Nyaung Shwe is the gateway to Inle Lake, one of Myanmar's most beautiful destinations. Reaching it from Bagan is a fairly simple drive, at least as far as southeast Asian highways go, that gets you there in less than a day. The journey is roughly 215 miles (345 km) traveling southeast and will take about seven hours. There are also direct flights to neighboring He Hoe which is an easy 45-minute taxi ride away.
In addition to driving or flying, there are buses and minivans available for folks who prefer to ride along and enjoy the views. There aren't any trains connecting this stretch of road; however, that's probably for the best since trains in Myanmar, while scenic and beautiful, are excruciatingly slow.
Another option is to book a 10-day trip which includes both Bagan and Inle Lake (this particular itinerary features a cooking experience with Shan locals), or this 8-day tour with a sunset cruise along the Irrawaddy River.
Duration: 40 minutes
If you're looking for the quickest and most convenient way to get from Bagan to Nyaung Shwe, flying is definitely the answer. It only takes 40 minutes to get from Nyaung-U airport (NYU), just outside Bagan, to neighboring He Hoe (via He Hoe Airport (HEH)), a 45-minute taxi ride from town. With transportation to and from the airport, the journey will take you about 4 hours; however, it's still much faster than journeying by road. Both Myanmar Airways International (MAI) and Air KBZ run direct flights.
By Private Vehicle
Duration: 8 to 10 hours
If you don't want to fly, another great choice is to take a private vehicle. You can hire a driver or rent a car yourself. Either way, the trip will take about 8 hours from start to finish. To get there, hop on Route 2 (also called Anawrahta Road) and follow it until you hit the town of Nyang-U. From there, travel southwest to Shwenyaung where you'll turn due south for the last 30 minutes of the journey.
Duration: 8 to 10 hours
As an alternative to driving a private vehicle, there are also shared minivans that take the route daily. They have air conditioning but there's not a lot of room to stretch. Although it sounds counterintuitive, the full-sized buses, while sightly slower, can sometimes actually be more comfortable. That said, minivans are good choices if you're on a budget but want to get there a little faster than by bus.
Duration: 8 to 11 hours
Buses are the slowest options; however, in many ways they're among the most comfortable. Dubbed "VIP buses," the seats fully recline and offer a decent amount of legroom. Plus, you can watch with rolling mountain scenery outside the window. They typically serve water and snacks, and some have outlets and charging ports. JJ Express, one of the main VIP bus operators, will pick you up your hotel and drop you at the Nyaung Shwe bus station.