If you have not been to Myanmar, then you should start planning for it right now! If old temple ruins and places with history and nature is what you are excited for then Old Bagan is a place to step into.
I chanced upon this hostel/hotel, Ostello Bello Bagan on a booking platform with quite high ranking and good reviews. Furthermore, I believe in the saying “Seeing is believing”. So I just took my chance and book a few nights at the place.
Coming from Yangon, it was a total change of environment since it was more laid-back and relaxing in Bagan. the hotel that I am staying has a couple of dormitory room which I booked the smallest, female dorm (4-bedded ensuite). The various type of rooms available range from double/twin, triple and 4-,6-,8- beds dorm. A reminder if you are booking dormitory for the first time, most hostel/hotel will have female dorms and mixed dorms, do check in advance to avoid making any embarrassing mistake. I mean though I am travelling solo, I still want to be able to interact and meet with other people to make friends!
Check-in time was only at 2.00 pm but I had arrived due to my bus journey at 5.30 am. From the bus station to the hotel, it was a merely 20 minutes drive which means I had more than enough time and all I wanted was to rest. The hotel’s policy is strictly no check-ins before time, but they have provided options for guests to shower and freshen up in the common bathrooms, help ourselves to the kitchenette to have our meal and also there are resting rooms with beds!
These were all located at the rooftop terrace area (it’s a low-rise 3-storey building), which gives a good view of sunrise and sunset as well. So I decided to just take a nap while it is still cool early in the morning since the period I was there it was the hot, summer season. I have to be thankful for the coolness while it still last. By around 10 am, weather starts to change, temperature climbed fast and I woke up drenched in sweat. Around me, the beds were quickly occupied by other guests too. So it was time for me to go and take a quick shower and grab some food. Although there is a restaurant inside Ostello Bello, I wanted to explore the surrounding areas where there are plenty of restaurants as well.
Just outside the hotel, is the e-bike stall, amazingly enough they provide transports to attractions, bus tickets, laundry services and more! I am like “what do you NOT provide seriously bruh?” From the simplified map that Ostello Bello have at their reception, the surrounding area, New Bagan is reasonably small enough to walk and explore (but please my life was on the line because of the hot weather). I went out for brunch at a place called Black Rose, which is about 3 minutes away then I took a stroll towards a small convenient shop to get some necessities and I am back at Ostello Bello. By then I realised, nobody goes out in the afternoon during this period. The plan is to go out early in the morning, come back for a nap and go out again in the evening after sunset. Ostello Bello provides activities such as sunrise/sunset tours, burmese lesson class, etc. Something that will create interaction among the guests and also to bring us to explore the area with minimal costs (fantastic job done there).
Back in Ostello Bello, coffee, tea, water and cigar are served free whole day! Music was blasting in the dining room and you can casually see other travellers playing board games, having a chat, smoking or just reading. I took my time to just find peace and cool in the hotel area which are generally open, non-airconditioned place. Counting down to my check-in time, I can’t wait to go into my room!
My room is like the coolest thing ever, for your information usually I would send in an email request for a lower bunk in dormitories. But in this case, it was not available for my first night so I got the chance to be on the top bunk in the room. The room was clean ,air conditioned and ensuite with our own private bathroom. Particularly I love the bed design itself, with light brown wood it does not remind me of IKEA instead it is more of a wood cabin style, totally loving it.
So I met my 2 other roommates during the span of the afternoon, till evening when I joined the hostel sunset tour. All we need is to prepare our own e-bike by renting from the shops across the hostel. The prices were reasonable at about S$2 till 8 pm.
Here are the other exterior of Ostello Bello, my favourite being the hangout area in front of the main bar counter. Watching the surrounding as locals drive past going to work or doing deliveries while I sipped my coffee the whole afternoon. Now, Ostello Bello have a very interesting practise, because of their belief in pasta (“,), they serve free pasta daily aat 1 pm, 7 pm and 9 pm. It was a chance for travellers to share pasta together and talk to one another. I got to agree that it was such a captivating concept which totally got my approval. Ostello Bello was a place that I made a good friend from my trip as well!
The reception is open 24 hours, so if at any point of time, you need to ask for something or you need help there will be someone to help you. They are open to feedbacks and ideas for improvement, you can talk to any of them to share some ideas or if not there is a feedback “treasure” box which you can leave your ideas inside.
Decorations in the staircase area is also interesting, a lot of cute soft toys are being sticked decoratively on the wall and these toys have a story behind them. What I gathered from my roommate is that, they are being handmade by women in Bagan, she loved it so much that she went to find the shop address from staff at Ostello Bello and went on the search to find the place and bought some to bring home as souvenirs.
As I was saying, the area are full of restaurants and other hostels but in terms of standard and a decent recommendation, I would highly encourage you to stay with Ostello Bello Bagan. In Bagan, a strict curfew is in place where by 11.00 pm everyone have to be indoors back at their own accomodation, there is even a notice on it that government officials may come around to check with the reception to ascertain that we are present back there. Bagan is a place of no nonsense or partying in the evening. Most of the temple are still functioning places of worship which explains it being a holy place not to be tampered with. Even the temples which are open for tourists to see sunrise or sunset are being maintained and guarded by a temple keeper. Their duty is to unlock and lock the gates daily and prevent any funny business in the holy place.
From my friends who are Burmese, they did mentioned that the period I was there (May) is like the hottest ever but my tickets were soooooo cheap that I can’t say no to it. DO CHECK the right weather and time to go, recommended is after July and also the last quarter of the year. If you would like to check out Ostello Bello Bagan Hotel, they are also listed on AirBNB which you can find here.
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