Tired of long bus and train rides in Myanmar? Yeah, we were too. Forgo the rickety rails and bumpy roads and book something on the slower, smoother side –– an Irrawaddy river cruise! Travel from Bagan to Mandalay by boat in a picturesque way.
Traveling by boat in Myanmar is a good transportation mix up. Taking waterways lets you see new sites and rural life on the river.
Why Traveling From Bagan to Mandalay by Boat Is a Must
Taking the bus or train route would be another boring, common experience. Though it might be the fastest route, you would not get to see all the beautiful scenery on the Irrawaddy river.
Taking the boat trip, on the other hand, is a perfect experience you do not want to miss. You get to experience Myanmar’s unique history from another level. From the bright fishing boats to the golden pagodas dotting the river banks, you will only enjoy your experience cruising the river on a slow boat and getting cooled by the breeze.
How To Travel From Bagan To Mandalay By Boat
Jump Ahead To:
How Long is the Boat Ride from Bagan To Mandalay?
You can take this route two ways. The first route is Bagan to Mandalay by boat and the second is the reverse — Mandalay to Bagan by boat. Both routes take close to a day trip on the Irrawaddy river.
How Long Does a Boat Ride Between Bagan and Mandalay Take?
What Is the Boat Price from Bagan to Mandalay?
However, if you are wanting to shake things up, this boat ride is definitely for you! It is a little bit more expensive than your typical overland bus or train travel, but if you can spare a few bucks, consider taking a cruise on the water!
The price not only includes your ride up the river but also your breakfast, lunch, and snacks. The meal looked good and was tasty too!
Booking Your Bagan to Mandalay By Boat Ticket
We advise booking at least 1-2 days ahead of time to ensure you get a the departure day you want. Why you ask? Well, the Bagan to Mandalay boat schedule is a pretty tight one. MGRG Express only offers one time slot per day.
About The Boat Ride From Bagan to Mandalay
This was a welcome change of pace from our fast-driving, motion sickness induced Myanmar night bus experiences. The boat ride was slow, chill AF and really a great way to spend a day.
You are able to reset, catch up on journaling or writing your postcards home, etc. Hell, take a nap the entire and sip on some tea. Really and truly, enjoy the fresh air and time to yourself.
The boat is spacious with an open air deck and shaded cabin below.
You can get up and stretch your legs and head to the bow of the boat to take in the sights. Or, you can head to the back where there are lounging chairs in the sun.
The Boat Ride Itinerary
You leave Bagan’s port at 5:30 am, and it is highly suggest you arrive 10-15 minutes before 5:30am. The boat really does ship off at 5:30 am on the dot. You can expect a full day cruise on the Irrawaddy and anticipate to arrive in Mandalay at 5:30 pm that evening.
We’re big on reviews, so a lot of our decisions we make are based on other travelers reviews and blogs. A few wrote how boring this trip was offering “nothing to look at.”
We can understand how they could say it’s boring. You really are doing nothing, but to say there is nothing to look at is a little dramatic. Sure, you’re not looking at beautiful, jaw-dropping scenery but to say “there is nothing to look at” is a lie
You cruise down the Irrawaddy River seeing locals living the river life and washing their clothes in the river while children run and play. There are boats going by, local men and boys fishing, and more. There really are tons of things to occupy your time and eyes!
As we stated above, it’s not the cheapest way to get from Bagan to Mandalay, but it really was worth the extra dollars if you have the time and are sick of buses and trains.
Get away from the city and relax at the outdoor pool and a spa with clean, comfortable rooms and delicious food. Your stay at Rupar Mandalar is sure to please.
If you are looking to save a few bucks but do not want to compromise location and cleanliness, then this is the place for you.
Run by a Burmese family, it is a walking distance from some of Mandalay’s top attractions.
This hotel offers free bikes, an on-site bar, buffet breakfast, and a swimming pool. Plus, with its central location, it’s no wonder why so many book their stay at The Haven.
It’s got a great atmosphere, the food is good, and they have a very friendly staff. Plus, the beds are really comfy too.
Your stay in Bagan will be in three areas, namely Old Bagan, Nyaung U, and New Bagan, with New Bagan being the best place if you are on a budget. Nyaung U has mid-range offerings, and Old Bagan has more luxurious and expensive offerings.
If you are staying at New Bagan, there are a couple of nice hotels and guesthouses to stay at.
This location offers nice dorm beds, private rooms, and they are reasonably priced. It’s a popular hotel around Bagan too.
This hotel has the cheapest beds in Bagan and is a major bang for your buck at $10 USD a night. The staff is very nice and helpful. They also have clean rooms and serve a very good breakfast.
This hotel provides a pool and reasonably-priced rooms. The rooms are clean and the breakfast is nice too.
If Nyaung U is your place of choice, there are some nice places to rest your head after a busy day.
This is one of the nicest places you can stay at while in Nyaung U. With a large swimming pool and a tropical garden setting, it is a great place to relax after a busy day touring.
The rooms are very comfortable and well equipped. Plus, everywhere is spotless, and they serve really nice local and western cuisine. The best part about this spot is that it’s an awesome value for your money.
They have comfy beds and spacious rooms, plus the whole place is really clean.
If you decide to stay at the more expensive Old Bagan, then there are relatively affordable hotels you can stay at, like the following:
This place is a great resort with a luxury feel. It features a 2-minute walk to the Irrawaddy Riverside, and it’s a quick drive to the Bagan Nyaung Oo Airport as well!
It’s rated particularly well for couples.
Your stay in Old Bagan will be better with a view! The Bagan Hotel River View has a gorgeous view of the Irrawaddy River, and is located just a few minutes away from Gawdawpalin Pagoda.
With great amenities and a perfect location, this hotel is a top pick.
This is a very luxurious hotel at a good location too, but a room here might cost you a little more than you’d like to spend if you’re on a tight budget.
It’s set on a 27 acre tropical garden surrounded by ancient temples. You’ll also be able to soak in plenty of local culture, from classical Myanmar dances and art to tropical drinks and traditional Myanmar dinner. The Aureum Palace Hotel is a special experience!
For more accommodation choices and places to stay in Mandalay, you can check the latest place and prices here to secure an unforgettable Myanmar accommodation.
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)