Train Travel in MyanmarTravelling by train in Myanmar
Travelling in Myanmar (Burma) by train
Train travel can be one of the most tempting ways to get around Myanmar, as train travel often offers picturesque vistas and mixes with local people who are less likely to travel by plane or schoolbus. Sometimes a more pleasant trip is possible in luxury-class and night sleepers than in busses - although with a much bouncer trip than you are used to on other lines!
Train travel is generally more sluggish than coach travel, and for factors ranging from flood track to mechanics, it is also less dependable than coach travel; apart from the normally dependable Yangon-Mandalay train, travel time varies greatly. Notice that the chart on this page shows primarily train paths for non-nationals, not all train paths.
Myanmar classifies Myanmar up ('north') or down ('south') and each train has a number. Every train line also has a two or three-digit number. Common class: basic wood seating, usually very overcrowded. They are available on all traits. Top class: mostly wood seat with upholstered floors. Available only in certain moves.
Top class: large, comfortably sized seating. They are available on all traits. It is available on the Yangon - Mandalay and Mandalay - Myitkyina itineraries. Sleepers: locked lockers (maximum four people), with private facilities (separate entry, restroom, sitting room and bedroom ), but no entry to the remainder of the train. Normally only available on the Yangon - Bagan line.
Please be aware that the train operating environment on the Yangon to Mandalay line is generally better than on other routes across the country: the train is clean and climate control works better. Myanmar's more isolated areas are usually the slower and less dependable. We' ve got a special rail trip through Myanmar that includes the notorious death train in the southern part, the Yangon to Mandalay Express and the breathtaking Gokteik viaduct in Shan State.
You can book trainckets from Yangon to Myanmar here onlin. Otherwise, you will need to buy your train passes at the train terminal from which you depart (although in Yangon the box offices are separated from the central buildings - go to Yangon for more information), and at smaller train terminals you may need to meet with the stationmaster to buy your pass, as foreign nationals will be required to supply your ID number.
You can reserve a full working classroom place one or two weeks in advance at the train station and three upstairs. The places are usually ranked in all categories - as long as you have a reserved place, you should be able to take a place.
You can only buy your train pass at some train stops on secondary routes on your travel date, but this should not be a challenge for overseasers. In 2014 Myanmar Railways ended the differentiated pricing of train fares between natives and non-nationals; in the past, non-nationals used to pay in US dollar and at a much higher rate).
This website shows the US dollar rates where it is possible to purchase your ticket on-line (price including reservation fee); for trips where we cannot make an on-line reservation, we will indicate the fare in Kyoto. Ticket rates vary between $10 and $25 for long haul travel booked on-line, based on the length of the trip and the category of seating or berth (see below).
Purchasing train station seats in Kyoto is less expensive and costs between K1,000 and K10,000 - but we are able to provide a safe on-line reservation for you and English speakers who can provide you with comprehensive travel guidance. For information on train services to certain locations throughout the entire countryside, go to the destination.
Arrivals and dispatches may differ because of unreliability of the train. The Yangon train terminal has a numerical timetable (in English), but few other train terminals do. To buy a train pass you need your pass. There are many train rides with several stops where you can get off, walk and have a refreshing break.
Routes can get chilly at nights, so you should bring along a pair of hot clothing. It can take a long while (... sometimes up to half an hour) to buy a train ticket, as railway personnel go through the outdated and administrative forms needed for foreign nationals and kind train attendants take the chance to practise their English.
Also in the top layer the seat can sometimes be a bit stinking and oily. They are often very talkative and interesting conversations! The train and transportation in general are highly sold out during the April edition of the Thinkgyanfest. A of Myanmar's most scenic travels, made known by Paul Theroux in The Great Railway Bazaar and later in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, is this route, which includes the gorgeous Shan State Hills and the lofty Gokteik Viaduct.
They say that over the years, repair work is not what it should have been, so the train is slowed down at a snail's speed as it crosses the Drama Gokteik Gorge, which means it's not just the breathtaking landscape that takes travellers' breath away! There are many exciting stations, such as the old Pyin Oo Lwin mountain farm and the charm of Hsipaw.
It is best to take the coach in one direction and the train in the other. You can find a choice of pictures from this train ride in our Flickr picture gallery. A further enchanting train trip to Myanmar is the turnoff from the major Yangon-Mandalay line, which branches off at Thazi towards Kalaw and Shwe Nyaung (to Inle Lake) and on to Taunggyi, the Shan state city.
The line meanders very slow through the hilly landscape and is a great way to avoid the (much faster) buses that most travel. They also connect travelers to two of Myanmar's touristic attractions - mountain hiking around Kalaw and the many pleasures of Lake Inle.
Watch our YouTube movie of the train between Shwenyaung Junction and Kalaw - a pretty common train in Myanmar! The train ride from Mandalay to Myitkyina is an epos for the truly adventure seeker that takes in secluded parts of the land that few people have ever seen, as well as the wonderful expanse of Lake Indawgyi; the ride takes between 24 and 40 hrs on rugged and uneven paths.
Like the Mandalay - Lashio trip, you must return to yourself at the end of your itinerary. Part of this trip, however, will offer you an adventure as well as simultaneous ship tour, which will take you by ferry through Myanmar.