Myanmar is a beautiful country that is developing at a rapid rate and if you are planning to visit I am sure you will want to see quite a few different places. Whether it is the scarce, ancient lands of Bagan, the majestic and jaw dropping Shwedagon Pagoda or the one foot standing fishermen of Inle lake, Myanmar has a whole new world to offer any type of traveller.
I had so many questions around travelling within Myanmar, could we rent a car? Was flying safe? Are the sleeper buses comfortable and scented? Especially since I get motion sickness so easily!
So now that I tried most of the different modes of transport, I thought I´d share it all here with you, just to make sure you have the best trip ever!
Do´s: Pay a little more to get on a “vip” marked bus. We´r talking about a few dollars extra. You get your own tv screen, a comfy blanket and wide, sleep friendly seats.
Don´t: Don´t buy the tickets online yourself, contact a tour agent and they will get it cheaper for you. The options online are also very minimal and often sold out (so do not panic)
The prices range from 15,000 to 20,000 Kyatt depending on which route you are taking.
Be wary: The buses get pretty cold with all that air conditioning so where something comfortable and semi-warm. Fashion goes out the window ..
We got the bus from Yangon to Inle Lake and from Bagan back to Yangon. Both buses departed at around 8pm and arrived at 7am, so it is the perfect opportunity to get in a slightly decent sleep
Do: Catch the plane if you don’t have all the time in the world, flights are about 45mins to an hour between the major hot spots and thats a big time saver compared to a 12 hour bus ride. The safety record of the burmese airline companies has also improved massively but it is still very monopolized and government owned.
Don’t: Don’t use this option if you are on a tight budget as internal flights in Myanmar are the most expensive mode of transport. A one way ticket cost us roughly 75pounds!
Be wary: Foreigners pay a different price to locals, as with many other things in Myanmar (for example, renting a flat). The experience of the local airports is also quite a shock to the system and it didn’t help my skepticism. We walked into Heho airport by Inle Lake to fly to Bagan and it was a large room with wooden desks against the walls. We walked up to the Air KBZ counter and were greeted by 2 women smiling. They took our passports and booking details and wrote it on a sheet of paper – there were no computers to be seen… And I was let through “security” with all types of liquids. The planes then fly in one by one (a long time between each flight) and almost pick you up from the airport doors.
Just don´t do it. I didn´t experience this myself because I had heard so many horror stories. It takes longer than the bus, stinks and you have to use the toilets on board which I hear are the breeding grounds for every type of bacteria and insect…….. I am sure there are plans to improve the railway infrastructure but while this is being done, stay far away.
Do: This is the best mode of transport when traveling within a city or from the airport to your destination.
Don´t: Don´t get in a taxi without discussing the price. Always ask the driver for a price and bear in mind that they will always charge a higher price so hustle lower.
Be wary: From Yangon airport to downtown should cost you roughly 8,000 to 10,000 Kyatt while a taxi ride from chinatown to Shwedagon should cost you around 3,000 Kyatt. Get a Taxi to get from the village of Nyaungshwe to Heho airport – that should cost you roughly 20,000 Kyatt and is roughly 45mins away.
Do´s: Rent an e-bike (similar to mopeds) when your in Bagan.They are easy to ride and mean that you reserve your leg energy for the beautiful sights that equally take your breath away. They cost about 8,000 – 10,000 kyatt and many hotels rent out their own e-bikes
Don´t: Don´t die on a bike. If you decide to go for the more manual bicycle then please do me a favour and check your brakes are working. We rode bicycles at Inle to see the vineyards and when it came to riding down a very steep slope I found that my brakes would not save me. So after a few screams and mini-heart attacks I made it to the bottom but I just want YOU to be a little more sensible.
Be wary: Helmets aren´t as popular in Myanmar and you probably won´t be given one so please be safe and mindful of your surroundings. Drivers usually horn to let you know they are about to pass you.
I hope your now a little more confident about your trip, either way, have fun on your adventure in beautiful Burma