How to travel to Mandalay
Mandalay is the second-largest city of Myanmar, which is also the capital of the last empire in the country. Let's discover many means of transportation to reach Mandalay.
1. Travel to Mandalay By Plane
International flights to Mandalay
Mandalay International Airport is served by an increasing number of direct international flights. Air Asia provides daily flights to Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok, whilst Thai Smile and Bangkok Airways fly to Suvarnabhumi in Bangkok. Other available direct flights are Kunming (China) with China Eastern Airlines (twice weekly); Chiang Mai (Thailand) with Asian Wings (twice weekly) and Bangkok Airways (three flights weekly); Gaya (India) with Myanmar Airways International (three times weekly); and Singapore with Silk Air (three times weekly, some flights via Yangon).
Fly to Mandalay
Domestic flights to Mandalay
Mandalay is well connected with Yangon, Bagan Nyang U, Heho (Inle Lake, Kalaw, and TaungGyi), Kalaymyo, Kyaing Tong, Myitkyina, Tachileik, Putao, Monywa, Lashio, Homalin, Bhamo.
It is around one hour’s drive to downtown Mandalay from Mandalay International Airport. You will have to take a taxi (there is no public transport) and the fare is around 13.000 kyats. If your flight arrives at night, do not wait around too long at the airport, as the last taxis may leave! Some airlines offer a free bus shuttle service.
2. Travel to Mandalay By Train
Train to Mandalay from Yangon
There are several trains daily from Yangon. The tracks are old and, in some cases, the carriages may be old, and the fifteen-hour journey is extremely bumpy. Do not buy tickets at the main station in Yangon as they are not issued there. Go to the advance booking office which is not in the main station but in Bogyoke Aung San Road on the south side of the tracks, opposite the Sakura Tower and diagonally opposite the Traders Hotel, look for the entrance sign. (The advance booking office was not open as of October 2015, it may be possible to buy advance tickets in the main station, to be confirmed). Depending on the class, tickets range from 17 to 25 dollars for a seat. In order to reserve a ticket for the evening train, you must go to the train station at 07:00 on the same day.
Train to Mandalay from Bagan
The daily train departs at 7:00 am and arrives in Mandalay at 2:30 pm. The price is from 13 dollars for a seat.
- From Hopin (for Indawgyi Lake)
The Daily trains and the journey takes around 17 hours.
- From Hsipaw
The daily train departs early morning, the journey takes around 14 hours; includes beautiful scenery as per Lashio journey.
- From Inle Lake and Kalaw
You will need to change from a branch line onto the main Yangon-Mandalay line at Thazi, usually involving an overnight stop there.
- From Kyaukme
The daily train departs late morning, the journey takes around 11 hours; includes beautiful scenery as per Lashio/Hsipaw journey.
- From Lashio
The daily train departs very early in the morning, and the journey takes around 16 hours; it includes stunning scenery and the famous Gokteik viaduct.
Train to Mandalay on the famous Gokteik viaduct
- From Myitkyina
Daily trains and the journey takes around 21 hours.
- From Naba (for Katha)
Daily trains and the journey takes 13 hours.
- From Pyin U Lwin
It is usually simpler and quicker to take a bus, taxi, motorbike, or pick-up, but if you want to take the train, it leaves late afternoon and takes four hours.
- From Shwebo
Daily trains and the journey takes 5 hours.
3. Travel to Mandalay By Bus
Kwe Se Kan bus station is the main bus station. It is located 10km south of downtown and buses arrive and departs from here for major destinations south of Mandalay, including Yangon, Bagan, Kalaw, and Inle Lake. It often takes 9 to 11 hours from Yangon, 5 to 6 hours from Bagan, 8 to 9 hours from Shwenyaung of Inle Lake. The journey by taxi to the center of town takes about 45 minutes and costs 6000 kyats.
Bus From Yangon To Mandalay
Pyi Gyi Myat Shin bus station is southeast of downtown (on the corner of 60th and 37th streets) and serves Pyin U Lwin, Kyaukme, Hsipaw, and Lashio.
Thiri Mandala bus station is west of downtown (at the end of 23rd Street) and serves Monywa and Shwebo. This bus station is walkable from downtown, although you may want to catch a quick taxi ride if you don’t want to lug your bags.
- From Pyin U Lwin – bus journey takes 2 hours and costs 5000 kyats. Other options on this route are a shared taxi or pick-up.
- From Hsipaw – bus journey takes 5-6 hours and costs 5000 kyats.
- From Loikaw – buses depart at 3 pm and the journey takes 16 hours. The price is 10.000 kyats.
4. Travel to Mandalay By Boat
From Bagan there are boat services at different levels of luxury. The fast boat is the quickest and most comfortable way to get from Bagan to Mandalay by the river, and it includes complimentary breakfast and lunch. The trip is about 12 hours travel time and costs around 40 dollars. 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.
As well as the fast boat, there is a twice-weekly slow boat from Bagan. This leaves in the early morning and takes around 15 hours (it is slower upstream/northwards than downstream/southwards). Slow boats occasionally get stuck on sandbanks (more likely in the dry season), which can cause significant delays.
Traveling to Mandalay by riverboat
The slow boat is a very basic, old-fashioned ferry; foreigners are usually given plastic chairs but you often have to find your own space. It is also advisable to have some warm clothes if you are traveling between November and March, as it can get chilly in the early morning and overnight. Slow boat tickets cost 10 dollars.
- From Katha: There are daily fast boats, taking 12 to 15 hours depending on the river level. Tickets cost 25.000 kyats for foreigners. There are also slow boats, which typically run three times per week. Tickets for a cabin on the slow boat (at least 2 days) are 54 dollars; deck tickets are 12 dollars.
- From Bhamo: The slow boat runs up to three times per week, and takes 2-3 days. Tickets for a cabin are 54 dollars; deck tickets are 12 dollars. Alternatively, you can take a boat to Katha and then change onto the fast boat from there.
You may also like: Useful Local Tips in Mandalay
Image Sources: Internet