Top Restaurants in Bagan - Where to Eat

Top Restaurants in Bagan - Where to Eat

By Wendy Updated Jul. 2, 2021

When people, especially first-timers to Myanmar, talk about Bagan, some confusion between New Bagan, Old Bagan and Nyaung U often emerges.

As far as dining is concerned, Nyaung U, the main town of the region, has the longest list of restaurants. It is followed by New Bagan, which is a government-designated settlement for the former inhabitants of Old Bagan.

Old Bagan, where the Bagan Archaeology Zone is located, has a short but special list of resort restaurants boasting fine and exclusive dining.

Unlike Inle Lake in Shan State or Yangon the former capital, Bagan never sells itself as a gastronomic destination. Nothing really stands out in the local menu.

With our recommendations of top restaurants in Bagan, however, you will appreciate what it offers, if you are willing to make a bit of effort. This can mean a 10-minute tuk tuk ride from your hotel to Nyaung U, or trying to avoid the restaurant-rush of big tour groups at lunch hour. Whatever, it'll all be worthwhile.

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Top Restaurants in Bagan

1. Sanon - Asia Highlights - Top Pick

Sanon is on the way to Nyaung U. It offers a friendly introduction to travelers who have just landed in Bagan.

Sanon belongs to the international NGO TREE Alliance and you will see a lot of smiling young faces there, faces of people who used to be homeless, uneducated or from underprivileged homes. Training and equipment are provided for them direct from Australia.

An experienced master chef supervises the restaurants and offers guidance, yet it is the trainees who do most of the actual work. Youthful ideas are attempted in their menus.

Locally-produced eggplant is grilled softly and minced up with mushrooms and coriander, rendering a refreshing taste. Named after a head chef, Chef Kyaw Kyaw's beef curry is both tender on the outside and flavor-full on the inside. People with a sweet tooth will love the Burmese coconut cake, as mouth-watering as its name.

Sitting in the clean, lush, open-air, garden dining area, you will have an interesting and busy street view of Nyaung U.

Category: Burmese

Notable dishes: Chef Kyaw Kyaw's beef curry, watercress pakoras, caramelized pork, pomelo and mint juice...

Location: Pyu Saw Hti Street | Next to Thante Hotel, Bagan, Myanmar

Cost: USD 30-45 per person | mid-range

Vegetarian and halal options: vegetarian-friendly, halal options on request

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2. Bagan Zay

Compared to Yangon or Mandalay, there are fewer expats or foreign businesses showing an interest in long-term living or investment in Bagan. Bagan Zay is one of the few.

Under Swiss management, Bagan Zay boasts a renovated selection of Burmese food with a brilliant twist of international influence. The owner seems eager to stress that what they offer is creative Burmese, not a fusion of east and west. Such a focus is evident in the restaurant's relatively short menu.

A small span of man-made sandbank land lies outside the yard of the restaurant, facing the Irrawaddy River and fuelling fantasies of a candle-lit dinner on the beach. Nothing can be better than Bagan Zay as a final stop after a full day of sightseeing in Bagan.

You will agree after you have been served with a non-greasy and flavorful chicken curry, or grilled butterfish fillet, followed by a lime mint honey shake.

Category: Burmese

Notable dishes: Grilled butterfish fillet, pork loin with black bean paste, fried chicken cutlet...

Location: Thiripyitsaya 4th Street | Nyaung U, Bagan, Myanmar

Cost: USD 30-45 per person | mid-range

Vegetarian and halal options: yes

3. Kyaw Kitchen

Hidden in a backstreet of New Bagan, Kyaw Kitchen is definitely not on the hit-list of passer-by travelers. Hand-made lanterns and oiled-paper umbrellas light up the garden.

The French owner and his wife, Kyaw, were living abroad for some time but returned home to run this lovely restaurant, with main focus on western food with a little twist of Burmese and Thai influence.

Along with the friendliness of Kyaw and her staff, the Kitchen has a reputation for its quick service and nice food.

A fish steak and cool beer could create the perfect end to the day. Some give a thumbs-up to the Scandinavian risotto. A good mix-and-match is the stuffed chicken with tea leaves; so is the Burmese beef burger with a fried egg on top.

Category: International, Burmese, Thai

Notable dishes: Scandinavian risotto, stuffed chicken with tea leaves, Thai fish curry, lentil soup, carbonara...

Location: High School Road | High School Road, 4th street, Bagan, Myanmar

Cost: USD 20-35 per person

Vegetarian and halal options: yes

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4. Sunset Garden

As suggested by its name, this restaurant is attractive for its amazing sunset view of the Irrawaddy River. Although tourist groups make up its biggest customer base, the restaurant is never just a tourist trap, and the service is always attentive and prompt. The menu itself is a little here-and-there, but Burmese is probably the right choice to make.

As most big groups shuffle in during the evening, it's better to be there before 5 pm, so as to have a nice seat facing the river and so that your orders won't be postponed.

Category: Burmese

Notable dishes: Tea leaf salad, watercress soup, river prawn, grilled fish...

Location: By the Irrawaddy River, Bagan, Myanmar

Cost: USD 15-25 per person

Vegetarian and halal options: Yes

Bagan is worth a stay of at least 3 days, during which there will be plenty of opportunities to scavenge for food. If Bagan comes around the middle of your Myanmar trip, you might have had enough of Burmese flavors; then try some western food for a cha nge. Alternatively stick to basic Burmese cuisine. Either way, you won't be disappointed.

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