Most tourists in Bagan spend their days visiting the largest temples…walking around the impressive structures and exploring the insides of those open to the public. As amazing as it is to experience these temples up close, it pales in comparison to finding a spot where you can look out over the entire valley and appreciate the sheer number of them. If you happen to get a colorful sky at sunset or sunrise, the experience can be magical.
It was hazy and cloudless on our first day in Bagan. Given the conditions, I did not expect a colorful sunset. I was completely wrong…
We were facing the sun, and the light was harsh. Surprisingly, we started to see a glow developing in the haze in the distance...not high in the sky, but below the sun and just above the ground. I planned on a wide angle photo of the valley, but I quickly grabbed my longest telephoto lens to zoom in on the silhouetted skyline. The light was intense, but dropping the exposure setting to -2 protected the highlights and still left some of the detail in the foreground. The glow lasted for about 10 minutes until the sun fell behind the mountain in the distance.
This is the first photo I took in Bagan and I ended up taking several hundred more as the light softened. I encourage you to also check out a previous post, Peaceful Paya, to see how the warm golden glow was replaced with cooler pink hues high in the sky on the same evening.
Even without clouds, I found this sunset to be spectacular. Perhaps we were just lucky, but since watching the sunset is heavily promoted as a must-do when visiting, I suspect sunsets frequently surprise in Bagan.