When I was researching for this trip, I read about OK Express that it was a good service. They do door to door so they pick you up from your hotel in Mandalay and drop you off at your hotel in Bagan or vice versa. If I had known this, I could have traveled at night without any worries. Anyway, it costs 9000 kiats or $9. They have maybe 3 trips a day. I took the earliest one at 8am.
I was the first person they picked up in this make shift small truck vehicle. They actually use these set up as Taxis in Mandalay. They also have cars but those are more expensive, these are what the usual Taxis look like.
We picked up a few people along the way until we were dropped off at a junction and we were riding our van finally. It had maybe 18 seats. Your seat number is on the ticket. Two thirds of the guests are foreigners and the rest are locals. The locals are not used to air conditioning or maybe they don’t like the feeling of being in an enclosed space so the assistant also gave barf bags. I actually saw the lady next to me use it. If windows can be opened, they would open it. I’ve seen this a few times on different transports, not on OK Express. It’s not fun because the AC goes out the window and it gets so hot.