From pick-up trucks to private cars, there are plenty of options for transport in Myanmar, it’s just a matter of choosing which suit your budget and style of travel.
The best combination of affordability and comfort, buses are most travellers go-to in Myanmar. There are plenty of companies to choose from although JJ Express and Elite Express have the best reputation. There are regular overnight buses however some routes are limited when it comes to day buses so if you aren’t willing to travel overnight it would be wise to look into a private car or air travel. The buses can be extremely cold, so pile on the layers and don’t forget earplugs and an eye mask. Buses can be booked before you leave via myanmarbusticket.comPRIVATE CAR
The most expensive land-travel option, private cars can be arranged easily through travel agents and are often taxis who do longer trips. It’s a nice way to be able to stop when as often as you want to between locations, and is generally more comfortable than a bus. Make sure the price includes tolls, fuel and air-conditioning, however the cost will vary massively depending on who you book through. A great way to reduce the cost is to tee up with other travellers, which can be done through your hotel or through meeting people along the way!
*Due to illness, we had to take a private car from Yangon to Bagan, it’s not overly scenic and there wasn’t anywhere we wanted to stop to take photos, so we’d advise to take a bus as you’ll get the same experience for a fraction of the price.
Train is a slow but scenic option to travel within the country. If you have a lot of time and love a good train trip, this might be for you, but generally travellers choose just to experience the train once during their visit. The trains sway back and forth, have holes in the floor that go straight through to the tracks for a toilet, and stop constantly – an experience all in themselves. You can only buy train tickets at the station once you arrive.
*We highly recommend the train ride from Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw as it goes via the Goteik viaduct, a bridge over 100 metres high and nearly 700 metres long. If also goes through hours of beautiful Burmese countryside, one of my favourite parts of our visit. If you’re booking Pyin Oo Lwin to Hsipaw ask for seats on the left hand side of the train which are seats A or B, as this means you’ll be on the correct side to see and photograph the train snaking around the viaduct. If the opposite direction, book C or D. You have the choice of Upper Class (cushioned, reclining chairs with only tourists) or Ordinary Class (wooden benches full of locals). You can buy your ticket at the Pyin Oo Lwin station on the morning of your journey.
Pickup trucks aren’t an unusual choice for travellers to travel between or within towns and cities as they are cheap and another way to experience how locals live in Myanmar. Everyone sits in the tray with their luggage and it’s a great way to meet other travellers, although not the most comfortable option.BOAT
Be prepared for a long, slow journey, but also be prepared to see how the locals live on the river. It’s a way of forcing yourself to stop and relax on your travels, which can definitely be a good thing if you’ve spent the last week exploring pagodas! Bring a good book, sit on the deck, soak up the sunshine (once it warms up after the 5am start) and watch the world go by.
*We wouldn’t recommend the boat trip from Bagan to Mandalay, it was 13 hours, the breakfast left a lot to be desired, and we didn’t see all that much along the way. We’d recommend taking a shorter trip possibly between Hpa-An and Mawlamyine.PLANE
Flying is the best option if you’re short on time and don’t have the patience for long boat or bus rides. There are several small airlines that fly domestic routes within Myanmar. Prices are generally within $10USD of each other so it’s more about choosing which airline you’d like to fly with. The airports are interesting and quite an experience (complete with stickers you must wear so that they know which airline you belong to!). We’d highly recommend Air KBZ. They were reliable with new planes and a meal included, plus they’re one of the only airlines that can be booked online which makes it easier if you want to plan some of your trip from outside of the country.