Want to know how to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake? 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 Inle Lake
Surrounded by high hills, Inle Lake is a travellers highlight for its floating villages and towns inhabited by the indigenous Intha people. Inhabited by almost 70,000 people of the Intha ethnic group who subsist primarily from its waters at its’ 22-kilometre-long lake.
The lake hosts several floating markets, a monastery, handicraft workshops, and the famous Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda visited by Buddhist celebrants from across the country.
2 ways to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake
There are two ways to travel the distance of 260 km (162 miles) from Mandalay to Inle Lake: by bus (6 hours) and flight (30 minutes). The journey takes between 30m - 6h and the quickest way is by flight. The lowest priced tickets start from $12 for the bus.
It takes at least 6 hours to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake and the bus costs between $11 and $14, depending on the bus company and the type of bus.
OK Express (minivan)
Departs from OK Express Bus Stop between 86th & 87th Street, Mandalay
Hotel pickup is available
Arrives at Famous Express located about 10 kilometers from Inle Lake
OK Express provides a 16-seater minivan for the Mandalay to Inle Lake route.
JJ Express (VIP bus)
Departs from Chan Mya Shwe Pyi Highway Station just 5 kilometers from the centre of Mandalay
Arrives at Odyssey JJ Express located about 10 kilometers from Inle Lake
This is a VIP (2+1 Seat Layout) Bus service suitable for travellers who desire a comfortable ride from Mandalay to Inle Lake.
Important to note that all international tourists are required to pay $10 Inle Zone fee.
Mandalay to Inle Lake by Flight
Duration: 30 minutes
Starts from: $55
Duration: 30 minutes
The fastest option to travel from Mandalay to Inle Lake is by taking a flight from Mandalay International Airport to Heho Airport, the closest airport to Inle Lake. Travel time is only 30 minutes and one-way ticket starts at $55.
Mandalay International Airport is located 40 kilometers south of the city centre. To get to the airport, you can take a taxi for around $10.
Golden Myanmar Airlines, Mann Yadanarpon Airlines, Air KBZ, and Myanmar Airways International operate up to 5 Mandalay-Heho flights daily with convenient departure times. The first flight leaves at 8:40 am and the last one departs at 10:20 pm.
Heho Airport is about 40 kilometers from Nyaung Shwe, the main town in the Inle Lake area. From the airport, you can take a taxi to Inle Lake for around $20.
Instead of taking a taxi at the airport, you can also book a private transfer from Klook for $21. When you book online, your driver will be waiting for you at the airport with your name on the sign.
Inle Cottage Boutique Hotel is located in Nyaung Shwe, 15 km from Inle Lake. The hotel is super helpful and will organise a tour of Inle Lake for you. The hotel feels traditional and modern at the same time, offering a very comfortable stay.
The rooms are individual bungalows with a private balcony surrounded by lush greenery. There’s also an onsite bar and restaurant where you can enjoy your delicious complimentary breakfast every morning.
Staying at Innthar Lodge will be an unforgettable and unique experience. Have you ever slept in a stilted house above water? Here you’ll find simple but comfortable bungalows with nothing but water underneath you. It’s unbelievably calming.
The family who runs the lodge take your stay to another level, cooking you some of the best food you’ll taste in Myanmar and taking you on tours of the lake. This is a truly local experience.
If you want to experience ultimate luxury during your trip to Inle Lake, Novotel is the place to stay! Set right on the lake, you can enjoy lake views from the swimming pool or your private balcony.
The spacious suites and villas boast a contemporary style with a touch of traditional Myanmar. And wait until you see the size of the bathtubs! You have everything you need at the hotel. There’s a delicious onsite restaurant, bar, fitness centre and spa.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mandalay to Inle Lake
What is the distance from Mandalay to Inle Lake?
The distance from Mandalay to Inle Lake is 260 km (162 miles).
What is the fastest way to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake?
The fastest way to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake is by flight and takes 30 minutes.
What is the cheapest way to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake?
The cheapest way to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake is by bus with ticket costs starting from $12.
Rounding it up
We hope this guide was helpful in planning how to get from Mandalay to Inle Lake. 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.