Just over 180km separate the popular cities of Mandalay and Bagan. Yet, for such a short distance it can take a while to travel. One of the most asked questions about travel in Myanmar is figuring out how to get from Mandalay to Bagan.
What you choose depends on a number of factors: your budget, how much time you have to spare and whether or not you can handle a bumpy 4-hour drive with little chance of a toilet break! But hey, adventure is what travel is all about.
How To Get From Mandalay To Bagan
1. Fly From Mandalay to Bagan
If you’re tight for time or get carsick, then you might not mind splashing out on a flight from Mandalay to Bagan. The flight is only about 30 minutes long but can cost you upwards of USD $50-70 for a one way ticket. Check prices from flight comparison websites and book as far in advance as possible to try get a decent deal.
KBZ, Golden Myanmar, Mann Yadanarpon, Myanmar National all fly this route.
2. Book Tickets in Advance on Bookaway
Use Bookaway to reserve your tickets in advance for a number of transport options, including the express ferry, VIP buses, and private cars. Not only can you be assured that you have a guaranteed ticket, you can also make use of the handy filters for finding the best transport option.
Can’t live without air conditioning for a few hours? Check. Absolutely need to have a toilet on board? You can choose the exact features you need your transport option to have.
3. Get To Mandalay From Bagan By Boat
If you have the time to do this (about 10 hours of travelling), taking to boat down the Irrawaddy River is a beautiful way to see Myanmar’s scenery. There’s a slow boat which can take two days, so make sure you book the express! The best company is MGRG Express.
It’s a great option if you’re a photographer, videographer, or Instagrammer looking to get unique water shots you can’t anywhere else.
4. Get The Train
For a cheaper transport option, you can get a train all the way. A one-way trip costs just $13-20USD for an upper class ticket, which you’ll need to book at least five days in advance. However, the trip (there’s two trains a day) can take up from 7 to 17 hours. Oh, and the train has no air conditioning.
The scenery is beautiful, but we don’t reckon it’s worth the discomfort.
5. Hire a Private Car for a Comfortable Trip
First things first: comfort. If you have the budget for it (about USD$70 for a standard taxi), then travelling by private taxi is the most comfortable and fastest option. The trip will take about four or five hours and while it’s a bit more expensive than other options, you’ll enjoy some advantages. Not only will your driver pick you up from wherever you are, but they will stop whenever you need to for a break.
6. Catch a Bus To Bagan
There are numerous buses that run between Mandalay and Bagan. From overnight to standard buses, you’ll find that taking a bus between the two cities is likely the most popular option for budget travellers. With an average price of USD $8, it’s easy to see why.
The route takes about six hours, and try not to get the overnight bus. You’ll arrive in Bagan at 4am, and won’t be able to check into your hotel until 2pm!