Theo Courant


Daily chronicles of cultural information, tips and tricks for travelers in South East Asia: Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos.


Mandalay to Bagan by boat

A unique experience: travel from the archaeological site of Bagan to Mandalay by boat on the river Ayeyarwady. Take in the magic of Myanmar.

 Mandalay Bagan en bateau


An interesting trip

More and more tourists travel along this route, both ways. It is understandable as taking the bus can be exhausting and renting a car quite expensive. Traveling by boat, on the contrary, is relaxing and convenient. It is also a great opportunity to discover the river and its surroundings.

Travelers have three options: the standard boat – a large, rather old, ferry boat (the famous slow boat) –, the fast boat (nicer boat) and the cruise.

Taking the cheap boat from Mandalay to Bagan

Boats leave Mandalay on Sundays and Wednesdays at 05.30 a.m. from the Mandalay jetty. If you are traveling from Bagan to Mandalay, boats leave on Mondays and Thursdays at 05.00 a.m. from the Nyaung Oo jetty.
The time it takes to get to your destination will vary according to water levels, sandbars etc. The trip will last at least 15 hours though (30 most of the time).

This option is probably the most pleasant one as it will give you the opportunity to chat with locals and the time to admire the scenery. However, on arrival, you might need to rest a little before starting to visit the temples of Bagan.  The trip can be quite tiring if the weather is challenging and the boat is packed. Personally, apart from a few disappointments, we enjoyed the trip very much.

You can buy your tickets – $15 per person – directly on the jetty. Hotels will say anything to make you buy the tickets through them as they get a commission but buying them on the jetty is cheaper.


Taking the fast boat from Mandalay to Bagan

These boats are faster than the cheap boats: it is more like a cruise. The journey is supposed to last around 7 hours but in reality, it is more like 10. It is a very comfortable journey though. Two main companies own the market: the Malikha river cruises and Nmai Hka
Each one of them has very well equipped boats: comfortable seats, TV, a restaurant where you can have your breakfast, lunch etc. This option is very successful with tourists. Actually, there are only tourists on these boats. Prices match the quality of the trip and it becomes quite obvious why locals cannot afford such comfort. You can buy tickets at your hotel or through an agency.

Mandalay Bagan en bateau

Take the luxury cruise from Mandalay to Bagan

Since 2015, RV Strand offers luxury cruises from Bagan to Mandalay (3 nights) and from Mandalay to Bagan (4 nights). The journey of 3 nights costs 1900 euros per person. Note that you should expect to pay twice that amount during the high season. Of course, meals, accommodation and tours are included. The Strand is a five-star boat that boasts a spa, a swimming pool and a gym. You can find all the information here



Other ways to travel from Mandalay to Bagan

Train Mandalay - Bagan € 8.15 8h
  •   Upper Class 20:00
  •   Upper Class 07:00
Bus Mandalay - Bagan € 11.65 6h
  •   Minivan 08:00, 10:00, 17:00
  •   Minivan 08:30, 13:00, 16:00
Train Bagan - Mandalay € 7.95–12.51 8h
  •   Upper Class 21:00
  •   Sleeper 21:00
  •   Upper Class 07:40, 21:00
  •   Sleeper 21:00
Bus Bagan - Mandalay € 9.08 5h
  •   Minivan 08:30, 13:00, 16:00
  •   Minivan 08:00, 10:00, 17:00
Flight Bagan - Mandalay € 74.04 30m
  •   Economy 08:35
  •   Economy 08:40
To rent a car or minibus with driver - ideal for small groups: c'est ici.




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