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Mandalay to Kalaw

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Kalaw at a glance

High season

March - April
Place you can't miss
Shwe Oo Min Pagoda
Local currency
Good to know
Kalaw sits in the center of Myanmar, and is surrounded by hills. This is a great place to stop at on your way to Inle Lake. From Kalaw, you can join in on many trekking tours around the surrounding nature reserves. Within some of the hills sit caves with sparkling Buddhist temples inside of them. In general, Kalaw is mostly untouched by tourism and the locals welcome travellers warmly. In Kalaw live descendants of Burmese and Indian railway workers who built for British rule. In turn, there is a vibrantly diverse gastronomy in Shalaw. Support the locals by discovering new food and groceries at the local market.

Your questions, our answers

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What is the frequency of departures per day?
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What is the luggage policy?
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What is the most popular transportation service from Mandalay to Kalaw?
What is the fastest transportation service from Mandalay to Kalaw?
Who are the service providers on this route?

Top reviews

No transparency on itinerary
We had to wait four hours during the cold Kalaw evening because BookAway and JJ Express did not communicate the correct arrival/departure time for the Kalaw stop :(

About the journey from Mandalay to Kalaw

From the historically rich and mesmerizing city of Mandalay, a perfect next stop on your trip through Myanmar is to Kalaw. The town sits 151 kilometers (93 miles) south of Mandalay in the hills, surrounded by rolling fields of farmland. Kalaw, like Mandalay, has a striking appearance due to the pagodas that dot the town with gold. One pagoda worth visiting is the Shwe Oo Min Pagoda, a unique sight which has been built within a natural cave. Kalaw is also a great place for food, where you can try a diverse range of fresh produce plucked from the nearby lakes, farms, and fruit orchards. A trip to Kalaw would not be complete without taking the famous trek to Inle Lake where you can meet the Intha people who live in stilted villages right on the water.

Traveling from Mandalay to Kalaw can be done quite easily by bus or minivan. Both options are very affordable and allow for stops along the way. Minivan travel can be slightly quicker with the right operator, but not by a significant amount of time as buses take 6 hours while some minivan journeys take 5.5 hours. If you are traveling in a large group, minivans are a logical option, while bus travel might be better for individual travelers or smaller groups.

Arriving in Kalaw you will have the chance to explore the vibrant culture of Myanmar while allowing the small town atmosphere and natural surrounding landscapes to relax and refresh you.



What to see when traveling from Mandalay to Kalaw

From Mandalay, there are several possible roads that can take you south towards Kalaw. Departing from Mandalay you will no doubt pass by many striking pagodas of which there are so many, it doubtful you will have seen them all. The region of Mandalay is filled with rivers, and as you leave you may pass over the Myitnge River. Nestled in one of its bends is the Snake Pagoda, where you can hold some slithering reptiles.

As you get closer to Kalaw, the region will become hilly and greener with agricultural scenery. Not far from the town you may pass Green Hill Valley Elephant Camp, where previous worker elephants are now taken care of and allowed to roam in the jungle around this reputable retreat.



What is the fastest way to travel from Mandalay to Kalaw?

A fast way to get from Mandalay to Kalaw is with the Standard Minivan service operated by Shwe Inle which takes around 5.5 hours.



What is the cheapest way to travel from Mandalay to Kalaw?

The cheapest option for traveling from Mandalay to Kalaw is with the Tourist Bus operated by Elite Express. Ticket prices start at $9.



What is the most popular way to travel from Mandalay to Kalaw?

The most popular way to get from Mandalay to Kalaw is with the Tourist Bus by Elite Express. This is a very affordable option with lots of comforts and amenities but may pick up extra passengers en route. 



How to get from Mandalay to Kalaw

Taking a bus from Mandalay to Kalaw

Bus travel from Mandalay to Kalaw is a comfortable and cheap journey. There are VIP and Tourist Bus options on this route, both of which are well-equipped with reclining seats, blankets, snacks, drinks, charging ports and sometimes TV’s. You can really relax and enjoy the journey when traveling by bus, just make sure to bring a warm set of clothes and some earplugs or headphones, as the air conditioning and radio can often both be cranked up high. Along the way, the bus will make stops for the bathroom and to stretch your legs, as well as sometimes to pick up more passengers. When you arrive in Kalaw, you will be dropped off at an easily accessible and central location in the town.



Bus stations that take you from Mandalay to Kalaw:

Departing from:

  • Chan Mya Shwe Pyi Highway Station



Arriving at:

  • Kalaw Bus Station - Shwe Danu Agent Gate
  • Thu Maung Myanmar Restaurant



Taking a minivan from Mandalay to Kalaw

Minivan travel from Mandalay to Kalaw has just a few operators to choose from, with some providing large vehicles for up to 16 people. This is the perfect option for big groups, as minivans can be cramped when full and so it is better to be sharing with friends. Minivans have good luggage allowance and make stops along the journey. Unfortunately, minivans are not much faster than buses, as they take around 5.5 – 6 hours to get from Mandalay to Kalaw. While minivans do not do accommodation drop offs on this route, it is possible to get free hotel pickup in Mandalay with OK Express.



Minivan stops that take you from Mandalay to Kalaw:

Departing from:

  • OK Express Bus Stop
  • Chan Mya Shwe Pyi Highway Station



Arriving at:

  • Kalaw Bus Station - Shwe Danu Agent Gate
  • Shwe Nan San Bus Terminal



Which operators can I book with for a ride from Mandalay to Kalaw?

Bus operators from Mandalay to Kalaw:

  • JJ Express
  • Elite Express



Minivan operators from Mandalay to Kalaw 

  • OK Express
  • Shwe Inle



How many departures are there from Mandalay to Kalaw each day?

There are approximately 6 departures per day from Mandalay to Kalaw.



What is the best time of year to visit Mandalay?

The best time to visit Mandalay is between November and February during the dry season when the heat is unlikely to get uncomfortable and the chance of rainfall is low.


What is the best time of year to visit Kalaw?

The best time of year to visit Kalaw is between December and February when the weather is at its coolest and driest. The high season in Kalaw is between March and April but shouldn’t be too busy with tourists even at this time.