The bus trip from Mandalay to Bagan was not so comfortable. Road was mostly unpaved, the air-conditioner was not functioning well, it was hot! The dust gushed in through the wide opened window covered up my face like cosmetic mask, 8 hr journey.
All foreigners have to pay USD10 to enter Bagan, sort of entrance fees to all sites. Traditionally the heart of Bamar culture, Bagan is crammed with more than 4000 red-brick temples. This small town has high concentration of hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. The historical and religious rich elements make it probably the touristiest place in Myanmar.
The villagers in Old Bagan were forcibly relocated in 1990 to reserve for archeological zone. The area is largely agricultural plain land, possibly the cleanest I have seen in Myanmar. Different sizes pagoda studded all over the area. Most of them are well maintained, it presents different kind of beauty compared to the ruins in Angkor Wat (Cambodia).
Most of the tourists concentrate on the big pagodas and temples at the central like Ananda, Htilominlo and Dhammayangyi. Instead the further distance Sulamani (has the most beautiful frescoes) and the scenic Pyathada were my favourite. Cycling under the scorching sun to these remote places was tiring but fun.
There are many many more smaller temples with intricate fine colourful murals unknown to the tourists. Many of them are gated and unlit, in order to protect the precious arts from being damaged and exposed to the light (which may fade the colours).