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Transport for Mandalay-Bagan in August

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I'm planning a 9 or 10 day trip to Mandalay and Bagan via Yangon. I intend to go to these places as these would be the driest during August. I have some questions.

1. From Mandalay to Bagan, I hope to take a river boat. I'm partial to the slow ferry, but wouldn't like it's uncertainty and likelihood of breaking down. What are the options available in July, and which would you recommend?

2. Depending on what is my exit strategy, I will either travel from Bagan to:

a) Yangon by bus? Is this advisable during the rainy season, safety, prices, night buses?

b) Mandalay by bus?

c) Mandalay by flight? I'm trying to reduce the number of internal flights as they are quite costly.

Thanks in advance for your comments and help!

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