Mawlamyine Sunset

Bagan to Mawlamyine by Coach – Heading To South Myanmar from Bagan on a Bus

Bagan to Yangon Bus

We would certainly forgive you if the thought of leaving the sun-soaked array of Bagan’s ancient temples was the last thing on your mind, but the time will come none-the-less.

Bagan Temples Sunset
Bagan has so much to offer – but all good things must come to an end

Getting from Bagan to Mawlamyine via coach is a two stage journey: first via the nation’s former capital and transport hub, Yangon, then catch a second coach from there to Mawlamyine itself.

There are a few ways to get out of Bagan from Nyaung-U, the suburb dedicated to travel in and out of the region just out of town. Air, rail and coach are the three most popular, and as air travel is a little more expensive (and you don’t get to see as much of the country!), and as we’d had our fair share of trains recently, we opted for the bus south to Mawlamyine.

Ananda Temple Bagan
Ananda Temple in Bagan was one of our favourites

This marked the beginning of our long journey down the Andaman coast by land and sea, all the way from North Myanmar to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. More on this coming soon!

Bagan (Shwe Pyi Highway Bus Station) to Yangon (Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station)

Mandalar Minn Express VIP, air conditioned sleeper coach departs 8pm, arrives into Yangon approximately 6am

Depart 8PM, check in 7.30PM – or whenever your pickup arrives

Duration – Approx 10 hours

First stop, Buy Your Tickets at Shwe Pyi bus Terminal

We found its always best to grab your tickets at the source, rather than through your hotel or an agency – cut out the middle-man and save yourselves the commission (weigh it up though, shop around – smaller guesthouses can be very fair indeed with helping you book). Jump on your electric scooter and head to Bagan’s out of town Shwe Pyi bus station in Nyaung-U. Find the ticket office there for Mandalar Minn Express and get it booked.

Connection from your hotel

When booking your ticket you should be asked where you are staying – these VIP bus companies include a pickup from your hotel.

We went for the 8pm VIP coach. The big red Mandalar Minn Express VIP coaches are quite modern and relatively comfortable. Put your seat back and try to relax, it’s a long, 10 hour journey ahead.

Arriving at Yangon’s Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station

Now this is where it gets really interesting. As the sun gently rises and the soft, almost bluish light starts to flood into the streets of Yangon, you will arrive at the very-much-out-of-town Aung Mingalar bus station.

Prepare yourselves for a little bleary-eyed chaos as you offload and try to find the Mandalar Minn Express ticket office to purchase the next leg of your journey.

Aung Mingalar resembles a small village/complex more than a bus station. Hundreds of coaches coming and going, handfuls of lovely little cafes and restaurants that are open all hours of the day and night. Of course, there are taxi drivers who will be offering you a lift into the centre of town, but that’s not where you are going. We even had a driver offer us a lift to the ticket office (its a 5 minute walk).

Our coach didn’t drop us off at the Mandalar Minn Express ticket office – that was a 5 minute walk to the east. Having a charged phone with Google Maps is invaluable here, and it’s how we found our way there.

Yangon (Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station) to Mawlamyine

Price – 6500 MMK per person (2017)

Depart 8.30AM, check in 8.00AM

Duration – Approx 7 hours

Squeeze your way into the ticket office and grab a pair of tickets – they should look a little like the image below. Their little office is crammed full of people and luggage, so it’s not the most ideal place to wait.

Yangon to Mawlamyine bus ticket -  Mandalar Minn Express
Your ticket might look something a little like this…

If you catch a similar bus to us, then you will have a couple of hours to kill. Time to fill up on coffee and breakfast. We grabbed a couple of (instant) coffees on a quiet cafe on the corner, before moving ourselves and our bags over to one of the cafe restaurants in the same square as the Mandalar Minn Express ticket office.

Mohinga for Breakfast

We headed over to the local restaurant, တိုကျို, and grabbed a couple bowls of Yangon’s famous breakfast noodle broth, Mohinga. It wasn’t the most visually pleasing example of the dish, but it was a delightfully zingy, fishy delicious dish nevertheless. Our mohinga came with soft youtiao, or Chinese donuts.

Myanmar Mohinga
Doesn’t look appetising, but it was tasty

30 minutes before your departure time, find a spot to perch in or outside the Mandalar Minn Express ticket office – we watched various coaches come and go, and a delightfully totalitarian ticketmaster/conductor shouting orders through a megaphone and over his rather portly belly at drivers and porters alike.

Yangon Aung Mingalar Highway Bus Station Mandalar Minn Express
Eagerly waiting to board our bus
A real character with a megaphone…

Time to Leave Yangon, Destination, Mawlamyine

The journey south from Yangon was a pleasant one – we definitely recommend the Mandalar Minn Express VIP bus, mainly thanks to its fully functioning AC. The bus journey from Yangon to Mawlamyine takes you North first via Bago, through Waw, past Kyaikto, the connecting town for getting to see the famous golden rock of Kyaiktiyo Pagoda, Thaton and more, before finally arriving in Mawlamyine.

Mawlamyine sunset
Mawlamyine is known for its fantastic sunsets

Arriving in Mawlamyine

Finally you will arrive at the Mawlamyine Highway Bus Station, which is, of course, on the highway and out of town. From here you could negotiate a taxi into town or your guesthouse, or even walk into town if you are feeling fit.

The road up to the skyline…

For the latter, there’s a gorgeous walk if you head south to the next junction, then back on yourselves and up along the hill ridge that overlooks the town – there’s some incredible pagodas up here including the U Zina Pagoda, Buddha images, the Bamboo Buddha. Gorgeous sunsets and friendly monks. Just give yourself around 45 minutes to walk into town.

Mawlamyine sunset monk
You don’t often see monks using phones…
Mawlamyine Sri Shamuganathar Swami Temple
There’s also a Hindu temple on top – Sri Shamuganathar Swami Temple

Where to Stay in Mawlamyine

Or do as we did and choose a hotel close to the highway bus station. We stayed at the fantastic Pinlon Pann Hotel – just a few minutes walk from the station (and train station), and the owners are very friendly and will help you with all aspects of your stay and onward travel.

What to do in Mawlamyine

Mawlamyine marked the start of our journey into South Myanmar – and as much as we loved the north, including Inle Lake and Bagan, the South really offers so much more.

Romantic, rustic, dilapidated – yet still oozing with charm, there was a reason that Rudyard Kipling found inspiration in Mawlamyine for his poem Mandalay.

Boat to Shampoo Island, Mawlamyine
You have to catch a boat over to Shampoo Island…
Gardens at Shampoo Island Mawlamyine
Peaceful gardens at Shampoo Island…

From its incredible blazen orange sunsets, to Kipling’s favourite Kyeik Than Lan Pagoda, to its myriad restaurants, walks along the messy promenade and the Thanylin River – there’s so much to do here. Visit Shampoo Island, and you absolutely must make time to go to Hpa An from here.

On the terrace of Mawlamyine's Kyeik Than Lan Pagoda
On the terrace of Mawlamyine’s Kyeik Than Lan Pagoda…
Mawlamyine Sunset

More on the above in several posts to come soon.

Law Ka Ou Shaung temple view

Inle to Bagan Bus – Get From Nyaungshwe to Bagan By Coach

Getting from Nyaungshwe (Inle Lake) to Bagan via Bus on a Budget

No matter how accustomed you get to easy going life in Nyaungshwe village, with its criss-cross of quiet golden sunlit roads, and the eternal lapping of the azure waters of Inle Lake, there comes a time when all who visit must leave. But where to go next, and how to get there on a budget?

Just a few snaps from our time in Inle

For many, it’s Mandalay, but we decided to skip the former royal capital and head over to the gorgeous Bagan, and its myriad sunbathed temples.

Nyaungshwe to Bagan by Bus or Train?

With our mostly happy memories of the Yangon to Kalaw train behind us, and the fact that we would have to connect from Nyaungshwe to Shwenyaung, back to Thazi, then up to Mandalay and eventually Bagan, it’s considerably cheaper and more convenient to just catch a coach.

Information at a Glance

  • VIP Sleeper Bus from Nyaungshwe to Bagan
  • Cost – 16,000MMK per person – Dec 2017 (Likely to be more expensive now due to 2018 update)
  • Pickup from Guest House included
  • VIP bus, 3 reclining seat rows, toilet, air-conditioned – Bagan Minthar Express
  • Depart 7.30pm, Arrive 5.30am
Mine Thauk - Approaching the floating village in Inle Lake, Myanmar

Inle to Bagan Cheap Bus Tickets – Book Via Hotel or DIY?

In many situations in Myanmar, booking onward transport via your hotel is often your best and only option (usually the smaller guesthouses give the best deal as they aren’t trying to make money off you), but it certainly is worth researching all your options…

We checked in with our hotel for prices for a bus from Inle to Bagan and they quoted us 60,000MMK each (£31, $40USD) – a little expensive considering we got from Yangon to Kalaw for a fraction of the price.

We wanted to go on a VIP sleeper bus, as we heard that they were the best chance we had of having a comfortable journey and night’s sleep, and save a little money on the accommodation.

A quick check on 12goAsia revealed the price of the ideal bus at 30,000MMK each, a little more reasonable, but once again we knew that we could avoid the website’s booking and agent fees by just finding the tickets ourselves. Fortunately the 12goAsia website tells you which company the coach is run by, so with a little more research we found the company, Bagan Minn Thar, had a ticket office in town.

Inle to Bagan Bus Ticket
Our Nyaungshwe to Bagan coach ticket

Where to Get Inle to Bagan Bus Tickets

We booked our tickets direct at the ‘Bagan Minn Thar Bus Station’ on Yone Gyi St near the corner of Kyaung Daw Anauk St (look for the big red sign saying Bagan Minn Thar Bus Station on the front). It shows up as ‘Bagan Minthar Express’ on Google Maps. An attendant helped us who spoke great English.

You need to inform the attendant where you are staying and they will arrange pickup for you – they will write the pickup time on your ticket.

The Bagan Minn Thar ‘Bus Station’ is on the corner of Kyaung Daw Anauk St and Yone Gyi St

Pick Up

Our arranged pickup time from the lovely Princess Garden Hotel in Nyaungshwe was at 7.30pm. Evidently we were the last to be picked up as our very full tuk tuk arrived around 15 minutes late. We managed to squeeze in and were outside the bus very shortly afterwards.

The Bus, and the Journey from Nyaungshwe to Bagan

Get on board and get yourself comfortable, as it’s going to be a long and winding ride through the mountains.

There were plenty of reviews online about this route that slated that their driver was a little too enthusiastic and drove too fast, and that the constant curves in the road will make you sick, but we found that not to be the case.

The bus itself was a fairly modern, comfortable Japanese Kōnan Coach. The lights are dim enough for you to doze off if you sleep well whilst on the move (we struggled).

The Bagan Minn Thar coach resting at Shwe Yee Oo outside Kalaw

The Route

The coach takes you up to the main highway via Shwenyaung (Nyaungshwe’s nearest rail station), He Hoe, Aungpan and through Kalaw – where after a lengthy climb up through the mountains we stopped at a cafe/services Shwe Yee Oo, The Golden Highway Tavern. Here I got off the bus whilst Ruth slept and I sampled some somewhat stale curry and rice from the canteen.

The coach carries on up through the Shan Hills and down across the hot plains of Northern Myanmar for around 7 hours – with a few stops along the way for a few locals to jump on and off – before eventually arriving at the Bagan Shwe Pyi Highway Bus Terminal, in Nyaung-U, just outside of Bagan. Though our coach must have made good time as we arrived a whole hour early at around 4.30.

Arrival

Now the potentially awkward timing of this sleeper coach comes into play. You could simply catch a taxi into New Bagan and find an early morning cafe, or like us, arrive early at our hotel (our hotel very kindly allowed us to check into our room very early indeed).

Bagan is famous for its sunsets, but by the time you arrive you may be able to catch a sunrise!

Getting into Bagan from the Bus Station

Bagan’s bus station is located well away from the centre – about 10 minutes drive or so. But don’t fear that you will be stuck for transport even in the wee hours, as we were quickly surrounded by many taxi drivers a soon as we disembarked.

Bagan’s bus station has a bit of a reputation for its taxi drivers trying to overcharge. If saving money means a lot to you then stay smart, don’t feel rushed. A good bargained down rate for any taxi ride from here is meant to be around 10,000MMK.

Personally, we chose the wonderful Emerald Bagan Hotel, due to its closeness to the bus station. It is just a 5 minute walk away, but as it was so late/early we decided to grab a quick taxi hoping it would be cheap – but they did charge us a (relatively speaking) large amount for a 30 second drive up the road.

Update – As of November 2018, it is now mandatory for coach companies dropping off at Nyaung-U Bus Station to provide a drop off service to their guesthouse. Even with this new rule, taxi drivers have still tried to scam travellers by stating that this service is not for foreigners. Ignore this – look for your minibus with the Bagan Minn Thar branding.

It makes sense that they have introduced this rule as clearly the overcharging taxi drivers were becoming a problem!

Bagan offers a horizon of pagodas in all directions, as far as the eye can see
The Dhammayazaka temple was one of our favourites
Law Ka Ou Shaung temple at sunset
Bagan is a busy tourist hotspot, and finding a place to watch the sunset – such as here at Law Ka Ou Shaung temple can be tricky, but worth it!

Let Us Know

Please let us know if this guide for getting from Inle to Bagan by bus was useful for planning your journey in Myanmar in the comments below.