Lonely Planet Myanmar 2016Solitary Planet Myanmar 2016
Travel in Myanmar (Burma)
Myanmar's internal traffic has increased, new aircraft - most of them with propellers instead of jets - are substituting older, less dependable aircraft. Often the flight goes to several locations in one and the same flight schedule, sometimes they land at an airfield, unload and reload and take off again 30 mins later. Dayly service is available between the major cities of Yangon (Rangoon), Mandalay, Heho (for Inle Lake), Nyaung U (for Bagan) and Thandwe (for Ngapali Beach).
Below you will find the contacts of the Yangon carriers. All of these carriers have the same primary destination (i.e. from Yangon to/from Nay Pyi Daw, Mandalay, Bagan, Inle, Sittwe). The Myanmar National Airways offer the widest choice of services. During the high seasons, timetables between key cities such as Yangon, Mandalay, Nyaung U and Heho are the most dependable - but it is important to always review your departures at least 24 hrs before your flight and on the actual time.
Smaller routes can be terminated and resumed as needed. Bicycle hire signage is available at Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake's favourite resorts; prices begin at K 2000 per night; top class accommodation and sometimes further afield can cost up to K4000. A number of routes offer bicycles so that you can hire better ones from an agent (e.g. EXO Travel in New Bagan).
Except for Yangon and Mandalay, the car volume is quite low. Some of the tourists are bringing their own tour bicycles to Myanmar. The climbs are modest in most parts of Myanmar, which are open to tourists. Several of the most important itineraries around Myanmar: It is possible to place your bike in the base in coaches. However, you may have to cover a little more.
In smaller busses, you may be asked to buy a "seat" for your bicycle. A few bicycle rides link the points of Myanmar's greatest hit - for example the Pyay Hwy up to Bagan, then to Mandalay and back to Yangon via Meiktila and Taungoo. It is harsher but more beautiful to ride to some mountain areas like Lake Inle.
Myanmar Yangon Bike World Explores is a local bike hire and sale agency that can also provide tour-guidance. There are several routes of three nights by bike around Yangon (from 450 US$ at least two persons) up to longer adventure trips leading from Bagan to Chin State. The EXO Travel network takes high-end cycling from Mandalay to Bagan, the Shan Hills and Mon State attractions.
Bangkok Spice Roads with five different routes, incl. the possibility to ride from Bangkok to Yangon for 14 nights (from US$ 3595 per person). A further trip follows a part of the old Burma Road from Pyin Oo Lwin to Mandalay. Yangon Think Asia Travel & Excursions offers bicycle trips on Inle Lake, Kalaw and Mandalay.
Besides the great half and full days bike trips around Yangon, the Yangon-based enterprise offers adventure bike and trek trips in the states of Chin, Rakhine and Shan. There is a wide range of vessels - from creaking old goverment ferryboats to luxury cruisers - cruising the Myanmar canals. As well as the streams, it is possible to sail the Bay of Bengal between Sittwe and Taunggok (north of Ngapali Beach).
The Myanma Five Star Line, the state-owned sea transportation company, is only freight, but you can try to jump on a ship to Thandwe, Taunggok or Sittwe or to Dawei, Myeik or Kawthoung to the southern side sometime in the near time. There are several luxurious vessels on the lower and higher courses of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) and the Chindwin River.
Most of the tours start in either Bagan or Mandalay, but the tours in Yangon start from time to time. This Myanmar-based cruise operator operates a cruise between Mandalay and Bagan (four consecutive full day, three overnight single/double rooms from ?2045/2614). You will sail for 10 consecutive night between Bagan and Bhamo on board the 18-room Avalon Myanmar, constructed in 2015.
From US$4349 per passenger the base journey begins and ends in Yangon - see air fares for arrival and departure. The Pandaw Cruises offer several high-end luxury ocean voyages aboard a reproduction of the IFC fleets of tea and bronze, such as a 10-day voyage between Yangon and Mandalay (single/double rooms from US$ 2859/5718) and a 20-day route describing the Chindwin and the Ayeyarwady River headwaters (single/double rooms US$ 7055/14.110).
A new service since 2016 is the Yangon crossing from Ranong in the south of Myanmar over the Myeik (Mergui) archipelago. Magnificently renovated steamships are used from one day between Mandalay and Bagan (single/twin from US$ 380/870) to 10 day tours with sightseeing along the Chindwin Valley (single/twin US$ 4175/9600).
These luxurious cruise tours are operated by the Orient Express and last between two and twelve overnight stays on two vessels. A 43-bed line that is giant for Egyptian Ayeyarwadys living standard, The Roads to Mandalay features a large indoor heated indoor heated bath and spa. Ananda Sanctuary This slim Myanmar-built ship has 20 suite accommodation on three levels.
Routes vary from the three-day Bagan-Mandalay tour (from UK£714 per person) to the 11 overnight stays between Mandalay and Yangon or Mandalay and Bhamo (both from UK£2989 per person). Designed after its Yangon counterpart, the Strand Cruise has 27 en-suite booths with floor-to-ceiling doors and small balcony for full view of the canal.
During the three or four day cruise between Mandalay and Bagan (or the other way around) there is a small swimmingpool with deck chairs and free spas. This UK shipping company operates the revised 2013 Myanmar Mandalay on its two-week Myanmar Explorer route from Bangkok, with departures to Yangon and then to Inle Lake and Mandalay, where you take the ferry for a downstream journey to SALES.
Nearly always quicker and less expensive than train services, Myanmar's busses vary from deluxe, air-conditioned and fast train services to less deluxe but enjoyable (air-conditioned) busses, as well as locals and 32-seater coaches. Please note the following points and your long-distance journey by coach may be more pleasant: Bottled waters are often distributed in better coaches.
The TV often roars for a large part of the voyage - usually it stays at Myanmar gigs or films, things like, oh, characters who die bloodthirsty fatalities in cars, but the casual Raiders of the Lost Ark slip in. The Myanmar superstitious says that no one should be asked: "How much longer?
There are many long-distance journeys that offer the greatest convenience, with new (ish) air-conditioned coaches - some of which are very beautiful. If there are several long-distance connections, many flights depart between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. or later and reach their destinations in the early morning hour (often 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.). The locals can't allow themselves to spend a working night in a coach, so they would rather drive over night; and the busses don't heat up so much by dodging the harsh afternoon solar radiation.
They all stop several a day for long journeys for toilets and refreshments stops. When you want additional climate control but do not want to travel all the way on one of these trails, you usually have to cover the full cost of the ticket (e.g. from Mandalay to Taungoo you will have to cover the full cost of the ticket to Yangon) and expect to arrive in the midnight.
Similarly large but older coaches without A/C make short distance journeys, such as for example from Yangon to Pyay or Taungoo to Yangon. Travel time for all kinds of traffic is very flexible and all kinds of busses can sometimes fail. Old busses often stop to spray a warm motor.
It is advisable to book busses for important stretches such as Lake Bagan Island a few nights in advance from November to February. Seats are reserved for all coaches - you should be able to see the timetable at the booking office. There is no apparent way to get by coach between the four major Myanmar destinations:
Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay and Bagan. The majority of travelers depart from Yangon and take the Mandalay coach one evening and then choose between Inle Lake or Bagan; this will require at least a few accommodation coaches. When you like to see the landscape out of the windows or sleep in bed, you can go to these places without taking a midnight coach.
Preplanning is necessary and will take a little more of your schedule - about a week's travelling and a minimum of K50,500 for the following busses, vans and/or pick-up trucks: Renting a vehicle and a rider for a part or the entire journey is a good way, although it is not inexpensive.
In order to be able to drive yourself, the permit must be obtained from the state MTT and the road traffic authority (RTAD; www.myanmarrtad.com). You should be paying $70 or more per rental per rental per night for a rental unit and a motorist outside Yangon, according to the workmanship of the rental unit. It is possible to rent motorcycles in a few places, such as Hpa-an and Dawei, either manually or automatically from 100 cc to 125 cc, but motorcycles are generally not available in Myanmar.
You can rent e-bicycles in Bagan. About half of the 15,000 mile Myanmar highway is asphalted, the rest is unpaved rubble, unpaved mud, or mud. All right, turn right! We have all Myanmar transport on the right side of the street. While Yangon is the best place to organize a chauffeur, perhaps for a complete journey, it is possible to find a "taxi" or "private car" from most tourist offices and boarding houses across the nation, especially in favourite tourist resorts such as Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake.
They are the most convenient - and the A/C is convenient when it is dust and heat - but the most costly choice is between $150 and $200 per diem, according to the duration of the itinerary. Europcar Myanmar (www.europcar-myanmar.com) is newly equipped but currently hires out vehicles with driver.
The majority of tourist agents in Yangon, Mandalay and Bagan - as well as pensions and hostels elsewhere - can provide vehicles and driver services. Other costs to be considered when arriving by road are the usual K100 to K200, which are charged when driving into many cities and communities throughout Myanmar. Tolls for personal vehicles using the highway from Yangon to Mandalay are K5000, while for Nay Pyi Taw K2500.
For example, in Mandalay and Myitkyina it costs 10,000 K per night to hire a motorcycle. Notice that motorcycles and scooters are prohibited in most parts of Yangon (they are found in the far northern part of the town near the Dalah International Park and across the river). Anyone who decides to hitchhike will be safe if they are travelling in couples and let someone know where they want to go.
Another good thing about not hitchhiking in Myanmar is that it is possible that locals may not know which areas are off-limits for aliens and may inadvertently carry them to such areas. Bigger cities in Myanmar have a wide range of bus (ka), motorbike taxicabs, bike-rikschas, or trishaw (saiq-ka, for sidecars), horse-drawn carriages (myint hlei), ox-drawn carriages, cabs (taxis),
In large towns (Yangon, Mandalay, Pathein, Mawlamyine and Taunggyi), however, local busses run regularly on the major roads at a set price per passenger, usually K200. The majority of pick-ups link short-haul locations and make many bus and tram stops on the way to collect passengers or goods. Pikk-ups follow some useful or necessary trails, such as from Mandalay to Amarapura, from Myingyan to Meiktila, from Bagan to Mt Popa and to the Golden Rock at Kyaiktiyo.
In contrast to busses, they travel on a regular basis during the days. Pickups often begin at the coach or rail terminal (in some cities they stay under a large bankan in the middle ) and then, unlike many other busses, make laps through the main roads to catch more people. Travelling by rail on Myanmar's narrow-gauge railways is like riding a horses, with coaches rolling back and forth and everyone fortunate enough to have a place to sit in the sky - sleeping is virtually impossibl.
In comparison to coach journeys on the same lines, the journey by rail is an additional travelling period to which any delay (of several hour if you are unlucky) may be added. But rail fares are now cheaper because people from abroad are paying as much as the people. The itineraries sometimes lead to areas that are not accessible by street and the service offers the possibility to communicate with the people.
Launched by the British in 1877 with the opening of the 163 mile line between Yangon and Pyay, Myanmar's railway system now has over 3357 mi of tracks and 858 outposts. This 386 mile journey from Yangon to Mandalay via Bago, Nay Pyi Taw and Thazi is the most famous railway journey.
The 5/6 from Yangon and Mandalay has been operating since 2016 with new diesel-electric engines and wagons from China. Any other itineraries to consider: There is an express line connecting Bagan (Nyaung U) with Mandalay, from where there are three more minor lines: one slightly northwestern over the Ava Bridge and as far as Ye-U; one directly northerly to Myitkyina in Kachin state; and one northeastern via Pyin Oo Lwin to Lashio in the northerly part of Shan state.
If you need more information about all of our trails and service, a good resource is www.seat61.com. These fast passenger train service is far better than the general operation of Myanmar train service.