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Shopping in Bagan - Traditional Handicrafts

Shopping in Bagan - Traditional Handicrafts

By Wendy Updated Oct. 26, 2022

Bagan is famous for its breathtaking natural landscape, vast array of sacred ancient temples, and rich history as a place where the Buddhist religion developed.

Since the city’s historic environment and antique monuments have been well-preserved, modern shopping centers, western-style malls and many brand-name retailers are generally unavailable.

However, traditions of craftsmanship passed down from generation to generation of Myanmar people make shopping in Bagan a rare treat for travelers.

Guests will enjoy giving back to the surrounding community by purchasing goods from local crafts-people, who rely on support from tourists to continue their trades.

Whether you are looking to pick up some handicrafts in one of the city’s many vibrant marketplaces, or wish to dive right into Myanmar’s specialty lacquerware goods, Asia Highlights tour guides are sure to help you find what you are looking for during your stay.

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Bagan is the major manufacturer of lacquerware commodities in central Myanmar. The process of creating lacquerware began in Asia roughly 4,000 years ago.

Functional items made with bamboo and horsehair are painted with sap from a varnish tree in order to produce a glossy finish, and possibly enhanced by elaborate engravings and traditional designs.

This technique is frequently used across the entire country to produce all kinds of everyday items and special crafts. Many families have mastered the art of lacquerware and run studios and galleries from their homes, creating a primary source of income.

As a result, the city of Bagan boasts many opportunities for guests to enjoy this distinctive cultural tradition and give back to the local community through their patronage. Asia Highlights recommends checking out the following establishments when shopping for lacquerware in Bagan.

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Recommended Shopping Destinations

U Ba Nyein Lacquerware

U Ba Nyein Lacquerware, on Main Road, Myo Thit, has a spacious showroom and some of the finest lacquerware goods available in Bagan.

Large items of furniture, engraved boxes, elegant vases and many trinkets are available for sale. Guests will also be able to observe the manufacturing process, as local artists work with dedication to produce top-quality goods.

Golden Cuckoo Lacquerware

Golden Cuckoo Lacquerware, a traditional lacquerware factory that has been in the owners’ family for four generations, is located in the small village of Minkaba, several kilometers south of Old Bagan.

Traditional items such as bowls and trays, as well as more unusual creations, are produced in-house, with high-quality lacquer and sophisticated designs. Guests will enjoy learning more about the process of making lacquerware by observing the craftsmen or receiving a tour of the factory from a member of the owner’s family.

You won’t be able to resist taking home a few pieces of elegant lacquerware, fossilized jade stone, or one of the many unique hand-carved items for sale, after a visit to Golden Cuckoo Lacquerware.

Everstand Lacquerware

Everstand Lacquerware is another terrific option for satisfying your shopping needs while in Bagan. This shop has an impressive selection of exquisite lacquer jars and vases at reasonable prices.

Lectures and demonstrations are available, from friendly and knowledgeable staff, for guests who are interested in learning more about the age-old techniques behind lacquerware production.

The fine craftsmanship practiced by Everstand Lacquerware was recognized during an ASEAN Summit, when the owner was invited to share the unique art form with many global leaders, including the then U.S. President Barack Obama.

Further Recommendations

Further recommendations include U Tun & Daw Moe Family Lacquerware Workshop located in the Kyansitthar district of New Bagan, and Shwe War Thein Handicrafts Shop, just east of the Tharabar Gate in Taung Be Village, Old Bagan.

Our recommended shopping sites boast a range of antique merchandise and exquisite crafts that reflect the fascinating Myanmar culture.

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Bring back meaningful gifts to loved ones or do some interior decorating to commemorate your trip to Myanmar, all the while supporting Bagan’s local community of crafts people.

In addition to lacquerware, Bagan offers a rich variety of locally-made handicrafts available at many small shops and outdoor marketplaces throughout the city. Jewelry shoppers will be pleased with the array of jade, ruby and other fine gems for sale throughout Bagan and the rest of Myanmar, which is a leading producer of precious stones.

Traditional garments called longyi are worn by both genders throughout Myanmar, making a perfect souvenir for your fashion-conscious friends back home. Embroidered tapestries woven with gold and silver threads, known in the Malay language as kalaga, are other prized items that have been crafted by artists across the country since the 18th century.

Silk shops across Bagan offer a range of materials, styles and patterns for you to choose from. Be sure to look out for other souvenirs such as folk dolls, coconut masks and wood carvings, during your shopping adventures.

Recommended Markets

Nyaung U Market

Nyuang U Market is situated in the city’s northeast district. This traditional Burmese outdoor market - also known as the Nyuang Oo - is a must-see destination for any traveler in Bagan. From fresh fruit and vegetables to pottery, fabric and flowers, this lively market has it all.

Whether you wish to gain more insight into the lives of Myanmar people or peruse the buzzing stalls for unique treasures to take home, the Nyaung U Market is the perfect place for experiencing the vibrant local culture.

New Bagan Market

New Bagan Market is another shopping destination where travelers can learn more about the unique customs of local people while browsing through exquisite hand-made crafts and rare, authentic treasures.

Keep in mind that the best time to visit markets in Bagan is during the morning, when you will get to witness shopkeepers and buyers in action. Most markets will be closed on full-moon, new-moon and two half-moon days per month, so remember to plan accordingly.

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Our Promise

Asia Highlights is committed to responsible travel, in order to provide special and memorable experiences for our guests. We tailor your travel plans to best suit your interests, schedule and budget. We also promise that our guests will never be taken on unexpected shopping detours.

Additionally, our company aims to promote positive development in the areas we visit. We work closely with partners in our destination cities to assure our tours are led by knowledgeable local guides and young staff members looking to develop their careers.

Asia Highlights tours also visit a number of public welfare projects and restaurants during our trips, to ensure guests have the opportunity to interact with members of local communities.

Responsible Travel

We remind guests to research the political situation of their destination countries in order to be sensitive travelers. Our guides will also gently remind you of any customs that need to be observed when traveling through Myanmar, such as taking your shoes off before visiting religious sites.

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Asia Highlights provides customized tours throughout Myanmar tailor-made to fit your interests. Trips typically start or end in Yangon or Mandalay.

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