Bagan to Mandalay BusBus from Bagan to Mandalay
Air travel is expensive, but it takes less than an hours to get you to your final destinations. Despite the good service - there are about half a half tens of different airlines between the two cities every day - the fares are high. In order to get a place on a Bagan Mandalay trip, you should be prepared to start with USD 100 and more.
If you travel in the low seasons, you can sometimes get a promotional pass, but it usually costs you no less than $80. It should also be noted that often departures are late, cancellations or extra stopovers on the track, although the latter is less common nowadays. However, a great'pro' point for fly to/from Bagan is a magnificent view of the temple under the wings of your car.
Bagan International is in Nyaung U, 10 km from Old and New Bagan and about 5 km from the major tourism routes of Nyaung U. In order to get there, take a cab - it should not be more than MMK5,000/USD5 from Nyaung U and 8,000/USD8 from Old and New Bagan.
Mandalay has all of Bagan's services to Mandalay International Airfield, also known as Annisaton, 45km south-west of the town. In Mandalay, if you have already reserved your accomodation, it is worth asking your guide if he can help you with the transfers, but if not, take a taxi: the prices are quite low for the long journey you have to cover:
A bus ride from Bagan to Mandalay is a timesaver in comparison to a boating and rail travel and a cost saver in comparison to flight, even if it is the least interesting. Bus and bus services differ widely as some owners have narrow and used cars with wood seats, while others have air-conditioned tourers ( "MMK8.000/USD6" for example), even if they are not the latest one.
Bagan Bus Terminal is near its Nyaung U rail terminal. In Mandalay, most of Bagan's busses go to the Highway Bus Terminal just outside the city center, Chan Mya Shwe Pyi. Between Bagan and Mandalay there are two services a dail. None of them offer sleepers, but the #119 departing from Bagan at 7 a.m. and arriving in Mandalay at 2.30 p.m. will have luxury seating from March 2017.
So the whole journey lasts 7 hrs and can be a good way to travel between the two over land, which saves you a rough busney. It is not advisable to take the number 117 train: it runs much more slowly at 4am and reaches Mandalay at 4pm; it has the lowest fares in the normal category and is an excellent value for money alternative for MMK1300/USD1, but very straightforward.
Usually you get enough open window and overhead fan ventilation even in the hotest month, but when the temperature falls to +40°C during the afternoon, the thought of 7+ hrs without A/C may seem understated. Mandalay is located at the junction of 79 and 30 Streets, just southwest of the palace's southwest area.
Boating from Bagan to Mandalay or the other way round is a good way to get to know the locals and the countryside. The trip by ferry is not fast: it lasts up to 10 hrs and cost between 10 and 50 USD, according to vessel model and name.
Learn more about our experiences with the Bagan to Mandalay cruise to get an impression of what it's like. When 10 hrs look too much, you can put your legs on a short section of the canoe. From Nyaung U there are frequent ferry services to Pakokku.
There are busses from Pakokku to Mandalay, but if you don't have tight deadlines, make a trip to Monywa. Monywa has a great deal to show a nosy tourist - from the wonderful authentically Burma province towns to Pho Wing Taung and Shwe Bataung's astonishing cavern temple, which are an must, as they are not just common and modern cavern temple that you are used to in Thailand or China, but rather antique Bagan-style wall paintings that you would not normally find in a place like this.
From Pakokku it will take about 3 hrs to get to Monywa and at the same the Mandalay from Monywa with regular departures all around the world. Golden-covered Buddha pictures, broad alleys and avenues, and an abundance of historic cities such as Mingun, Inwa, Sagaing and Amarapura, which populate the surrounding area of the town, make Mandalay a great stopover on your travel route in Burma.
Oh, are you serious? The view from Mandalay Hill is less picturesque than over the vast Bagan Floors from one of its churches; the town itself is less of a meditation than Nyaungshwe on Inle Lake; and less frantic and without the kind of colorful legacy that Yangon is proud of.
However Mandalay definitely has enough to keep you occupied for days: see the day-to-day wash of Buddha's face at Mahamuni Paya; take a walk across the iconic bow-leg lift and see the natives hurry across the lift at sundown; marvel at an astonishing puppeteering Mandalay styled game; or try to make these delicious Myanmar curry during the Yoe Yoe Lay Guesthouse cookery course - and make your own way to Mand
A single 1 hr plane ride takes you from Mandalay to Yangon, also accessible by bus or air. For Kyaiktiyo, take a bus or rail to Yangon - they all go via Bago. Although the busses also do a good job and arrive at Taunggyi and Shwenyaung in about 10 hrs, the simplest way to Lake Inle is to take a plane to Heho International Airfield.
There are also busses to bathing resorts such as Sittwe and Thandwe (for Ngapali Beach). You leave from the bus station in Mandalay, Thar Yar Thar. Notice that the trip is quite long and rough and lasts between 15 and 17 h. The busses to Sittwe go via Mrauk U, the 15th century capitol of the Kingdom of Arakanese.
A number of Mandalay connections have been established in recent years, and there are now one- to seven weekly connections to Chiang Mai and Bangkok in Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong, according to destinations.