Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar, is a relatively new city in historical terms. The vehicle clogged streets and haphazard architecture are a testament to this fact.
Bagan, on the other hand, has much more ancient roots. A UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the Mandalay region of Myanmar, it is the site of the Bagan Archeological Zone. It has a vast area containing the largest concentration of Buddhist temples and pagodas in the world. The 26-square mile area has over thousands of temples that were built during the Pagan Kingdom beginning in the 9th century.
To travel the 180km journey from Mandalay to Bagan, you have 3 options: by bus, train, or flight. The bus ($10) journey takes about 4 hours, while a train ($8) takes roughly 8 hours. The fastest option is by flight ($62), which takes only about 30 minutes.
Mandalay to Bagan by Bus
Duration: 4 hours Cost: $10
At present, there are 2 bus companies operating from Mandalay to Bagan. See the schedules below:
If you are not pressed for time, you can take the train from Mandalay to Bagan for 8 hours. It is cheap and comfortable with spacious carriages if travelling upper class. Tickets starting at around $8.
However, note that only 1 train per day connects Mandalay Central Railway Station to Bagan and it departs at 9 in the evening. Arrival is at 5 am at Bagan Railway Station in Nyaung-U.
See the schedule below:
Myanmar Railways (train #120)
$8 $13* *sleeper
Make sure to book your tickets early, as Myanmar Railways requires booking in advance for upper-class seats.
At the railway station, there are private taxis that will take you to Bagan town center for about $8. If you want to save money, shared taxis are also available for $1. Another option is to walk 150 meters to the highway and flag down a car for slightly cheaper than a private taxi, usually about $3.
The fastest and most convenient option to travel from Mandalay to Bagan is by taking a flight from Mandalay Airport to Bagan Nyaung-U Airport. Travel time between these 2 cities is only 30 minutes, and a one-way ticket starts at around $62.
Mandalay International Airport is located 40 kilometers south of the city center. A taxi to the airport should set you back $10.
Air KBZ, Myanmar Airways International, Mann Yadanarpon Airlines, Hahn Air, and Myanmar National Airlines operate up to 5 Mandalay-Bagan flights daily with convenient departure times. The first flight takes off at 7:00 and the last one departs at 18:20.
From Bagan Airport, you can take a taxi to the city center for approximately $5. To get to the city hassle-free, Klook offers private transfers from Nyang-U Airport to Bagan city in a comfortable airconditioned vehicle.
Ideally situated in central Bagan, Shwe Nadi Guest House is within walking distance to the Nyaung U Market and plenty of restaurants and shops. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, airport transfers, room service and free WiFi throughout the property. The Guesthouse also offers e-bike rentals.
Ostello Bello Bagan is set in an ideal location, within walking distance of many restaurants, sights, and amenities. The on-site bar is great for having a cold drink and relaxing. The on-site restaurant is open early and serves both local and Western dishes. Snacks, coffee, tea, and water can also be found at the shared lounge throughout the day.
The Bagan Wynn Hotel is set in a quiet, peaceful location not too far from the sights. The hotel offers a restaurant, free private parking, a bar, an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center. The property provides a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests.