Insider’s city guide to Bagan in Mayanmar with kids. Exotic temples and loads of history just waiting to be discovered. These are the things that keep Mark Simmons, Chief Pilot of Balloons Over Bagan, returning to Bagan every year. Since 2007 he has been spending 6 months of the year in Myanmar with kids Henry (10) and Lewella (7). He tells suitcases&strollers why Bagan with kids is a such a unique cultural and travel experience that families traveling with kids should not miss. 

Why should parents plan a family holiday in Bagan with kids?

Myanmar is a beautiful, rich, vibrant country steeped in history and Buddhist culture. In its central temple zone Bagan has over 3000 Buddhist temples dating back over 1000 years. I can’t think of any way to give your child a better start in life than to see how the world works through travel and experience different cultures and history, not just read about them in a classroom.

Where is your favourite place to take kids in Bagan?

The kids’ favourite thing to do is to take a sunset cruise on one of the river boats that you can hire for around US$15 from the Aye Yar Jetty, which is just on the river bank by the Aye Yar River View Resort.

And, of course, if your children are over 7 years old you can also take them on a balloon flight over the temples of Bagan. They will love it!

What are some of the city secrets that tourists might not know about but shouldn’t miss on a family holiday in Bagan with kids?

The best way to explore the temples of Bagan is by hiring an electric scooter, getting a map and zig zagging along the dusty tracks on your own. There is very little traffic in the central temple zone so you are quite safe but just be careful on the tarmac roads; the roads can be a bit crazy.

What’s the best way for children to have an authentic Bagan experience?

If electric scooters aren’t your style then you can hire a horse and cart to explore the temple zone.

Guide to Bagan With Kids 

Where are your top 3 places for family-friendly restaurants for kids in Bagan?

Everywhere is kid friendly but in the main restaurant area of Bagan called Nyaung-U I can recommend Weather Spoons (Yarkinthar St., Nyaung U, Bagan, Myanmar, +95 9 430 92630) which is owned by our friend Win Tun. We knew him when he lived in England and he speaks very good English.

Also try The Black Bamboo which is owned by a lovely French lady called Armelle and her husband Nyi Nyi.

For somewhere with a bit of space for your kids to explore whilst you enjoy a cold beer or cocktail I would recommend HTI Bar which is owned by a good friend of ours called Myo Latt.

What are your tips for kids' shops in Bagan?

When you visit the temples of Bagan there are lots of sellers; a lot of them young children who sell local souvenirs and hand drawn postcards that are really very cute.

Always barter but bear in mind that some of these children are supporting their families so don’t be too tight with your tourist dollars! You will meet some very friendly, smiley people on your travels as the locals in Bagan are very chilled out and peaceful.

Which is the best place to find family friendly accommodation in Bagan with kids?

Try the Sakura Thiripyitsaya Spa Resort or the Tharabar Gate Hotel, both very good hotels that are kid friendly.

When is the best time of year to visit Bagan with kids?

The summer is monsoon and extremely hot so the main tourist season is winter time. In Bagan temperatures rarely drop below 10 degrees Celsius at night and can climb to above 30 degrees during the daytime. You will be unlucky to have a day of bad weather from October through to March, which is the best time of year to travel to Asia. Some years the rainy season can extend into October so its good to have lightweight waterproofs for the family.

What is the best way to move around Bagan with kids? 

You have to travel internally by plane as it is a big country and the road infrastructure is pretty basic. And non-residents aren’t allowed to drive.

What are your top family travel tips for families travelling to Bagan with kids?

1.  Travel light. You will end up wearing shorts and flip-flops for most of your trip.

2.  Book accommodation and internal trips before you travel as tourism is still really in its infancy compared to some of Myanmar’s neighbours like Thailand. There can be a shortage of hotel rooms and flights during the busy periods/school holidays.

3.  Do your research and be aware of rules and etiquette with regard to visiting religious sites in the country.

4.  I recommend traveling to the coast and spending a few days on the beach in Ngapali at the end of your trip; it is beautiful.

Yangon With Kids 

Images: Mark Simmons of Balloons Over Bagan