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