The 50 Things You Must Do in Asia

By Hanya Yanagihara - 2013-07-23T16:27:10Z

Photograph by Philipp Engelhorn/Laif/Redux

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Behold Bagan: Burma

The 20-square-mile Bagan, formerly Pagan, is one of the most impressive Buddhist temple complexes in Asia. The seat of the first Myanmar dynasty, in the eleventh century, it once contained within its borders 7,000 monuments, temples, and shrines. (According to UNESCO, only 2,231 remain.) The gold-topped Shwezigon stupa, which was built in 1050, is the prototypical Burmese pagoda. All of them from this period onward have seven tiers (the bell-shaped stupa itself is the sixth tier), which is meant to echo the seven concentric rings around Sumeru, the mythical Buddhist holy mountain.

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