Yangon is a great base for exploring the country. It hosts an ancient city home to several colonial-era buildings, Hindu temples, and historical sites.
Mandalay, on the other hand, is a newer metropolis. Founded by King Mindom in 1857, Mandalay is Myanmar’s second major commercial hub. Places of interest include Bogyoke Aung San Market, Shwedagon Pagoda, and Mandalay Hill, a pilgrimage site famous for its panoramic views.
There are 3 ways to travel the 630km journey from Yangon to Mandalay: bus, train, or flight. The cheapest is by bus ($9), lasting 8.5 hours. If you take the train ($18), the trip lasts 16 hours 30 minutes. Flying is more expensive ($90), but only takes 1 hour 25 minutes.
There are several bus companies operating from Yangon to Mandalay. Standard buses are usually cramped with limited leg space, although several VIP/Elite buses with 3 seats per row also serve the route and are recommended when travelling by bus.
Travel time usually takes between 8-10 hours, with departures as early as 09:00 and as late as 22:30.
Buses all depart from Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station about 15 kilometers from Yangon Downtown. To get to the bus station, you can take Local Bus Line 36 for $0.10 or a taxi for roughly $7.
Buses all arrive in Chan Mya Shwe Pyi Highway Station (also known as Highway Bus Station) located about 4 kilometers from central Mandalay.
A taxi ride to the town center of Mandalay costs about $4. If you are looking for an even cheaper option, you can take a motorbike taxi for as little as $2. Alternatively, you can walk out of the bus station for several meters and hitch a ride in the back of one of the pick-ups that goes to town. Fare is normally only $0.30 per person.
See the schedule of the most popular buses for the Yangon to Mandalay route below:
Upper-class seats cost roughly $18, while upper-class sleeping carriages cost around $24. Considering, the long journey, we recommend to book a sleeper berth in train #3.
All trains depart from Yangon Central Railway Station located in Kun Chan Rd in Downtown Yangon. Arrival is at Mandalay Central Railway Station located at 78th St, Downtown Mandalay.
To be fair, the journey is not very scenic, but it will give you insights into daily life in Myanmar. You can witness foraging buffalos, buy snacks and trinkets from vendors peddling their wares at each station, and catch glimpses of local children excitedly waving to the passing carriages.
Yangon to Mandalay by Flight
Duration: 1 hour 25 minutes Cost: $90
The fastest way to travel from Yangon to Mandalay is by taking a 1 hour and 25-minute flight from Yangon International Airport to Mandalay International Airport.
A handful of airline companies serve this air route including Golden Myanmar Airlines, Myanmar National Airlines, and Air KBZ. These airlines operate up to 10 flights daily. A one-way ticket starts at around $90.
To get to Yangon International Airport from the city, there are several YBS airport shuttle buses that run from the airport to the center of Yangon. These air-conditioned buses run 24/7 and you can hop on the bus for only $0.30.
See here a list of the 16 designated bus stops:
Yangon International Airport
8 Miles Junction
Kabar Aye Pagoda
Hnin Si Gone
Shwe Gone Dine
Yangon Railway Station
Alternatively, you can take a taxi to the airport, but beware that some drivers may charge exorbitant rates.
When you land at Mandalay International Airport, you can take a bus parked near the exit gate for $4 to the city center. Another option is to flag down a taxi with a fixed rate of $10, available outside of the baggage claim area.
Royal Yadanarbon Hotel is located centrally within walking distance of restaurants, bars, shops, and sights. Free WiFi access is available throughout the hotel. Other facilities offered at the property include a tour desk, bicycle rental, and luggage storage. The property offers free parking.
Set 500 m from The Mandalay Palace, the Ostello Bello Mandalay features a bar and restaurant. Guests can enjoy the music and great views from the rooftop lounge. Free WiFi is offered throughout the property. The location is excellent and the staff is extremely friendly.
Featuring an outdoor swimming pool and terrace, the Thiri Thitsar Hotel is a great choice for travelers. The hotel offers an on-site restaurant, 24-hour front desk, room service, and free WiFi. The property provides a concierge service, ticket service and luggage storage for guests.