We decided to take a boat from Mandalay to Bagan because we thought it would be a nice alternative to the bus or flying and we could watch life on the river as we cruised by. The boat was very slow, they told us we would arrive in Bagan late afternoon but it was more like evening. I think it was around 7:00pm when we finally docked, all in all it took us a little over 12 hours. This time of year when the river level is down it’s easy to get stuck on a sandbar, so the crew would check the water level with sticks to guide the captain to the deepest part of the river. We later heard from other travelers who were stuck for hours, luckily that didn’t happen to us.
The boat itself was not in the best condition (and we were on the good safe boat), the seats that are inside are all pretty worn out and most of them are broken and stuck in the recline position. When we boarded we quickly ditched our luggage and headed for the top deck and sat in some lawn chairs for the entire trip. It was freezing in the morning and I stayed cocooned in a sweater and blanket but by noon it was sun tanning weather.
They gave us breakfast and lunch on board which wasn’t too bad (it was edible) and you could buy water, pop, and beer. There are washrooms on the boat but they are very small and it was wise to be quick about it.
We enjoyed all the sites along the river, people fishing, people tending their crops, kids waving, and men bathing their oxen and carts.
We stopped half way to pick up two passengers, love the makeshift hand rail! While we were stopped, these Ladies rushed over to sell us bananas.
We saw a lot of laundry drying in the sun along the banks of the river.
Another day came to an end with a beautiful sunset.
We would recommend going this way if you have the time to give up an entire day for travel, if not then it would be best to fly.