Getting to Mandalay
There are a number of flights arriving to Mandalay from both home and abroad. Domestic flights arrive from almost every bigger city in the country. Once the visitors arrive to the Mandalay International Airport, there is still a one-hour ride to the city of Mandalay. Some airlines offer a free bus shuttle service to the city, but for visitors who do not choose such airlines, the only remaining way of getting to Mandalay is by taxi. The fare is around K20000 (also labeled as MMK -Myanmar, or, as still widely called-Burmese Kyat), which is around $17. However, taxis are pretty hard to come by at night time, so getting a number of a reliable taxi service before landing to the airport is highly recommended. Mandalay is a pretty popular touristic destination, so it’s no surprise that the quality of the planes is on a fairly high level.
Mandalay has three bus stations: Kwe Se Kan Bus Station (the main bus station in the city), Pyi Gyi Myat Shin Bus Station, and Thiri Mandala Bus Station.
Kwe Se Kan Bus Station is located about 10km south of the Mandalay City Centre. Departures from here include journeys to every bigger city in Myanmar, and vice-versa, but there is no public transportation system from here to the city, so one will have to take a taxi, which gets to the city in around 45 minutes and costs around K6000 ($5).
Pyi Gyi Myat Shin Bus Station is located south-east of the city centre, and buses from here go to Pyin U Lwin, Kyaukme, Hsipaw and Lashio towns. The journey to the city centre takes 15 minutes by taxi and costs K2000 ($1).
Thiri Mandala Bus Station. The third bus station in Mandalay is pretty close to downtown, so it is better to walk to the station.
Mandalay Central Railway Station is located conveniently in the downtown area. To Shwenyaung Junction and Kalaw – one will need to change from the Mandalay to Yangon mainline to a branch line at Thazi, usually involving an overnight stop there.
Boats depart from Gawein Jetty ; from downtown visitors can take a taxi or tuk-tuk, costing around K2000, or $1. Journeys to and from the main bus station to Gawein Jetty cost K5000, or $3.
Getting around Mandalay
Getting around Mandalay is very facilitated by the volume of the transportation means offered- taxis, buses, rickshaws (trishaws), motorbikes or mopeds, even horse carriages.
Buses as part of public transportation system in Mandalay are very popular, and local services operate pretty frequently around the city. The buses can get crowded, but most of them are in excellent shape and it is not uncomfortable riding in them. The ticket costs around K300, or 25 cents.
Taxis can be found pretty much every on the streets of Mandalay. Since those waiting for tourists at in front of their hotels tend to be more expensive, it is best to stop a taxi cruising around the streets. Besides being used to get around the city centre, taxis can also be hired for long-distance trips, for instance, visiting some of the surrounding attractions. Hiring a taxi for a day usually costs around $10 to $25, depending on where visitors would like to go and the type of the vehicle. A very popular taxi in Mandalay is the so-called “blue taxi”. This is a kind of a jeep, specifically adjusted to serve as a transportation mean for up to 10 people. Hiring this taxi, which will take the tourists basically anywhere around Mandalay and even its surroundings, generally costs $10. One should be aware though, that some drivers do not understand English very well or at all, so it is recommended to inquire about this before renting one.
By Rickshaw (Trishaw)
Most of the tourists visiting Mandalay, and Myanmar in general, are fascinated by this form of transportation and would like to try it out. There is nothing wrong with that, but one should be cautious, because rickshaw drivers are not. Speeds that they achieve are not exactly recommendable for these kinds of vehicles, and the traffic can sometimes be pretty crowded and dangerous. Still, it gives a unique felling and there are really not that many accidents involving rickshaws, mainly because their drivers are mostly very experienced. Also, the fare is not expensive and depends solely on how well one negotiates it.
By Motorbike/ Moped
Motorbikes, scooters and mopeds are getting more and more popular in Mandalay. Visitors can even rent them for a day or longer, and from a pretty good dealers located in the city- Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki. Wearing a helmet is obligatory and highly recommended, but it is not recommended for less experienced drivers to rent motorbikes. Instead, it is far better to hire one, together with a driver who can also serve as a guide. Most bikes are in excellent condition, even new and unused, and can be rented for approximately $10 (no driver) to $60 (with driver/guide) per day.
As mentioned before, horse carriages can also be hired to get around Mandalay, for a more romantic fell. Some carriages date back a century ago, and are still used today. The fare is, of course, negotiable, but it is worth every cent of it.