The sheer number of temples in the plain of Old Bagan is extraordinary, but at the same time can be overwhelming to most travelers. That’s why there are temple-enthusiasts say they can stay weeks here to explore as there are just so many. But to most of us, the question is which ones are the must-see? Here’s the answer:

1. Shwesandaw Pagoda

This is also one of the most famous religious buildings in all Myanmar. Shwesandaw Pagoda was one of the older pagodas in Bagan, built by Anawrahta, regarded as father of Burmese nation in 1057. The pagoda is often quite crowded at sunrise as people try to take advantage of the height and the fantastic view over surrounding temples.

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2. Ananda Temple

Ananda Temple was built in 1091. Later hit by an earthquake in 1975, but eventually fully restored. The highlight of it is four gilded Buddha statues, each of which faces its own direction (North, South, East and West) to represent attainment of the state of Nirvana. The impressive architecture of Ananda Temple makes it earn the name “Westminster Abbey of Burma”.

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3. Dhammayangyi Temple

The largest of all temples in Bagan, The Dhammayangyi Temple was built under King Narathu from 1167 to 1170. The king, who assassinated his father and elder brother to take over the throne, built the temple presumably to make amends for his sins.

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4. Thatbyinnyu Temple

Built in 1144 by King Alaungsithu, Thatbyinnyu is the tallest temple in Bagan, reaching 61 meters above the ground. It is located right next to Ananda Temple, has two stories, the second of which features a seated Buddha image.

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5. Sulamani Temple

One of the most famous and most-visited temples in Bagan, Sulamani was built in 1183 by King Narapati Sithu. Just by looking at photos, you may mistakenly recognize it as Thatbyinnyu because of the similar design. After the construction, it was seen as a model for the later Htilominlo Temple.

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