How to Plan Your Travels Through Myanmar: Buses vs Flights

Myanmar Bus vs Flight Nothing Familiar Travel

When planning your Myanmar travel route there’s plenty of things to consider. How comfortable do you want to be? What’s your budget? Which of the many beautiful destinations around this country do you want to see? Making these decisions can be tough, but we’re here to make traveling through Myanmar a little easier! With great bus options like the JJ Express and many domestic Myanmar flights to choose from, you’ll have no problem getting around to the countries best attractions.

Myanmar Travel Inspiration

Typical Myanmar Travel Routes

While there’s endless places to visit in Myanmar you do need to remember the country is still new to tourism. That means unless you’re going hard off the beaten path you’ll probably do the classic route of Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan, and Mandalay.

There is one other place we wanted to mention that’s recently gained some steam in the tourism world… And it’s a beach! Ngapali actually ended being one of the most beautiful beaches we’ve been to in Southeast Asia. Below we’ve highlighted routes with and without Ngapali Beach, and the transportation available between each place.

Classic Myanmar Travel Route  

Yangon → Inle Lake: Bus or Flight
Inle Lake → Bagan: Bus, Flight, or Private Driver
Bagan → Mandalay: Bus, Flight, or Private Driver
Mandalay → Yangon: Bus or Flight

 The small village of Hpa-An is also becoming a hot travel destination in Myanmar. You can take the JJ Express from Yangon, but know that you’ll have to return to the city before heading to your next stop.

Myanmar Travel Route

Myanmar Travel Route with Ngapali Beach 

Yangon → Bagan: Bus or Flight
Bagan → Mandalay: Bus, Flight, or Private Driver
Mandalay → Inle Lake: Bus, Flight, or Private Driver
Inle Lake → Ngapali Beach: Flight Only
Ngapali Beach → Yangon: Flight Only

→Flights run from Inle Lake to Ngapali beach, but NOT from Ngapali beach to Inle Lake at the time of writing this. That means you should make the beach your last stop in Myanmar, or else you’ll have to backtrack and book an additional flight to Yangon.

Ngapali Beach Travel Route

Traveling Through Myanmar by Plane

There’s a few different Myanmar flight companies to choose from, but they’re all running the same routes we highlighted above. Each flight between the major tourist cities and towns will only take between 45 minutes to just under 2 hours.

Comparatively, the direct Myanmar bus routes on companies like JJ Express take between 8 and 12 hours. So you can see why flying can be a great option! As far as the prices you should expect to pay between $50-90 USD domestically.

Thandwe Airport Ngapali

What Airline to Fly

The company we chose for our Myanmar flights was Mann Yadanarpon, however there are plenty of other options. Myanmar Airways International, Golden Myanmar Airlines, Myanmar National Airlines, and Air KBZ are all popular companies. You should do your own research to see which best fits your plans. Below you’ll find the airport names along with the corresponding codes.

  • Yangon: Yangon International Airport (RGN)
  • Inle Lake: Heho Airport (HEH)
  • Bagan: Nyaung U Airport (NYU)
  • Mandalay: Mandalay International Airport (MDL)
  • Ngapali Beach: Thandwe Airport (SNW)

More Tips for your Myanmar Flights

-Double check the flight time. Many companies use one plane, but it might make multiple stops before getting to the final destination. This can extend your travel day by hours so look to fly non-stop routes only.

-Book directly on the companies website. Going through 3rd party sites is a hassle and can often cost more. Buying directly on the companies website is also the only way to guarantee getting a real ticket.

-Arrange a driver when you land. Your hotel can send someone to pick you up and it will often be the same price as a taxi!

-Private drivers are available between the Myanmar cities. Just know that you’ll be paying at least the price of a flight or more unless you have people to split it with.

Traveling through Myanmar Flight

Myanmar Flights

Myanmar Bus Travel 

Buses are the other very popular way of traveling through Myanmar, and are also much cheaper than flying. Honestly though, it really depends on how much time you have in the country. As we mentioned above, the bus rides can take between 8 and 12 hours as apposed to 1 hour of flight time between each place.

For this reason, the Myanmar overnight bus may be a great option for both budget travelers and those on a time crunch. You can also take a morning bus, but keep in mind you will lose an entire day of travel going that route. We paid between $10-15 USD each for bus tickets.

Traveling through Myanmar Bus

What Myanmar Bus Company to Use

We took JJ Express exclusively while traveling through Myanmar. They’re known as the best bus company by far, and we were happy with our experience.

The thing we were most impressed by was that the seats all have their own TV’s with a vast movie selection. We’ve taken many buses in Asia, South America, the United States, and Europe, and have never had TV’s on a bus before riding JJ Express!

More Tips for your Myanmar Bus Rides

-Layer up. For whatever reason they crank the air conditioning even on the night buses in Myanmar. Make sure to dress warm and use the blankets they give out.

-Book in advance. These buses are popular (especially the JJ Express) and fill up fast during the peak season.

-Bring water, but don’t overindulge. The buses don’t have restrooms available onboard and the stops are very random.

-Dinner is often included. While we can’t speak for all buses, ours stopped one hour into the ride where we were served a bowl of noodles.

JJ express Myanmar bus

JJ express Traveling through Myanmar

What Mode of Transportation is Right for you?

Hopefully this Myanmar travel guide has given you some ideas for planning your trip! What you decide will likely be based on your budget, time restraints, and the level of comfort you want. We ended up using a mix of both planes and buses and that worked well for us.

Visiting Myanmar Nothing Familiar Travel

If you have any additional questions or tips to add make sure to leave us a comment below!

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar

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Traveling through Myanmar Guide

Travel Planning 

 Flights: We always find our cheap flight deals using Skyscanner. That’s how we flew from Norway to Poland for under $20 USD, and Thailand to Vietnam for less than $50! 

 Transportation: 12Go is what we use to book ferries, trains, buses, and transfers while traveling through South East Asia! 

 Accommodation: Compare competitive sites for hotels such as and Agoda. Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget. 

Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for thousands of activities around the world. From food tours to skip the line entry passes! 

 Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.

 Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials

Travel Planning Guide

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