Upon our arrival in Yangon I went to the ticket offices of the long distance bus service to make sure I could get a bus to Mandalay the following night. "No problem there are 2 seats left" You are lucky. But "We are not sure about the air-con" "OK" OK" haha He must have mentioned the air-con no less than 5 times. Well actually I don't care for air-con buses in Asia. I like the wind and dust blowing through my hair. But ...The Air-con did work...For about an hour! LOL Then we had to open the upper windows as the lower windows were in a fixed position. Oh yeah and I asked the guy how long the bus would take. "hmm about 15 hours" He was trying to make me feel good! As it took 18 hours. The bus stops every couple of hours for 30 minutes to use the toilet and have a snack/tea and then again every couple more hours for an hour to have a meal. The bus stops that we stopped at always had great food at reasonable prices. Almost every meal that my son and I ate cost about 1500 Kyat (US$1.65) total for the 2 of us and that included a soda for him and a bottle of water for me.
The cheapest way to get around Mandalay is by Taxi bus, basically you just flag down the driver and climb aboard. You should check with the driver first to make sure he is headed in your direction. The fare depends on the distance, expect around 20 to 50 kyat for a short trip (USD $0.02-$0.05). Cheap!
It is not unusual to see a bus this crowded. This ute is equipped to seat 8 people, although by my count there were 33 people on board. It seemed remarkably smooth though and might be a good option if you want to save a few kyat or do something adventurous.
Pickups are leaving when full from 84. street near 29. street (Zegyo market) to Amarapura (about 200 Kyat) and continue Sagaing (400 Kyat). Ask the conductor where to get off.
We didn't use the buses in Mandalay. As you can see they get very full and it is quite common to see people hanging off the back or sitting on the roof!