Mandalay to Bagan

Mandalay to Bagan

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07:00
Mandalay International Airport
30m flight #K7704 with Air KBZ in Economy
5.0
07:30
NYU Nyaung U Airport, Bagan

From Mandalay International Airport to Bagan by flight

07:00
Mandalay International Airport
30m flight #K7704 with Air KBZ in Economy
5.0
07:30
NYU Nyaung U Airport, Bagan

Mandalay to Bagan Schedule

Mandalay to Bagan Schedule
Transport NameRoute TimePrice
Air KBZ Economy #K770407:00 - 07:30MMK 95,922
Myanmar National Airlines Economy #UB13515:30 - 16:00MMK 72,946

How to get from Mandalay to Bagan

The road distance from Mandalay to Bagan is 180km. Buses cover it is less than five hours; trains need at least 7; and flying whisks you to the beautiful ancient pagodas in a mere hour. To add flavour to your journey, consider taking a boat from Mandalay to Bagan or detouring to Monywa which makes for a great out-of-the-beaten-track stop. If you are a rail travel buff, read carefully our notes below before buying your train ticket.

Flights from Mandalay to Bagan

The airport serving Bagan is located in Nyaung U. There are over half a dozen daily flights between Mandalay and Nyaung U airport operated by a handful of domestic airlines. The first flight of the day departs Mandalay at 8am and the last one – before 6pm. Regardless this sufficient offer, there is no competition as far as prices are concerned. Air tickets in Myanmar are nowhere to be cheap and low-cost operators still have to come to the country. Expect your Mandalay–Bagan flight to set you back from USD100 and up. During low season there are promotional fares but these ones are only 20%-30% lower than regular tickets.

But anyway, the panorama over the temples of Bagan from aboard a plane is terrific – not only it compensates partly the cost of the air ticket; it also allows you to save on hot air balloon adventure.

It takes one hour to reach Bagan from Mandalay by plane, but the stretch between the two cities is probably one of the most picturesque and can be done by boat, too – see below. So if you can spend some time on an overland journey, skip flying in this very case.

Bagan airport is located in Nyaung U, east of New and Old Bagan. The airport facilities are limited and do not include ATMs or exchange service – ensure you have enough local currency at hand. Taxi drivers at the airport ask between MMK5,000 and MMK8,000 for destinations in Nyaung U, New & Old Bagan. If you book your accommodation with one of the midrange or top hotels, check if they provide free transfer from the airport – many of them do.

Note You have to pay the entrance fee to Bagan Archaeological Zone right at the airport. You will not be let out of the terminal building without your Bagan ticket. Ticket costs MMK25,000/USD22. If by some chance you do exit without paying, you will be asked to pay at your hotel or guesthouse as the owners register ticket numbers at check-in.

From Mandalay to Bagan by bus

Mandalay has at least three large bus stations. To catch a bus to Bagan from Mandalay, head to the Highway Bus station, aka Chan Mya Shwe Pyi. As the overwhelming majority of bus stations in Myanmar it is located a good deal away from the centre – about 8km south.

There are regular departures to Bagan throughout the day operated by a variety of companies. Both prices and quality of service differ tremendously: you can hop onto a local cheapie with wooden benches and ceiling fans or opt for a more comfy air-con coach (approximately MMK8,000/USD6).

Again, as it is often the case in Myanmar, you can find quite weirdly timed departures, e.g. buses leaving Mandalay late in the evening after 9pm and arriving to Bagan after midnight. Do not be surprised as it is a very common thing in Myanmar – God knows why.

Bagan bus station is located next to its railway station, also in Nyaung U. Tuk-tuk drivers meet all the arriving buses, but if you want to save a couple of bucks, use shared taxis (MMK2,000) or exit the bus station, walk to the highway and flag down a car or a tuk-tuk to your destination, be it Old Bagan, New Bagan or Nyaung U (from MMK5,000).

From Mandalay to Bagan by train

Yes, it is possible to get from Mandalay to Bagan by train. There are, though, a couple of things to take a note of.

Note 1. There are two daily trains between Mandalay and Bagan: the night train #120 which departs Mandalay at 9pm and brings you to Bagan early the next morning by 5am, completing the route in less than 8 hours, and the day train #118, which leaves at 7.20am and reaches Bagan by 7pm, taking thus almost 12 hours.

Note 2. Train #120 used to have ordinary class seats and first class seats, but recently Myanmar Railways reported they had upgraded certain trains, #120 included, and now it has upper class seats, too. This still has to be confirmed – if you travel this route, let us know.

Train #118 offers ordinary class seats only. There are no sleepers in either train.

In terms of comfort first class seats do not differ much from ordinary seats – they have padded bottom seat but it does not help too much. Upper class seats are a step forward – they are soft reclining seats and are obviously a much better choice for loner journeys.

From Mandalay to Bagan by boat

Unless you are very short of time, we seriously recommend you to consider this option. Travelling from Mandalay to Bagan by boat is an adventure in itself. Depending on how much you are ready to invest, you can choose between ordinary commuter ferryboats (USD10) to more luxurious and speedy options (up to USD50). It is possible to travel between the two in the both directions – upstream or downstream. For more information and our personal experience about taking a boat along the Irrawaddy River read our Bagan–Mandalay cruise article.

Tip Using local ferries you can get from Mandalay as far as Yangon. Local ferries and luxury cruises travel from Mandalay to Bagan and some local ferries proceed further to Pyay where you have to change onto another boat bringing you up to Yangon.

Detouring to Monywa

There is a nice detour you can consider while travelling from Mandalay to Bagan. 130 km west of Mandalay lies Monywa. Very few visitors make it till here though the city can be easily reached by bus from both Mandalay and Bagan.

Whilst even the most tourist inhabited areas in Myanmar still feel very authentic, Monywa is a quintessentially Burmese place with locals living their daily lives without thinking much about catering to the needs of the guests what is actually fantastic.

Golden pagodas of Monywa, especially its glittering Shwezigon Paya, are spectacular, but the two main attractions both not far from the city are a stunning Buddha ‘skyscraper’, Bodhi Tataung, towering 130 m high 20 km southeast of Monywa and a vast complex of cave temples about 10 km west of the western banks of the Chindwin River, Pho Wing Taung and Shwe Bataung. The latter is even dubbed Burmese Petra, and though we wouldn’t go that far, the caves with endless stone niches, murals and Buddhas are very impressive.

It takes around 3 hours to get from Mandalay to Monywa by bus; a bit longer – up to 4 hours – from Monywa to Bagan (170 km). To Continue your trip to Bagan you can take a bus from Monywa to Pakkoku – they depart more often than Monywa–Bagan buses and take about 3 hours. From Pakkoku there are slow ferries to Nyaung U. It takes an hour to reach the environs of Bagan by boat and costs MMK1,000/USD1 only but foreigners are usually overcharged: expect to pay – to be asked to pay – around MMK5,000/USD5.

Why travel to Bagan

Well, it is not a secret that people come to this temple heavyweight exactly for temples. You are going to see plenty of them: small and big, inconspicuous and highly imposing, abandoned and full of worshippers. You will have temples for breakfast while trying to catch the best sunrise view of Bagan from the white Thatbyinnyu pagoda; you will have more temples for lunch while counting countless bumps with your bum in a horse cart touring the sights; and obviously another helping of temples at sunset – this time desperately climbing Shwesandaw pagoda; and finally temples again for dinner, this time dining really at one of the modest restaurants with its own paya in the yard. To sum it up – be ready for a serious temple overdose!

Onward travel from Bagan

If Bagan is your last port of call out of the Big Four group, you can easily get back to Yangon from there. There is one daily train to Yangon, a good choice of flights and all day bus departures.

Travelling east to Inle Lake rely on direct buses and flights. You can also travel to Inle Lake via Kalaw: take a bus to Kalaw, spend a day in the town and continue your journey to the Lake by bus or train. Or better take a two-day trek from Kalaw to Inle Lake – it is a highlight of any journey to Myanmar!

For destinations southeast of Yangon including Thaton, Hpa-An, Mawlamyine, Myawaddy, Ye and Dawei connect via Yangon.

For Mrauk U or Sittwe connect via Magwe.

There is no direct service to Ngapali Beach (Thandwe): instead take a bus to Pyay and from Pyay to Thandwe or fly via Yangon. There are direct flights from Yangon to Thandwe (one hour; from USD110).

Transportation from Mandalay to Bagan

Mandalay to Bagan destination reviews

LY
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Mar 7, 2020
Delivery of actual train tickets was prompt. We were put in Cabin D with another couple from Belgium, so it wasn't a lonely night. As I have done my research, I knew I had to bring longyi to cover myself. The operation did give pillow and sheet, but it's very random, some bed have, and some beds don't. Make sure to download an off-line map to know whereabouts I am, as the announcement was in Burmese. It was an experience that is enough, just for once. Won't do it again. I use my own scarf to cover. BTW Cabin F is more private as there are only 2 beds.
MA
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Feb 27, 2020
Nos buscó en horario y llegó en horario. Antes de salir de la ciudad se detuvo a cambiar una cubierta. Esta tarea la hubiera tenido que realizar con anterioridad a la búsqueda de los pasajeros. Los pasajeros que se agregan en distintas paradas y van sentados en banquitos en el pasillo resultan una incomodidad para todos. No es recomendable para viajeros que llevan mucho equipaje. Que te recojan en el hotel es un valor adicional. Lo volveríamos a contratar.
GG
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Feb 14, 2020
The only thing that was helpful - delivery of tickets to hotel. The train station is difficult in navigation, no English instructions, no English speaking employees. I had to catch people outside to help me find train. The train itself is also stinky, dirty and cold. But at least it departures and arrives on time
AT
train #120 Upper Class, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Feb 6, 2020
Service of 12GO was perfect, with my ticket delivered to the hotel in the morning of departure. The train left Mandalay Central 9:00p.m. sharp, and arrived in Bagan only 15-20 mins. behind the schedule. The floor under my seat was very dirty with lots of egg shells, however, all other places looked clean enough. As the train sways a lot, you feel as if you were on boat. So, if you get motion sickness easily, I recommend that you should not take train. The seat was big enough and comfortable to sleep in, but the window next to my seat was broken, and I couldn't close it. Freeeezing!!!
GK
flight Economy, Air KBZ, Jan 27, 2020
Great service, smooth flight and landing.
KJ
flight Economy, Myanmar National Airlines, Jan 17, 2020
Fast, clean and efficient
CJ
train #120 Upper Class, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Jan 4, 2020
I chose train because this was the only transportation that I found for traveling during the night. Overall was ok except a bit bumpy..
KK
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Jan 3, 2020
It is quite comfortable to sleep for the sleeping class. However, it is a bit cold as there is not provide enough thing for you to cover the body.
MV
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Nov 30, 2019
Perfect
YZ
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Nov 27, 2019
The train itself was not very clean, the toilet is more like an “insect museum” with “specimens” of dragonflies and spiders. There are no English-speaking staff, all announcements are made in Burmese which makes it difficult for foreigners not traveling with a local.
YR
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Nov 26, 2019
Train is really old and dirty. It’s really loud and sways a lot as well. The only plus point is that you get clean sheets. It would be fun to experience it once, but you probably wouldn’t want to go through it again.
JR
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Nov 25, 2019
It was nice to be fetched at our hotel instead of finding our way to the bus station in Mandalay. The trip took a bit more than 5 hours. There was little room in the bus for luggage so we had to have our knees full all the time. The bus became filled up during the journey. It was not comfortable. The worst was the scam at the bus station in Bagan since there was no connection to the hotel offered. We had to pay 16000kyat for a 4,2km taxi ride and the driver was not happy when I did not offer him a tip. It is a real shame that the bus company refers its customers to such bandits !! We paid 30000 kyat for 10 hours and 60km private taxi driving in Bagan the full next day.
AW
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Nov 25, 2019
Except of clean sheets nothing was first class. Train was very old, super slow, overall quality was disappointing, but it was still fun to do it once as an experience, but would rather not do it again...
HV
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Nov 10, 2019
The trip was quick, the bus driver really made speed, so that was a good thing (I've had trips in a minivan before when the bus driver was really slow and picked up all kind of locals along the road to make some kyats for himself, but this time nothing like that). 12GoAsia however should make it more clear on the website that these are local buses for local transport. Not for travellers! There waa no room for my backpack or other suitcases, they were piled up everywhere. Leg room was really insufficient for a guy my height (1.85 m). I couldn't sit in my seat and there was no room for my legs i the aisle so I had to stand up a long time. Airco was fine. Few stops though. Not recommended but whatever, it took us to Bagan in one piece :-)
JR
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Nov 8, 2019
Bus left on time and arrived early but those were the only positives. Admittedly I'm a relatively tall person, but I couldn't fit in the seat, so needed my knees out to the side (as is sometimes the case). But then they put stools down the middle of the bus and had people sit in the aisle, so my knees had nowhere to go! Extremely uncomfortable 5 hours.
LV
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Oct 5, 2019
The only thing pleasant was the pick up from the hotel. The bus driver drove like crazy and picked up random people on the way. People were seated in the isle. No stops except for local people to get on and off the bus. It felt like a public transport bus. We arrived 2 hours before arrival time.
DP
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Oct 1, 2019
Leaving late time but arriving faster nearly 1H.
SD
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Aug 26, 2019
Everything celan. Staff nice and speaks english
RP
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Aug 25, 2019
The Bus is small and makes stops to pick up locals and packages. However since is a small trip (5h) you have to embrace the circumstances and make ir part of rhw experience.
VM
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Aug 20, 2019
Transfer desde Mandalay hasta Bagan salio perfecto. Hora de salida 10am y 15 minutos antes pasaron por mi hotel. El viaje total demoro como 4hrs y media, lo cual es bastante bueno considerando que hace varias paradas. The transfer went perfectly. The hotel pick up was at 10am and 15 minutes earlier the driver was there. In total the trip took 4 1/2 hours considering several stops. Highly recommended!
NB
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Aug 13, 2019
Luxury train was not so clean Really dirty
MM
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Aug 3, 2019
12GoAsia service was excellent. The tickets were delivered to our hotel without the need to go before to the station or the local office. But, the trip was terrifying: is difficult ti sleep even 5 minutes.
EK
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, Jul 18, 2019
They picked me up quite late. As mentioned in other reviews, they stop a lot of times to let passengers in. I was lucky to have a seat on the right side so I was sitting alone. It's definitely not the most comfortable ride, but you get to your destination. We had a short washroom break. We arrived early around 12pm, that was a plus. But be aware of the taxi guys at the bus station. They will rip you of like crazy since you've no options. It's better to ask your hostel/hotel to tell them where you want to be dropped of. To give an idea of a 'normal' price, from Nanda restaurant to the bus station is 6.000 kyatt.
KP
train #120 Sleeper, Myanmar Railways (Myanmar Railways), Jun 27, 2019
not too bad, but no communication from train staff make it difficult to understand where you are.
JK
Bus Minivan, OK Minibus, May 27, 2019
Overall it’s a fine trip. In case it’s not clear, this is a local bus that deal seeking back packers can make use of. I’m 6’2” and had just enough leg space to make it work. What surprised me was the drive from Mandalay to Bagan takes about 2.5 hours. The actual drive took 4.5 because of frequent stops, picking people up (locals on the side of the road) and going well south out of the way. Overall it was still 1.5 hours short than expected (the listing said 6 hours). So not that bad. Download a movie on Netflix and relax. Bring some snacks. Go to the bathroom before hand since we only had two long stops (10 minutes for gas 20 minutes later on for food at an outdoor restaurant. The food I wouldn’t advise eating. Maybe it’s fine but not worth the risk to me. You only come to bagan once so I didn’t want to get sick. The air conditioning worked. I’ve heard it’s supposed to be very cold and bundle up. It wasn’t. So better advice is to have layers available and come in short and a t shirt. As far as 12goasia, the communication was quick and easy and they’re customer support emails have been very responsive for other rides I’ve taken when needed.
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