As well as the fast boats, there is a twice-weekly slow boat from Bagan. This leaves in the early morning and takes around 15 hours (it is slower upstream/northwards than downstream/southwards). Slow boats occasionally get stuck on sandbanks (more likely in the dry season), which can cause significant delays.
The slow boat is a very basic, old fashioned ferry; foreigners are usually given plastic chairs but you often have to find your own space. It is also advisable to have some warm clothes if you are travelling between November and March, as it can get chilly in the early morning and overnight. Slow boat tickets cost $10.
From Katha – There are daily fast boats, taking 12 to 15 hours depending on the river level. Tickets cost K25,000 for foreigners; be prepared for an exhausting journey!
There are also slow boats, which typically run three times per week. Tickets for a cabin on the slow boat (at least 2 days) are $54; deck tickets are $12.
From Bhamo – The slow boat runs up to three times per week, and takes 2-3 days. Tickets for a cabin are $54; deck tickets are $12. Alternatively, you can take a boat to Katha and then change onto the fast boat from there (see above).
**Please note that access to some parts of Kachin State are restricted to foreigners due to the security situation there.**
Full details of IWT (Inland Water Transport) boat services can be found here.
To find out more about boat travel, go to getting around Myanmar by boat.