Bago (formerly Pegu) is the capital city of Bago Division in the Irrawaddy region of Myanmar. On the main road between North and South Myanmar, this is a highly noisy and trafficked town.
If you are unsure whether you want to overnight here or not, we suggest you leave as soon as possible. Visiting the local "attractions" can be done in a couple hours, unless you're an extreme fan of pagodas and reclining Buddhas.
From Yangon, leave in the morning by taxi (US$40-50), or by bus (from the corner of Strand and Sule Pagoda Road and also from the Aung Mingalar Bus Terminal), or by train (US$4 upper class, US$1 for ordinary seat, all Mandalay and Mawlamyine bound trains stop there). A taxi is the best because you'll need one to see the sights in Bago (which are quite far apart) and you can stop at Taukkyan on the way.
Alternate (& cheapest) route:
From Yangon, take bus 51 (Kyat 2/300) at the bus stop opposite Mahabandoola park. Alight at Saw Bwar Gyi Gone Bus Station, near the airport (tell the ticket seller, best to have it written in Burmese as they do not speak any English at all). Once you alight, there will be a bus at the station (the bus station looks more like a bus stop than bus station), ask the ticket seller before you board the bus. It cost only Kyat 1000 (may charge more for a foreigner) and the journey is slightly more than an hour.
From Hpa-An, frequent buses to Bago (and Yangon) can be caught at the clocktower's ticket booths for around 5300 kyat. You'll be dropped past the railway bridge, at walking distance to the San Francisco GH.
From Kyaikto, there is a train leaving to Bago at 12:30pm.
From Inle Lake, a few buses leave in the afternoon. One bus passes at the junction at 3:30pm, takes the old road and costs 12.000kyat (regular). One regular bus leaves from Nyaung Shwe at 5:30pm and costs 15.000kyat. One VIP bus leaves at 6:30pm and costs about 20.000kyat. All buses arrive early morning, around 5-6am.
It's possible to hire a motorbike with driver, or, if you discuss a bit, just the bike without driver.
You can rent a bicycle (2000 Ky at the San Fransisco Hotel for the day).
You can go on a shared tuk tuk for 200 Ky p.p. to any direction in the city. To go from east part to west part of pagodas you might need to change tuk tuk at the market, so it will be 2x200 Ky.
- Shwe mawdaw Pagoda, It is often referred to as the Golden God Temple. At 375 feet in height, the Shwemadaw holds the record for the tallest pagoda in the country although the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon is usually credited as the tallest pagoda in Myanmar at 98 metres. If stealing from a country as poor as Myanmar doesn't trouble your conscience, the $10 entrance fee can be avoided by using the secondary entrances. Don't enter by the western gate, and avoid passing by it when you're inside. The ticket allows 3 day entry to 3 other temples in the area. If you're unscrupulous, pass on your ticket to some other cheat. (2015) Ticket checkers are roaming around the other entrances, look out for the smart white shirt and small name badge; they will sell you a ticket on the spot if caught. As of October 2015 the Pagoda is covered in scaffolding as it is being reguilded in gold.
- Shwethar lyaung Pagoda located West of the railway station has a Buddha, which at the length of 55 metres and a height of 16 metres, is the second largest Buddha in the world, after the 74 m reclining Buddha in Dawei (Tavoy). The Buddha is believed to have been built in 994, during the reign of Mon King Migadepa.
- Kyaik Pun Pagoda Most notablythe home to the Four Seated Buddha shrine, a 27 m statue depicting the Buddha seated in four positions, sitting back to back.
- Kanbawzathadi Palace site and museum
- Maha Kalyani Sima
- Mahazedi Pagoda. Climbing up to the top offers a good view over the city. However, access there can be closed at rainy season and being opened again in October (as it was informed in September 2016).
- Shwegugale Pagoda
- Snake Pagoda. Free entrance (17.324798648800943,96.50567280253678) edit
- Cycle around the Stupas and Buddhas
- Enjoy the local morning market near the river
One ATM is available along the main Yangon-Mandalay road.
- Hadaya restaurant, (across the street from Emperor hotel). excellent coffee, pastries, mohinga (soup) on request edit
- Three five restaurant, (Two doors west from Emperor hotel). Chinese restaurant large choice, free wifi 1-5'000 Ky. edit
- Morning Market across the river from the Emperor hotel, vendors with traditional Myanmar snacks and fruit
- Clock tower two streets past the clock tower, going towards the main pagoda are several garden cafes on a side street with clean food and cold beer
- Mote Hin Khar street soup, In front of Shwemawdaw Paya (It's an stand shop in San Taw Tywin street in front of Shwemawdaw Paya south entrance.). A very nice and young girl named Su Su Naing who speaks good english sells a delicious Mote Hin Khar soup on her stand post every morning (best time, breakfast) 300kyat. (17.334506443537148,96.49686555257695) edit
Su Su Naing cooking Mote Hin Khar soup
- Star King. Ice cream and Coffee Shop. Near the Emperor hotel, across the street from KMD. The old owner and his son are very friendly. Free WIFI. Ice-cream, sandwiches, noodles, fried rice, snacks, etc. They can get French fries for you on request. edit
- Mya Nan Da Hotel, No.(10), Main Road, S/Zainganaing Qr., Bago, ☎ (+95) 095019799 / (+95) 052-2275 / (+95) 052-24576. Located along the main road of Bago, you have to turn in to the street to see the sign board. It has a small entrance which leads to the second floor but the sign board is big enough to see it once you are on the street. Wifi provided. The head of the staff is helpful and only he speaks better English. $8/Single is the cheapest but you can hardly get any sleep because it is located just by the main road and trucks whoosh past the road the whole night with deafening noise. $8 for Single with fan shared toilet, $10 for Single with personal toilet, air-conditioned and breakfast included, double 15$. edit
- Emperor. On the main road. Single $10 A/C or fan (June 2013) Double $18 with bath, the water is hot, with individual shower water heaters on the wall; no breakfast. Has Wifi (Dec 2013). Lots of street noise, the rooms in back are quieter. There is a bank next door with currency exchange. Main selling point is the good view over the city from the rooftop.
- San Francisco Hotel, No.(14), Main Road, S/Zainganaing Qr., Bago, ☎ (+95) 052-22264. Across the road from Emperor. South side of train overpass. Cheaper and probably better kept than the Emperor. If you avoid the Emperor folk who assault you when you get off the bus, you can just walk 4 minutes across the road toward the railroad overpass and find the SF Hotel. The woman running the place is very friendly and the rooms are clean enough and charming. Make sure you ask for a room in the back, unless you enjoy hearing traffic/street noise all night long. Free wifi. 10,000Kyat single, 14,000kyat double shared bath, 18,000 double ensuite fan (USD 8 per person for double ensuite fan), 25,000 double ensuite AC. edit
- KMD Mobile/Illuminiti Internet. Across the street and a half block towards the river from Emperor hotel. They can hook up an ethernet cable to your laptop. Air conditioned, open late, 400 kyats/hour (June 2013)
- Night bus to Kalaw (Inle Lake) leaves at 18:30, 15'000 Ky
- There are also several trains during the day North to Mandalay or South to Mawlamine
- Night train to Naypyitaw, Upper Class 4500K departs no earlier than 2210 scheduled arrival 0500. Normal ticket sales open at 2130. You can book in advance if the office is not busy.
- Train to Yangon. Definitely the best way to get to the center of Yangon, 2 to 2.5 hours, 1000 kyat. Several trains a day but it's better to ask the departure times from your accommodation as all the timetables at the station are written with Burmese, or go to or phone and ask directly from the ticket office. You may book a ticket in one hour advance but there should be plenty of seats in the trains (as of September 2016).