Hong Kong travellers planning to visit Myanmar will have the option of flying non-stop to Mandalay for the first time from February 21, when HK Express begins twice-weekly flights to the country’s second largest city.

Although it usually plays second fiddle to the more attractive Yangon in the south, Mandalay is still well worth a trip, with some pleasant places to visit nearby, such as Amarapura, with its 19th-century U Bein Bridge (the longest and oldest teak wood bridge in the world), and the ancient cities of Sagaing and Inwa.

But it’s Mandalay’s relative proximity (compared to Yangon) to the spectacular temples of Bagan that makes this new air route a particularly interesting one. From Mandalay, Bagan is just a day trip away down the Irrawaddy River aboard a local boat, and the journey is relaxing and picturesque. Boats leave daily at 6.30am from October to April, arriving in Bagan at around 4pm, and tickets cost the equivalent of about HK$325.

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With 30-minute flights back to Mandalay departing several times a day, this will be a fairly quick and hassle-free way of visiting Bagan before it becomes as overrun with tourists as its counterpart in Angkor, Cambodia.

Full details on travelling between Mandalay and Bagan by boat, with the option to purchase tickets online, can be found at www.gomyanmar.com.

HK Express will also start scheduled flights to Yangon, which is currently served by Dragonair, in February, and has announced plans to begin regular flights to Luang Prabang, in Laos, in 2016.