Yangon to Bagan
In Myanmar we took the bus from Yangon to Bagan costing 15,000 MMK ($15 CAD) but there are plenty of companies offering these prices. We had to take a taxi to the bus station which took abut 1.5 hours leaving from nearby the Shwedagon Pagoda. The cost of this taxi was about 8,000 MMK ($8 CAD). Arriving at the Aung Mingalar Bus Station was a little hectic as there are so many buses and bus companies that are spread out over about one kilometer. Fortunately for us, our taxi driver knew just the place we needed to go. In fact, everyone is friendly and willing to help you out if you look lost or confused just show someone your ticket and they will direct you. Also, not every bus leaves from the same bus station so make sure to check your ticket to know which bus station you’re going to as there are bus stations for those heading south, north, etc.
At the bus station there are a few vendors selling fruits, chips, and other snacks so if you arrive early you can always stop there and gather a few things before heading out on the bus. There are also little waiting rooms with seats and a tv playing some sort of show or music videos. The bus station has toilets with sinks at every waiting room, as well as a place for you to wash your hands.
On the Bus
We took the overnight bus from Yangon to Bagan leaving at about 7:30 p.m. so once everyone was loaded on the bus they handed out water, a wash cloth and a little cake snack all for free. The bus also stopped at a little market for 30 mins at about 11 p.m. where everyone was handed a tooth brush and tooth paste and was able to leave the bus. We left our stuff on the bus as the driver locks the door, so don’t worry too much. The bus was modern and equipped with air conditioning, comfortable seats, and tvs.
Arriving in Bagan
We arrived at about 5 a.m. and upon exiting the bus there will be a hound of taxi drivers waiting to pounce on you. Our advice, there is a big red sign in the middle of the parking lot that will tell the average price for a taxi ride to areas in the city. If you are staying outside of those areas, as we were, I would try and arrange a pick up with your hotel or guesthouse prior to your arrival. If not, ask the hotel how much it should cost and start haggling as the taxi drivers will try for double the usual price (we met a few people that had this happen to them). Also, the taxi drivers will also offer to take you to the popular Shwesandaw Pagodafor sunrise at an additional cost of 15,000 MMK ($15 CAD). Don’t bother, you’ll have plenty of time to do this during your stay and to rent an electric bike will only cost you 8,000 MMK ($8 CAD) for the day and allow you to see much more
Side note: The taxi drivers at the bus station were the only ones that had tried to rip us off, driving from the airport in Yangon and numerous times around Yangon they were completely honest with the price (we checked with our hostel every time and it was the same).
Bagan to Mandalay International Airport
This trip was much the same as the one from Yangon, the bus was easy going with a water and a stop along the way. However, if you’re going to the airport and planning to fly out the same day, you should let your bus driver know. Ours asked where we were going and dropped us off on the highway (approx. 6.5 km from the airport) but still closer than the 35km from Mandalay. As we got off he told us to take the motorbike taxis that were on the side of the road sitting under the tree. In an interesting turn of events we had all of our bags on the back of these motorbikes and flying down the road, but then one tire popped. A police man pulled over and was prepared to put both of us on the back of his scooter the rest of the way with all of our bags. Thankfully a friend of his pulled over with his van and offered to take us the remainder of the way at no cost. We were forced to give the two taxi boys 6,000 MMK ($6 CAD) even though they only made it 1 km. This just shows how willing the people in Myanmar are willing to help tourists.
On a side note, we had read that the total journey from Bagan to Mandalay would take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours, additional time for expected haggling at the Mandalay bus station and about an hour ride to the airport. Therefore, we booked our ticket for the 7 a.m. bus from Bagan, but after all said and done we arrived at the airport at 10:50 a.m. and far ahead of schedule for our 6:10 p.m. flight to Bangkok.