Want to know how to get from Inle Lake to Mandalay? In this post, we’ll share a summary of the two ways to get there and compare each option on duration, costs and level of comfort. For each option, we go into more detail to help you decide which transport provider to book with and where to buy your tickets.
What to expect when visiting Mandalay
Mandalay is Myanmar’s second-largest city and last royal capital. Founded by King Mindom in 1857, the city is known for its unique architecture and white pagodas. Interesting fact: More than half of the country’s monks live in Mandalay and surrounding areas!
It’s a must to visit the Hsinbyume Pagoda, the U-Bein Bridge, the Kuthodaw Pagoda, the Mandalay Palace, and the Zay Cho Market. Head up to Mandalay Hill — a pilgrimage site famous for its panoramic viewpoints — for the best views of Mandalay.
2 ways to get from Inle Lake to Mandalay
There are two ways to travel the distance of 320 km (199 miles) from Inle Lake to Mandalay: by bus (6-9 hours) and flight (35 minutes). The journey takes between 35m - 9h and the quickest way is by flight. The lowest priced tickets start from $11 for the bus.
Travel time and ticket cost depends on the bus company and the type of bus. The cheapest ticket you can get is from OK Express company which costs $11. The journey from Inle Lake to Mandalay should take about 9 hours.
If you go with JJ Express, a reputable bus company, you take a VIP bus for $12. It is merely a $1 difference from OK Express but travel time only takes 6 hours.
Departs from Famous Express located about 10 kilometers from Inle Lake
Hotel pickup is available
Arrives at OK Express Bus Stop between 86th & 87th Street, Mandalay
JJ Express (VIP bus)
Departs from Odyssey JJ Express located about 10 kilometers from Inle Lake
Arrives at Chan Mya Shwe Pyi Highway Station just 5 kilometers from the centre of Mandalay
Inle Lake to Mandalay by Flight
Duration: 35 minutes
Starts from: $48
Duration: 35 minutes
The fastest option to travel from Inle Lake to Mandalay is by taking a quick 35-minute flight from Heho Airport, the closest airport to Inle Lake, to Mandalay International Airport.
To reach Heho airport, you can take a taxi from Nyaungshwe (main town in the Inle Lake area) for $20.
Myanmar National Airlines, Mann Yadanarpon Airlines, Air KBZ, and Myanmar Airways International operate up to 5 direct Heho-Mandalay flights daily with decent departure times. A one-way ticket starts at $48.
When you land at Mandalay airport, you can take a bus to the city centre for $4. Otherwise, taxis are also available for $10.
Set 500 m from The Mandalay Palace, Ostello Bello Mandalay is in a great location and also the perfect place to meet other travellers. With its rooftop, bar and restaurant fellow guests gather together after a day of exploring. Grab one of the hotel’s board games and have a fun games night!
The hostel has both dorm rooms and spacious private rooms available. And whatever you need, the staff are more than willing to help.
If you fancy more of a hotel than a hostel but are still on a budget, check out 79 Living. It’s set in a perfect location, only a 5-minute walk from Mandalay Palace.
The rooms boast a simple and traditional Myanmar design. The star of the hotel has to be the rooftop restaurant that offers incredible city views. The restaurant serves European, Thai and Chinese cuisines, plus a free breakfast every morning.
Frequently Asked Questions about Inle Lake to Mandalay
What is the distance from Inle Lake to Mandalay?
The distance from Inle Lake to Mandalay is 320 km (199 miles).
What is the fastest way to get from Inle Lake to Mandalay?
The fastest way to get from Inle Lake to Mandalay is by flight and takes 35 minutes.
What is the cheapest way to get from Inle Lake to Mandalay?
The cheapest way to get from Inle Lake to Mandalay is by bus with ticket costs starting from $11.
Rounding it up
We hope this guide was helpful in planning how to get from Inle Lake to Mandalay. If there's anything else you're wondering about, drop us a comment and we'll do our best to answer you within a few days.
PS: If you've recently travelled this route, share your experience with fellow travellers and help us improve this post. Thanks for helping out our travel community!
Ela is a storyteller, content producer, solo traveller and a mermaid-in-training. When she’s not in front of her laptop, you will find her barefoot and living her best tan on some island in the Philippines… Or exploring the depths of its seas as a budding freediver. An island girl at heart, she’ll be happy anywhere there is sea, sand, sun and coffee.
Based in Bali, Maarten’s passion for travel is undeniable. In 2016, he decided to quit his job as a stock analyst and started doing what he always dreamed of: travelling through South East Asia and helping other people plan their trips. When he is not working on Gecko Routes, you’ll find him surfing in the ocean or exploring the best gems of Indonesia.