Getting there & away
The easiest way to Pyin U Lwin (Maymyo) is via share taxi (per person about K4000, 1½ hours). Check at your guesthouse or at the taxi stand (cnr 27th & 83rd Sts). The Highway Bus Station has a Lashio taxi stand (80765) for vehicles to Hsipaw (K8000, five hours) or Lashio (K10,000, seven hours).
Mandalay’s dusty Highway Bus Station sees a mind-numbing array of daily options for transport. You can arrange tickets to Yangon at small stands downtown or check with your guesthouse on the latest, greatest company
Buses for Monywa (K5000, four hours) leave from a small downtown station off 88th St. Some Monywa-bound drivers refuse to take foreigners.
Mandalay’s enormous train station includes a government-run MTT office (22541; 9.30am-6pm), just inside the main (east) entrance. Come here for English-language information on train times, but aim to buy your tickets upstairs to avoid the MTT commission. Better still don’t use the train, as it is a government operation.
At the time of research, just four trains a day were heading to Yangon (via Thazi, Taungoo and Bago). Three are inconveniently bunched together on the half-hour between 5am and 6am, while one night train departs at 10.30pm. Ordinary tickets cost US$12 to US$16, 1st class US$33 to US$38 and sleepers US$36 to US$44.
Trains also leave for Nyaung U (Bagan; 1st class US$10, 10 hours) at 9pm. Three daily trains go to Myitkyina (ordinary/upper class from US$11/30, 24 hours). One morning train goes northeast to Pyin U Lwin (US$3/5, three hours) and Hsipaw (US$4/7, 10 hours).
The IWT office (36035; 35th St; 10am-2pm) has information on boats on the Ayeyarwady, including trips to Bagan (lower deck/upper deck US$10/20, 15 hours, 5.30am Wednesday and Sunday) on the slow boat, and to Bhamo (lower deck/upper deck/cabin US$9/24/54, two to three days, 6am Monday, Thursday and Sunday). Gawwein Jetty is a little further to the west and is the place to buy tickets. IWT boats are government-owned and operated. Express boats to Bagan had been suspended at the time of writing. However, private operator Malikha (72279, 09511 8357; www.malikhatravels.com) has high-speed boats to Bagan. The schedule isn’t yet fixed, but it is likely to depart three times a week and will cost US$23, double the price of upstream due to demand.
Mandalay sees daily services to and from Yangon (from US$75), Nyaung U (for Bagan; from US$35) and Heho (for Inle Lake; from US$35), as well as flights to Kengtung, Bhamo and Myitkyina. Air Bagan (code AB; 61791; www.airbagan.com), Air Mandalay (code 6T; 31548; www.airmandalay.com) and Yangon Airways (code HK; 31799; www.yangonair.com) all serve Mandalay. Domestic fares are usually slightly cheaper at travel agents.