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Are you planning your Inle Lake to Mandalay bus ride? In this post we’ll share our experience of taking this bus. We have to tell you, it was not an easy ride. In our books, it went down as the freezing bus ride. Read below about how we went from Inle Lake to Mandalay and why we call it the freezing bus ride.

Since you are here, you might also want to read these posts:

Inle Lake to Mandalay bus

From Inle Lake you can take a direct bus to Mandalay. There are several options and time slots you can choose.

Leaving times: There is a bus leaving at 6.00 am 8.00am, and a night bus leaving at 19.00. 

Duration: The duration of the trip is approximately 8 hours. 

Stops on the way: As with any other bus ride in Myanmar, there is always a stop for food on the way for about half an hour. Besides that the bus stops in Kalaw to pick up more passengers.

Bus condition: Great! We have taken more than 10 different long distance busses in Myanmar, and this one was by far one of the more modern ones. 

How to book your bus ticket from Inle Lake to Mandalay?

We booked our bus tickets through our hotel. After checking the prices at several agencies, we got the idea that the price is about the same everywhere.

Price: The price that we paid in December 2018 has already changed. The best thing is to check at your hotel or guesthouse first. Then maybe compare another guesthouse or tour agency for the price. When we were there, everyone had the same bus times and prices, so we just booked it at our hotel. 

The bus ride experience from Inle Lake to Mandalay

The bus leaves from a place nearby Nyaungshwe. Included in the price was a pickup with a extra large tuktuk vehicle that took us 2 and 4 others to the bus station. 

The ride to the bus station was about half an hour, and after arriving at the bus station we had to wait for the official leaving time of the bus, which was 20.00. 

It was a VIP bus, so the seats were very comfortable and everyone received a blanket. The route of the bus would take us back to Kalaw where we hiked from to Inle Lake, and where some more passengers would be picked up. 

After 45 minutes of driving we stopped at a road-side dinner for dinner. The place served the typical Shan noodles, Ba Pau, fried rice, fried noodles, etc. 

After a 30 minute dinner break, we where on the road again and heading towards Mandalay.

The freezing bus experience

The downside of taking a VIP bus in Myanmar, or anywhere in South East Asia is that the drivers take a serious attempt at freezing all the passengers.

The airco was on full power, and the bus reached an inner temperature of 5 degrees Celsius. We were wearing our warmest cloths and covering up with the blankets.

The drivers seemed to also be freezing their butt off as they were wearing a beanie hat and also covered up with blankets. Several passengers, including us, asked to turn down the airco several times. The driver would do for several minutes, but then turn it back on full power. 

We arrived in Mandaly at 3.00 am, as 2 ice popsicles ready to be served to the taxi drivers.

The sad part about it all, is that Anastasia ended up getting ill from the experience and had fever for the next 5 days. 

Our piece of advice this bus ride

Wear warm cloths! The bus will be freezing and the drivers won’t turn down the airco. If you want to avoid being sick after the bus ride, put on all your warmest cloths, including beanie hat and gloves.

Where to stay in Mandalay?

We had a great hotel in Mandalay, right near the Royal Palace and all the best restaurants.

The hotel is called Hotel Sahara and you can book it through

It was also really comfortable with great staff that helped us when Anastasia was suffering from a fever for 5 days. 

If Hotel Sahara is booked out for your dates, you can find other hotels on Booking