If you’re flying to Bagan, Nyaung-U Airport is the airport you’ll fly into. As small as it is, it’s the airport that serves as the aerial gateway to the Bagan region. (There are other ways to reach Bagan, of course, such as flying into Mandalay and taking a bus or boat.)
It’s technically in Nyaung-U, just to the northeast of the Bagan Archaeological Area and about a 10-minute drive from the village of Old Bagan.
Don’t expect the height of luxury or fancy lounges. There’s a single runway, basic security, and a rudimentary departure lounge shared by all the passengers.
It lies just outside the Bagan Archaeological Zone and serves prop planes–the rumble of jet engines pose too much threat to the nearby historic pagodas.
One of the reasons that the airport is small is that they’re trying to limit the size of the planes arriving here. Even the small planes that do come create enough noise to be a potential problem for the structural integrity of the nearby stupas, pagodas, and temples, and larger jet planes would create even more problems.
Photos of Nyaung-U Airport
What to Know Before You Go
Its airport code is NYU.
As with most names in Burmese, it has been transliterated in multiple ways. You might also come across places where it’s written as Nyaung Oo Airport or Bagan Nyaung Oo Airport.
Traveling to Bagan?
Very few of the temples, pagodas, or stupas in the Bagan Archeological Zone have any information about them on site. And with literally thousands of sites to choose from, it's handy to go armed with information on what to see and where to start--especially for independent travelers without a guide.
If you're looking for something that goes beyond the patchy information in the standard guide books, I've found these to be good:
David Raezer and Jennifer Raezer, Myanmar (Burma): Temples of Bagan
Approach Guides, 2017
With maps, diagrams, and pictures, it's pitched as a "travel guidebook for the ultra curious." It offers detailed profiles of 21 of the major sites. It's an especially good option if you traveling with a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone and don't want to take up any space in your luggage or deal with the extra weight of a hard copy.
David M. Stadtner, Ancient Pagan: Buddhist Plain of Merit
Bangkok: River Books, 2013
Written by a former professor of Art History who has authored many books on Indian and Burmese art, this book offers authoritative and detailed information on not just the architecture and art of the temples of Bagan but also the history of the region. It focuses on 33 of the major sites. Its photos by Michael Freeman are a standout feature. It's only available in paperback.
Ma Thanegi, Bagan Mystique
Yangon: Tanintaye Sarpay, 2011
Ma Thanegi is a Burmese writer and journalist. The book doesn't offer the level of detail of the other two and is harder to find in the West, but it still offers useful summaries of a number of the major sites. It's available in paperback only (when you can find it).
Director of Archaeological Survey (Burma), A Pictorial Guide to Pagan
Rangoon: Ministry of Union Culture, 2nd rev. ed. 1963
This is a guide compiled under the auspices of the Burmese government in the mid-1950s and early-1960s. Despite being quite outdated, it has its own value with background on a number of pagodas and temples as well as fascinating historical photos of how the monuments looked in the middle of 20th century--sometimes quite different to how they appear today after being renovated. It's long out of print and hard to find, but I've scanned it and posted it here.
Maps: When you get to Bagan, there are good local maps available for free at the hotels that show many of the major sites.