Bagan is on of the most poplar cities in Myanmar, in terms of tourism. Well, not only tourism- this is the city with the most Buddhist temples, pagodas, and stupas in the country, and, for that matter, in the world. So, it is not surprising that the number of tourists to the city keeps increasing, both locally and internationally. This enables it to have one of the finest and best transportation routes in the country. It is pretty easy to get to Bagan and move around it.
Getting to Bagan
Nyaung U Airport is located just outside the city, some 10 minutes’ drive away. It is a domestic airport, servicing flights from Yangon and Mandalay. Flight from Yangon lasts about one hour and 15 minutes, and tickets cost from $120. Flight from Mandalay lasts around half an hour, and tickets cost from $40. A taxi ride from the airport to the city should cost around $6. Some hotels offer free shuttle services to their guests from the airport.
Just like airlines, bus companies also offer lines to Bagan from Mandalay and Yangon. There is also a line from Lake Inle, and all companies offer rides by minibuses. The main bus station, where all buses arrive, is located about 7 kilometers from the city center. Taxi from here to the city should cost around $1, $2 the most. Of course, the drivers always try to overcharge, but this is as much as one should pay. A minibus from Mandalay typically costs around $7 and takes about 5 hours to arrive. Buses from Yangon cost around $12 and they ride along the highway, making this ride much more enjoyable than it is by some other routes. The newest bus line is the one from Lake Inle; there is one daily departure, and costs around $12.
Trains to Bagan run daily from, expectedly, Mandalay and Yangon. Overnight trains run daily from Yangon, departing at about 4:00 pm and arriving in Bagan at about 10:00 am the following day. Trains are old and the rail is not in the best of shapes, but tickets are pretty cheap, starting from $3 for second class seat. Trains from Mandalay departure twice daily, and tickets cost about $6. The trip takes anywhere from 7 to 9 hours.
There are two types of boat rides to Bagan down the Irrawaddy River; “slow boat”, and “express ferry” rides. Both departure from Mandalay and the latter one takes around 9 hours, with tickets costing around $40. The “slow ferry” leaves up to its name, taking up to 14 hours to arrive to Bagan, but is very cheap, around $10 per person. The ferry services from Mandalay to Bagan will be shut down, during the months of April, May and June.
Getting around Bagan
Bagan’s residents offer their visitors a wide range of transportation options around the city- from taxis, to horse carts, there is a lot to choose from.
Trishaw, always somewhere near tourists, like in most other Southeast Asian cities. Nothing much to say about trishaw rides, except that there is a driver around every corner in the city, and this is also the cheapest way to see the attractions, with a trip around town costing as much as $2.
Many hotels and shops in Bagan offer bicycles renting. The bicycles could be rented for as low as $1 per day. Considering how crowded the city can get, this is a nice way of getting around it. Also very cheap. There is also a possibility to rent an e-bike, which is actually an electric bicycle. This is a vehicle of choice for environmentally-cautious tourists. One such bike can be rented for $3 to $5 per day.
Taxi ride in Bagan costs around $7, for routes around its main attractions. One could also hire an air-conditioned taxi, or share a taxi ride in the same, for around $30 per day. Although not necessary, considering that the city is not that big, and main attractions are close to each other, for those going on longer trips, this is a good alternative.
By horse cart
Horse carts are pretty interesting, although not very comfortable. A horse cart with a driver can be rented for around $10 per day. Communication might be a bit of a challenge, but nothing that can not be resolved; most of the tourists visit the same sites anyway, and one can also just say a name of a place they want to visit, and there should be no problem.
By pickup trucks
Pickup tracks are also present in Bagan, especially from the market in Nyaung U to Old Bagan. A shared ride costs around $1, but can easily be bargained down to half of that, and even less.
There is plenty to choose from when it comes to transportation in Bagan, so one should have no problems getting to and especially around the City. Transportation is cheap, not all that uncomfortable, and easy to come by.