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From the stunning and spiritual city of Mandalay, your journey in Myanmar (Burma) would not be complete without a stay in the city of Bagan. You are assured the chance to embrace the culture fully in this traditional city, where UNESCO have recently begun work on restoring a few of the pagodas and monasteries. Bagan is also a city of great tranquility. Its hazy desert planes dotted with incredible buildings are almost otherworldly, while walks along the slow flowing river will let your mind be at peace.
The 146-kilometer (91 mile) trip from Mandalay to Bagan can be done in many ways. Travel options include by ferry, bus, car, and minivan. Each mode of transport has a few operators providing the service, so you can shop around for what suits you best in terms of price, comfort, and convenience.
An entrance fee is sometimes required when entering the region of Bagan at booths or by individual collectors, so it is recommended to have cash on you. The fee is not always well implemented and is possible to be avoided, but with some travel options you will be required to pay it.
From Mandalay to Bagan, the incredible religious architecture paired with the dramatic mountainous backdrop of both cities is almost otherworldly. As you explore Bagan you will experience the essence of this spiritually conscious culture.
Traveling from Mandalay to Bagan is a great chance to see some beautiful sights of this riverside region. Whether you are traveling by ferry or on the road, you will always be near the Irrawaddy River that winds lazily through the landscape. On the river you can spot fisherman, and the small fishing communities that rely so heavily on this water source. Surrounding the river and the roads, you will always be sure to spot the monasteries and pagodas that are such an iconic part of the manmade landscape.
The fastest option for traveling from Mandalay to Bagan is with the Standard car service operated by Ahh Hman. The journey takes approximately 3.5 hours.
A cheap option for traveling from Mandalay to Bagan is with the Economy bus by Moe Thout Tun with prices starting at $6.
The most popular option with Bookaway customers for travel from Mandalay to Bagan is with the Standard bus by Hello Express.
Ferry travel from Mandalay to Bagan is a slow and scenic river cruise which lets you relax and enjoy the views. Some ferry operators will also stop midway through the journey so you can hop off the boat for a tour or cultural activity. Ferry trips are a unique way to see the region and offer seats above and below deck as well as a free meal so you can sit and dine comfortably while watching the magnificent scenery go by.
Bus travel from Mandalay to Bagan is a cheap and comfortable option. Some bus operators provide little extras such as hotel pickups, free water, and blankets. If you don’t like being stuck on public transport for hours on end, buses take rest and toilet stops so you can stretch your legs, buy snacks and refresh yourself. You may also find that some buses stop to pick up additional passengers throughout the journey.
There are lots of minivan operators to choose from and are great for convenient hotel pickups and drop offs. Depending on the operator, minivans can take 8-14 passengers, making it a tempting option for large groups. If you aren’t traveling in a large group, you may find minivans stop for more passengers to fill up the seats, which can lead to a slower and more cramped journey. Most minivan journeys from Mandalay to Bagan take around 4 hours.
Car travel from Mandalay to Bagan is a good option for small groups of up to 3 people who want to ensure a private journey. You can choose your pickup and drop off destinations for any time you choose. Car travel is a quick option, with the journey taking 3.5 – 4 hours. You can request toilet and rest stops along the way.
There are approximately 30 departures per day from Mandalay to Bagan, as well as the option to choose your own departure time if traveling by car or minivan.
The best time to visit Mandalay is between November and February during the dry season when temperatures don’t get uncomfortably hot and rainfall is at a minimum.
Between November and February are the best times to visit Bagan. If you visit during a full moon, there is also a chance you can take part in a local festival that often occurs during this time.