Bagan is an incredible archaeological area of over 2,000 pagodas and temples covering 38 square miles, and for many it's the iconic landscape that springs to mind when you think of Myanmar. This rural land of 11th century pagodas is a world away from the hustle and bustle of urban Myanmar - so much so that some of the surrounding villages have only just welcomed electricity.
The rulers of the era constructed thousands of huge stupas and temples, many of which are still standing today on the banks of the Irrawaddy River and best viewed from Tayokye Pyay, an elevated temple with a magnificent view of the plains. Nearby is Wetkyi-In Gubyaukgyi, a cave temple with exquisite jataka mural paintings and the elegant Htilominlo Temple noted for its fine plaster carvings and glazed sandstone decorations.
Explore Bagan with a local guide who will explain the significance of the various shapes and construction techniques of the temples, exploring by bicycle, electric bike or horse and cart. Most are brilliantly preserved or restored by Unesco giving you a chance to discover beautiful frescoes and carvings as well as myriad Buddha statues of all sizes and poses.
Perhaps break the day with a teashop stop for a cup or two of cho seh; black tea sweetened with condensed milk and sugar (yes, both). This is the ultimate gossip and people-watching spot of the locals and no trip to Myanmar would be complete without taking part in this ritual.
Be sure to get up to one of the elevated temples to watch the sunset. Being such a large flat expanse, even the slightest elevated position gives the most magnificent panoramic views - any photographer's dream - and if hot air ballooning is on your bucket list, this is without a doubt the place to do it.