How to Get from Bagan to Mrauk U by Bus
Mrauk U in Myanmar is a fascinating place to visit due to its remoteness and 15th-century ruins. It is, however, a pain in the ass to get to from most places in the country. There is a reliable overland route to get from Bagan to Mrauk U that’s been making the rounds on the Internet. All it takes to get between Bagan and Mrauk u $37, one transfer and a lot of patience for the overnight journey.
Reserve Your Ticket
Before my friend and I left Bagan, we called the friendly Minh at the KMH Fashion Shop in Magwe. He organizes the tickets and reserved our seats. I suppose you could try just showing up but you wouldn’t want to waste a night if you can’t get on. The ticket is 30,000 kyat ($30) and we paid on arrival. Minh’s phone number is 95680758.
Minivan from Bagan to Magwe
In the Bagan bus station (technically the Nyaung-U village part of the area), we pick up tickets to get to Magwe. It only takes about four hours and costs 7500 kyat ($7.50). Included in the price of admission are Burmese covers of 70s pop songs (such as Abba’s Fernando) played loudly throughout the trip.
There are several departures during the day, and since the connecting bus to get to Magwe doesn’t leave until 10 pm at the earliest, you can take one of the later minivans if you booked a ticket in advance. We took the 1 p.m. one just in case anything went wrong and we were delayed.
Wait in Magwe
We were dropped off in Magwe bus station and from there and had two motorbike taxis arranged by Minh at KMH Fashion Shop waiting to get us to KMH Fashion Shop. It’s across from the Rolex Guest House, which is on the main roundabout. Odds are you’ll have a lot of time to kill so drop off your bags and grab some food. Magwe is small town and not the most exciting, but the view from the nearby bridge is nice enough.
Prepare Yourself for a Rough Night
The bus that pulls in for overnight journey isn’t terrible or particularly good. I guess any bus riding taking around 12 hours isn’t comfortable. You can’t tell at night, but doing the return journey in broad daylight showed just how insane this road was. It’s incredibly steep, with hairpin turns everywhere and sharp cliffs throughout the trip. We saw one cargo truck that had recently fallen off and I’d be surprised if anyone survived. These photos are from the return trip during the day.
At night, the passengers are in blissful ignorance in the pitch black. There are numerous checkpoints along the way where foreigners have to get off and present their passports, and then wait for the information to be processed. On the way there, we were fortunate enough to stop only once.
Eventually, at around 10 a.m., the bus will arrive in the middle of Mrauk U just next to the walls of the palace ruins. We grabbed motorbikes to get to our hotel and were both too exhausted to do much that day.
There’s a 20-hour bus that goes direct to Yangon. The brutal length is only in theory, as one traveler reported it took 30 hours. Lord have mercy on that poor soul. Instead, we took the same bus back (departure at 10 a.m.) and then spent the night at the swelteringly hot Rolex Guesthouse. There were only evening buses from Magwe to Yangon, so the next day we took a minivan to Pyay and then a bus to Yangon in the morning.
The whole journey was exhausting yet Mrauk U was worth it. In 3 nights we only saw about 20 tourists, so this is still a relatively unspoiled part of the country. Here are some of the photos from the trip.
I'm an American freelance writer who spent a couple years living in Cambodia. Now I'm on the move again and traveling all over the place. I'm willing to try any bizarre liquor that's presented to me. Any recommendations?