Check schedules and prices for outgoing transport when you arrive, as it's likely many of the following will have changed.
Mandalay's huge, gleaming airport - a staggering 28 miles south of the centre - sends and receives daily flights around the country via Air Mandalay (AM), Yangon Airways (YA), Bagan Air (HA) and the government's puny Myanma Airway.
Flights to Chiang Mai come direct, but fly back through Yangon.
Sample rates for one-way flights with peak season schedules follow; prices are for airlines other than MA unless MA is the only airline offering the route:
Destination Price Frequency Airlines
Bhamo $115-120 Sun MA
Heho $37-40 daily AM,BA,YA
Kalaymyo $95-105 Won, Thu, Sat MA
Kengtung $80-85 Tue.Thu,Sun BA.VA
Monywa $20-25 Tue MA
Myitkyina $80-83 Sun, Tue, Thu, Fri BA
Nyaungll $40-43 daily AM, BA.YA
Tachileik $80-85 Mon-Sat BA,YA
Yangon $90-93 daily AM, BA.YA
Flights to Thandwe (for Ngapali) go via Yangon.
Travel agencies offer cheaper rates than airlines themselves, so we've included reliable ones to pick up tickets from. Bring US dollars to buy a ticket.
Daw San San Aye ,New Seven Star , Sun Far Travels & Tours .
The office of the government-run Myanma Airways (has, eerily, a Yangon Airways poster ('You're safe with us') behind the front desk.
A popular way out of Mandalay is on a private boat service that glides down the wide Ayeyarwady to Bagan ($27, nine hours), leaving around 7am and taking most ot a tull day. The best of two options is the two-deck Shwei Kffnncry, with outside decks. It goes at least i. c times weekly from September through January, [he return trip trom Hagan is slightly cheaper. Another option is the Malikha express boat, which lacks outdoor decks to take in the scenery. Your hotel can arrange tickets, or book directly through Sun Far Travel & Tours. Many visitors wilh a short trip to Myanmar till a day on this journey; debatably, the 40-minute flight to Bagan for $40 is a better use ot your time.
The government-owned Inland Water Transport office, at the western end of Yangyiaung Rd (35th St), sells tickets for the 'slow boat' ferry down the Ayeyarwady including Bagan ($10, 15 hours) and up river to Katha (deck/cabin $9/51, one to two days) or Bhamo (also $9/51, two-three days). This schedule is likely to change. It's easier to have your hotel get the tickets or stop by an MTT office. It's sometimes said that you need to buy tickets a few days in advance, but often it's OK to buy them one day beforehand. IWT generally accepts US dollars only. The service to Mandalay has no reserved seats, but deck chairs are available for rent.
Boats leave from various points along the river, depending on the water level. Your accommodation (or taxi) will know where to go.
HIGHWAY BUS STATION
Most buses leaving or arriving in Mandalay en route to destinations to the south and southeast operate from the highway bus station, a giant dusty lot 4 miles south of the centre with a mind-numbing array of bus companies, often selling tickets to the same places leaving at the same time.
Schedules are prone to constant change, so take the following sample of tares and schedules from the highway bus station as a loose guide only. Local buses have no air-conditioning and some are 32-seaters.
The government-run Nyaung U Mann company sends buses to Nyaung U (K8500, eight hours) at 9am and 2pm.
Kalaw & Inle Lake
Several bus companies head on Taunggyi-bound night buses to Kalaw and Inle Lake, including Taung PawYa, which sends an air-con bus at 6pm, stopping in Kalaw (K10.000, eight hours) and Taunggyi (K10.000, 10 to 12 hours). Shwe Chin Thae is the only day-time departure for Kalaw or Taunggyi, leaving at 5.30am.
Several companies leave Mandalay at 5pm or 6pm on an overnight bus to Yangon (K13,000, 12 to 15 hours). Ticket agents south of downtown include Shwe Gabar Express ( 88507,33899; cur 83rd & 33rd Sts) and Shwe Mandalar Express (32nd St, 81/82).
Frequent local buses head for Meiktila (K2000, three hours) from the highway bus station. You can also get direct service, if you should want it, to Pyay or Magwe. See Monywa bus station, p274, for other towns to the northwest.
If you're heading up to the Shan hills to the northeast (between Pyin U Lwin and Lashio), there are several options from the highway bus station. Duhtawadi, which has a central ticket office, leaves for Hsipaw (K4000, six or seven hours) at 6am. They also arrange share taxis (K12.00Q, five hours). There are also buses to Kyaukme (K3500, five hours) and Lashio (R6000, eight hours). Times change often. A couple of companies to ask about are Shwe Mandalar Express and Mandalar May Express.
MONYWA BUS STATION
To reach Shwebo or Monywa to the west and northwest by bus, the small Monywa bus station sends frequent local buses to both. It takes three hours to either town. At research time, some drivers were reluctant to allow foreigners on the bus. A company that allows foreigners to go to Monywa, Yadanabon, facing outward on the south side of the central building, sends buses hourly from 7.30pm to 4.30pm (1800K). A couple of doors down is Aung Nang Man, which does the same for Shwebo (1700K), five times daily beginning at 1 lam. Both take reservations for seats by phone.
At research time, foreigners were not allowed to bus north to Bhamo from this station.
Taxi & Pick-Up
Hotels in Mandalay can arrange share taxis to Pyin U Lwin, or you can get one downtown (back/front seat K5000/6000, two hours); check at the corner of 27th and 83rd Sts. Or call Shwe Mann May ( 38685). Pickups to Pyin U Lwin leave from the corner of 28th and 83rd St.
Duhtawadi ar-ranges share taxis to Hsipaw (Kl 2,000, six hours); a full car is K50.000. There are also share taxis for Hsipaw (per person Kl 1,000 to Kl 3,000) and Lashio (per person K 15,000, eight hours) - these leave from along 32nd St, 80/81. Another option that some travellers take up is a share taxi to Hsipaw, then the lovely train ride to Lashio.
Your hotel or guesthouse should be able to help you rent a car with driver, for a day or long-term, for about $60 per day.
Pick-ups to Amarapura and Sagaing (which pass near the boat to Inwa island) leave from along 84th St, south of the market in the centre. A one-way ride costs K200. For more information on taking taxis or pick-ups to nearby towns, see Amarapura , Inwa and Sagaing.
The newish (largely bare) train station is a mostly unused, modern, multistorey building with four drive-up ramps, elevated taxi stands and escalators leading to waiting areas with TVs. Meanwhile it's generally the same ol' poky, packed trains that ferry mostly locals on slow-going trips back home.
All train lines are government run. Just inside the main entrance downstairs is an MTT offlce, which can sell tickets at 10% commission.
Sample fares (ordinary/upper class/sleeper) and schedule follow:
Destination Price Duration Departure
Hsipaw $4/7/- 14 10hr 4.35am
Lashio $6/12/- 4.35am
Myitkyina $11/36/40 20-22hr noon, 1.30pm,
Naba $-/21/23 12-14hr noon, 1.30pm,
(near Katha) 4pm
Nyaung U $4/10/- 8hr 9pm
Pyin U Lwin $3/5/- 4hr 4.35am
Yangon $15/35/40 14-16hr 4am, 5am,
To/From the Airport & Stations
A small 'blue taxi' to the airport (a one-hour ride) runs to K 10,000, a car taxi is about K 12,000. It's less reliable trying to jump in a share taxi, but you can try Shwe Airport Taxi, which can also arrange a car taxi for Kl 2,000.
A taxi between downtown and the highway bus station is about K2500 or K3000. Pickups to the highway bus station (K10001 troll central streets - try just south of the market on 84th St.
Note that trishaws are discouraged from hanging out at the train station and aren't allowed on the entry ramps on the west side.
Bicycle & Motorcycle
Several bicycle-rental shops stand on footpaths downtown, including the ever-helpful Mr H too Bicycles. Mr Htoo has an English-speaking buddy who rents a motorbike for $10 per day (either with or without him driving); petrol is extra. Most hotels and guesthouses can get you either bicycle or motobike from around the same rates (not including guide or petrol).
Bus & Pick-Up
Mandalay's buses and pick-ups are virtually always crowded, particularly during the 7am to 9am and 4pm to 5pm rush hours. It can be fun, even if you never get where you want to get. The best place to find one is just west of the clock tower near the zeigyo along 26th St, where unmarked pick-ups and some (Myanmar) numbered buses depart from. Ask, ask, ask. You should be able to jump on bus 7 or a pick-up to Mahamuni I'aya, a pick-up to Mandalay Hill, or bus 5 o'r a pick-up to Yankin Paya.
No city buses or pick-ups go to the airport.
Taxis and 'blue taxis' (teeny blue Mazda pk ups with room for four or so in the cover cab) whisk people around Mandalay mi hours. They're easy to find downtown. Price are negotiable. A ride from downtown to t Bagan jetty is about K2000. You can hire a bl taxi on a full-day trip to Amarapura, Inwa a Sagaing for about K18.000 to K20.000; a rej lar taxi is about K8000 to K 15,000 more.
About 13,000 trishaws still ply Mandal streets, and you can get to and fro for K10 or so on most trips around the centre.
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