I was wondering if you could help me, I am travelling to Myanmar in January and I want to take the bus overland to Bagan from Yangon (if there is one) then to Inle Lake and back to Yangon in about 8 days. Is this possible? Also how much are the buses, and how do I book it? Any suggestions to how much time I should allocate for each place? Thanks!
Yes it's possible but will be very knackering.
You can get a decent overnight A/C bus from Yangon to Inle. The easiest way to book a ticket would be through your guest house in Yangon but they will of course add some commission for the service. Travel agents in the centre of town tend to have cheaper prices for transport so it might be worth asking around.
Most people describe the bus ride between Bagan and Inle as the worst bus trip of their lives. Might be worth flying this leg... if you get an 8am flight it gives you practically a whole day in Inle. Otherwise the sole bus option from Bagan leaves at 4am and gets to Inle some 16 hours later, depending on breakdowns etc. You waste a day. Flights on Air Mandalay were $61, Air Bagan was a few dollars more.
Air Yangon has been grounded since early December BTW... no Air Yangon flights any more and Air Mandalay is using Myanmar Air planes for some of its flights. According to someone from Air Mandalay, the company only possesses 3 planes ....and one (maybe two now) are not flying due to technical problems. The guy assured me they had chosen the best Myanma Airways planes, checked that they were OK and that the crew was 100% Air Mandalay, including the pilot.
Coming back from Inle you can get an overnight bus. They all leave the junction at Shwe Nuang (sp?) around 2 or 3pm and arrive in Yangon around 5-6am.
Thanks for that, how is the bus from Yangon to Bagan? Because I was hoping not to have to return to a place that I had already been to for example: Yangon-Inle Lake-Bagan-Yangon or Yangon-Bagan-Inle Lake-Yangon. Which would be better do you think?
I flew to Bagan in order to meet up with a friend who was on a tight schedule and then went to Inle Lake afterwards so can't give any feedback about what the Yangon-Bagan bus is like. From what I heard it sounds similar to the one I got from Inle back to Yangon though. Pretty comfortable (by Burmese standards) but the A/C was ferociously cold, bring plenty warm clothes with you.
The journey time from Inle back to Yangon was about 15 hours, The bus I took left from the road junction at around 3pm and arrived in Yangon around 6am. I think the journey time from Yangon to Bagan is similar but don't know what the schedule is. Ask at your GH when you get there.
I don't think it makes much difference which place you go to first but you may want to stay a bit longer in Bagan than Inle. At Inle, one full day trip on the lake would suffice at a pinch to see the highlights whereas you can easily spend a few days in Bagan wandering about looking at the temples. It's worth renting a horse and cart in Bagan on the first day if you can find people to share so that you have an idea of where things are. A horsecart costs 8,000-12,000 Kyats depending on your bargaining powers and the number of passengers. The following days you can rent a bicycle to get around and explore on your own. (1,500 Kyats/day)