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Travelling between Yangon and Bagan

As we now enter 2017, what method of transport should you choose when making the arduous journey from Yangon to Bagan? Plane, train, or automobile? Which is the best option for your wallet? Which is the best option for your backside? And which is the best option for your safety?

Yangon can get very hectic...
Yangon can get very hectic…
Life is far more laid-back in Bagan...
Life is far more laid-back in Bagan…

Once the capital of Myanmar, Yangon is a thriving and somewhat chaotic place, where your assumptions of a sleepy tropical city in the same vein as Luang Prabang or Chiang Mai are thrown out of the window by the sight of the frenetic pace of local life – both on the roads and on the paths! Bagan, in contrast, is a sleepy, timeless area that still possess some old world charm. Everything you hoped you would see and do in Yangon (and were wrong) can actually be experienced pretty easily here.

The temples and pagodas of Bagan seemingly go on forever
The temples and pagodas of Bagan seemingly go on forever

Most people will want to come to Bagan to see its famous temples (admission is around US$20 per person, as of January, 2017). The huge and sprawling Bagan Archeological Complex was once a UNESCO World Heritage Site, although this status was revoked because of the Myanmar authorities were not preserving the site as well as they should have been. Although these temples are famous, they are not anywhere near as famous as those in Cambodia at Angkor, or even as popular as some of the Thai temples in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Yet this is part of the charm of Bagan. In August, 2016, there was a significant 6.8 magnitude earthquake that destroyed many of the temples within the complex. Yet while the damage is obvious, the journey to Bagan remains unhindered, and the relative lack of tourists here provide a welcome respite from the usual crowds found in the more conventional travel destinations nearby. Once you find a good hotel in Bagan, just plan your itinerary for the temple-trampling.

(Click to enlarge)
(Click to enlarge)

But once you have obtained your Myanmar visa in advance (at the time of writing, Visa on Arrival to Myanmar is not available for travellers of any nationality), and once you have landed at one of the two international airports in the country (at Yangon or Mandalay), then you will probably need to find a way of getting to Bagan in the very centre of the country.

So do you take the bus, the train, or the plane?

yangonairport

No crashes this year. Yet.
No crashes this year. Yet.

Air

Flying from Yangon to Bagan will cost you around £120-£200 return per person. This is very steep, and the Myanmar tour companies and airlines know this. But they won’t ever lower the prices substantially. Air Bagan is probably the best airline flying the route, but you can also choose from Myanmar Airways, and Air Mandalay. Air travel in Myanmar is not the safest, and there are usually a few fatal crashes every year. I did not take the plane journey, despite being a fan of aviation, as these poor safety records concerned me. However, many people do use domestic airlines in Myanmar, and this overview from The Points Guy gives you a little taster of what to expect (although I guess it varies from airline to airline). From Bagan’s Nyaung-U Airport, check to see if your hostel or hotel will pick you up. Sometimes, this perk is built in to your accommodation price, so there’s no harm in asking!

The train from Yangon to Bagan
The train from Yangon to Bagan
Standard class for 17-18 hours?
Standard class for 17-18 hours?
Whatever you do, spend the extra Kyat (or $) for a first class sleeper on the overnight train
Whatever you do, spend the extra Kyat (or $) for a first class sleeper on the overnight train
Second class toilet on the train. This is why we have so many vaccinations before we come travelling. (Photo: Turnipseedtravel)
Second class toilet on the train. This is why we have so many vaccinations before we come travelling. (Photo: Turnipseedtravel)

Train

Overnight trains depart from Yangon Train Station at 4pm each afternoon. You will arrive in Bagan not before 10am the following morning. This is the method of travel I took after a lot of research on the trains over at SEAT 61. The overall travel time for me personally was actually around 17 hours, and we arrived earlier than expected. I paid 16,000 Kyat (around £30) for an “upper class” sleeper cabin, and I would recommend this extra splurge – even if the trains can be pretty rickety, as well as being very noisy and hot! If you must travel as cheaply as possible, then upper class seats are available for 12,000 Kyat, whereas for true backpackers there are second class seats for around 4,000 Kyat (as of February, 2016). However, second class will not be a particularly enjoyable journey! Food and drink is served throughout the journey, although it is not built in to your ticket price, regardless of class of carriage, so you do have to pay extra for it.

A comprehensive and somewhat positive write-up of the train journey from Yangon to Bagan can be found in this article here written by Dan at This World Rocks.

A negative perspective of this arduous train journey is provided here by Vanessa at Turnip Seed Travel. I believe a train journey is not usually as bad as that. Vanessa perhaps just picked a wrong day to travel, but interesting nonetheless!

yangonbaganroad3
Yangon Bus Station (photo: thefitworldtraveler)
Waiting for the bus. Let's play spot the Monk. He'll be sitting next to you on the bus...
Waiting for the bus. Let’s play “Spot the Monk”. He’ll be sitting next to you on the bus…
Joyous Journeys are among the most reputable companies offering the VIP Bus
Joyous Journeys are among the most reputable companies offering the VIP Bus
VIP Bus. Not bad. Not bad at all.
VIP Bus. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Bus

If I had known at the time that bus journeys between Yangon and Bagan take nearly half the time it takes on the train, then I may have booked the bus instead. Leaving from downtown Yangon, these express buses depart at around 6pm each evening, yet seem to arrive in Bagan in the middle of the night at around 4am. If you have pre-booked a hostel, then I guess this is fine. Otherwise, you may have to stand around with the cows and the cockerels for a few hours until a more sociable hour!

These buses are very loud, as there is Burmese music and dubbed movies playing on the TV until midnight, at which time thankfully someone pulls the plug so the travellers can all get some kip! The price of this bus trip is 15,000 Kyat. There is also a VIP Express Bus service plying the same route which is priced at a seemingly reasonable 18,000 Kyat, so it may be wise to look into that one, especially if the quality of the bus appears safer. Buses are slightly more expensive than trains on the journey, but the difference is negligible really. If anything, buses are better value for money as they provide a more comfortable journey.

I can highlight two recent reviews of the bus company Joyous Journeys from Globe Dreaming and Ruby White Road. Their experiences of this overnight bus from Yangon to Bagan should give you a good idea of what to expect if you choose this method of transport.

The boat trip takes AGES!
The boat trip down the Irrawaddy takes AGES!

One final thing: this article presumes you will be making your way to Bagan from Yangon, as Yangon was, for the longest time, the only international gateway to Myanmar (land borders are closed everywhere). Now, though, some budget airlines such as Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur, and Silkair from Singapore, fly directly to Mandalay, which is much closer to Bagan. Getting to Bagan from Mandalay is easy. The Irrawaddy River links the two cities, and for a true taste of Burmese days from yesteryear, you could make the journey by boat, which while taking at least 8-9 hours, will still give you some pretty nice scenery to enjoy while still allowing you to take in that fresh air (must be better than a bus or train with no aircon!).

bagankylehammonds

And when you finally do make it Bagan, simply enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and try to live like a local! The August 2016 earthquake damage will take a long time to clean up (years, unfortunately) but I still recommend visiting, just to experience the ambience of the place. If you’re a solo traveller like me, why not rent a bike to explore the pagodas, or if you’re a romantic couple then why not hire a horse-drawn carriage to experience the sights of the plains? And most importantly of all – don’t disturb the monks!

Thanks for reading, and please remember to check out my own little adventure in Bagan as I escapade around the temples! But you’re probably asking yourself which temples should I visit when I arrive in Bagan? Well, I have a few ideas…

Page last updated January 16, 2017. Please report any dead links.

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125 thoughts on “Travelling between Yangon and Bagan

        1. This actually sounds amazing! Not the being “dropped on a highway at 3am” part though.. haha. I had already decided to take an overnight bus but now I’m again, undecided!

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  1. So many people go on about how uncomfortable the trains are but travelling on a train in Burma is soooo much fun! I did this trip few weeks ago and it was one of the best experiences. And now the prices are much more affordable too, $16 per person is not bad at all!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I think the overnight bus is a better option, as it takes half the time, plus the seats are comfier 😉 But certainly train rides in Myanmar are a great adventure not to be missed!

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    2. We will be arriving at midnight at airport, how soon can we get a train to Bagan or do we have to wait all day? Any good cheap hotels in Bagan? Thanks

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      1. If you getting the train to Bagan from Yangon, then it leaves at 16.30hrs, and arrives in Bagan at 09.30 the next morning. As for cheap hotels, well, I would recommend searching on Agoda for some cheap deals. What is your price range?

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      1. I’ll be sure to do that, thanks for the advice. I am travelling in the wet season (beginning of July), do you think there will be any problems taking the train during this time? Also, how long do you think I would need to stay in Bagan to appreciate it properly? Thanks!

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      2. Hi
        My husband and I are thinking going by the night train from Yangon to Bagan – but so many different opinions…… what do you think? We would take the sleeping cupe….
        Do you know anything about the Vip bus?
        BR Annette

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        1. VIP bus is around 18,000 Kyat and is good value. An ordinary bus is around 15,000 Kyat, but loud music might keep you awake all night. I think the journey lasts for 5 hours in both cases.

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  2. Very good post! Im currently in India and looking to come across into Myanamar later this year so its great to hear some tips. Are the trains better or worse than India standards by the way?

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    1. I think the trains in India are much worse than in Myanmar in terms of the overcrowding. However, if you are used to first class or executive class in India then the trains in Myanmar may be horrifying to you!

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  3. I would skip flying too. I just found Air Bagan in the world’s most dangerous airlines list! Planning to visit Bagan soon, but inclined to go thru Mandalay rather than Yangon. It’s nearer so no need to take a domestic flight or bum-busting bus ride. Dunno how long it takes though; it doesn’t look that near on the map.

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    1. Hi AJ – you could fly to Mandalay from Bangkok/Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia, and then get the boat down the Irrawaddy to Bagan. If you don’t want the river cruise, then there are now 4-6 buses per day between Mandalay and Bagan, and the journey takes 5 hours (8,500Kyat).

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Great info! Yup, will be coming from BKK. Air Asia is my LCC of choice. Irrawaddy cruise sounds nice. I hope there are white dolphins that far inland. But 5-hr bus ride is doable too. Thanks!

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  4. Hey there, since I’ll travel around Myanmar as a solo backpacker and always go for a budget. I had always wanted to try the train from Yangon to Bagan as it has beautiful cross country scenic and later that from Bagan to Mandalay by bus. Do you think is would be a best idea? Not bad as I think.

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    1. Your plans sound very nice. You could go by the Irrawaddy river between Bagan and Mandalay if you wanted something different. Regarding Yangon to Bagan – I would recommend the VIP overnight bus. It’s much less time than the train, and much cleaner! But you’re right, the train can be very scenic (if it’s a day train).

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  5. Hey! So I will be going to Myanmar for a few days in November, and I am thinking of taking the VIP bus. Do you have any recommendations as to where I should book to bus (online or in person).
    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Symone! 🙂 I purchased my ticket at Yangon bus station the night before I was due to leave. I was advised not to leave it until the same day in case all seats had been reserved. I think the booking for the VIP bus can be done online, but aside from GoMyanmar I don’t know of any reliable sites.

      I hope you enjoy your trip to Myanmar soon! Bagan is an amazing place. Make sure you enjoy the Old Bagan area and not only the temples! 🙂

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  6. Great write up! I”m assuming you can also take the bus from Bagan TO Yangon as well? I will probably traveling south as oppose to north.

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  7. Thanks for sharing. Going to Myanmar on this late November. As female solo traveler I am thinking and thinking what type of transport would be good and safe for me from Yangon to Bagan.
    Excited and nervous..
    Any of you guys will travel around 25 Nov?
    Some how hoping to have a good company.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there. 🙂 No need to feel nervous really, but I can understand the excitement! Yangon is nice for a day or two, but it is in Bagan where you will awestruck by the Burmese people and culture. Let me know how you got on!

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      1. Burmese people and culture I am not too worry, hope not too far different with Laos and Cambodia.
        Thinking more about the safety journey from Yangon to Bagan. Bus, train or flying.

        Read a lot of post about it, bus sounds great but 3 or 4am arrival?? Better arrive in a group and book a motel in advance.
        This will be a new country for me. Don’t know what to expect.
        Bad experience in Vietman, arrive in the middle of no where on rainy storm.

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  8. Will be going to Yangon, Myanmar alone this 3oth of November and will be heading to Bagan in the 2nd or 3rd of December ’til 8th. Any suggestions on activities, tour or what to do in Bagan?

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  9. Hi BackpackerLee,
    how far the train station from the city centre? is there something like tuk2 or other cheap transport to go to the train station. ? I might be going during chrismas time, is it recommended to book the train ticket in advance or possible to walk in to buy the ticket. Thank you.

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    1. Hi there. 🙂 Thanks for reading. Train tickets can be booked in advance through websites such as Go-Myanmar.com but if you arrive in Yangon just head to the train station and book your seat at the Advanced Reservations Office. Reservations open 1 day in advance for an ordinary seat, and 3 days in advance for a “luxury” seat. You should take your passport in case they need to see it (but they won’t keep it). I hope you have fun in Myanmar! 😀

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  10. Wow!! Glad i found your blog.We’re travelling to Yangon on the 28th of December from Bangkok and this is very helpful. 5 of us looking forward to experiencing Myanmar’s culture and9 food.I guess taking the bus from Yangon to Bagan would be a better option for us.Thanks!

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    1. Hi Teth. New year in Myanmar will be interesting! I wonder if you’ll be in Yangon or Bagan at that time. It would be amazing to watch the first sunrise of the year from one of Bagan’s many temples. In fact, you’ve just given me a good idea… 😉

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  11. Hey there! Great info, thanks for sharing!
    I’ll be travelling to Myanmar in on January 31th, flying to Yangon. Is the end of a long time in Asia, but I didn’t wanna skip Myanmar. I don’t have much time, just 3 days in the country. Do you think it would be possible to arrive in Yangon 31th morning, catch a night bus to Bagan spend the day there and head to Mandalay in the same night to catch a flight to Bangkok on the 2nd? I know it sounds a little bit crazy, but is my only chance. I would like to hear your advice , if you think it is impossible I will probably just stay around Yangon.. Thank you very much!

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    1. Hi there Gulherme. 🙂 Your idea sounds a little rushed, but it could be possible if you spend one night in Bagan and then return to Yangon. That would mean the first night on the overnight bus, the second night in Bagan (1 whole day to see the temples and pagodas), and the last night in a cheap hotel back in Yangon.

      I hope you get to visit Myanmar somehow. It is too good to miss!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi there! Great site, very helpful info! I will be traveling to Bagan from Yangon by bus (thanks to your blog!) on Jan 24, 2016 and we are pre-booking a guesthouse for this leg of the trip. I assume we would arrive in Bagan very early in morning on Jan 25 if we leave Yangon the night before. Is there a tuk-tuk or some kind of transpo we can ride at that hour to bring us to watch the sunrise somewhere?

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    1. You can always find tuktuks or rickshaws in Bagan, but it depends on what time exactly you will be arriving. I would recommend going to the Pyathatgyi Temple for sunset…but for sunrise head straight to the Shewizgon Pagoda (but the Sulamani Temple is also good).

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    2. I was there 3 weeks ago. From Yangon make sure you book bus ticket a day earlier or 2 as they often full on the peak season. The comfortable bus is JJ Express with more space for our knees. 2+1 seats, while Bagan Mintrhaar bus is 2+2 seats.

      Taxi from Yangon to the bus station is 7 USD. I will not be able to find the bus office by my self as in this station there is hundreds of buses crowing strolling in a pack like.. I don’t know how to express it.

      Arrive in Bagan bus station take taxi to New Bagan 2okm 7USD / taxi, ( if you are going to New Bagan) No tuk tuk / ricksaw early morning, I don’t see it during the day too.

      In the afternoon some taxi guy will try to ask 7$ for each person, we were argued about it.
      Bo Bo taxi Driver 09 3197 1360 / 09 40 2630 853. I leave my purse in the taxi, he helped me chasing and finding the taxi guy, he refuse the gift I offer to him. Wow.. what a nice man.

      Any way, there is a check point, 20 USD entrance fee for Bagan. I didn’t know it before.

      Ostello Bello is famous hostel in New Bagan, they gather at the front of the hostel ready for sun rise at around 5am. Across the road is E bike rental ready, 5 $ a day. Join them..

      I was in Bagan 3 nights then to Inlay lake, Don’t get enough with it’s beauty I am back to Bagan again, seriously.. Bagan my best high light in Myanmar.
      Have fun !!

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Hi, I am planning a 6 days trip to Myanmar, arriving in Yangon. Based on strong recommendations for Bagan and Inle Lake, I hope to spend 2 days in Bagan and 2 in Inle Lake with the remaining for Yangon. Is it more advisable to travel Yangon – Bagan – Inle – Yangon,
    or Yangon – Inle – Bagan – Yangon. I plan to take the overnight buses for all legs of the trip.
    Kind advise is appreciated 🙂

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    1. Hi there!

      I don’t think there’s much difference in the travel arrangements for your options, it really just depends on what you want to see first – the temples or the lake?

      I think yangon-bagan-inle-yangon is the more common route though.

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  14. Hi! Thanks for the very helpful tips! We plan to spend 6 days in myanmar this March, entering through yangon and departing via Mandalay. Thinking of doing the yangon-inle lake-bagan-mandalay route by bus. Is this a better route or should we go to yangon then bagan first then inle followed by Mandalay? Are there abundant VIP buses from yangon to inle, and inle to bagan? Also, is Mingun worth visiting? Thanks!

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  15. Hello! Thanks for the great tips – have now decided to use the bus to get to bagan. However, given that inle is closer to yangon, would it be better to go yangon-inle-bangan-mandalay? My only concern is if there would be a lot of buses departing from yangon to inle, and inle to bagan. Is this a popular bus route? We would prefer going using the VIP buses. Also, is Mingun worth visiting if we are staying only for 6 days? Thanks! 🙂

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    1. Hi Christine. I cannot comment on Mingun, as I haven’t been there, but it does seem another popular spot in Myanmar.

      You will always catch the masses of tourists heading for Bagan regardless from where you depart, but it would be LESS busy if you headed to the temples from Inle rather than Yangon, I think.

      Enjoy your 6 days! Let me know how you got on! 🙂

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  16. Hi backpakerlee,

    Great site. Appreciate your assistance. Our family with. 2 teens hoping to visit for 7-10 days. Cheaper to fly to Yangon. Want to experience the people (especially the ethnics tribes), elephants in their natural habitats (not zoos), Bagan & a few must see sites (will read your report soon). Questions:

    – Cheaper for us to fly to Yangon instead of Mandalay. Maybe a day or two here.
    – Express bus to Bagan, is it possible to go via Inle Lake on our way to Bagan? Would like to visit the ‘long neck padaung’ tribe in Kaung Daing for a day and off to Bagan.
    – Bagan – 2 full days
    – if we choose this route, what else should and where should we visit for a genuine taste of the ‘culture, tribal/ethnic people, etc’ and ‘elephants’? We love elephants but we tend to get sad when we see them in chains or not well treated.

    Welcome anyone’s suggestion& advice. Thank you.

    Celine

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    1. Hi Celine To visit and see the elephants working in their natural environment I would suggest you stay at Taungoo (we stayed at ‘Mother House Hotel’ and it’s good there – stayed there 2 yrs ago also and now they have some new bigger rooms). Get a driver to take you to elephants. Hotel will help organise. Cheers Dawn

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Celine!
      I think flying to Yangon will be cheaper, slightly, but it depends where you’re based. Silkair now fly to Mandalay, and so do Thai Air Asia (I think).

      As Inle Lake is on the tourist trail, it is if course possible to head there before Bagan. I have never taken the train from Yangon to Inle, but check out this site http://www.suitqaisdiaries.com/train-inle-lake-yangon/ – it seems the journey is 32 hours!

      I think when you arrive in Bagan, make sure you stay in Nyaung-U, which is the older and more cultural part of the town. There are lots of guesthouses there and it will give you an opportunity to revel in the markets and beside the river where all the local Burmese people earn their living.

      Maybe a slow boat down the Irrawaddy from Bagan to Mandalay? This is a great cultural experience! Oh, and I’m not too sure about elephants in Myanmar. I’m sure you can find them somewhere…but actually around Bagan you can use horse-drawn cart to explore the pagodas and temples – no need for elephants (this isn’t Cambodia) 😉

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  17. Hi Lee ! Had almost given up on the idea of visiting Myanmar owing to lack of adequate info. Thanks to you iam resuming my plan with renwed enthusiam. Got almost everything there to know. Just one more thing, could you suggest the cheapest mode if transport from Mandalay to Luang Prabang? Yes, iam travelling in to Laos. 🙂

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    1. Hi there. I think flying out of Mandalay to Bangkok is the best advice, and from Bangkok you can get the overnight train to Nong Khai (£26), then cross the border into Laos over the Friendship Bridge to Thanaleng Station (get your Lao visa here(, get a tuk tuk into Vientiane and then a VIP overnight sleeper bus from Vientiane to Luang Prabang for around 140,000 Kip (£12). 🙂

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  18. Hi ,
    I’ve found your blog really useful. I need your help. We are planning to arrive to
    Yangon and stay 2 days
    Then bus to Bagan overnight
    Bagan 2 days
    How can we go to Mandalay (place where we fly to Bangkok)?
    Is there something else that you’ll recommend, we planned 10 days but we don’t know what to include in our itinerary . Thanks a lot
    Gonzalo from Argentina.
    Ps. We plan to go by boat to luang pragan from Chiang Mai, suggestions?

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    1. Hi Gonzalo! 🙂 Thanks for reading my article! 🙂

      If you want to get from Bagan to Mandalay, you can take a bus, train, or boat down the Irrawaddy River. By Bus, it takes at least 6 hours, and there are departures from Bagan at 8am, 9am, 4pm, and 9.30pm (this one arrives 3.30am!). The journey should cost you around $15 per person. You will be arriving at Kwe Se Kan Bus Station in Mandalay, from where you will need a short taxi ride to downtown (6,000 Kyat).

      By train, there is one train per day from Bagan to Mandalay, and this leaves at 7am, arriving in Mandalay at 2.30pm approx. I am told this train journey is very bumpy and uncomfortable – but it only costs $13 per person in upper class.

      Fast boats down the Irrawaddy between Bagan and Mandalay can cost 25,000 Kyat per person (12 hours journey time minimum), but these are more advisable than the slow boats (which can take up to 2 days depending on the water level), which are rickety old vessels with 3-legged plastic chairs and insufficient toilets!

      I can’t help you much on the Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai route, but the slow boat between the two cities sounds like a romantic option! I believe it is a 2 days journey and you stopover for a night at Pak Beng.

      Enjoy your time in Myanmar! Please let me know how you got on! 🙂

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  19. A wonderful article. It is not rocket science, is it, but how often are you left with more questions than answers when reading articles? I commend you on thinking like a traveller (as you are one) and then thinking what is that other travellers would like to know. And then giving them that. You weigh up the options in such a way that a decision is easy. That decision might differ from person to person, of course. I, for one, when I visit Myanmar in November, will still prefer the majesty of the train.
    The train to Chiang Mai was fabulous.
    regards, Terry

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    1. Hi Terence, thanks for the kind comments! 🙂

      Good luck with visiting Myanmar in November. Train travel in Myanmar is generally good, it’s just the Bagan-Mandalay line that seems infamously bad. Where did you get to Chiang Mai from, btw?

      Now that land border crossings are open from Myanmar to Thailand, it seems that more and more people are taking advantage of this great country! 🙂

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  20. Hi again
    What would you recommend in terms of transportation
    Yangon /bagan/ ingle lake/ Mandalay
    Or
    Yangon/ingle lake/bagan/Mandalay?
    Thanks again

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    1. I don’t think there is any point going from Bagan to Inle Lake if you wanted to see Mandalay as well. Inle Lake is off the main train line in Myanmar – from both Yangon and Mandalay express trains run to a city called Thazi. From Thazi you need to get on another train to Inle Lake area (or a bus).

      How about Yangon-Inle Lake-Mandalay-Bagan-Yangon?

      I know you want to start and end at a city with an international airport, but it’s not really convenient if you want to include Inle Lake AND Bagan. For the record, Inle Lake-Bagan is an 8 hour bus trip throguh the Inle West Corridor that gets horrible reviews (although I’ve never done it myself)!

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  21. Hi Lee,
    By reading your post, I think it’s better traveling between Yangon and Bagan by bus, right? I’m thinking of visiting Myanmar in Sep-Oct, and I’m concerned about transportation. Are there scams like in Bangkok?

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    1. Typically, no, you won’t get scammed. But the bus journey is the best way to go from Yangon to Bagan. Train is ok, but it takes much longer. The overnight VIP Bus (preferably with Joyous Journeys) is the recommended option! I hope you have fun in Bagan! 😀

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      1. I’m a little excited over low cost flights these days, so I’m considering of many countries to go. It’s stuck in between Myanmar and Nepal. Do you have any idea about Nepal? 😀

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        1. Depends where you’re flying from, I guess. Nepal is also a wonderful country, but with Myanmar you get tropical beauty, whereas Nepal is in the cold Himalayas. 😛 Check out my posts on Nepal to get an idea of what to do there.

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  22. Hi Lee,
    Thank you for your blog, I enjoyed reading it and you provided many good tips for traveling in Myanmar. My husband and I ( in our mid-50’s) will be heading to Yangon (1st stop) on 1st week of April. We were thinking of taking a train from Yangon to Mandalay, that is we can get a private sleeper( otherwise we will bus). I saw the picture of the toilet you posted in the regular car. Is the private sleeper in better shape? My pet peeve is smelly toilet, but I guess it is not going to be any different in a public washroom by the bus rest stop. We are also interested to try the express ferry. I contacted the MGRG but was told they don’t operate in April. Do you know any ferry company? Our plan is to spend more time in Bagan and Inle Lake. We have not booked anything at this point, (other than our first night in Yangon), we will book when we secure our bus or train tickets. I appreciate your suggestions and tips.

    Josephine

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    1. Hi Josephine. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

      There is a “Special Sleeper” train that runs from Yangon to Mandalay, and I am told these sleeper cabins have their own private toilets (I.e not used by the rest of the train). These cabins are $25 per person, but the train takes 15 hours to get to Mandalay. Have you thought about using a bus? It is more reliable and takes less than half the time! I recommend Joyous Journeys VIP Bus for the Yangon-Mandalay route. Unfortunately, Joyous Journeys do not operate between Mandalay and Bagan.

      The ferries between Mandalay and Bagan run daily from October to April, with a limited service in dry season (May-October). I don’t know any tour operators that run in the dry season, but surely there must be something in April. Have you considered the train or bus on this route instead?

      Hope you have a great time in Bagan and Inle Lake (Inle is just over half way up the line from Yangon to Mandalay, so think about hopping off for Inle Lake as your second stop after Yangon). Let me know if you need any more help! 🙂

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      1. Hello Lee,
        Thank you for the valuable travel tips. Apparently no buses run from April 11 to April 19 due to the Water Festival. I was able to PM JJ Bus company, but their buses out of Inle Lake or Bagan are already fully booked as early as Apr 8. So we have no choice but to secure our seats : Yagon to Inle Lake from Apr 3, Inle Lake to Bagan Apr 6. We intended to spend at least 4 nights in each town but JJ buses are full :). We still have the returning journey from Bagan to Yangon. We hope we can find other VIP buses from Bagan or there are cancellations. We don’t wish to be stuck there. I have messaged other bus companies but only JJ responded promptly. Will keep you posted on how it turns out.

        Josephine

        Like

  23. Hi again,

    Great blog and tips. Does Joyuous Journey VIP night bus Yangon-Bagan reliable to reserve in advance via Internet? We arrive Yangon noon July 17 and want to take night bus to Bagan. We are traveling light, do we need warm clothes in bus? Thank you.

    Celine

    Like

    1. Hi Celine. Joyous Journeys do have a website, but you cannot book on there (in fact you can’t do anything on there as far as I can see!). Most people book the bus through their guesthouse or hostel when they arrive in Myanmar. Or at Yangon train station there are many bus ticket agencies that sell tickets for various buses to Bagan – just make sure you ask for Joyous Journeys.

      Regarding the climate in board the bus, well they give you complimentary blankets to keep you warm, although I would have a jumper/lightweight coat as you will arriving in Bagan at around 5.30am, so it may be quite chilly by Burmese standards! 😉

      Like

      1. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I guess we will have no choice but to buy bus tickets upon arriving at the airport. If JJ bus tickets are sold out, what are our other safe bus choices? Our priority is save driving, clean bathroom of course would be great.

        Cheers.

        Celine

        Like

        1. One of my favourite resources for Myanmar travel is Go-Myanmar.com. Here is the link for the Go-Myanmar bus travel section, and although I haven’t purchased tickets from them myself, it is clearly doable. 🙂 Follow the link on the page to book tickets, and follow the instructions. Go-Myanmar also have offices in downtown Yangon where you pick up the booked tickets if you wish.

          As far as I know there is only 1 night bus to Bagan, the rest of the buses are “ordinary” day buses.

          Like

          1. Hi, I am in touch with Go-Myanmar.com, thanks a lot. I just came across from TripAdvisor – Myanmar Bus ticket.com and their site looks good. Price difference is not an issue, wondering if you heard of them? Just want to stick with the most reliable company and better if small/local operator to support local businesses. I am so relieved to have these options to reserve our bus tickets. You have been most helpful.

            Like

            1. It’s great that you’re in touch with Go-Myanmar.com, I think they are very reliable. 🙂 Myanmar Bus Ticket.com is a site I have used before to plan a journey (and see what buses run on what routes) but I haven’t ever booked a journey with them yet.

              Like

  24. Hello there!

    I did Yangon-Inle-Bagan-Yangon within a period from 19-25 Dec 2015. 12 hours bus ride on JJ. It is an amazing bus ride. Comfortable, good entertainment on the go, refreshments and 1 restroom stop. I did the same ride from Inle to Bagan and from Bagan to Yangon. JJ buses are safe and reliable. Watching sunrise from Bagan temples left me mesmerized that until now, I can’t get over Bagan. Haha!
    Safe travels everyone!!

    Like

    1. Hi Shikin. Thanks for letting us know of your good journeys with Joyous Journeys. I agree, they are the best bus operator in Myanmar out there and I just wish they operated on more routes.

      Like

  25. Hello Lee. Thanks for your information. I will fly to Yangon this September from Penang, Malaysia. I will be there for 7 nights. So, I plan to visit to Bagan first. Later to Mandalay. And from Mandalay I want go to Inle lake and back to yangon. Is it possible I visit all this places within 7days and travel by bus? Thank you.

    Like

    1. Hello there. 🙂 7 days is pushing it a little, but it still can be done. I would recommend dropping Inle Lake, and this would give yourself an extra day in both Bagan and Mandalay.

      However, if you really want to try all 4 locations in a week, then I recommend 1 night in Yangon, 2 nights in Bagan, 2 nights in Mandalay, and 2 in Inle lake.

      Bus travel is fine between all these cities, although it may be wiser to get the train from Mandalay to the Inle Lake area.

      Like

  26. Hi great blog BTW. I was wondering if you think this is doable?

    October 31 Fly BKK – RGN
    November 1 Rangoon then overnight bus and train to Inle Lake
    November 2 Inle Lake
    November 3 Overnight bus to Bagan
    November 4 Arrive Bagan AM
    November 5 Bagan
    November 6 Bagan / Overnight Bus / train to Yangon
    November 7 Yangon
    November 8 Fly RGN – HKT (via DMK)

    Like

    1. Hi there, so that’s 1 night in each of Yangon, Bagan, and Inle? I think you should consider an extra night in Bagan or Inle, and consider flying in/out of Mandalay instead of Yangon to save you from doubling back on yourself. 👌🏻

      Like

      1. Hi
        Thanks for the quick reply! We already have our flights sorted unfortunately. I quite like checking out old colonial architecture so was wondering whether dropping Inle for more time in Yangon might have been the go. That way we only have to travel to Bagan and back.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi again Nick. I do think skipping Inle Lake for Yangon (or Mandalay) is a great idea if you want to check out cultural sights. It also makes the travelling easier, like you say. I really recommend more time in Bagan. Yangon can be done in 2 nights, but Bagan really deserves more time. It is a great place for temples and pagodas! 🙂

          Like

  27. Hi,

    I am going to Myanmar next September and considering taking the train from Bagan to Yangon. However, I am not sure about what the current price is for a sleeper, as I have seen some reports saying it was 40$-50$ and some others saying 16.000-18.000 kyat (which translates into 16-18$.

    Does anyone know what is the current fare?

    Thanks
    Diego

    Like

    1. Our family enjoyed our overnight bus with JJexpress. Seats are made for night travel where they recline more, clean & new busses, good driving. They provide blankets & snacks. $20/pp and provided free pickup and drop off. 9 hours total with one 30 mins stop. There’s a hostess in the bus to take care of us.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I made my most recent booking at Yangon Bus Station where there are counters for bus journeys to Bagan. JJ have a rep there. Unfortunately their website does not take online bookings (it is a pretty useless website actually).

          Like

  28. Hi Lee, is Inle Lake to Bagan more sensible to do than Bagan to Inle.
    I will be traveling to Myanmar 19 Nov onwards and plan to cover Yangon-Bagan-Inle-Mandalay and have approx 12 full days.
    Thanks for the helpful guide on Bagan which looks like such an uplifting place.
    Happy backpacking

    Like

        1. In that case, I would recommend dropping Inle Lake and just focus on Yangon-Bagan-Mandalay. Or do Yangon-Bagan-Inle-Mandalay, which is like a Z formation across Myanmar, but this would seem a little strange.

          Like

          1. If Yangon-Bagan-Inle-Mandalay is not the best flow, I can adjust accordingly but I would like to cover all 4 places as I have time from 19 Nov – 1 Dec (12 days) and also have to arrive Yangon and leave from Mandalay. So I am thinking Yangon (3 nights incl bus to Bagan); Bagan (3/4 nights), Inle (3 nights) & Mandalay (2 nights)…Yippee yea

            Like

  29. Hi Lee
    I’m planning my backpack itinerary next year to Yangon-Bagan-Mandalay-Inle Lake(optional)-Yangon for 6D5N by bus. Is Inle Lake worth going or should I go for Golden Rock, due to the tight duration I have? What will be the itinerary if I’m able to have 8D7N?

    Day 1 – Arrived 9am. Yangon. Taking night bus to Bagan
    Day 2 – Bagan
    Day 3 – Bagan. Taking bus to Mandalay (either night or afternoon bus)
    Day 4 – Mandalay
    Day 5 – Inle Lake/Yangon
    Day 6 – Depart 7pm from Yangon

    Thanks
    Andy

    Like

    1. Hi Andy. If I were you, I would drop Inle Lake and spend an extra day in Mandalay.

      If you plan the journey correctly, you could also arrive back in Yangon on day 6 (instead of day 5) just in time to get to the airport for flight out of Myanmar. An early morning bus from Mandalay to Yangon (or train) would be perfect for this.

      Otherwise, your itinerary seems pretty good – although 1 full day in Bagan is obviously not enough to see everything.

      Like

  30. What a great blog! We are planning to go to Yagon on the 26th of November. We only have 5 days to explore Yagon, Old Began and Mandaly. How long shall we stay in each place, any advise?
    Anyone going to Yagon at the same time?

    Like

    1. Our family just visited. Yangon half a day was more than we needed, the Shewdagon Pagoda. Then overnight bus with JJ VIP night bus to Bagan, very comfy to Bagan. LOVED Bagan best (loved it more than Angkor) and 3 full days was pretty good. Skipped the rest and took circular train in Yangon for sight & to airport.

      Like

      1. Thank you for your comment. Can I ask what did you do when you arrived in Bagan so early in the morning? Were you able to check in to the hotel earlier and was it easy to get a taxi? What did you do in 3 days in Bagan?

        Like

        1. The guesthouse we stayed in has free pick up 5.30am. Bagan is safe, serene & magical. We stayed in a very friendly guesthouse in old Bagan. Rented ‘ebikes’ from them, cheap $5/day and zipped everywhere on own. Visited every corner of historical Bagan, sunrise, sunset, night trips, in the rain, all day etc. JJ bus has free pick up from hotel on return trip and drop off in downtown Yangon. We skipped Mandalay since the idea of another big city (after Yangon) was a good decision.

          Like

          1. Hi Celine, it sounds like you had a great time with your family. I’m heading to Bagan next week (father-daughter bonding) and was wondering if you could let me know which guesthouse you stayed at that has free pick-up. Trying to find good accomodation there. Thank you!

            Like

    1. Hi Louis

      I think you should spend 2 nights in Yangon, and then get the overnight VIP bus to Bagan. Remember that there has been a devastating earthquake recently in Bagan, so some of the temples and pagodas may be off limits (but not many). When in Bagan, I really recommend as many days as you can afford, but at least 3 nights. Could you also fit in Mandalay to your travels?

      Like

  31. Looking for any advice on accommodation in Bagan and which part is best to stay in old or new? Are they relatively close to each other, I hear most people seem to hire bikes and go between the two.
    Also any suggestions of trekking a friend has recommended one she did from Kalaw to inle lake over 2 days.

    Like

    1. Hi Chris, my advice would be to stay in Old Bagan, as that is more the authentic part of the town. There are some great hotels on TripAdvisor to choose from, but even if you need a cheap hostel there are still plenty to choose from.

      Transportation between the areas and temples of Bagan is pretty easy, as you can hire a bike, walk, or even take a slow horse and cart ride! Biking is the best way though. It’s a great way to see the countryside and smell the Burmese air!

      Like

  32. Awesome post. I just booked a flight to Yangon for the end of the month and was thinking of how to do Bagan. Love the idea of going by train…but heard a few bad stories about the trains (and I assume they are worse than here in Thailand, which doesn’t bode well lol), so I’ll be bussing it. Anyway, great post!

    Like

  33. Hello !
    Thank you for this very helpful details !! I am going to Myanmar in a few days now and I can’t wait anymore !!
    I will spend 2 days in Yangoon and then I will go for a night bus to Bangan. I will let you know about the experience, for sure !
    Thanks again !

    Liked by 1 person

  34. This is an excellent blog and thanks for all the information in this blog. We are two girls backpacking from India and were so confused about heading from Yangon to Bagan only until we read your blog. I read in your blog about the earthquake devastation. Is the devastation so bad that the pagodas standing there do not hold as they used to? Is it then worth making a visit if visiting the pagoda the main item on the itinerary?

    Like

    1. Hi there, thanks for reading! 🙂 There was an earthquake a while ago that did damage some of the pagodas but there are hundreds of pagodas in Bagan, and most of the important ones were unaffected, so I would still recommend visiting Bagan. It is an amazing place, equal to Angkor in Cambodia! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi there, thanks a lot for the link and the information. I had a look at the link but it speaks about the balloon flight over Inle lake rather than Bagan. Would you by any chance how to go about booking the balloon ride over Bagan? Like contact person?

        Like

  35. Hi there, I’m so so glad I came across your blog just as I’m making plans for my trip to Myanmar.

    Can I check with you, if I only have 6 days to spend in Myanmar and I would like to spend more time at Bagan and Inle Lake, do you think this rough plan will work out, or is it way too rushed? If so, how can I rejig the flow to better the trip experience?

    day 1
    – arrive in yangon in the morn
    – spend the day checking out the city
    – catch the overnight bus at 6pm to Bagan

    day 2
    – arrive in Bagan at 4am (possible to catch a sunrise somewhere?)
    – check into accomodation (TBC)
    – begin pagoda visiting

    day 3
    – Visit old Bagan marketplaces
    – take the overnight bus to Nyaungshwe / Inle lake

    day 4
    – arrive at Nyaungshwe / Inle lake
    – take the boat ride to In Dein village to see the Kakku pagodas
    – stay overnight at Nyaungshwe

    day 5
    – spend the day around Nyaungshwe
    – catch overnight bus at 6pm

    day 6
    – arrive back in Yangon 7am
    – return flight to home

    Thanks in advance for your advice!

    Like

  36. Hi Lee, Thank you for your site. Most certainly helpful for beginner solo traveller.
    If I have 10 days, what is your suggestion of day’s breakdown for Mandalay – Bagan – Yangon ?

    Like

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