Getting there & away
Most travel services operate out of Nyaung U. Ask at Ever Sky or your guesthouse about hiring a share taxi. A charter to Inle is about US$90 or so, Mandalay US$60.
Local buses to Mandalay (K6500, eight hours), via Meiktila, leave at 7am and 9am from the bus station in Nyaung U. Here you can catch a 3pm air-con bus to Yangon (K7500 to K12,000, 12 to 15 hours) or a 5am bus to Taunggyi (K11,000, about 12 hours). Book tickets well in advance in peak season.
There is one morning train to Mandalay (ordinary/1st class US$4/9, nine hours) at 7am. Services to Yangon were not operating at the time of writing, but it is possible to take a train to Pyinmana (US$5/10, 10 hours) and connect from there. The train station is 4km southeast of Nyaung U. More convenient for buying tickets is the train station office in Nyaung U, part of the Shwe Taung Tarn Restaurant (Main Rd).
The Shwe Keinnery Express ferry leaves from Bagan for Mandalay at 5.30am (US$16, 12 hours, five times weekly), but it wasn’t operating at the time of writing. More visitors opt to drift downriver from Mandalay. The slow boat to Mandalay (ordinary/upper class US$10/20) departs on Monday and Thursday at 5.30am. There are also services to Pyay (US$10, two nights). Bear in mind that all these options are government owned and operated. Malikha Express (www.malikhatravels.com) was launching services to Mandalay (upstream US$12, seven hours). The schedule isn’t yet fixed, but it’s likely to run three days a week. Most boats leave from the Nyaung U jetty, a kilometre northeast of the market; some operate from Old Bagan, depending on the tide and time of year.
From the Nyaung U jetty local ferries go to Pakokku (K1500, 2½ hours), where there are buses to Monywa.
Regular services connect Bagan with Yangon (from US$75), Mandalay (from US$35) and Heho (from US$55). There is an air ticket office (02-67406; 9am-5pm) on the main road in Nyaung U that sells domestic tickets. Air Bagan (code AB; 061-60588; www.airbagan.com), Yangon Airways (code HK; 061-60476; www.yangonair.com) and Air Mandalay (code 6T; 061-60240; www.airmandalay.com) fly into Bagan.