I make no apologies for the use of capitals in the title of this tip, I cannot stress enough that, if you are travelling the "low road" from Magwe you do NOT want to take the Hilux jeep option. As I didn't fancy a really early start to get the bus, I had heard that there was a Hilux jeep @ 1400 hours from the bus station so I thought I'd play it smart and use that. Not smart, not smart at all.
I couldn't get in the front as it had been previously booked (by what, of all things, looked like a honeymoon couple). So 4000 kyat (4 USD) secured me a place in the back. Unfortunately, at one point I counted 20 other people and a baby in the back with me! This is not to mention the six people standing on the tailgate, the thirteen on the roof and the three in comparative comfort in the cab.
Just take a look at the picture and work out for yourself what it was like in the heat of the day, on a dusty road, with 42 people in and on it.
Added to that, they only made one rest stop after 3 and a half hours.
I have been on some fairly uncomfortable journeys in various countries - Cambodia springs to mind in that respect. I'm 6'5" tall, and I expect to be a bit uncomfortable, but this was undoubtedly the worst journey I have ever made. It was absolutely excruciating. If there had been a settlement where I knew I could have got a room, I would have happily got off and walked the rest of the way the next day!
Brave the early morning and get the bus.
If you are heading out of the Bagan area, beyond the range of the horsecarts, you have two options. you can either get a taxi, or do as i did, and ask about for a jeep. You can get one of these pretty easily. I was charged 10USD for a trip to Mt. Popa and back (I'd been quoted more than that for a regular taxi). Although the driver asked me did I want to sit in the front, I actually chose to sit in the back and indulge myself with a bit of photography.
Like just about anywhere else in Myanmar, for short journeys, the trishaw is available. I must say, I have certain reservations about trishaws (and rickshaws and all the other types of human powered transport). I just feel slightly uncomfortable with the concept of a man who is about half my size labouring under a hot sun to pedal me about the place. I have sort of convinced myself, however, that a) local people use them all the time, so it's not as if it's an exploitative tourist thing, b) if the guys are working at it anyway, they are probably glad of the custom and c) at least they are ecologically friendly compared to the deisel belching taxis available.
A short ride round town will cost between 500 and 1000 kyat (50c - 1USD).
You have several options for travelling about Nyaung U, although, to be honest, you can walk almost anywhere in a few minutes, the place isn't that big. A lovely way to get about, though, is the horse cart, so popular here and elsewhere in Myanmar.
Whilst there are no seats, the back is remarkably comfortable and is padded completely with cushions. The gentle clip-clopping of the horse would be enough to lull you to sleep were it not for the fact that the passing views are so interesting.
All prices are open to negotiation, but allow about 2000 kyat (2 USD) for a journey almost anywhere in the centre. I paid 4000 kyat for a journey from the Aung Mingalar hotel (see seperate tip), right at one end of the town to the port right at the other. This was at the appallingly early hour of 0430 and the guy had got out of bed and got the horse up specially, so I reckon that was a fairly good travel deal.