A bustling river town with more action than is on offer elsewhere in Bagan, Nyaung U is where most independent travellers hang their hat (or backpack). Roaming the back roads towards the jetty or stopping at scrappy teashops will attract friendly wide-eyed looks. There are a handful of temples to see, including the Shwezigon Paya, and a lively market. Visitors staying in New or Old Bagan tend to make it here at some stage, either to experience the restaurant scene (the closest the Bagan area gets to nightlife) or for transport links to other destinations around Myanmar.
Guesthouses and roadside restaurants now push a couple of miles west, along the road to Old Bagan, reaching the small village of Wetkyi-in (Giant Pig). The town was named for a mythical pig that, according to local legend, inhabited the lake there and was responsible for the deaths of many local people before eventually being killed by a future king of Bagan.