How to travel to Bagan

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If you are having a traveling plan to Myanmar, Bagan ancient city will be the "must to go" destination. Not only famous for many unique architectures in temples and pagodas, but also Bagan has the mysterious and solemn appearances with many exciting surprises that waiting for you come to explore.

By Plane

Flights arrive at Nyaung Oo Airport, 3km south east of Nyaung Oo town center.

Nyaung Oo Airport

You can fly to Bagan from Yangon on Asian Wings, Air KBZ, Golden Myanmar Airlines, Mann Yadanarpon Airlines and Myanmar National Airlines with tickets starting at US$118. Air KBZ and Myanmar National Airlines both offer instant online booking.

Asian Wings, Golden Myanmar, Mann Yadanarpon and Myanmar National Airlines also fly from Mandalay. From the airport to Nyaung Oo, a taxi ride will take 10 minutes and cost K7.000. Old Bagan and New Bagan (20 minutes) will cost around K10.000.Some midrange and luxury hotels will provide free pickup from the airport.

By train

Overnight trains run daily from Yangon, departing at about 4:00 pm and arriving in Bagan at about 10:00 am in the following day. The trains are somewhat old and the ride can be rocky, but that is part of the experience of travelling in a developing country. The train includes a restaurant cart that serves food and beer. In winter you may want to bring an extra blanket.

There is a direct train service running from Mandalay to Bagan with two departures daily. Tickets are available directly at the railway station and cost about US$6 one way. The journey takes about seven hours.

Train

Most train routes in Myanmar are fairly nice, however when going on the Mandalay-Bagan route expect the train to be incredibly crowded. You will also have limited room to store your stuff, as well as cramped uncomfortable sitting conditions. The night train to Bagan has lots of room and feet space in the 1st class carriage US$10. Since April 2014, foreigners pay the fare in kyat at local price.

By bus

Buses now arrive at the new bus station located 7km from Nyaung-U center. Transfer cost should be 1,500 - 2,000 kyats by local shared taxi, though once you get off the bus, drivers will mob you and quote ridiculous prices.

There are many bus options to choose from. As of March 2015, there are 4 daily minibuses, and 2 daily coaches.

The highway from Yangon is modern, but the bus ride is made significantly less enjoyable by the very loud Burmese music and TV shows that play until midnight. The buses departing from Yangon at 6pm or 7pm also arrive in Bagan at a rather bizarre time in the morning (between 3am and 5am). The trip is 15.000 kyat with regular bus. VIP buses (JJ Express or Bagan Minn Thar Express) leaves Yangon at 8pm (9 hours, 18.500 kyat including snack and drinks). Be sure to book more than 24 hours in advance because tickets typically sold out quickly.

Bus

There is one bus a day from Inle Lake to Bagan leaving the junction at 7am. From Yangon to Inle Lake there is an overnight bus costing 15.000 kyats (including pickup at hotel).

By boat

A daily express ferry service leaving at 7 a.m. runs down the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) from Mandalay to Bagan taking 8-9 hours. One-way ticket is US$40 + US$5 commission. Price includes a boxed breakfast, coffee, and lunchtime stir fry. Arrival times vary from 3 p.m - 5 p.m. Water (500 kyat) and beer (3.000 kyat) is available onboard. The ferry can be booked by most hotel front desks.

Express boat on Irrawaddy River.

A slow ferry covers the same route frequently. It costs US$10 and takes from 14 to 17 hours. Plastic chairs are available to rent on board; otherwise, bring something to sit on. Be aware, especially during dry season, that it's relatively common to get stuck on sandbars. If this happens, the trip may take two days.

The ferry services from Mandalay to Bagan will be shut down, except for the slow ferry (available only on certain days in the week), during the months of April, May and June when the water level in the river is low. Please check with local travel agents while planning the trip.

Thuy Linh

Image sources: Internet

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