Travelling from Yangon to Bagan, or Mandalay to Bagan

Nine balloons flying over Bagan Myanmar with trees and pagodos in view | Buy My Morning

Travelling from Yangon To Bagan or Mandalay to Bagan

Chances are by now you have heard about an incredible region in Myanmar (Burma) called Bagan. Bagan is home to literally thousands of pagodas & temples built over the past two centuries.

Bagan is an incredible and unique landscape, shaped by nature and religion and something you would not want to miss when visiting Myanmar, or a trip to Asia!

Bagan is accessible from both Yangon, the capital city, and Mandalay the second largest city located more towards the middle of the country. 

Quick Links:
From Yangon or Mandalay to Bagan, which is best?
Transport services from Yangon to Bagan
Transport services from Mandalay to Bagan
Bagan bus station, or Bagan train station, to your hotel
Where To Stay In Bagan – Accommodation Tips

From Yangon or Mandalay to Bagan, which is best?

We recommend you look at which option works best for you trip, ideally, you want to avoid return trips (to save money and time) and with both Yangon and Mandalay having international airports you may have some flexibility with this.

Personally speaking, we started our trip in Myanmar from Yangon and travelled up to Bagan, then ended our trip flying out of Mandalay. If you can get a flight into Mandalay, then there’s nothing stopping you doing the reverse.

Transport services from Yangon to Bagan

You have the option of bus or train transport to Bagan from Yangon, but have a proper read of these options and see which works best on your trip.

We personally recommend booking through 12go.asia, whilst you can try to book through hotels and local travel agents be careful about the amount of commission you will pay. Make sure you read the purchasing conditions, some tickets need to be collected before you travel (and this is not always from the departure stations themselves).

By Bus from Yangon

From Yangon, the bus station is outside the main city cente and you’ll need a taxi to get you to the right station.

The journey itself by bus will take around 11 hours, but you have a selection of companies to choose from, with most including comfortable facilities and seats that recline.

We opted to catch the overnight bus using the Bagan Prince (also known as Bagan min thar express), this VIP bus leaves at approx. 09:00 pm (21:00) and rolls into the Bagan bus station at about 05:00 am. Expect to pay around $12 USD for a ticket.

By Train from Yangon

The journey time from Yangon is around 17 hours 30 mins and it’s not a direct train, departure times are in the early afternoon to get you into Bagan the next morning. Take a search on the reviews from trip advisor (and other review sites) before you select this option.

Bus and Train services from Mandalay to Bagan

Departing from Mandalay you have two options to make your way down to Bagan, taking the bus or train services. 

By Bus from Mandalay

The bus station is again outside the main city center, but if you opt to go with either, JJ express or OK! services, they may offer a collection / pick up service in selected locations. 

The journey time from Mandalay to Bagan on the bus is around 6 hours, but it will take sometime to get through traffic in and around Mandalay city so it could be longer. Expect to pay around $12 USD for a ticket.

By Train from Mandalay

If you’d rather travel overnight, then the sleeper train from Mandalay to Bagan maybe the best option for you. Giving you the option of seats or sleeper cabins, you will depart Mandalay at around 09:00pm (21:00) and be in Bagan approx. 8 hours later, arriving at 05:00 am. Expect to pay $8-10 USD for a ticket depending on the option you select.

Bagan Bus Station or Bagan Train Station to Your Hotel

Bagan bus and train stations are unlikely to be anywhere near your hotel, requiring you to get transport from the stations to your hotel. The two stations are very close to one another on the very edge of the area. 

The options you have:

Walk – If you have the energy after the long journey, you could consider walking, but you need to be careful on the unlit roads and we wouldn’t recommend doing this alone!

Taxi – Negotiating on the price is important, you will find opportunist taxi drivers across the world and Bagan is no different. Some will also offer a sunrise tour with a stop off to get the best views of the balloons with a pagoda backdrop, if you are happy to take them up on this offer, remember to negotiate on the price and trip duration.

Motorbike pickup – Request that your hotel sends someone to meet you and motor you back to the room.

View from a remote pagoda looking out across Bagan | Buy My Morning

Where To Stay In Bagan – Accommodation Tips

– Luxury – Aureum Palace Hotel & Resort Bagan – If you are looking for luxury, a pool and an awesome view out to the pagodas then this is the hotel for you.

– Mid – Hotel Temple View Bagan – We stayed at this hotel and were pleased with the quality & cleanliness of the room, plus the location is very good. They should also accommodate for an early check in if you book in advance (make sure you contact them, it’s not guaranteed).

– Budget – Maya Bagan – Not only is the Maya Bagan in a great location, it includes breakfast and has great reviews … all for a lower price!

If you’re turning up at 05:00 am, it could be hours before you are given access to your hotel room. Either you need to book the night you travel so you can stroll in after 05:00 am and get checked in to go straight to bed, or you will need to wait to the earliest check-in time, typically 02:00 pm (14:00).

We’ve found that if you shop around for a hotel, you will find that if you ask enough in advance they are willing to accommodate an 11:00 am check-in. You may really benefit from a free cancellation booking to achieve this and not leave you further out of pocket with unnecessary expenses.