I guess I'll have to go back to see them from the air.

Hot air balloons over river in Bagan

Paula is a Portuguese solo traveler and blogger at While you stay at home. She quit her job after a trip to South East Asia and will head off to explore more of the world soon.
You can also follow her trip on Instagram.

But let's get started!

Paula of While you stay at home

Bagan in Myanmar is worthy a scenario of a movie set, just like a place that's too good to be true. It's almost like a time travel into a lost fairytale land.


There more more than 2000 temples in Bagan and despite the fact that there are a few very similar architecturally, there are others that stand out in the middle of this land of temples and pagodas.

These temples date from the 9th to the 13th century, so they came actross a lot of changes on our planet. It's impressive how most of them don't have many damages despite the fact that the area was already hit by several earthquakes.

Sunrise over Bagan

The temples were built in several architectural styles, showing how their design developed over the course of different centuries.
Among the most magnificent temples are:


built in 1105 this is one of the most impressive temples in Bagan. The temple is an architectural wonder in a fusion of Mon State architectural style and adopted Indian style of architecture.

Ananda temple in Bagan


is one of the oldest temples in Bagan and its architectural style is clearly different as it comes in a rectangular shape.

Manuha temple in Bagan


was built in 1183 and nowadays you can see a damaged top. It was build in a similar architectural brick and stone style as many other temples around.

Sulamani temple from above


this temple is really close to Ananda.  Thatbyinnyu Temple is shaped like a cross but is not symmetrical. The influence of the time is marked in black on its walls, a feature that I love to admire.

Thatbyinnyu Temple in Bagan


I can only imagine how amazing this temple must have looked back in time. On the outside, we can only see small parts of the wall designs that faded during time, but this remaining design makes us imagine how beautifully crafted its walls must have been.

Facade of Htilominlo temple in Bagan

Pagoda Shwezigon

A prototype of Burmese stupas, it consists of a circular gold leaf-gilded stupa surrounded by smaller temples and shrines. It is actually the most golden temple in the area.

Shwezigon pagoda in Bagan


this is the widest temple in Bagan.

Dhammayangyi temple in Bagan

Mahabodhi Temple

is the most different temple in town. It was built to resemble the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya in North India, the place where the Buddha reached enlightenment. Thus, it’s Indian architectural style similarities are obvious.

Mahabodhi temple in Bagan


this temple is still damaged from the earthquake.  It was built in 1196  and it’s located east of Bagan. It’s the furthest one from the rest of the temples.

Dhammayazina temple in Bagan

Besides their majestic look on the outside, the inside isn't less impressive. Depending on the conservation of the temple, you can see how beautifully adorned each temple was inside the walls. Covered with drawings, inscriptions and even Buddha statues that legt a legacy to the Burmese about their past.


Such a magical land deserves the magical experience that is riding a hot air balloon over Bagan archeological zone. The balloon ride is too fast for the time you could spend appreciating the glorious view. Seeing those temples from above is even more breathtaking than cycling among them. You can clearly see how different each architectural style is and you can admire its beauty from a new point of view. The balloon departs for the sunrise and assumes the position the wind is willing to take us. Fortunately, the weather was on our favor this day and the trip was perfect! No fog on the way so I had a clear image of this fascinating city.


The balloon goes across all the temples as our pilot is explained to us what we are seeing and telling a bit of history about each one. From the sky, I can clearly see how Sulamani is still damaged from the earthquake. This is a very important temple and its interior wall art is one of the best preserved of the over 2000 temples.


Balloon filling in Bagan

I did this balloon ride in March. After the thrilling moment of watching the full area, we landed in the middle of the river as the water level was very low at that time of the year.


After landing on the sand, we had breakfast with fruits, cakes, and drinks waiting for us. After this overwhelming experience, we went back to town by boat which is an extra I wasn’t expecting but loved.


Bagan is an architectural wonder of this world and a place I will never forget in my life. It’s the most enchanting place on earth for me.

Hot air balloons over Bagan

thank you Paula for sharing your story with us!
All pictures are Paula's, except for the second one, where I snuck in one if mine.

Where to book


there are several companies offering balloon rides. Paula went with Balloons over Bagan 



How much:

I paid 300 USD for a balloon with 15 people. There are is a VIP balloon which only carries 8 people, which is 400 USD.


Where to stay

I stayed at Ostello Bello, which I loved! It wasn't super cheap, but close to everything and had super friendly staff.


This link is an affiliate link, which means I get a small percentage if you book anything (doesn't have to be this hostel) through it, no extra cost for you. Thank you for supporting Journey to Design!

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