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Bagan Ancient City

Photographer: Rungroj Yongrit


Bagan is Myanmar’s ancient city and was built between the 9th and 13th centuries. The city is the capital of some 55 Buddhist Kings ruled by the Bagan or Pagan dynasty. The emperor is the first kingdom to unify the regions that constitute now Myanmar and established Burmese culture and ethnicity.


The city is located on the east banks of the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) River in the Mandalay region. The kingdom raised and flourished in 11th to 13th centuries. Over 10,000 Buddhist temples, pagodas and monasteries were built on the plains which the remains of around 2,200 temples and pagodas still exist.


Bagan is one of the world’s richest archaeological sites and currently a nominee for UNESCO World Heritage listing. Myanmar government is working on the Bagan ancient city to secure the place in the UNESCO World Heritage list aimed to conserve its ancient cultural sites and create more job opportunities for local people. Most of the residents in Bagan work and have a business related with tourism. Such as hotel workers, tour guides, taxi drivers, horse-drawn and oxcart coachman, as well as souvenirs vendor. The ancient city is one of the country’s tourist attraction. The estimated of 250,000 tourists are expected to visit the ancient site in 2016 and projected foreign visitor arrivals the ancient city could reach double to 500,000 in 2018, according to Bagan Tour Guide Association.


The increasing number of international visitors is impacted by the success of the 8th November 2015 general election and the landslide win of the National League for Democracy party led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi. The win is believed to change the country in a positive way and also expand the tourism industry, which stayed decades under sanction by the USA and European countries.