For most travellers the trip from Yangon to Bagan in Myanmar will feature a short 1 hour flight. Nice and simple, but it does usually involve a very early wake up call to catch the flight, and at over $100 per person it is certainly not the cheapest option.
Alternatively some will decide that taking the bus is the preferred option. Buses leave Yangon late in the evening and take somewhere between 7-8 hours, arriving into Bagan in the early morning. At just under $20 per person, it is certainly a lot cheaper then flying, the seats are also a lot comfier and there’s even entertainment systems provided, but obviously involves a long overnight trip that is not to everyone’s liking.
There is however a final option that while not appealing to everyone, is certainly a novel and interesting way to make the trip. The mode of transport? A train ride of course.
So How Long is The Train Journey?
There’s no easy way to say it, so we’re just going to come out with it. The train from Yangon to Bagan takes 17 hours.
Now while we realise many readers will have clocked off after that last sentence, for those still reading, let’s talk about this quite incredible journey that we would certainly recommend.
There are quite a few ticket options, but we would absolutely recommend the upper class ticket which will set you back roughly $25. It’s possible to book your ticket either online or at the main train station in Yangon. For those looking for a sleeper ticket, we’d certainly recommend booking in advance. It’s possible to get a ticket on the day of travel, but this will probably only be for seating (no bed). With there being around 17 hours worth of travel, we’d certainly recommend the sleeper ticket option. Trains usually leave Yangon in the afternoon, and will arrive into Bagan in the late morning.
For those expecting the Orient Express, unfortunately you better look elsewhere. This train journey is all about the authentic experience, rubbing shoulders with the locals, and enjoying the slow pace of life as you trundle along the old tracks. The facilities while adequate are certainly nothing to write home about.
It’s worth getting to the station well in advance of your departure time as the station in Yangon can be a bit tricky to navigate, and it’s never nice to board a train in a fluster.
As mentioned before, the sleeper ticket is the best option, so we’re going to go ahead and assume you’ve gone for this. Your ticket will have a number on it, and it will be up to you (along with the very helpful people at the station), to find your carriage and compartment.
In your compartment you’ll find 4 pull out beds, which you’ll be sharing (unless you are a group of 4) with other travellers. Once you’ve settled down a train attendant will come along to take your dinner and breakfast orders and also help with any drinks orders that you might have.
As you pull out of Yangon and make your way into the countryside, you’ll easily be drawn to the windows and the scenes outside that pass you by. Watch as the bustling streets of Yangon make way for the calmer landscape surrounding this large city. It’s quite magical.
As the evening wears on, and you’ve eaten the dinner that has been brought to you, it’s time to settle down for the night. By this time we usually find that the drinks are flowing, as is the conversation as you get to know your fellow travellers.
The beds you’ll also find are comfortable enough and you are supplied with a small pillow and a sheet to wrap yourself in. There will also be a fan in your compartment and a toilet nearby which to put it bluntly, is a circular hole cut into the floor which you can watch the railway track through.
The night wears on and before you know it, you’ll be waking as the sun rises with green fields all around as you trundle along towards Bagan. Here is the time to witness rural life as locals go about their daily routines, washing in streams, walking to work and selling goods.
Your train will slowly arrive into Bagan in the late afternoon where you can disembark, stretch your legs, and set out into the incredible landscape in front of you.
The Final Word
Up for an adventure? Then the train journey from Yangon to Bagan could certainly be for you. While it’s obviously no the quickest, it will certainly by the journey that you talk the most about when you get back home having met likeminded travellers, chatted away with the locals and even enjoyed a few winks of shut eye.
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