We are Michael and Pinky, a Bangkok-based couple who loves to travel, explore, and go on adventures all over the world. We are always looking for the greatest experiences for adventurers on a budget.

Mandalay to Bagan by Boat

Mandalay to Bagan by Boat

Mandalay to Bagan by Boat

a boat cruises the irawaddy river in myanmar past a hill covered  with temples

If we are going to complain about the night train in Burma, it's only fair to point out that the country also has one of the best and most memorable journeys as well. The train from Yangon (Rangoon) to Mandalay may be rough, but nothing can beat a perfect day spent on a relaxing river boat cruising up the legendary Irrawaddy River from Mandalay to the ancient capital Bagan.

Taking the Boat in Myanmar

The Boat From Mandalay to Bagan

From the beautiful royal city of Mandalay to the ancient and mysterious fields of Bagan, some of Burma's top destinations are located along the fabled Irrawaddy. And, while sure you can fly, by far the most pleasant and unforgettable way to get between the two legendary cities is by a day spent on a slow-moving river boat, cruising along the muddy brown waters past green hills dotted with literally hundreds of glittering golden pagodas.

How to buy tickets

Tickets should be arranged at least a day in advance, and can be booked through most any hotel or guest house. We traveled with Malikha River Cruise, a reputable company with a good safety and comfort standard. Malikha runs a website , and you can book tickets online as well. A one-way ticket from Mandaly to Bagan (or vice-versa) costs around $45 USD, and includes breakfast and lunch.

What is it like on the boat

The boat departs early in the morning, just after sunrise, and arrives in Bagan in mid-afternoon. The journey is slow and pleasant, and perfectly relaxing. 

The boats generally have two decks; a lower deck with cushioned chairs and large windows serviced by a bar selling snacks, sodas, and beer. There is free water, coffee, and tea provided for the entire journey.

the interior of the boat

the interior of the boat

If the weather is nice, grab a cup of tea or a bottle of Mandalay Beer and take a rattan seat on the open upper deck, where you can feel the cool breeze and watch the Burmese countryside lazily float past.

And keep a keen eye out for the famous and elusive pink Irrawaddy river dolphins!

Two meals are provided. When we went, breakfast consisted of a pastry, toast, boiled egg, and fruit. Lunch was fried rice.

The scenery was worth every kyat we paid for the ticket!

What to see in:


Mandalay is a legendary old city full of temples and palaces. The top sites include the temple and viewpoint from the top of Mandalay Hill, the recently re-built Mandalay Palace, Kuthodaw Pagoda, and the ancient teak wood Shwenandaw Monastery (pictured).

teak wood monastery in mandalay, myanmar

teak wood monastery


The reason to visit Bagan, a sleepy little village on the cliffs of the Irrawaddy, is to spend a few days at the Bagan Historical Park. The plains of Bagan are filled with over two thousand small stone pagodas, each one unique. The best way to explore is to hire a horse cart driver for the day to take you from temple to temple.

a misty early morning in Bagan, myanmar, with dozens of small stone temples in a field


Learn More:


Golden Land: A Travelogue


Across a Golden Land: A Journey Through Burma

"Golden Land" Gallery (photos from the book)


The Night Train

The Last Sunset

Would you like to learn more about what to do in Myanmar? Check out our latest posts all about the top things to do in Mandalay and Bagan!

Mandalay, Myanmar: Top 5 Amazing Sites

Mandalay, Myanmar: Top 5 Amazing Sites

Yangon (Rangoon): 10 Great Things to do

Yangon (Rangoon): 10 Great Things to do