I arrived in the early morning in Bagan and headed straight to see the sunrise hiring a three-wheeler. I realized that I got to get a bike there to roam around. Travelers who came before were doing the same.
My head was full with the amazing experience of watching the sunrise from the top of a temple in Bagan. When I checked into the hotel, I couldn’t wait to go out. However, I was exhausted from the overnight journey from Yangon. Having taken breakfast, I took a nap for an hour and was ready to get out.
I inquired about my hotel, about the bike, and they said I would get plenty outside. So, I came out in the street and found one immediately. It was a small grocery shop. When I asked about the bike, a woman asked for a boy from inside to give me the bike.
Now comes the confession part. I didn’t know how to ride a bike. I mean, a proper motorbike. Since my childhood, I rode on a bicycle but never tried a bike before. What gave me the courage was – it was not really a full-fledged bike. It was rather an electronic bike, aka e-bike. It was driven by a recharged battery and the maximum speed one could achieve is 35 KM/h.
I pretended like I am an expert in handling a bike. My biggest challenge was taking the bike and going away from the eyesight of the owners, creating no suspicion. And the second biggest challenge was…to stay alive!
And that is how my epic interminable day journey started in the ancient City of Bagan! I had a Google map with me, so I knew where to go. It was a straight simple drive from Nyaung U. When I entered the complex; I didn’t know where to start.
In this vast expanse of complex, there are 2200 pagodas. Some of them are small, some of them are big. Some of them are accessible with staircases, they locked some of them for the people.
When you take these stairs and go up, you will see them on the 1st floor. There, you will either see small areas or big areas. In the bigger temples, there are places for keeping your bike. In the smaller ones, you just need to put it somewhere. Just make sure you lock the bike before leaving it behind.
The road you will take is not a planned road. There were grasses there before as people and bikes were taking the grasses away and turning it into a mud road. There were green trees all around, some of them were small in stature.
Although I was riding randomly, I stopped when I felt like climbing the stairs of a pagoda. All the roads were not passable. That means you cannot always go 360 degree.
There were places where roads were narrower and guarded by bushes. Besides, now and then, you will encounter kids, locals and animals. I needed to drive carefully in those places.
How did I feel when I was riding a bike in Bagan?
I felt like I was on another planet. I was surrounded by the dots of pagodas driving through the greens. The contrasting color of the shaved road of yellow-brownish beneath and ahead of me. The Irrawaddy river was finding its course not far from me. The ever changing shade of the clouds hovering over my head. These colors of the temples were changing with the colors of the cloud, making those more enigmatic.
I was driving through all of those, in another world, in another century – wishing the time to hold still.
What type of bikes to rent in Bagan?
Either an electronic bike (battery driven) or a bicycle.
What was my preference?
An electronic bike, as riding a bicycle could become arduous under the sun.
How much does it cost to rent a bike?
6000 to 10000 Kyat
Tips for taking a bike
- Try to negotiate for 24 hours, cycle instead a day
- Ask them if it was fully charged. Return the bike to the shop to charge it fully at the end of the day.
- Do not go above 35 KM/h, the bike will start shaking
- Always take the number of the bike provider even if you don’t have any active phone connectivity. If it gets broken down, they will come to rescue.
- Take plenty of water and dry foods with you, you will get thirsty
- I took a hefty breakfast and skipped the lunch, you can consider it, too
Did you rent a bike in Bagan? What was your experience?