Yangon to Mandalay; Flights, Bus and Train Info!
Myanmar was the 45th country I visited on my journey to every country in the world, and it is truly an awesome country to backpack around. Unfortunately, thanks to the fear-mongering by Western Media sources, the country isn’t as much of a tourist hotspot as it should be, and often you can have the country practically to yourself. It can be tricky to book flights from Yangon to Mandalay, but it is possible. As far as a ‘tourist-trail’ goes, there are four places you’ll definitely want to visit during your travels in Myanmar – Yangon (the countries biggest city), Mandalay (one of the former Capitals), Bagan (home to a temple complex which rivals Angkor Wat) and Lake Inle (serenity in its truest form). But to get around, you will need to know how to get from Yangon to Mandalay for your first stop!
How to Get From Yangon to Mandalay; Bus, Train or Flight
You’ll be arriving in Myanmar by air, probably to Yangon. Once in Yangon, people split up and go in one of 3 directions. Yangon to Bagan, Yangon to Lake Inle, or Yangon to Mandalay. On my first trip, I took the train from Yangon to Mandalay and it was great fun. The second time, I flew from Yangon to Lake Inle, much more efficient, but no adventure! Anyway, if like on my first trip, you’re heading north Mandalay from Yangon, there are a few options here:
BUS to Mandalay from Yangon:
- PRICE: $17 USD for an Air-Conditioned bus and $12 for non-Air-Con. The trip is scheduled to last around 10 hours but will take closer to 12 hours almost every single time.
- TIMETABLE: Buses leave Yangon 2 times daily. Around 7 am in the morning and around 6pm in the evening for the night bus.
- THE EXPERIENCE: The buses aren’t completely awful but the roads are! It’s a rickety journey, the buses don’t have any toilets but they do stop 4 times per trip. It’s faster than the train and the night bus can save you a nights accommodation fee if you’re pinching the pennies.
- BOOKING THE BUS FROM YANGON TO MANDALAY: The best way is to reserve your ticket online in advance here, or you can make the journey to the bus station yourself in Yangon.
TRAIN to Mandalay from Yangon:
- PRICE: $30/$35 USD, scheduled for 14 hours but will take closer to 16 hours.
- TIMETABLE: There are 4 trains a day: 5.00 (express), 5.30, 6.00 and 12.15 pm. The 12.15 offers a sleeper, air-con option for $35/$40 and if the train is as late as normal, you’ll be arriving in Mandalay just in time for breakfast. You are stuck with a bed for the entirety of the trip though.
- BOOKING THE TRAIN FROM YANGON TO MANDALAY: Head to the station downtown a couple of days in advance and buy your ticket.
- THE EXPERIENCE: True, it’s overpriced AND 100% of proceeds go to the Government coffers, which isn’t great either. It’s also slower than the other options and the train is pretty run down. All that being said, it’s still my favourite way to go. The carriages are spacious, the seats recline a lot and although it’s will almost definitely be late – you’re almost guaranteed some shut-eye as the seats are seriously comfortable. Also, the journey allows for some awesome views through the Burmese countryside (although it could be argued that 16 hours of any site could be too much!).
Yangon to Mandalay FLIGHT:
- PRICE: Around $100 USD. The 60-minute flight with one of Myanmar’s domestic carriers (Air Bagan, Mandalay air, Yangon Air and Myanmar Air). Check out go-myanmar.com for more info about booking flights domestically.
- TIMETABLE: Multiple flights per day, normally before midday
- BOOKING PROCESS: You can book directly online with each carrier, or through a middleman on momondo.com or skyscanner.com.
- THE EXPERIENCE: On my recent trip I flew. I try to avoid flights if I can as I fly so often – it may be foolish but I’m a bit of a sucker for punishment and, for me, there’s nothing quite like earning your arrival in a new place with a disgusting journey behind you! Flights, in my opinion, cost too much, they steal potential experiences from you as you’re not meeting locals on public transport and they’re a killer for your carbon footprint. But still, it does ‘buy’ you an extra day in the country so it remains a popular choice.
Thoughts on Yangon to Mandalay
As I mentioned, once I flew, and once I took the night train. If I was on a tight budget again, then the bus is certainly the best, most economical option. The train is probably the best adventure, and the flight is without doubt the easiest! It all comes down to your travel style. One thing is sure though, you’ll enjoy Mandalay. It’s a beautiful place!
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