I recently made a post exposing how cost effective a vacation in Phuket can be. At the end if the post, I commented that one of the best things about going to Phuket is that is it relatively close to other amazing destinations in SE Asia.

Angkor Wat

One of the places I mentioned is Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a humbling place to be and I recommend that everyone go there at least once if possible. However the crowds are huge and really something to deal with. For example, in the evenings, people go to Bakheng to see the sunset. It was so crowded, I had to raise my camera above everyone’s heads, take a picture, and look at the picture in the camera to see what was happening.

There is a famous location known as Ta Prohn where a large tree grows out of and over the temple. I did not see this because there was a crowd of people trying to have their own pictures taken in front of it. I guess I was lucky they even lined up at all. Frankly, I think they should restrict access with a rope so that people can see it and take their photo without being in it. It was at Angkor Wat that I first grew a distaste for what are are now known as “selfies”.

photographers at angkor wat


Myanmar (also known as Burma) is a country that has been under travel restriction because of governmental issues. This restriction was recently lifted a few years ago. The result is that this country is only lightly affected by tourism – so far.

Bagan is an ancient city near Mandalay in central Myanmar. It is covered with 2200 temples from the 9th to 13th century. And it is certainly comparable to Angkor Wat. However there are no crowds. To be clear, Bagan draws travelers, but not enough to diminish the experience. My first morning in Bagan we went to a temple to see the morning sun. There was absolutely no one there. Within the hour, a few people arrived but when we left there were still only four cars parked at the temple.

By mid-afternoon, there was a healthy amount of people at all the popular locations, but again, it was really no trouble and very pleasant. This is true, even though we went in December, which is peak travel season for SE Asia.

Since Bagan has not had a lot of visitors in the past, there is a shortage of lodging. But they are working on that now and I wouldn’t be surprised if the supply doubles every year. But what is there is very nice and some are located literally inside the range of temples. You can walk to many of them.

I have taken some pictures of Bagan that are posted on our personal photo gallery. I am not a good photographer and I have never learned to post-process or edit down the gallery. But feel free to look at them and make your own assessment of Bagan. FYI, the first pictures are of the inn that we stayed at. Very nice.

bagan sunset
Click picture to see my photos of Bagan

To be honest, if this blog had any real readership, I would probably not even make this post. I don’t want to ruin it for myself. I hope to go back more than once. But Bagan is just too amazing and historically significant to remain the backwater it is now.

Go to Bagan now before everyone else learns about it.

Pat Styles

I am director of The Coolwater Resort in Phuket, Thailand. However I spent most of my life as a software engineer working for a very large company in Redmond, Washington. Now I live with my wife in beautiful Chiang Mai near the mountains while still dabbling in the computer industry when I have the time.