The easiest and most common way to get from Yangon to Bagan is to take a bus. You can either take a day bus or a night bus but I recommend a night bus because it is a long trip.
On a map it does not look so far and apps like google maps will usually give you shorter drive times but the road infrastructure in Myanmar is not the best. The roads are very bumpy and not straight at all so the drive always takes longer than you think.
We booked with JJ Express and had ana amazing experience. The tickets were 18,500 kyat pp ($18.50), which is actually quite expensive because it is a VIP bus.
You can book a standard bus for about $10 per person.
The bus station in Yangon can be chaotic. I lost count of how many bus companies there were (this is the main way to get around the country) and each bus company has their own storefront and waiting area. DO NOT try to do this on your own. Book a transfer with the bus company or have a taxi take you directly to your bus departure area (just show the driver your bus ticket and they will know where to take you).
JJ Express waiting area was a welcome break from the chaos. There was nice seating, a clean bathroom (no toilet paper so have your own) and we were offered endless cups of coffee.
I have to say, JJ Express was well worth the price. The seats recline with a foot rest (much like the first class reclining airplane seats) and are nice leather. You are also given a blanket and a pillow. The bus is set up to have 2 seats on one side and single seats on the other side of the aisle. Very comfortable.
The bus did have a bathroom, HOWEVER, it was kept locked the entire trip and we could not find out why. Don’t worry though, we made 2 bathroom stops and if you need additional stops you can just go tell the driver and it is not a problem.
And the best part, JJ Express offers snack and drink service! Just like an airplane! The had a small cart that wheeled down the aisle. Each passenger was given a snack box containing cake and cookies (individually wrapped) and offered tea/coffee/soda. This was such a nice touch.
About a third of the way there we stopped at a large rest area called Oasis. Here you can use the bathroom and get some dinner. We had a really nice noodle soup.
I also noticed at least one ATM here! (I would have cash anyway though because you never know if it will work or not).
Our driver was driving incredibly fast. At times it felt more like he was flying the bus rather than driving it. Think about this if you get motion sickness, it is a bumpy ride.
To help I recommend keeping the window curtains closed and do not look out any of the windows, including the front window. Also, when you sleep use an eye mask and ear plugs. This helps you to ignore the swaying of the bus to a point.
Because our driver was going so fast we arrived in Bagan early. We were scheduled to arrive around 7am and we arrived at 5am!
Taxi drivers will bombard the bus trying to get your business. This was incredibly overwhelming so early in the morning after a night bus so get ready!
I recommend talking with some other passengers on the bus. Bagan has three main areas: Old Bagan, New Bagan and Nyaung U. People going to the same area should share a taxi to get a better price (most of the taxis are more like a mini van or mini bus).
Finally, if your bus arrives as early as ours did you are before sunrise. Ask your taxi driver if they can take you to see sunrise over the pagodas before taking you to your hotel (likely you can check in that early anyway). Our driver took us to see the sunrise for only an extra $5 per person which is a great price!
This is a great option because
1. Sunrise over the pagodas is the #1 thing to do in Bagan
2. You are up anyway
3. Likely you cannot check into you hotel at 5am and nothing else is open yet
4. You do not have to get up before dawn another day of your vacation