From Inle Lake you can take a direct bus to Mandalay. There are several options for the bus time. There is a bus leaving at 6.00 am 8.00am, and a night bus leaving at 19.00.
The duration of the trip is approximately 8 hours.
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. 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 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 and us asked to turn down the airco several times, which 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.